06 February 2020

Reflections on 2019

I am so late to the party in writing and publishing this article, but hey, better late than never. This year was a somewhat busy and interesting year, mostly focused on things outside of programming and work.

What happened?

Traveled to Canada, Kenya, Ghana, Japan (again), and Nigeria (again)

Last year, I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to five countries, three of them being completely new to me – Canada, Kenya, and Ghana. Honestly speaking, the most interesting trips were Japan (huge fan of Japanese culture, like the weeb I am, also the food is amazing) and going to Nairobi, Kenya and Accra, Ghana. What fascinated me the most about Nairobi was how the innovation that comes from their tech industry. I had the honor of helping mentor participants of a hackathon at Nairobi Tech Week, and I noticed a few common themes around folks choices.

1) Folks are really into agricultural technology. The most interesting idea that I saw was “Airbnb but for arable land” (I learned what arable meant from that team). Basically, being able to book available land for farming through an app for an extended period of time, optimized based off of previous crops, etc.

2) USSD is a popular choice for building out the front-end for mobile applications rather than native apps. Why? Because it works with feature (a.k.a dumb) phones, not only smartphones.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in both Nairobi, Kenya and Accra, Ghana. All of the folks in both cities were warm and welcoming and mad kind. It was interesting going back to Nigeria this year, especially given that I had a few stressful incidents, so needless to say, I’ve gotten my fill of my motherland for a few years. My blood pressure will thank me.

As usual, Japan was amazing. I’m always amazed by the quality of the establishments there, the food, the culture (fashion, art, architecture), and just general vibe of the country as a whole. I was able to go to some new cities this time too (Hokuto and Okayama) and of course, making new friends is always a treat. Shout out to Justin for being my travel buddy, it was dope.

Montreal was cool, not my speed, but was fun to visit.

Helped release GitHub Actions to the world

Last year, we finally got out of the GitHub Actions beta and made it generally available. I don’t even how to describe the feeling and growth that came from being a part of the team to release this product. Lots of flights, meetings, and code written, but overall I am so proud of being a small part of an amazing product’s release. And the work doesn’t stop there, don’t worry. 2020 has some exciting new features for Actions planned, so stay tuned.

Started going to therapy

I started regularly going to therapy last year, going every week unless I was out of town. Quite frankly, I think everybody needs therapy. You may think you are completely healthy, but we all have something that therapy can help us improve upon and gain understanding and clarity with. Honestly, I struggle a lot with feelings of anxiety, lack of self-confidence, and I wanted to improve just my mental and emotional health. My friend Greg recommended his therapist and urged me randomly one day to text him and setup an appointment. I’m forever grateful to him for that, because it’s been life changing. Each session is worth it, unpacking a lot of things from my past that I had buried deep inside of me and gaining a better understanding of myself and how to handle situations. It takes vulnerability and may be uncomfortable, but honestly, if you can afford to go to therapy, please do.

Weddings, so many weddings (but not my own)

It seems the older I get, the more weddings I start attending. I went to one in 2017, one in 2018, and three in 2019. For 2020? I have been invited to four, which is wild. People weren’t lying when your late 20s and early 30s just turn into weddings after weddings. That being said, nothing brings me more joy than seeing friends and family members enter an eternal union of love and joy.

Started on the next version of Seeker

Honestly, I fell off with working on Seeker, but it’s okay. I was able to get through a redesign, mostly through my homeboy Corey holding me accountable and stepping in as an interim PM. I’m happy with where the final redesign landed, all that’s left now is to ship it. Stay tuned.

What did I learn?

It’s okay to not work on side projects

I had a feeling of guilt for not “doing enough” with regards to Seeker or other projects like my podcast. But quite frankly, I am getting more and more comfortable with doing nothing, so long as I am happy in lieu of it. We’re constantly fed that we’re always needing to do more, the hustle porn culture is big on this. But it’s okay. You don’t have to do everything.

It’s okay to set boundaries

A takeaway from therapy. If you’re a people-pleaser like me and hate the idea of being disliked, you may let people get away with disrespectful things. It’s okay to unapologetically set boundaries and enforce those boundaries. It may suck losing somebody who you thought as a friend, but if you communicate a reasonable boundary and they cross it repeatedly, that’s not a real friend.

Mental health is just as important as physical health

Like I mentioned earlier, mental health is quite important. A lot of us think we’re mentally healthy (like me for awhile), but pretty much everybody has some form of emotional scars internally. You may be conscious of them, you may not be, but who we are as adults is shaped by our past experiences, especially from our childhood / developmental years. So, if you are on the fence or scared to go to therapy, I want to make a few things clear. There is no shame in going to therapy. You are not broken if you go to therapy. Everybody needs therapy. We don’t really shame folks for going to the gym to improve their health, or for going to the doctor for check-ups. Your mind and emotions are just as important, so take care of them. I’m always happy to answer questions about therapy, so if you’re curious, just send me a Twitter DM.

I really want to move to Japan or live there for an extended period of time

It’s no secret that I love Japan. I don’t speak that much Japanese, but damn, I hope to be able to live there for a little bit of time sometime in the future, hopefully soon. You never know.

Goals for 2020

I’m going to do something different this year and not list any intense goals. I want to be a better version of myself, whether it’s mentally, emotionally, or physically. While I’m not (that) depressed, I am feeling like I’m learning more how to find joy in smaller things and beauty in daily life experiences. Here’s to that journey.

Until next time

I am looking forward to seeing how 2020 plays out (with some recent events, it’s off to a rough start, R.I.P Kobe), but I am still looking forward to the journey ahead. Happy belated new year folks.

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