I don’t know if I can blame this on adulting, but every year, the festive seasons tend to feel less… well, festive. 

Maybe it’s just unachieved goals or sapa-linked frustration, but many people — myself included — have to navigate the not-so-jolly feelings that come with this time of year. I spoke with seven young Nigerians about it.

“My mates earn serious money, but I’m still here” — Tope, 23, Male

I was something of a child genius, so when I graduated university at 19, the general assumption was I’d go on to do great things. It didn’t happen like that. In the middle of a Master’s degree, four years later, I still feel lost career-wise. So approaching the end of the year always reminds me just how much I haven’t achieved. My mates have started earning serious money, but I’m still here. These days, I just focus on thanking God for life. Being alive is also an achievement.

“December reminds me of my late father” — Deborah, 21, Female

I lost my dad in December 2019. Every festive season since then has been emotionally draining, no matter how much I try to snap out of it. I watch people go out and share fun snaps, and I wish I could join in the fun without feeling like I’m betraying my late dad by being happy when I should be thinking of him. 

I know this isn’t what my dad would want for me, so this year, I’ve intentionally made plans with some friends to go on a three-day visit to Abuja. Hopefully, this year will be better.

“I’m not even sure why I’m sad” — Chinny, 24, Female

I’ll admit, things are going pretty well in my life, so it’s surprising that the last two Decembers met me extremely sad. 

2020 may have been because of the pandemic, and 2021 was likely because it was my first time celebrating Christmas alone. But I don’t understand why I’m currently struggling with mixed feelings and anxiety. 

I’ll just focus on one day at a time. If I had money, shebi I’d have used concerts to forget my sorrows.

“It’s cold and lonely here” — Stella, 25, Female

I moved to Canada for my postgraduate degree in 2021 , and man, it gets lonely here when you don’t have any family. 

There’s a Nigerian community, but most people are with their families and friends for the holidays. I spent Christmas alone in my cold apartment last year, and it’s looking like I’ll do the same this year. That’s enough to put a damper on whatever holiday spirit they’re sharing outside.

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“It’s like I’ve wasted another year” — Bamidele, 25, Male

I’m a 25-year-old guy who still lives with his strict parents because he can’t afford his own place. That’s already enough explanation. I can’t stay too long when I hang out with friends because, according to my dad, I’m still under his roof. So, my social life is basically shot to hell. December reminds me how I’ve wasted yet another year, and how far I still am from achieving financial freedom. I’m trying to think happy thoughts this season, but it’s hard. 

“I feel like a failure” — Ogochukwu, 22, Female

I’ve had my fair share of breakfast this year, and it’s depressing to close the year alone. It feels like I’m failing at this love thing. Feeling like a failure when you’re supposed to be looking back at the highlights of your year is crazy. I’m just consoling myself by posting “God, when?” on every couple picture I find online.

“I remember how broke I am” — John, 26, Male

December just reminds me how broke I am. Where’s the money everyone else is using to detty December? I’m so close to 30 and still very far from what I thought my 30s would be. But I have to keep going. It is what it is.

NEXT READ: December Is a Bittersweet Month for 9–5ers, According to Yetunde


Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.