Emotions like anger, joy, lust, peace, disappointment, love, fear, and surprise typically define the spectrum of a year—365 days of highs and lows, accompanied by unprecedented feelings.
If we’re brave enough to see it through, we must reward ourselves with retrospective considerations on how we can do the next 365 better, if you’re lucky, 366.
There’s plenty to tell and not enough time (It’s Christmas morning in my Nigerian home). So here’s 2023 in no particular order, just like we did in 2022.
NYSC - National Youth Service Corps
For my non-Nigerian readers unfamiliar with the term, NYSC is a one-year program instituted by the Nigerian government during the military regime. It supposedly engages Nigerian graduates in nation-building. Many employers mandate completion of this program for acceptance into their organizations, typically after obtaining a bachelor’s degree.
I completed my bachelor’s degree last year, and even if I didn’t fancy NYSC, after some pressure, I decided to embark on this journey several kilometres away from my home in Lagos—a remote zone between the borders of Kwara and Niger state, Yikpata.
A lot happened in the three weeks I spent in camp, and they mainly were eventful. But for me, unlike many other corpers, that marked the end of the NYSC scheme. I returned to Lagos, never to visit Kwara as a corper, with the hopes that the result of my meritorious service in the NYSC camp would be a relocation from Kwara to Lagos—I was gravely mistaken.
Work is hard. Work is difficult. I don’t have a lengthy experience with “work”, but if you think otherwise, maybe it’s just a matter of time. Maybe.
I speak about corporate work in this section, the 9-5 one. The one where you have to meet up with deliverables and KPIs set by someone else. The one where you attend numerous meetings with teammates to discuss issues that could have been communicated effectively via email. Yes, that’s the work I’m talking about.
Amidst all the nagging, work was somewhat rewarding this year—I got to work with remote teams on different continents. I also joined these teams to take products from 0 to 100 (zero to market, if you will). Some of these products are Karla, Gingerblocks, Acumen Digital.
Aside from the daily table-and-chair work, I represented my employer in two tech fairs to exhibit a couple of the products we launched—The Lagos Startup Expo and The Zenith Tech Fair. I can’t lie; speaking to people physically and getting verbal/facial feedback in real time was wholesome. Maybe I won’t find it as exciting as a day-to-day job, but it was a breath of fresh air.
The idea of being an entrepreneur excites me for many reasons. Primarily because it’s a path that no one would imagine I’d take, especially my family. So, I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but was I ready?
I ask that question because I don’t own my 24 hours, and apparently, an entrepreneur needs more than 24—I have a full-time job, full-time family members, and full-time church responsibilities.
Suffice to say I didn’t make as many giant strides as last year in my entrepreneurial endeavours, especially Revaise. For me, this is a really big fail. Even though I have valid excuses, it seemed like I put the interest of other businesses over mine because I didn’t have enough faith in mine.
Maybe also because the path to salary with Revaise seems very slow, but that’s normal, at least for the guys that have been doing this.
I embarked on building another venture, not for profit but for personal fulfilment and its plausible kingdom benefits. Launched in August, it represents a pivotal season for me—so much so that I themed it a season where my Sacred Faith converged with my Secular Ambitions. I write about the venture and the inspiration behind it here.
I’m at that point in life where writing is a hobby—I believe it is one of the few creative outlets that enables you to be imaginative yet precise.
This year saw the publishing of most of my articles, including technical and non-technical. If you include my secondary school years and the billion essays I had to write in the name of Creative Writing, then I’d probably be a liar—so let’s not include that.
I know I’ll do a lot more next year, and this is not because of the multiple drafts I have had on my digital shelf for months; writing is a lot more interesting than when I began.
Finally, I know there’s no better way to write than to explore how a variety of humans write, so here’s what “Reading” felt like for me in 2023.
However hard I try, I just can’t seem to read more than three books in a year. And even if I’m one who values quality over quantity when it comes to reading—at this point, it feels like a spell. I know I could be doing a lot more. A fair number of books would probably be six.
I read The Lean Startup, Software Engineering: The Soft Parts, and God and Money this year. Interestingly, they all target very strategic facets of my life: my entrepreneurial journey, my profession, and my faith, respectively.
In the new year, I plan to read a lot of CS Lewis, fiction included, and Atomic Habits by James Clear.
Our value to our immediate environment is measured by how skilful we are: professional, creative, or even emotional skills. This is why personal development is essential.
Since 2021, I have been making enormous strides to build a business out of my existence apart from my day-to-day job (Marketers would call this personal branding).
How has it been? It’s been quite the adventure. I spoke to two audiences this year. The first was a small seminar I organized, and the second was a larger one with thousands of people. The event led to a few mentorships that I am proud of.
On mentorships, I’m learning to accept that perhaps I am not too inexperienced to guide someone on their journey. Even though I may feel unprepared for a broader mentoring role, I recognize the importance of respecting the paths of those humble enough to seek my guidance and those who believe in my ability to lead. Thank you to all of you!
To close out the personal development chapter for the year, I’ll share my progress with the piano. I began learning in May 2022, and since then, I’ve gained a greater level of dexterity while playing. I also challenged myself by uploading 23 reels of me singing and playing the piano. Here’s a clip of me playing a piece:
Do you ever meet a person and instantly feel like you’ll perhaps never get to meet with anyone better again? Well, it happened to me TWICE this year.
There’s maybe too much to say, but what has 2023 taught me about relationships? I think that is what you are mostly here for.
For starters, if you can’t find contentment in yourself, your faith and your immediate family, you won’t find it in a relationship with someone else.
Secondly, a relationship, however glamorous it looks, is akin to a full-time job in terms of attention and time spent. Hence, it’s essential to introspect and assess whether you possess ample reserves of these resources before entering into one—Maybe you have a coconut head and will proceed with your plans regardless; good luck! Just try not to hurt anyone, and know I tried to warn you.
Thirdly, the one who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favour from God. So yes, this is a beckon to all my eligible friends to please do fast and invite me to eat rice and dance. Do it now, so I don’t have to pay ridiculous prices for plane tickets when I jand. Abeg.
Lastly, if you ever intend to get married, you should pray very earnestly about how it’ll pan out, from the selection phase till you eventually tie the knot—If you live in Lagos, pray twice as hard for obvious reasons. Actually, 3x harder.
If you think this is brilliant advice, you’re not far from the truth.
Save the best for the last? Yes, please.
In this regard, 2023 was an outstanding year. Were there lapses? Yes. Did I fall short of His grace? Yes. So, what made it outstanding? I know now more than ever that His grace is sufficient for me, and His power is made perfect in my weakness.
I know I must do my best to kill the flesh and take advantage of the Holy Spirit, the cloud of witnesses that are cheering me on and the family of believers that are a testament to a triumphant Christian life.
There’s plenty to say, but it’s nothing unfamiliar. It’s just that God is good—all the time.
Before I began writing this, it felt like 2023 was such a rush, but you never really see how much you have done and experienced unless you deeply reflect. That’s one of the many reasons I love doing this.
I hope there are a few things to learn from this piece; I’m also grateful you spent so much time reading my year in review. The New Year holds a lot for me and you too; let’s spend the last days thinking about how we’ll crush all of them.
As always, if you wish to fuel my ego, you can send an email, and if you have a 2023 year-in-review piece, I would love to read it.
See you in 2024.