Sunday, July 31, 2016

Coding on Sundays

Hadn't seen my Sunday School kids in a whole month. Between traveling the first two weeks and working on my core in the last two, I was finally reunited with them today. I didn't even have enough arms to go round. Lol! It was like ants on honey - bear hugs and borderline heimlich maneuvers. I love them!


In September last year, I volunteered and started teaching Bible study to a small class of 8-16 year olds on Sundays at my local church. Later in March, I would introduce them to writing computer programs and they picked up really fast. It's a co-ed group, and I noticed the girls started off rather timid. Some of them had told me that coding was a "guy thing" and along the line, there was some show of superiority from one of the boys. I was not having it. I was bent on changing the narrative and attitude. Happy to say that we did, and in the four months since we started, there's been a lot of growth and genuine interest in code and the Word. One of them later told me she wants to be a software engineer and started taking classes at school. My heart may have exploded at that point.


On those Sunday mornings that following a Saturday night so hectic that I just so badly want to sleep in till lunch time, I think of them, my little stars, and how special our relationship is. Just wanting to be there with and for them is usually enough to get me out of bed. I love them, I told you. The other day, one mum said to me, "I've been watching you. You're so good with children, and they are not even yours. Aren't you ready to have your own?"

*Side eye.* These Naija women sef.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Time and Chance, and FOMO

Can you believe this? Gina Trapani wrote this post when she was on the verge of hitting 40. I hit a milestone birthday a month ago, and wrote a post where I shared almost the exact sentiments as Gina, only she’s leading by a full decade. I can’t believe this now-or-never feeling of restlessness and urgency happened to some other person, an older person, in fact — to Gina, whom I have tons of admiration for. Will this always be us, humans or women, worrying at the end, middle or start of a new decade, wondering if we are on track or have more time? More time for what sef?




The post speaks volumes to me (you should read the full entry). Take the part about working in an industry with a youth fetish. I swear one of the things that struck me in the months before my birthday, was that I was on my way out of the “millennial” age bracket. Whose fault? Millennial suddenly became a buzzword in tech (like Big Data) and being one at my job and industry in general fetched you some level of attention. As I thought about my impending birthday, I got wistful knowing that I would soon be out of “the generation” — even though it secretly annoyed me when my teammates (most of whom my parents age, in their 50s — 60s) greeted me with “kiddo” at work. I also thought about how it was now too late to make a Forbes 30-under-30 nomination somewhere. Anyway, I quickly shut those head voices down, because none of these things made any real sense, and I tasked myself with reflecting and redefining what success and impact meant to me.


I had priorities too at 20, and I’m sure I worried about them, like I did at 25. I remember the panic attacks from 23, freaking out after college that I had not accomplished “much.” In reality, I had graduated from engineering school with honors, made my self and family proud, enjoyed the most amazing friendships, had a drive for myself and was building useful skills. Yet with the silly self-inflicted pressure, I felt like it was not “much.” It’s one thing to be restless and ambitious, but it’s easy to taint that energy and somehow manage to frustrate yourself. Happy to say those years turned out to be epic, which I can now see looking back.


The other part of Gina’s post that resonated with me was about being a woman and running out child bearing time. Ha! Even I had written a blog post about this one in the months before 30. 29 had me thinking about my family building timeline, and I found out while researching options of fertility preservation, that some companies offered their employees this benefit. Mind blowing, huh? Friends and research say that I’m clearly getting ahead of myself — worrying about this at 30. I probably do still have time, I just don’t think it’s early to expose my mind to the thought.


The running-out-of-time narrative is definitely not fiction. For me, 30 has finally come and it is my best year so far. Not just because it’s my most mature, duh, but it’s also been intentional. It’s come with epiphanies, connected dots, moments of awakening and gratitude, introspection, and the fulfillment of finding personal power. I am okay with the speed of the time of my life. I am okay with being an overachiever, but I also realize I am not Big Data. (My) life will not always be about Hadoop, my life is not (all about) my job title. I am not my resume, nor am I my accomplishments or the lack thereof. I am much more than that, and in fact, I am my life.


