The first time I told someone that I was 'socially numb', was when a colleague asked me what advice I would give someone going into their mid-20s. I said, "I don't know about anyone else but by the time I turned 25, I became socially numb." At the time I was only trying to articulate my newfound perspective on life where I seldom got excited by the thought of celebrating my birthday or going out with friends. Well, I would have, if I had an active social circle or if I did not develop severe social anxiety along the line. You might argue that I am simply an introvert who prefers to binge on Netflix movies and stuff her face with food and you would not be wrong. However, the life that I am comfortable living is completely different from the one I have built over the years through my music alter-ego.
Doing music made me a temporary extrovert. To promote my music, I had to be 'everywhere'. I was at almost all the Nigerian industry events - popular or lowkey, I was performing on stage in front of hundreds and thousands, I had to do radio and club tours, and I was constantly putting myself out there for the sake of my music. Doing all these, I became very good at masking the anxiety and stomach turns I had whenever I attended any function as a guest or as a performer. The red carpet moments were the most dreadful as I never got over the chills that took over my body at every mic or camera pointed at me. As grateful as I am for the experiences and memories made in those days, I don't miss the constant feeling of my stomach limping and backflipping every time someone said "hi Toby Grey, I look forward to your performance".
Its a pandemic
The global pandemic served as an opportunity for me to become my true self - a fully fleshed introvert. I did not have to cook up excuses to chicken out of social invitations because "it's a pandemic!", it suddenly became an automatic response to everything. Many of my friends found it difficult to adjust to the 'lockdown era' but I truly felt like I was in my element! For the first time, I did not have to worry about the commitment or internal pressure to socialise because, pandemic or not, home has always been my safe space. But this feeling did not last very long.
Growth in solitude
The lockdown, as convenient as it was initially, quickly started to feel unbearable - not because I had to stay indoors but because I had to watch myself grow in all areas of my life which was and still is a bit scary. I realised that being 25 at a time when the world suddenly changed had its consequences. More than ever, I was alone in my space, thoughts, choices, and decisions. I could not see the world operate in the way that it previously did to place myself on the right social and societal scale for effective growth. Adulting started to feel lonely and motivating myself was and still is hard, understanding how to navigate certain responsibilities also started to feel like rocket science. I started to realise that human nature however independent it seems, is not designed to operate in 1s.
But I still haven't figured it out! The pandemic has made a lot of us turn to social media (more than ever) for socialising and communication - our 'not-so-safe haven'. Many people have picked up hobbies to show the world how well they have adapted to the pandemic. After all, when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. Everyone seems to have their lives figured out but do they? Do all 20-something-year-olds know what they are doing? Are you really okay? Do you have life figured out? I am not sure if I missed the memo but WHAT THE F*** ARE WE MEANT TO BE DOING AT THIS TIME? Does anyone else feel like they want to own something, be more, or be better? Do you wish you had better finances to fulfil your dreams or is it just me? These are the questions I find myself asking.
After all said and done
It all feels like a complicated mathematical equation where you are asked to find 'X’ (X being success). At the end of the day, we all say the same thing – “…although things are rough, we will be alright, we move, and all is well.”
We are all just living on vibes!