My 20 Years In Review — Failures, Growth, and New Beginnings.

Yinka
10 min readDec 31, 2021

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Photo by Štefan Štefančík on Unsplash

31st December 2021.

It’s December, that time of the year when everyone writes their “Year In Review”. See, I wasn’t going to write anything whatsoever, because to be honest, I feel like a total failure. Similar to how I felt last year. But as Omolara Adejuwon told me earlier this year, it's called Year In Review for a reason, an opportunity to reflect on decisions I made this year that got me here— the good, the bad.

2021 has been kinda exciting, a series of firsts for me, some wins, some things to be proud of, some anxieties and sad moments, but most importantly, when everything kind of fell apart, now coming back together piece by piece.

You wouldn’t truly get it if you don’t know the back story, but see, this backstory is lonnng, so I just turned it into a review of my decisions till now (I’m 20 years old, hence the title, lol).

It’s a story I seldom tell (publicly or fully because it’s kind of embarrassing or something), but here‘s to being vulnerable. I hope sharing my story would be helpful to others to compare experiences. Or even just entertaining to read.

Prologue.

I grew up in a working-class family. Like most Nigerian parents, my parents took education as a priority for me and my siblings — it was kind of believed as the gateway out of poverty. Fortunately for me, (or unfortunately, as you’d later see), I was one of these kids who didn’t have to study to get flying colors in academics, I remembered 4th was the worst position I ever got and I was scolded for it as the person that got first doesn't have ‘two heads’.

This was cool till I got to SSS1, I was in science class (actively influenced by my parent). To be honest, I wasn’t interested in science, I initially chose art class because I liked and still like reading novels and stuff like that. But then again, I like to think it’s just a cheap excuse for my failure.

Things started getting challenging. To pass, now, I actually had to study. I find it really really hard putting effort into anything I’m not interested in. I declined academically. Barely passed most of the science subjects.

2017

I graduated from secondary school. I was 16. I failed WAEC (got an F in Physics). Had to take NECO, I passed. I got 234 in JAMB. While registering for JAMB, I mistakenly chose Biology instead of Maths in my subject combination and couldn't study my dream course, computer science plus I basically failed. See, all this stuff is so sad that I didn’t want to go to Uni that year.

But I was persuaded otherwise, tell me about “it’s more difficult the second time…” — my dad. I ended up seeking to study Agricultural Economics at OAU, Ife. Agricultural Economics looked like something I could ace with minimal effort then. Lmaooo.

2018

This year kinda feels like a blur.

I got admitted into OAU. Things were more challenging than I ever imagined. I expected it to be challenging, but not to this level omooox3.

Tried and failed to be serious. I started skipping some classes. I remember making jokes with my roommates about dropping out, I was known as the unserious one, plus my roommate and fellow partner in crime — Fiyin.

Failed CHM 101, barely passed the rest.

2019

Now in Part 2. Part 1 results are out and they aren’t good. I stopped caring about GP, I just didn't want to drop out.

While I already knew some things about the web and some basic knowledge of HTML and CSS by writing code on my android phone with this code editor app called DroidEdit. I got my first laptop from Jiji for 30k. I got into the Google Africa Developer Scholarship x ALC (Andela Learning Community) program. My laptop broke down around a week into the program.

See, getting this laptop was already difficult enough (I used the money meant to get a hostel, went to live with my uncle instead) So I panicked, I just went to DM the tech bros I was following on Twitter to ask for help, no one replied lmao, except Adejuwon Omolara. She single-handedly bought me the laptop — I can’t appreciate her enough. I started having a sense of responsibility.

Joined Space Club OAU. Didn’t learn much about Space to be honest, but the secretariat served as my workspace — constant internet and light. Started actively skipping classes. Retook CHM 101 and failed again.

Didn't complete the ALC program, it was too fast-paced for me. I haven't really grasped Javascript yet, and the program has moved on to Angular. So, I just opted to learn independently.