I feel like I have lived in my head for a long time, and 30 saw me evolve into Bold and Grounded. Stay on the ground, I remind myself. How? You take your life in sips. Everyday is a new sip, take your baby steps.


Count me in for healthy challenges. I’m always up for living my best life, I do my yearly reviews and hold myself accountable. But what I know for sure is that I’m done taunting and afflicting myself with career and personal FOMO, which is really a fear of “carrying last” in Nigeria speak. This thief, this fear of missing out, this incessant feeling of not being in the right place with your career, will make you consent to things and ideas and relationships that you really have no business with or genuine interest in. Not because they were bad per se, they’re just way off what you need or could give yourself to at the time. FOMO breeds indecision, and easily sets you up for … I wouldn’t call it failure, but more like waste. Yes, it wastes resources — yours and others involved, and gets you off track. It’s self-perpetuating, you’re never fully in or out, and you end up not making the best of any situation.


Don’t waste your journey. Enjoy the party that is your life.



Published first on Medium.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

To The Writer That Lives In Drafts


What my Drafts dashboard looks like on Medium.com


Three words for you: You're overthinking it!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Absentia

Gone from work for two weeks, and now returning to some 300 emails. Monday morning blues :)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Emosh Analytics

Just last night, I had had enough from this friend who had upset me. He had done his thing as was convenient for him and when I called him out, he started bombarding me with text messages and calls that upset me even more. He wouldn’t stop with the follow ups - some of which were guilt-ridden, and the others were plain annoying. So I asked him to quit bugging and let me/things breathe. And then he came up with yet another long epistle before conceding.


On a different note, I'd been considering getting back with a not so old flame/ex (these head v. heart matters that usually throw common sense out the window), and I needed clarity. Spending the week in Lagos - away from him - meant time for me to think objectively, as well as getting time and input from my ever loyal homeboys. Ever loyal :) 


Just this morning, I started to think about the people I'd been romantically involved with, and attempted to analyze my patterns with hindsight, on a whiteboard. I thought about how I reasoned, what I felt when I was in it, and how/why things ended. In all honesty, it was a pretty good eye-opening exercise. Now I want to plug these findings into "Big Data" ...

Bookreads and Yoga: Diary of an Oxygen Thief

I hated this book. 
I read it today in a couple hours, while I did my weekend laundry.
I loved how it started. With yoga. 

My muscles were sore from a long travel streak. In a span of two weeks, I had done Aruba, New York, Lagos and Enugu with layovers in Paris and Amsterdam. Dragging luggage pieces across the globe did leave me a little sore, plus the flights were long, and my sleep patterns were disrupted from jetlag. I could hardly wait to get into the next Yoga class once I was back to base, even if it meant skipping church. 

Yoga is great. The first time I went to a class was sometime in the last two months. I had missed my regular cardio class and decided I’d just drop in and see what the yoga people were doing. Quickly decided it wasn’t for me, but went again another day and managed to buy the idea of doing handstands, stretching and taking deep breaths for healthy reasons. Plus it was a reality check for me to see how stiff my muscles were. I soon bought my own yoga mat and blocks and tried it at home. 

The next time would be Fathers' Day, which was the first Sunday after my dad passed away. I had no intentions of being within the walls of any institution (especially a church) that would be celebrating that occasion. I went to the gym instead, and found my perfect escape there. And so today, while I sat there on my mat thinking about freeing my muscles, my yogini announced that someone had taken a picture of the customized tattoo she had on her right arm, and replicated it. She said she felt violated seeing the pictures on Instagram, and hurt, and wanted to hurt them back. I could not help wondering if tattoos were some sort of intellectual property. She mentioned she'd just finished this book called “Diary of an Oxygen Thief,” and the theme was about how hurt people hurt people. Then she read out the opening, which went like this:

