December 31, 2021


Reflections on 2021

This is my first year-in-review post, you know why? There's no reason. I guess I just didn't find my life interesting enough to write about it. That begs the question, do I now? You bet I do.

Seriously though, I've come to find value in documenting my experiences, choices, the things that worked, the ones that didn't and the lessons I've learned. My major driver is to have something I can look back at in 5,10,20 years and get an idea of how my life has progressed over the years.

2021 started great for me, I had just started at Netlify the month before and consequently moved to a new country (UAE). I was filled with enthusiasm and excitement. Who wouldn't, starting a new job (the job I wanted in the company I wanted) in a new country was the goal for me at the time and it was all coming through.

But like every other year, there are highs, lows and lesson's learnt.

Highs

Thinking back, I'm not sure I can properly recall all that happened in the last 12 months tbh but I'll try to highlight the more obvious ones:

Work was great

This is my best year yet as regards my work life. This is not surprising, I suppose. I got to work with my team at Netlify and that was the best part.

We worked on loads of awesome projects some of my favourites are: The Jamstack Explorers platform - A free learning platform for Jamstack courses and the Dusty Domains project that raised $100k for charity. I also created a course to help learners get started with Sanity and Nuxt. I wrote a lot of blog posts, released 10 YouTube videos, spoke at different events and featured in several episodes of the RemotelyInteresting podcast.

YouTube Channel

I finally started a YouTube channel. I've always wanted to do this for two reasons. First, videos are the best way for me to learn. Watching tutors show me how to do something has proven to be the best way for me to understand tough concepts. Since I loved learning from videos, I figured it would be great to also teach with videos. It gives me the unique opportunity to teach exactly how I'd love to be taught.

Secondly, I wanted to use it as an opportunity to train myself in delivering video content. I knew I wanted to do it long term, and the channel would provide me the opportunity to practice and monitor my progress and content quality.

Kenny's YouTube channel

I started the Channel in April, and so far there's been about 10 videos. I wanted to start small and I'm pretty happy with my pace.

Visited my family

This is probably the best part of the year for me. I hadn't seen my parents in about 2 years. It didn't help that there were travel restrictions. In May, I travelled back to Nigeria and met with all my family members. Emphasis on ALL. And I come from a very big family trust me. I spent time with my parents, my siblings, my cousins, my uncles and aunties.

I savoured every moment of it cos I don't know when next I'd see them again. Actually, I intend to spend more time with my family going forward. I'll travel home as often as I can to make it happen.

Croatia

I'm a huge Game of Thrones fan. When I heard that "Kingslanding" was set in the old town city of Dubrovnik, it became my number 1 travel destination. In October I got invited to speak at a conference in Zadar Croatia. I was ecstatic, nothing seemed more important. My plan was, get to Zadar, do the conference and head off to Dubrovnik to explore the Game of Thrones scenes.

But I had just as much fun at the conference as I did in Dubrovnik. More importantly, I met people and made friends. Since Covid, I've come to appreciate in-person conferences. In Zadar, I met more people than it makes sense to type, however here are a few: Swyx, Kent C Dodds, Atila Fassina, Eleftheria Batsou, Sébastien Chopin, Vitaly Friedman, Nader Dabit, Tomasz, Erik Rasmussen, Ema Baric, and so many other incredible people.

Fun in zadar

More pictures and videos from the conference and how we spent our time in Zadar

Dubrovnik was just super exciting for me, I met even more people at the hostel in Hotel Angelina. Then I spent a few more days exploring the sets of these amazing GOT scenes

  • Blackwater Bay
  • The walk of shame
  • The house of the undying
  • The red keep
  • Power is power
  • The purple wedding
  • Joffrey’s naming ceremony
  • The island of Qarth

And so on.

Dubrovnik Old Town

More pictures from Dubrovnik and the real life sets of the scenes I listed

Some lifestyle wins

In February I hired a personal trainer and started working out. Like every new thing it was hard. New habits are difficult to stick to, but to me, it wasn't a choice, I had to do it.

Kenny in the gym

Disclaimer: the link below contains shirtless pictures

9 months later the results speak for themselves.

I took every opportunity to have fun. Covid restrictions forced everyone to find new ways to have fun and be happy. I picked up Fortnite because I could play with my teammates and friends, on weekends I would hang out with my friends at home, when my friends visit dubai I'll immediately make plans to hang with them and spend some time together.

Lows

It wasn't all roses. I struggled a lot to get my personal affairs in order as the year began. I was dealing with issues I couldn't talk about. I missed my family, my appetite was all but gone, I could barely sleep. At best, I had one meal a day and barely got 4hrs of sleep at night. I got myself out of that situation (thanks to my trainer). It was hard work and seeing how far I've come in those areas, I can only say it was worth every effort I put in.