Got into and dropped out of HNG at Stage 2 — I really don’t know what I’m doing yet, to be honest.

Attended my first tech conference — Devfest Ibadan.

2020

Resumed for Part 3. My grades have become even worse. Pandemic hit. School went on break.

Started and gave up on Duo Lingo.

I was getting better at Javascript and React. I finally had projects to put on my Github. I built some cool projects during the lockdown. Built my portfolio v1.

I felt confident enough to start applying for internship roles, didn’t get any.

I became more active on Twitter. December came and everyone was sharing their win for the year. I had nothing to write about, I felt like I failed, maybe if I was more serious I could've achieved more. I ended 2020 kind of depressed, I needed to rant and Adejuwon Omolara was my innocent victim.

2021

I started the year with a video call with Adejuwon Omolara. The call lasted for almost an hour. We did a review of my year together, on how everyone's journey is unique and not to be pressured, on how I had to assess my decisions and actions to see what I could improve on. I’m really really really grateful for this.

School resumed and I had this very strong zeal to improve my academics. I still failed CHM 101 again, I knew this time I had to pass. I joined a CHM 101 tutorial, see, the tutor is really good, but I wasn't catching up on anything. I became really sad and totally uninterested. That seemed like the last straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. I started contemplating on dropping out, at least to focus on what I’m interested in and kinda good at. That was my train of thought at that time and it felt like a good decision.

It felt like a big life decision to make, so I talked to a few people I admire and who are more experienced in tech about it. Literally, everyone said I shouldn't drop out. Looking back now, honestly, if I’m asked to give advice on a situation like that, I’d say exactly the same thing — don't drop out (except if you really really really feel like it).

So I gave academics one more shot, did all my assignments, attended classes, I read too. But see, I quickly zoned out, I’m not sure what happened but I just knew I couldn't go on with this anymore, became more uninterested as ever, If I have experience with depression, it was at this point in my life I was close to it.

I did what I knew best and easy to do, started ranting on the Twitter timeline. All this was around March, I haven't started earning, so I felt very unsure about it. I remember Phillips reaching out, (thank you so much if you're reading this) he told me he had a similar experience, but he’s getting into NOUN. I also remember Olacodes gingering me, reassuring me I’d make it (thank you, Ola).

So that was it, I dropped out. Nothing official, I just stopped attending classes, didn't write any exam, never checked my E Portal, last time I checked, my GP was 1.5. Didn’t tell my parent about it, I was afraid to, my decision wouldn't make any sense to the average Nigerian parent, and I might get disowned in that process lol — a major cause of anxiety for me this year. Plus I wasn’t so sure myself.

I didn’t tell anyone about it, except very few people. See, there isn't anything noble about dropping out, especially when it was because I’m failing. But I remember telling Shukroh, my friend, she did everything humanly possible to help me academically, I’m really grateful for everything, so It just felt right to tell her. I remembered telling my friend, Mubaraq too when he asked about me not coming to classes, he didn't ask any questions, I love my guy. I also remember telling my friends, Juwon, Mariam, and Moniayo about it when they asked about my absence in class too. And that was it.

I got major impostor syndrome this year, from my friends being able to somehow juggle Computer Science with coding and all that. Everyone else seemed to get their shit together or at least, managed to. Looking at you Goldin, Tay, and Uche.

It was April, most of the projects I was working on now were more CPU intensive, and my current laptop couldn't take it anymore. Some of the keyboards weren't working and it randomly shut down while working. I wasn’t earning around this time, so I couldn't afford a new laptop. I reached out to a lot of developers on Twitter (again), like hundreds. I didn’t get any response, except from Lindsay Levine. Despite all the difficulties, she helped me get a really great laptop. And that's one of the best things that happened to my career. I really really appreciate it.

