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What 2018 taught me

It’s okay to not have it all figured out, you’ll actually be alright

If you follow me on social media you’d know that I recently adopted a new Maltese! Watching Haskell learn and grow has been so interesting — and stressful too. He woke me up at like 3 am this morning so I could take him to go do his business. When I got back I couldn’t sleep anymore so I decided to finish off this post and release it before the new years. I’m going to share with you some of the things I learned in 2018 and hopefully, it helps you as you’re planning for your year ahead.

Here’s some of the interesting stuff that happened for me this year:

  • Wrote a ton of technical articles. Thanks to Christian Nwamba and Neo Ighodaro.
  • Graduated college with First-class honors in Computer Science.
  • Started a full-time job as a Software/Data Engineer for a Fintech Company in Ghana.
  • Helped grow the forloopAfrica Community.
  • Secured the bag [if you know this gist, then you know how big it is 🚀].

By now, most people already have their list of resolutions for the new year. If you’re worried about not having it all figured out, you’ll be alright. Coming into 2018, I hadn’t set out to do some of the things listed above, but they happened because I kept trying to be a better version of myself.

Nobody has it all figured out. If they tell you they do, they’re either lying or have superpowers.

View of Chicago City from John Hancock Tower Center. (Source:[Ebun Ogundipe](https://twitter.com/Ebunsky))

In Steve Jobs Harvard Commencement Speech 2015 before he passed, he said:

“of course it was impossible to connect the dots when I was in college, but it was very very clear looking backward 10 years later …

…you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backward, so you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. you have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference”

This part hit home to me. Growing up, I loved computers, but I didn’t know what to do with it when I grew. I just knew I loved computers and I wanted to do something with them, fast forward 10/15 years I’ve been on an interesting journey and now I build machine learning models and data products for a living.

Looking back, I can connect the dots to how I got here, but at the time, all I had was a computer and a dream. And to be honest, sometimes that‘s all you need. Your journey doesn’t have to be as conventional as everyone else’s. Set your sights on what you want and move to achieve it. The rest would sort out itself.

In another part of the Commencement Speech, he said,

“Sometimes, life’s gonna hit you in the head with a brick, don’t lose faith” — Steve Jobs

I generally like to plan things ahead, to give me a semblance for structure and direction, but sometimes, things aren’t going to go the way you plan.

Life go jam you, but you for take am for your chest — Nigerian for the “when life gives you lemons, make lemonades” quote.

Always keep pushing and if there’s still an inkling of hope, don’t give up. Ask for help, reach out to people if you need to. You have nothing to lose.

Social Issues

Fela Anikulapo Kuti

One of the books I read this year was the authorized biography of Fela Anikulapo Kuti [a legend] by Carlos Moore titled “Fela: This Bitch of a Life”. In his book, the writer gave a rather personal view into the life of Fela and how his mind worked. The best part was that the content was in Fela’s vernacular so it felt a lot more personal.

One thing that stood out for me was his unwavering resolve to fight against social injustice. Funny thing was that for most of his early life until he moved to the US briefly, he never cared about fighting for what was right until his then-girlfriend educated him. Afterward, he would fight against the government several times to stand for what he believed was right. He did this to the extent that it was reported that his beloved “Kalakuta Palace” was raided multiple times and his mother was once thrown from a multiple story building over the balcony. Thankfully, she didn’t die, but she was badly injured.

Another instance from him was when he was briefly in Ghana — before he was deported — he saw a Lebanese man beat a female Ghanaian trader for selling things outside his hotel. At the first incident, he did nothing and then it happened again and at this time, he took his boys to “change it for”[confront]the Lebanese man.

What’s the point of these stories? you may ask.

Even though Fela Anikulapo Kuti was far from a perfect man, — by many standards — what caught my eye was his resolve for social justice and making sure people were treated fairly.

In our society today, so many people are constantly standing up for what they think is right and these people, these people are the real MVPs.

An example of a current bizarre case that caught my eye recently is the tax on Sanitary Pads in Nigeria. No girl/woman deserves to use rags/tissues because she cannot afford pads or have to wear a single pad all day, due to the lack of funds. Menstruation is not a luxury for women and so, tax on pads shouldn’t be a thing. That’s an evil act. Some amazing Nigerians have decided to raise their voices to put a stop to this, and these people, these people are the real heroes.

You can check them out on Twitter(@freesanitarypad) and help support their cause.

Stand for what you believe is right, even though, it makes you look like a fool. It’s easier said[written]than done, but I hope you reading this, will find the courage to do so when the time comes.

