You could argue that The Guy Fawkes mask thing is not original, but you have to admit that it’s cool. It’s supposed to be some fake-deep-metaphorical-mumbo-jumbo which elucidates that there’s a difference between the face(s) we show the world and the one we keep to ourselves. So, which is the “original”? Which is fake? Are they one and the same? I honestly tried to avoid a lot of the sentimentality and feelings (yuck!) that accompany end of year reflections, but old habits die hard.
Writing a summary of the year poses some pretty interesting questions also like, how much should you divulge? How much is too much? Can you really be honest? What classifies as private and otherwise? Isn’t your view of the year terribly biased and unilateral?
In keeping with my obsession for a rounded view, I decided to enlist the help of a special friend I made this year, here’s part of what she had to say about me.
Note: Reads like a ‘Why I love my BFF’ essay and she thinks I’m overrated but she’s so wrong
This year, I met someone different, from my initial general analysis before we became friends, he was smart, open-minded and a deep thinker, socially awkward, loved mathematics and stayed away from drama. When we finally became friends, all my hypotheses were tested and found true, but there was more, more than I’d ever seen or expected.
I realized that he was someone who had issues. He had spent most of his life developing survival mechanisms to all the struggles he had been through. He was overrated. I perceived him as originally smarter than I found him to be. My friend is still very smart, probably smarter than me; it’s just that I thought he was like overly outstanding and a bookworm. Well, I was wrong. What makes him outstanding is not how smart he is, though he likes to read unusual stuff.
My friend is still a socially awkward introvert but he is moist when comfortable. He may, in trying to explain himself, sound like a selfish, robotic, emotionless person (I think he makes an effort to sound like that, you know, so that you’re not eventually disappointed), but he is one of the most selfless friends I have ever had. He is excellent at ignoring himself and just focusing on trying to fix his friend.
My friend sometimes talks when he is supposed to be listening. I would label him a bad listener, but sometimes he makes genuine effort. Overall, this person I met is a jumble. He is struggling with a haywire mind and some pretty deep social and psychological issues, but somehow he manages to be an amazing friend to me.
My year looked something like this:
I spent the year calculating probabilities, doing permutations and combinations, pushing buttons and trying to see what would happen. I am tired.
I began my year with no resolutions and in January I decided to write down skills I had in relation to what I studied in school (Finished school last December). Imagine my surprise when I could come up with nothing. Actually to be honest I wasn’t that shocked, I had always kind of suspected that this was the case.
Then panic, I began to panic. I spent the year trying to answer one question:
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
This moment became a crisis point that shaped my entire year and would also define, I suspect, the next decade or so of my life. I became mildly obsessed with adding value to myself. Life immediately morphed into a never ending exam, and oh boy was I failing woefully at it.
So I set about looking for something to do before NYSC, I was looking for experience, any kind, something to occupy myself. I got a job as a tech support engineer at an IT firm and it was basically hell; the work environment was toxic, but I endured anyway and learned my first lesson this year: that I’d never let desperation cloud my sense of judgment and to always make sure I understand the terms of employment before I agree to anything.
In the month of March, I was part of the core organizing team of the first TedxUnilag event. It was quite the experience and I was happy to be a part of something bigger than myself. The event was successful and despite the myriad of challenges, the team pulled through. It was amazing in the sense that none of us had any experience whatsoever, from getting the license, to organization, to following the encyclopaedia of rules, to getting sponsorship, every level was fraught with difficulties but the cliché held true for us – When you set your mind to it, there is nothing you cannot achieve. The synergy of ideas was something I was grateful for. This was probably the highlight of my year.
With April came convocation and depression, mostly because graduating brought up something that I had succeeded spending the first quarter of the year compartmentalising away. At my CDS group (in NYSC – I’ll still come to this) they have taken to calling me the pseudonym – Prof. I desperately try to tell them to stop but the name has stuck. It makes me feel like a fraud. Maybe my friend was right when she noted that I was overrated, or maybe I overestimate my abilities, can’t decide which is worse.
Growing up, I was the smart kid, but now I spend my days trying to convince myself that I’m not stupid. University education severely messed with my confidence; it put a severe dent in my perception of the self. Convocation reminded me of this, how much of a failure I had been. Out of all the people I disappointed, I was most disappointed in myself. I will probably spend a while trying to repair this ‘error’ in my record haha!.
In June I went to NYSC camp. Those three weeks were a time for reflection, mostly because I was terribly antisocial. Being a socially awkward teenager might be cool, but carrying it through to young adulthood now makes it a scourge I’m trying to discard. I felt like an outsider and because social interaction was so difficult, I spent most of my time with my head buried in books. We had a lot of boring lectures but there was this one that really stuck with me, about entrepreneurship and business ideas. I was suddenly conscious of the fact that there was a market for ideas. Thing is, I am a repertoire of ideas. Ideas pop into my head like clockwork but that’s where they also die. I started seriously considering a couple of things and got a particular one I think I’d like to pursue in the next couple of years.
It was at this point that I realised that I was a visionary without tools, like a carpenter who wanted to make really cool furniture but didn’t have a hammer and chisel. I didn’t just want to be the idea guy anymore; I wanted to actively contribute to the development of my ideas. I set out to acquire these skills on my own. It was honestly hard to start anything but when I did, surprisingly I stuck to it. I discovered that I still have discipline when I put my mind to it.
If NYSC has taught me anything, it’s this:
That I am no longer a child, that it might be time to grow up and finally start thinking about the future. My parents have left me to my own devices.
Growing up, they never let us be enterprising, my dad would always say that we should focus on our studies. I have learned to be self-reliant; a marked improvement from last year.
Toward the end of the year, I had the opportunity to get a sort of dream job but lost it. It was the sort of job every engineering graduate prays for. The loss was heavy, and I took it badly, it almost wrecked me but here I am, still standing.
My grandma died in October and my mum was devastated. I was worried because she has a history of hypertension and she’s already had some near fatal health scares. Plus, I wasn’t sure how to console her. But I learned that sometimes all your loved ones need is the knowledge that you are there. Sometimes that is the best you can do.
I thank God for friends, who have stayed with me through my year of near manic depression. I love you all. Maybe I’ll consider seeing a shrink next year.
The 20’s are a hassle, there is so much pressure to make something of yourself but life doesn’t come with a manual, we learn from experience, we make up the rules as we go. There will be times when we need to be rigid and uncompromising and at other times we need to adapt on the go. I don’t want to be that guy who had so much potential and could have been so much more than he ends up being, so I’m going to pick up from where I stopped this year, keep adding value to myself and keep moving forward.
And oh, before I go, this year I learned that the correct answer when a woman asks you ‘What are we?’ is never ‘Friends’, in fact saying gibberish and acting and deaf and dumb are better alternatives.
LOL at the last paragraph.
There really is no manual to this ‘adulting’ thing. We just need to keep trying to do and be our best. Keep moving forward!