I’m here again who would have thunk it?… 2013 started pretty much the same way 2012 started; sitting alone in my living room watching TV. It was not a very festive period, I wanted to be in Lagos, but I had work that had to be done. Anyways, it gave me time to reflect and this time I had a new prayer on my lips and fewer complaints.
My first full year or so in engineering in a manufacturing environment brought a lot of things to light. It showed me a lot of things I did not want to be. 90% routine and the odd moment of genius didn’t cut it for me and this prompted me to test some of my other skills. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t given up on my roots, but I’d much rather look back at myself and laugh at an error I made than to regret that I never tried.
Opportunities came and went, they still are. Doubt was always present, it still is. I’ve only learned how to accommodate it without affecting my decisions too much. I can’t bore you with the details but in summary I’ve been the guidance counsellor I never had to help me shape my career path. Although some things have not worked out (some catastrophic failures included), it has been a fun experience and the steepest learning curve I’ve had to endure in my short life. Anyone who knows me personally knows how hard it is for me to admit failure, that’s one thing this ‘discovery’ process has helped me with.
At work, my career progressed quite well. I was part of two major successful projects and one of them even got my face on the internal newspaper (along with the team of course). Another project I designed and specified is up and running and it was perfect to hear about that project over a random discussion where I was having dinner with mates. I spent time later in the year working as an analyst scrutinizing potential capital projects because of the harsh financial climate at work. While it was fun, let’s just say I didn’t make many new friends telling people their projects were not up to scratch.
Speaking of harsh financial climates, it was never hidden that the steel industry was hard hit by the recession. We all knew at some point tough decisions would be taken, different rumours and conspiracy theories from closing down the plant to replacing the entire management team. On the 29th of October at 10:51 am we received that dreaded email that over 10% of all the jobs would have to be cut to make ends meet, I’ve never seen faster deflation. The overall mood went from ‘bubbly’ to ‘whatever’ in the days and weeks to follow.
The new employees (that I am part of) were told our jobs were safe, but the mood was still like trying to inflate a pricked balloon. If I was unhappy before, now I was losing it entirely. My motivation was at an all time low and I was very uncomfortable knowing almost everyone around me could lose their jobs in one fell swoop. It’s the hardest thing I’ve had to contend with this year. Speaking to people across your desk and listening to them talk about how uncertain the future looked for them. A lot of these people know nothing outside this job they do and this town they’ve lived in for decades. I wish them well.
Personally, it’s been a tough year. Apart from the great task of trying to shape my career, living in this town is tough. It’s the loneliest place I’ve ever been in. There are very few people I can have a proper discussion with. Its a backward place in many respects. My social life was limited to watching football, our weekly 5 a side league, TV game shows, series and the odd movie. I have some wonderful colleagues but after some time you get tired of hanging out with the same few people every single time. I think I can safely say I did not make any new friends this year; I just got closer to some people and drifted apart from some others. At the weekends I would watch football and pretend to be in Lagos on social media. Ah yes, spending my birthday alone every year is becoming a thing. On the bright side, the church I attend here is really nice with genuinely nice people; in my short time there, I’ve seen how genuine love and care can change people’s lives.
However, it was not all gloom and doom. My ever-present friends always kept me company with their bare jokes every time we talked. Those calls from family left a smile long after pressing the end button. Elle est fantastique! All through the year, she was awesome. She kept me going, even on days when I just want to stop and give up. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that a big chunk of what makes you happy is hinged on another person’s happiness. It’s an even better feeling knowing that the feeling is mutual. I sometimes find myself doing things because I know it would give me another chance to see that beaming smile (sadly on FaceTime or Skype most times). My trips to Nigeria were the high points of my year. As you read this, I’ll be in Lagos for the third time; that’s where I’m truly happy and very soon, it would be permanent.
My MSc. graduation was another high point this year. It felt weird going back 9 months later to do it, but it made it more fun seeing everyone again after such a long time. Family members came from far and wide and trust them to throw a ‘small’ party when they can get enough of the gang together (I couldn’t count the number of people there and knew like 15% only). My brother left my graduation to propose in Paris the day after, nice eh! He taught me everything I know and is still teaching me. My darling sister had her third child and my parents have never been happier since I’ve known them, retirement is a wonderful thing. The first one of my wolf pack is married and it’s still weird to me more than 6 months after. My friends are doing great, switching to wonderful jobs and doing what they really want to do. It has been a very good year for my people.
Some other high points this year… Ozil became a gunner and I sat with Yaya Toure on an hour long flight… YES these things are that important to me, maybe more than you can possibly imagine.
Throughout the year, God has been faithful in my unfaithfulness. This year has shown me I have tough skin when it comes to disappointment. I changed my perspective on giving and I pray I always have enough to improve it and make it last. I’ve had to make some really big decisions. I’ve seen that I don’t have the answers. I can control only very little. I have to trust God and make sure the most important people and things are catered for in these plans to the best of my ability. Uncertainty kills me but we live in an uncertain world, so I’ve finally agreed to go with the flow and run my own race.
Sometimes you’re ahead,
Sometimes you’re behind.
The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.
Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much
or berate yourself either.
Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s. – Baz Luhrmann
Before I go, the prayer on my lips on 01/01/2013 at 00:00:01 concerned me, a job and moving back to Nigeria. Thank God that though it tarried, I waited only 353 days…
I’ll be starting a new job in 2014, with new employers and the exciting prospect of travelling to a few countries before settling down in Nigeria pioneering a project. It was really emotional handing in my quit notice at my current office but it’s one of those things that comes with this scam of growing up and moving on.
Thanks for reading (this long post) up to this point. I don’t want to limit God so here’s to an even better 2014.
You thank us when we should be THANKING you for raising our faith and spirits. Your account reads like the victory lap of a gladiator in a chariot and all I can say is, God give you the grace to keep your head and trust in him. Thank you for sharing Muyiwa 🙂