Jessica Ireju: The Unexpected Things I Am Grateful For in My Twenties

Jessica Ireju: The Unexpected Things I Am Grateful For in My Twenties

I am writing this on a road trip. It’s one of those unexpected journeys I embark on. I didn’t have it scheduled in my calendar to spend 12 days in Anambra, eat spicy Nsala soup, and attend a funeral but isn’t that how life has us making unplanned trips? This trip, like my twenties, has unexpected moments, but I’m trying to make the most out of an unpleasant situation: meeting new people, getting to see intimate parts of my friend and letting others discover another side of me like the fact that I find dishwashing therapeutic.

For the last couple of years, on June 8, I write a birthday post to share what life is teaching me as a millennial woman. I’m a much different woman from last year’s post: I have grieved, grown, and graciously begun to accept that I will never be regular and it’s okay (at least, on most days, I think like this before I start to worry about not fitting in). This year, I’ve seen the mistakes I made, the detours I took, and perceived failures from over the years begin to create miracles in my life – career opportunities, writing a book, newfound freedom, and so on.

I thought to myself: why not share how the seeming failures of my life are helping to create a beautiful masterpiece. So if you feel stuck, behind, and panic every morning thinking about what you’re going to do with your life, this is for you.

Detours

I think the first time I fully experienced disappointment was when I missed 3 marks on the PUME score required to secure admission to study law at the university. At the time, I thought I was going to be a high powered lawyer, give Amal Clooney a run for her money, channel my inner Julia Rossmore vibes on courtroom doors, and live my best Jessica Pearson life. I ended up bagging a different degree. My first attempt at blogging was for an assignment in my final year, my only prayer point was “I don’t want to fail a course in my final year.” 

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When I’m doing research for my blog interviews, almost 7 years later, I think to myself: writing field notes came in handy, who would have thought? I consider my time at the university a purposeful journey. By the time I graduated from university at 20, I was a different woman dreaming new dreams, cultivating lifelong friendships with tribe members currently scattered across different continents. It was in the university the word ‘Christian’, which I had filled on my biodata form 4 years ago, finally made sense. So when rejection emails pour in, I think to myself: God can be trusted, he never fails and therefore I can trust Him with my life.

Closed Doors

I like to think I was a smart teenager who graduated at the top of my class but you see in the real world, you don’t always take classes before the test, so I flunked a few in my career. From being fired from a job, and not making it to the next round of interviews, it’s been a rollercoaster. But you know what it taught me? A job is not your purpose, your worth isn’t tied to your title, and if at any time you realise you’re on the wrong path, you can always choose a different path. I would still be Jessica without the job, just not sitting in that particular chair. You can take the skills, experiences and knowledge from your past job roles, and create the life you want with them. You won’t be starting from scratch this time around, you would be miles ahead, even as the newbie in the room. I am currently transitioning careers, and every time I have a task, I’m surprised to learn I already know how to do something from a random 400 level marketing class, working a job I hated, and creating a podcast with my friend.

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Not Having Enough

One of the best ways for your creativity to flourish is to have barely enough resources at your disposal. I know this because now when I want to accomplish something, I ask myself: what do I have? It’s always more than enough, even if it takes me a while to come to that understanding. As someone who has started a business in the middle of a pandemic with zero financial capital, and began my writing career with just a mobile phone, I can tell you that with God, a few friends, and hard work, you can achieve anything.

Failed Relationships

I am immensely thankful for the amazing people in my life who celebrate, cheer, and show up for me in the different areas of life I perform in. I lost a lot of relationships in my early twenties. You don’t know what heartbreak is until you can no longer call the person you’ve known since you were 10 and used to wear pinafores. Thankful for those I am no longer friends with; they gave me a piece of their hearts and taught me to love and let go. Because of them, I am very intentional about my friendships these days, I work on being a better friend daily. I am currently learning the delicate balance between calling your friends to a higher version of themselves, and still giving them room to be vulnerable with you accept the flawed parts of who they are.

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Silent Seasons

I started writing letters to God every day in my journals because I was frustrated with my life at the time. I felt unseen, unloved and unwanted. Everyone was making money moves, marrying the love of their life and moving countries. Journalling every day helped me deal with my feelings, pushed me closer to Jesus, and ultimately changed my life. I never thought I would ever write anywhere else apart from my journals. I began to dream, write bucket lists, and create content ideas that helped build my career portfolio. I learned to worship instead of worry. I got to spend the most time with my mum. Every day I am grateful I was home for 2+ years – these are memories I will forever cherish. Just because the ground isn’t moving doesn’t mean the seed isn’t growing. Keep going, your time will come.

I am thankful for the ability to share my stories, looking forward to sharing stories of other women, and inspiring you to live your best life just the way God intended. Thankful for the chapters that are closing beautifully and the new chapters that are beginning. Thankful that I can turn a page in my story, reinvent myself, and begin again.

I hope you’re reminded, after reading this, that your boulevard of mistakes and broken dreams can always be the road that leads you back home to purpose.



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