“I liked hurting girls. Mentally not physically, I never hit a girl in my life. Well once. But that was a mistake. I’ll tell you about it later. The thing is, I got off on it. I really enjoyed it. It’s like when you hear serial killers say they feel no regret, no remorse for all the people they killed. I was like that. Loved it. I didn’t care how long it took either, because I was in no hurry. I’d wait until they were totally in love with me. Till the big saucer eyes were looking at me. I loved the shock on their faces. Then the glaze as they tried to hide how much I was hurting them. And it was legal. I think I killed a few of them. Their souls, I mean. It was their souls I was after. I know I came close a couple of times…”


Quite a grabber, wouldn't you say? It was catchy and dark, and you immediately saw yourself in either the hurter or the hurt, or both - which are really one and the same, since the hurter is hurt, or maybe not. Anyway, she asked each yogi to set their agenda or dedicate our practice for the day to someone. I thought about one of my friends who upset me last night. I had much to say but refrained from blurting out everything that had gone through my head. So I halfheartedly dedicated my yoga to this annoying friend. Right after the session, I would walk up to Caitlyn (yogini) and she would lend me the book. I was excited. Got home, loaded my washer and settled on the couch.

I wanted to enjoy this book. I really did. Heck, maybe I even wanted some therapy out of it. But that was not the reason I was disappointed. It was poorly cooked and disjointed. The opening lured me, but turned out to be all hype, fluffy and deceitful. The intrigue following the opening lasted for a while until the buildup fell through. I kept reading, because I just wanted to finish it. After some 150 pages, it ended rather passionlessly in an anticlimax. Ugh!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Us and Them

Man!

Just saw the videos of Philander Castile and Alton Sterling. Had chills running down my spine.

People, why so hateful? If my life is valuable to me or to the people I love, then why shouldn't another person's be? Who made you or me an authority to take a person's life out, when neither you nor me was responsible for breathing life into them in the first place? No, this is not okay.

Earlier today, I was talking with someone who was asking me questions about my love life and "toasters." I started to tell her about a love interest when she interrupted me, "What tribe is he from?" 

I responded with his ethnic group and added, "What does it matter?" 

She was just asking, she said, and we kept talking.

In another conversation she would ask about two friends of mine whom she was acquainted with. 
"Those two?" I told her I had played a role in introducing them to each other. "Looks like they might be hooking up soon." 

"Really? Anyway they fit each other."

She barely knew them. I asked why she thought so.

"They are both Yoruba Yoruba," came her reply.

No, this is not okay.

At that point, I didn't feel the need to carry on with the conversation any longer. It didn't matter that she was older than I was. I was successfully irritated, and managed to say that people were not automatically (a) fit for each other because they hailed from the same ethnic group. 

I'm in Nigeria by the way.

With the latest killings and racial tension in the news this past few days, it's easy to point fingers at America, place blames and take sides. But how about you and me here at home, where we are of a single race? One race, but yet, still obsessed with hate, and blinded by differences. It just occurred to me that we, human beings will never be satisfied with being just what we are - human beings. We, human beings will always need to segment and categorize and prove that whatever groups we choose to be members of must be superior to the non-members. It's easy to see that the concept of World Peace is a myth, an oxymoron.It will always be "us" and "them."

But this post is not about acting holier-than-anyone. I have a bias that I only just discovered as a result of these recent hate crimes, and it makes me cringe to see that I've been indifferent. I was once of the opinion that illiteracy was the sole reason behind closed-mindedness, and that education was the cure. I now know how unfounded that statement is. Education and enlightenment are two distinct things. Instead of being aloof when I am not directly affected, I choose to be an ally. 

How do you and I take personal responsibility?
This is by no means exhaustive, but go ahead and be intentional in your relationships. Expose your bias. Enlighten yourself. Increase your tolerance towards people, especially those who seemingly have little or nothing in common with you. It's extreme, even fanatical to want to force others to see things your way. I am tempted to say stop evangelizing, stop preaching, but a better way to phrase that is to live by your own example. 
Let your evangelism be in your deeds - and not mere words. (Well, writers will argue)
Live and let live - let people be, let them choose.
Live so that people see and want to emulate, and do so because they decide to. 
Why focus on fixing them? Leave them, and just live!