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In the past, I would typically start these review posts being very dramatic; scenic descriptions, narration, priming the audience, all that jazz. Well this year, #WeDifferent. What I will do is say thank you to the entire Stories team for the opportunity to yet again be part of this wonderful yearly effort. Being able to look back on your entire year with the intent of writing stuff down gives you a major appreciation for the year. At least that’s always been my experience in writing these things.

So, my 2017. If I was to give it a theme, it would be the Year of the Spotlight. More than any other year in my 30 odd years on earth, this year my life was put under a spotlight; both for good and bad.

PROFESSIONAL SETBACKS.

I fucked up at work this year. I got complacent, I let myself coast mentally, I stopped pushing myself to develop and grow, and sadly it took two rude awakenings for me to realize this. The first rude awakening was not getting promoted. First came the pain and disappointment, but the proper awakening followed some introspection and a realization that I truly didn’t deserve to be promoted, because I hadn’t earned it. A few months and a few projects later, the bigger ruder awakening came up. For now, all I’ll say about it is, I have 6 months to “fix” it.

The summary is, it took “bad things” happening for me to do a much deeper introspection than I had been doing, and face the reality that I really wasn’t where I should have been and that it was entirely my fault. I had put in efforts to fix things after the first wake-up call, but nothing concrete or methodical until the second issue came up. I do hope when this annual review series comes next year I’ll have positive things to say about this experience.

DANCING WITH THE STARS.

I started the year performing at the Reno International Salsa and Bachata Festival; my first time on a stage of that level. Since then, I’ve had several more performances at the same level and I’m pretty much assured of many more to come. For better context, in August 2016 I joined the InEssence Dance Company, the Bay Area’s elite Bachata performance dance group. For the Latin Dance community, the Reno festival pretty much kicks off things for the year. My teammates and friends within the Bay Area community were all raving and hyping this festival, so mans was excited, nervous, and curious all at the same time. Having been there now, I can confidently say that of all the festivals and congresses I’ve been to, and I’ve been to a fair share, the production quality of the performances in the Reno festival is the best I have ever seen.

2017 has been my biggest year in dance. I met and danced with so many of the people I think of as dance gods. I went to more dance events than I’ve ever been to: Reno, Houston, Chicago, San Francisco (twice), Los Angeles, Las Vegas. I’m part of a dance family and love my directors and teammates. I led Afrohouse/Afrobeats dance sessions on a huge stage and got more non-Africans introduced to that kind of music. Basically, I reached heights this year that had me cheesing HARD, and make me excited about what 2018 has to offer.

PERSONAL “SETBACKS”.

Dance wise, it wasn’t all highs though. I had my first solo dance class in Lagos last Sunday. And even though I expected it, the turn out wasn’t what I would have liked. But I’m happy I bit the bullet. I’m grateful to everyone who showed up and for the lessons I learnt. Part 2 of the Intro to Latin Dance will be bigger and better, and I’m looking forward to it with even more excitement.

I would talk about my love life, but there’s nothing to talk about there, TBVH. 2017 was the same as 2016: “close but no cigar”. Mans hopes that at some point I’ll find someone who loves me as much as I love her, and I can leave this single to stupor life alone. But for now…I’m still a baby boy enjoying my life.

ENJOYMENT FIT ME DIE!

An office ski trip and a Thanksgiving trip to Lake Tahoe, a hiking trip to Yosemite National Park, a wedding trip to the Dominican Republic and Panama, a (not yet completed) vacation trip to England, two wedding trips to Nigeria (Saka I’m sorry I didn’t make it). Can’t even front, I had a really great year as far as leaving home and going away to have non-dance related fun. I flexed way more than I should have this year, but I have absolutely no regrets. All the experiences were worth it, and I would totally do them all over again.

Final word on enjoyment, seeing Ed Sheeran, Hans Zimmer and Jon Bellion live were the highlights of my year. Nothing prepared me for how amazing those concerts would be. They were LITTY AF!!!!!

LAST LAST, WE MOVE.

Like any other year, 2017 has had its ups and downs. I welcomed a new nephew, my close friends gave birth to kids, I had friends pass away, I had friends lose loved ones, etc. But all in all, when I think back on everything that’s happened this year, the bottom line is “We move”. I’m grateful to God for my 2017, I’m grateful for the new friendships, for the friendships that faded, I’m grateful for a new church family that I’m enjoying living out my faith with, I’m grateful for the disappointments and the lessons they’ve brought with them, I’m grateful for the joys I experienced and the beautiful memories they created. Ultimately, I’m grateful to be alive and to be ready to face 2018 with all the things it has in store for me.

Thank you for going on this journey of reminiscing with me. Till next time, Gidi Mallam out.

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