TLDR; I've had an amazing year of many firsts. Although I had no clearly defined goals for 2016, I've been able to get to a point in my life where it is possible to set practical goals and have the freedom, financial and otherwise, to work towards them. This year, I completed my graduate degree at NYU, joined Andela, and visited home after 5 years away.
I'd been thinking about doing a year in review for about two years now. However
since I never got my blogging career up-and-started (
\_(ツ)_/¯) and I always got stuck at the
end of the year with coders block and of course my unwillingness to use any of the easy options out
there (medium, ghost, jekyll, etc) to share my thoughts.
NOT this year though!
I wrote a static generator with gulp and serve to ensure this year did not pass without at least one public post. You can find the source code here.
So here is 2016 in Review:
I've been in the US for about 3.8 years now. Since arriving at John F. Kennedy Airport on March 6th 2013, I haven't been able to make it back home due to a number of reasons (although those reasons are related to this post, I'll save you the gory details).
Needless to say, I'm grateful to have joined a company that provided the opportunity to go back home as part of a company-sponsored trip.
Over these three years in the US, Brooklyn, has been my second home and I've met so many amazing people I'm glad to call friends.
I was in Nigeria the first two weeks of June. One week was spent at Andela's campus in Yaba, Nigeria's largest tech hub. And I got to travel to Abuja, Nigeria's capital, and then to Jos, Plateau State, my hometown.
The sudden realization that a week was insufficient to really catch up with family members and friends I had not seen for over 5 years did not dissuade me. I went all the way to the village where I was born and raised for the first few years of my life. I met my Grandma, Grandpa, David (my little brother), and several other family members that oftentimes couldn't recognize me (brings home that old saying out of sight, out of mind).
I owe it to myself to always stay in touch with the ones that matter to me and the ones that have contributed and sacrificed so much to get me to where I am today.
If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
– African proverb
Dev & Work 👨💻
I made the decision earlier this year to continue honing my skills as a developer. Before making this decision, I was looking to be a product person. However, where's the fun in being just that???? I want to create. I want to build.
My thinking is, if I want you to build something for me or with me, I want to have built a few things myself.
And so I navigated the waters a little this year trying to figure out where I want to focus on developing career-wise. I've been unsuccessful (or successful depending on how you look at it) so I've settled on being a technology enthusiast until further notice. What this means is, I'll have no long-term goals for any particular tech stack.
If it solves my given problem, I'll work with it, otherwise I'll move on.
I made 726 commits this year. Most of my work was on internal projects and tools at Andela. This is something I'm looking to improve in 2017. I want to contribute to OSS and author at least one useful tool.
I joined Andela as a Marketing Technology Associate. This is my first full-time job. Before Andela, I worked part-time jobs within the NYU entrepreneurial ecosystem. I owe everything I know about startups and business to my time at NYU.
Andela has played a huge role in my personal and professional development over the last year. I've met some of the smartest and most humble individuals in the world who I'm proud to call friend and co-workers.
I was drawn to the company because of its idealistic yet enlightening view of the world and where we're headed as a society:
Brilliance is evenly distributed but opportunity is not.
I picture Pangea when I think of what Andela is doing. A world without borders where individiuals are able to contribute value regardless of where they are. I'll stop pitching Andela now :).
Andela is always a mouthful ...so just say #TIA
Other stuff 🌆 📚 📻 🕺🏿 🎵
I got around to doing a few other things outside of work. I'm a big fan of aligning personal interests with career goals. I don't find that my overarching goals in life are incongruous to my work life and vice-versa. My aim this year was to bring it all together; to align the things I believe in with the work I do everyday. I believe that everything in my life is connected and I'll keep focusing on finding those connections and bridging the gaps between life and work.
This is obviously still a WIP and that will carry onto 2017 and beyond. Please drop me a line or tweet at me if you've found a way.
I'm fortunate enough to have been able to squeeze some vacation time into a very busy year. And albeit impromptu, this vacation was needed to keep my sanity.
I traveled from New York to Copenhagen, Denmark by way of Istanbul, Turkey.
In Denmark, I discovered a new found appreciation for the mundane. No NYC, we don't have to be moving at 200mph all the time. Sometimes, the best ideas come from the mundane and many many beautiful things are of the strikingly ordinary and mundane kind.
My friend Magdalena, from NYU, played host while I was in Vienna, Austria. Mag, I'm eternally grateful. She showed me the beautiful countryside of Burgau, she took me to my first spa–Bad Blumau–and we spent almost 10 hours there. We hiked up a mountain (didn't summit though 😞 ), we visited the beautiful architecture in and around Vienna, and Mag introduced me to the works of Gustav Klimt, Egon Shiele, amongst others.
In Vienna, Austria, this seemingly obvious saying really hit home as I looked upon the strangely architected yet intricately finished Secession Building on whose wall this is inscribed (in Latin of course):
To every age its art. To every art its freedom.
I don't owe NYU anymore 😄
One of my goals when I got accepted into NYU was to finish without any significant loans. I fell short on this goal by the time I graduated in June.
However, after a few months of out of school, I'm happy to be rid of all my debt to NYU.
