Burrito...It's a wrap!
It’s that time of the year where we all reflect on what we’ve achieved, our wins and losses, our lessons and pains etc etc. Retrospection is one of my favourite activities, and I engage as often as possible. The beautiful thing about retrospection is it requires hindsight - and as we know that’s 20/20. So as we step into 2020 (it had to come) it’s only right that we look back on not just the year - but the decade ToniVerse has had.
ToniVerse as a name was born, I wanted to put my poetry under a title. Poetry wasn’t something new to me at all - I’d been writing and performing since primary school. 2009-2010 was an emotionally tasking time of my life - one that I’d much rather not revisit and I had a lot of thoughts to home in words. I was going for a blog named ‘A complex simplicity’ but when my dear friend Mayowa Idowu (co-founder of Culture Custodian) and all round brilliant person coined ‘ToniVerse’.. I could not let it go. I incorporated into the blog title.
ToniVerse found a home… on blogspot. I had used blogger and Tumblr prior to this, and had successfully hidden in my pain online. It was time to share my work with the world so I began posting my poetry beyond my Facebook page, tumble and in the walls of poetry journal (which has another story), and after 3 months of kick off - I peaked at 159 views in July that year. It was a year of exploring whatever I wrote about - and it was fun. It was also the year that I fell in love with George the poet who till date is probs my number one creative inspiration.
2012 By 2012, I was in a completely new environment… a totally different headspace, but still on blogspot. I sought freedom and liberty. It was the year I produced the most content ever! 33 shared pieces. It was also the year I dabbled in something different and wrote a series: My summer fling with my ex. Between poetic consignment and freestyling - I was delivering content that I deemed entertaining.
In this year, I lost myself, my identity and my poetry book. It was a year of darkness and I didn’t know how to fight for my own. On concluding my series, I kind of hit a roadblock in writing and I struggled to write. During the some of this year I remember working 4 jobs. They weren’t internships, so I wasn’t entirely pleased, but it was nice to have my own income. I was determined - but with no goal. It led to my first ever burn out and a writer’s block.
2014 I was ill during my 3rd year exams and failed. I’d known depression before then, but this time it hard - I found vices to mask it and I wrote stupendously. I wrote mostly for me - but I felt everything was relatable - and it was. At this point I was just shy of 400 views monthly. My words found solace in the eyes of it’s audience and I soon found purpose in growing my views and my views alone - perhaps that’s why I never locked on to Instagram craze of likes. I graduated University - not with the grade I’d worked for(and I wrote about it), but I finished. I stepped out into the world and boy did I struggle. My self esteem and confidence hit a new low as I struggled to find employment.
2015 I was still unemployed and I lost my zeal. So when my grandmother passed in April that year, when it had been 9 months of unemployment, the fire within died, it left completely. My creativity left with my grandma but I swore I’d keep writing. As that was the year I moved to Nigeria, I reconnected with my desire to write, but not so much with creativity - so I began to write about my experience: Chronicles of an IJGB. Hindsight tells me that this was the wildest year I’ve ever lived - with a lot of nativity and intentionality in one. I revived friendships, established new ones yet I never let go.
Nigeria and I could not be. Like a toxic relationship I knew that I loved it, but it was no good for me or to me. I realised I was living outside myself, so i wrapped up Chronicles and returned to London. However I came back very short. It was like I had a touchy cable and the slightest thing could set me off. I wasn’t happy with where my life was and it kept going down hill. I returned to unemployment, depression, heartbreak and all. So I started school again. Looking back, this was a distraction and whilst it was in something I love, I wasn’t ready to learn yet. Writing wasn’t as frequent as before - but I knew I wanted more from it.
I did school hard and I job searched and I did school. I remember a large part of that year saw me going for what I wanted. It was also the year I began to dream big for ToniVerse. My content had reached a stand still and I wasn’t writing or sharing anymore. People had stopped reading blogs as much and my art was difficult to consume. I was expanding my creative outlets… writing scripts and more, but I wasn’t releasing anything to anyone. ToniVerse had reached a dead end. This thought crippled me - although the year in itself was wholesome. I also slightly rebranded - I changed the logo. I’m so very proud of this. It was made by a young man named Samuel Adeyemi.
I launched my website. Yes this place is almost two years old - and the email from google and my domain provider this week didn’t fail to remind me. I was in a Aparthotel in Morocco with two of my favourite girls, and I bundled myself into the room and wrote - I don’t remember what about exactly, but I wrote and my website went live. It would come in the future that I’d hate my website, but in the meantime I was happy to be sharing. I found love in this year too. This produced some of my most heartfelt passions. I was writing more - not sharing all. And after I left my job - I took a leap of faith and held my own show. I’d done open mic nights, and minor performances prior to that, but this time it was different. I was in control of the show. I was finally putting ToniVerse out to all, beyond the space of the internet. Oh, I also featured on a track.
The fire of ToniVerse continued to burn, the ideas grew, the goals expanded and I felt the weight of the brand. My website became neglected, but ToniVerse essentially grew. I started running workshops to share the art of poetry in life, to allow others explore various themes of life and create something for themselves. I went back to my website and I could not stand it - I hate it here. It no longer represented where I was in my brand, so I struggled to look at it. I imagined this is what it meant to fall out of love.
Love left me in 2018 by the way, but I entered 2019 knowing I was capable of it and transpired that to my brand. I felt beautiful, I lived beautiful and well I am beautiful. Oh and you know that track I featured on - that was released, you can listen here: Dreaming.
Can we take a moment to appreciate the photographer that is Jamie
I know this reads dark and of suffering. That I’ve had pain, and tears - which is all true. I have indeed, up until earlier this month in fact I still found myself prisoner to tears - but what’s changed since then, is now I’m aware - of my pain, of my hurt and even better my truths and joys. All these things were necessary to experience and have helped me build what ToniVerse should be in my eyes and the eyes of my . So here we have ToniVerse - with many plans for the incoming decade and more for the years ahead. I