How our actions affect others

“You can’t give what you don’t have”

You have probably heard this saying going around, in relation to how we treat other people around us. To in some context, it’s right. With regards to human relationships, this saying should be placed in the trash. Here’s why I’m saying so.

Saying you can’t give what you don’t have is a shitty excuse to treat other people poorly because you’re having a bad day. I was talking toLyndaon this yesterday and here’s a take from her that I agree on. She said:

“I think a lot of times, people can and do give what they don’t have in human relationships.

Therapists stay helping to sort other people’s lives? Many times, their own lives are also a mess that other people have to help them sort and it goes on and on.

So you can definitely give people what you don’t have. In fact, sometimes, giving others something is way easier than giving it to yourself or getting it for yourself” —Lynda Chiwetelu

So the question you need to ask yourself now is, how do your actions affect the people around you? Is the next girl 10% unhappier because she made the mistake of having a conversation with you? Or is the stranger on your commute 10% happier because you smiled at them on your way to work in Lagos traffic?

There’s a show on Netflix, Bojack Horseman about a conflicted personality called Bojack Horseman. Bojack is messed up. 90% of the time, his interactions with people around him were toxic and he often leaves people around him worse than he meets them. The worst part is that he does this without even trying.

Are you unconsciously toxic to people around you? Do you leave them worse off than you meet them? Don’t be like Bojack.

Relationships

Maintaining meaningful healthy relationships. (Source: Me)

I listened to aTEDx talka while back where the speaker, Robert Waldinger, and other researchers studied, the life of a group of young men, for 75 years. They were studied from the time they were teenagers till they became of old age, to see what really keeps people happy and healthy. The clearest message they got was this:

“Good relationships keep us happier and healthier”

What I got from this, was that your quality of life is improved by positive relationships you foster — positive relationships do not have to be romantic of any kind. A good life is not a product of the number of friends you have, heck you can be alone in a room full of “friends” — this is why I don’t enjoy going to large parties because I feel like I see through the fake smiles, small talks, the hi’s and byes.

A good life is a product of the quality of relationships you have. This means that, if you have one person you know that has your back whenever and you keep a meaningful positive relationship, you’re actually better off than someone who is surrounded by a lot of people and has no one to count on.

One way to grow a healthy relationship is by finding a community. I know this sounds a little counter-intuitive based on what I said earlier about going out, but hear me out. I joined forloopAfrica— a network of software developers and tech enthusiasts — in November 2017. Since then I fostered relationships with some of the community members helped me grow and keep me healthy because I knew I had friends I could reach out to and talk to about life at any time.

This goes to show how a community creates an opening for grooming positive relationships with people you can relate to! ❤️💪🏾

Faith/Spirituality

Everyone has definitely asked themselves if God is real at some point in their lives. I come from a family of Christians, my parents are actually even pastors —so you can call me Ómó Pastor! cheeeee 😅. One thing my parents never did though, was force God down my throat like malaria medicine and for that, I’m grateful to them.

I was able to find God myself, or better still, God was able to find me. I attribute everything I am right now to his never-ending reckless love for me. I can understand if you’re still searching for a meaning in life and the existence of God and I pray your questions are being answered.

Here’s the particular verse I stumbled on while doing a Bible Study Plan with a friend on “Overcoming Anxiety”

‘Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.’ Romans 8:26–28 https://my.bible.com/bible/97/ROM.8.26-28

When that verse hit yo! 💥

This is why I see myself as a:

Small boy, big God

I’ll leave you in this section to ponder on this!

Living life and chopping it

Life is short, like really short, but the best part is that you can still chop it! 😅

I’m going to bring back a Bojack reference. At the end ofSeason 2 (Episode 12), Bojack tries to go for a run after people complained about his weight gain. He only runs a short distance and then he says:

“I hate this, running is terrible, everything is the worst….oh my God, oh my God”

Bojack lies on the grass facing upwards, with his eyes closed, and then he hears a voice say: “It gets easier”

Bojack: “huh?”

Man: “every day it gets a little easier”

Bojack: “yeah?”

Man: “but you gotta do it every day, that’s the hard part, but it does get easier”

and the man continues his run.

Fun fact, I was asleep during this final scene, had to go back to rewatch it! 🤭

The point of the part to me was to let you know that, it gets easier. Whatever you’re going through.The key is that you gotta go at it every day and it’ll get easier.

Finally, you should also try to chop life in the simplest of ways.

Chopping Life in the Simplest Ways

We’re all going into 2019 with high hopes and aspirations and this is good. Don’t let the uncertainty of the future hold you down. Take a step and another step, and another step until one day you look back and realize how far you’ve come.

Here’s a bonus picture of Haskell for making to end 🎉

Dog sleeping