Having dropped out, I knew I had to focus on my career — not like I had any option lol. I coded more than ever, learned a lot from March till July. I built my portfolio v2 in a day (because it was simple and I needed something quick). I started feeling confident in my skill and started applying to freelance gigs, that was when I tweeted this too.

the tweet

The tweet got quite some traction (thanks to everyone who retweeted). Two Nigerian startup founders reached out, one of the offers was good, but he wanted me to work on weekends, the other offered me a 35k salary — See, I didn't drop out for this shit. I had to reject both. Two other foreign guys reached out for freelance gigs, both worked out. Made my first dollars in tech.

Got another gig. Then cash flow briefly stopped, I panicked, I started to hate this freelance life. So, I started looking for full-time jobs. Most of the Nigerian jobs (for my years of experience) really didn’t interest me (once you get a taste of the dollars, you never want to go back lol) But the struggle for foreign jobs is real — you’re competing with the world.

I got lucky. Kadet made a post about an opening for a frontend dev role (Nigerian job but quite a decent salary), the application was to comment on our portfolio link, so I did just that. He liked my portfolio but I didn't get to move on with the process because some other people liked my portfolio too, most importantly, Chi did, so much he referred me to where he works, an Australian Agency. I got the job and that's where I work now.

I met Adeyinka Michael on Twitter, he’s a software engineer and an OAU graduate. I naturally drifted to him for career questions. He was one of the very few people I told about dropping out, and the rationale behind it. He gave me some advice, he really sent me an 8 mins voice note! (I’m really grateful), gave me some personal anecdotes and experiences of friends too, on how a degree is useful long-time, how much its ingrained into our society as a subtle validation especially as Africans, how its useful for immigration. I remember him saying “just get the degree… even if it's third class”. He kind of rekindled the urge to get a degree in me. So now, I’m planning to study Computer Science at Uniosun or something else (maybe an art-related degree).

This December, I went home on holiday and all that. I summoned all my courage and articulated my thoughts, I told my Dad everything — me dropping out, and plans to move to Osogbo. Surprisingly, he saw my POV, and we had a good discussion, gave me lots of advice (and prayers too, it's just a thing Nigerian parents do). I felt relieved for a long time.

I’m really thankful for all the amazing people I met in OAU — Bushroh, Hashcode, Shukroh, Mubaraq, Tay, Goldin, Feyi Bosslady, Chisom, Peter, Fiyin, Dammy, Omisore Elijah, Moniayo, Josh, Abdul Hameed, and everyone else. You all are awesome!

Made friends on Twitter too, Chi, Kadet, Dave Hert, Moses, Adefaj, Lere, Michael (Ace), Michael Adeyinka, Olacodes, Bukola, and Rotimi. I even got to meet some at Devfest Lagos. Y’all made my year awesome.

Got in and dropped out of HNG again.

I think my life changed most this year. Earned my first dollars. I made a lot of purchases, changed my laptop and phone. I could afford and I did buy paid courses. Ate more suya than ever. Went out a little bit more. Got more confident as a software developer and identified my knowledge gaps.

I have less anxiety now. I don’t nag myself much, I feel like it’s kinda destined (or maybe a coping mechanism lol). Excited about the next year. I’m out of words…

Anyway, If you made it here I really really really appreciate it. ❤️

So how does it feel reading this long shalaye mostly about dropping out?

2022

Most importantly, I want to be less lazy, I want to be less mediocre. More productive.

  • Get a new apartment in Osogbo, set up a workspace (get this M1 Pro! and desk from Taello and all that)
  • Learn a whole lot, build projects. (build side projects, venture into backend development, study DSA)
  • Get a new job. (x10 doings, yunno)
  • Start gym, take a swimming class, take a driving class. (how can I not know how to swim?)
  • Take JAMB, get admission to Uniosun (Got ULesson premium, signed up Khan Academy, see, I’m now so dull, let's see how it goes)
  • Read more books (I must finish Incerto this year chile!)

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