Books ...I love 'em
I picked up on reading this year and got through 10 books (just getting warmed up for the marathon).
Here are my top 5 of the year:
Podcasts ...I also love 'em
A few podcasts I got hooked on and you should too!
I cannot recommend Philosophize this enough for anyone looking to get a good dose of philosophy while commuting especially if you live in NYC.
My first improv class was a team building exercise at Andela's NYC office.
Then at the urging of my friend Isha, I signed up for another session at the Susan Batson Studio. Worth every cent of the $50 I paid.
Improv, I've learned is not about being funny. I think that was the initial reason I ran away from it. It's about having fun and making stuff up like when you were a kid and didn't care so much about what others thought. Improv, like life, is about taking advantage of the here and now.
For the record, I still think I'm a not-so-great dancer. I took classes in 2016 but like the gym, I soon fell off track. What I found works is impromptu classes. And I'm sticking to that in 2017.
Thanks to Tess and other friends that like to get their groove on, I've gained some confidence on the dancefloor. I want to work on technique and partner dance routines like salsa, etc.
A great summary of this year is presented in my Spotify playlist. This playlist is somewhat revealing of how my mind was all over the place. I absolutely love it!
I was suppose to pick up the violin this year but failed miserably at even making the time to tune it.
Another great summary for this year is presented by my reaction to posts on Facebook.
If by Facebook reactions are to be taken seriously, 2016 wasn't such a bad year afterall. There is hope.
Conclusion && 2017 Goals
For many 2016 was a very gloomy year but I've grateful that in spite of that seeming gloom, I've made a few steps in the right direction. Yes Brexit was cause for alarm. Yes the Trump presidency isn't something anyone imagined, I'd dare say even for hardcore Trumpers. Where this road leads, no one knows, not even Trump, but I believe that this was inevitable at some point in the next 10 years. And we will find better ways to understand and accept our differences. Then we can find a middle ground that accommodates everyone.
In my share of civic duty, I attended a few #BlackLivesMatter marches around NYC. I'm looking to contribute to more meaningful causes like this in 2017 until there isn't any need for such movements anymore.
We shall not rest until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
Without getting anymore political, here are my top goals for 2017 in no particular order. I prefer building good habits over hitting some arbitrary number of something.
- Contribute I barely made any contributions to open source this year and I want to steer clear of that lonely world. There are plenty open source projects and communities out there and I'm looking to be a contributor. My goal to is to hone my skills–coding, collaboration, and communication–and to make friends. Two communities I'll be looking to contribute to are:
Build something useful I've always wanted to build something for myself and 2017 is the chance for me to do so. I don't need to make money off it to build it. The only criteria is that whatever I build does something useful. Building something cool is for the cool kids :).
Document and share things I've learned
This simply means I have to start blogging, speaking, or communicating the things I learn in a coded manner. This way, I get better and can solicit feedback.
I quit "going to the gym 6 days a week" in 2016. I learned building healthy living habits pay off so much more than trying to a hit a particular number of times I go to the gym and feeling guilty when I can't make it there. Living healthy is living concious of what I eat, when I eat, and involvement in physical activities (dance classes, morning/evening runs).
Stay spontaneous, be experimental.
Search for new experiences. I want to abstain from planning every minute of everyday. I want to live in the here and now and a key to doing that is always analyzing the present from what exists in it not from what happened or what will happen.
Break shit! I want to explore more ideas through rough prototyping. In this world, perfect is what currently is. I toy with ideas that may or may not amount to much. This is perfectly acceptable to me.
I've always shied away from sharing and defending my views. For a long time, I always felt like an imposter especially when I'm around those that "appear" to be experts. A key to staying confident I've learnt is letting myself fail. It is okay to say the wrong thing and be corrected. It is okay to not know.
Finally, drawing inspiration from Una, I've created a repo to make public my goals for 2017 and to track my achievement throughout the year. Although I've accomplished a few things in 2016, there's so much more room to improve and make impact in 2017. I'll give myself a proud C+ in 2016. The Goal for 2017 is to get an A.
Welcome 2017! 🔥 🔥 🔥
P.S this is my first blog post. I'm so looking forward to 2017 😍.
Inspiration & acknowledgements:
- Una's 2016 Review
- Professionally, here are a few people I'd like to single out. For those that I don't mention and there are many, thank you for contribution to my life professionally. Thanks Evan Johnson, Luke Dubios, Su Sanni, Adam Cragg, Steve Kuyan, Andela fam(Ian, Tess, Christine, Roberto, Tolu, Tipsy, Adeleke, and many many more ... #TIA)
- Personally, I would like to thank my friends in NYC for making it home. I never feel alone. I never feel lonely. Thank you Magdalena Schwarz, Isha Blaakar, Cadence Daniel, Tejas Fulkar (and my other roommates Sai and Ken), Abhinay Ashutosh, Alexandra Cardinale, Vidyathar Thate, Connor Lin, Peter Ryan, Michael Lisovetsky, Michael McKay. Again, for those I didn't mention, I would like to thank you enormously for making every bit of life worthwhile.
- Zeit.co. I borrowed their website theme for this blog.