Then the next blow struck, my manager left the company I was working with. I went through a fresh roller coaster of emotions, she meant more to me than the job, she hired me and most of the excitement I had starting the job stems from the fact that I get to work with her. Hearing the news was troubling and the days and weeks that followed were particularly difficult for me. But it wasn't all bad for a couple of reasons:

  • She was moving on to take some time off and rest and I wanted that for her so I was also very happy for her.
  • She continued to take care of me. She's the best and I miss her so damn much.
  • My next manager is the best human in the world (he can never find out I said that).

However, I relived that feeling again much later in the year when another teammate decided it was time to move on. Not my best moments of the year, clearly.

I hit another low around September when I got stuck in Switzerland for 24hrs. It's a bit of a funny story now but boy was I terrified. I was being escorted around the airport by the Immigration police Lol. I'm not sure how much of that story I should share publicly but I'm definitely open to gisting about it, if you care to know more that is. It was crazy, and not in a good way.

To top off 2021, I tested positive for Covid 19. I'm still not sure how it happened, I woke up one morning with Covid symptoms, decided to get a PCR test and it came back positive. It was awful, I don't wish feeling that sick on anyone. Oh, and I was already doubled vaxxed prior so there's that. Anyhoo, It's all gone now and I'm back on my feet but it was definitely one of the lowest periods of the year for me.

What worked

Notifications

As a productivity hack, I decided to disable social media notifications on all my devices. Not just social media, the only notifications I get now are from Slack and Google Calendar. Why? I discovered that my biggest source of distraction came from random and unnecessary notifications. It breaks my flow state and I paid the price. Since turning off those notifications, I can focus better and work for longer hours without disruptions. Being able to maintain focus on the tasks I worked on meant that I could get more things done and on schedule.

Time off

I suck at taking time off from work. I took a lot of time off this year, and I'm very happy about it. That said, my time off routine is still a work in progress. For instance, I built my personal site this year when I took time off from work. My portfolio site

After 2 days I ran out of things to do to keep myself busy and I started building the site.

The next time I took time off, I built petscan.date. A fun project that is supposed to be Tinder but for pets 😅

Pets can date

My goal is to get to a point where I take time off and do nothing work related, not side projects, not gigs, nothing. As much as I'm not there yet, I still think the times I took off work this year worked really well for me. It gave me the much needed time to unplug from work, play video games with my friends, discover new places around my city, and so much more.

Hobbies

Whenever anyone asks me what my hobbies are, it'll start and end with "Traveling and watching movies". However, I wanted to challenge myself this year and pick up a more daring hobby and I did. I hired a personal trainer and started working out in February. If you knew me before 2020, you would agree that the results are great.

Secondly, I started gaming properly as well. I've always played video games (mostly soccer and racing) on my own. When Sarah Drasner introduced me to Fortnite, I saw that I could go on missions with her and some of our other friends, I got the PS5 console and went all in. This way of spending time with friends is a game changer. If you ever want to play together, text me!

Playing Fortnite

Slept more

I struggled, A LOT with sleeping. I don't completely sleep well yet but I'm much better now. I won't dive into the benefits of getting enough sleep, I knew I wasn't and I was paying the price for it. The issue was, I didn't know how to help myself. I would go to bed, close my eyes and remain awake 3hrs later. Then I'd feel like I'm wasting time just laying down here hoping to sleep which I'm clearly not doing so I'll get back up and go do something else. It was an unhealthy cycle that went on for a long time. If you're going through a similar thing, I'm happy to chat about it in more detail and share some of the things that worked for me.

What didn't work

Didn't pick up a lot of new skills

I bought several courses that Interested me. I swore I was going to take them but I didn't. I'm still struggling with finding the right balance between working and learning. Don't get me wrong, I learn new things every day as I work with my colleagues. But I've always wanted to learn webGL with threejs. That is not something you can pick up from work, it requires time and attention to go through the course, do the exercises, build demos and practice the lessons. I bought at least 5 different courses on exciting things I wanted to learn this year but never got around to actually learning them, including TypeScript and CSS.

Reading books

This was a total disaster. I struggle with reading books. I find it boring and often sleep off before I get through a few chapters. But I wanted to read so I kept forcing myself. It didn't work. Out of the 10 books I bought this year, I only managed to read 2, and I haven't even finished the second one. I'll do better next year, hopefully.

2022 Plans

It's simple, I want to:

  • Work fewer hours
  • Make more money
  • Spend more time with my family and friends
  • Travel more (if possible)
  • Learn exciting new things
  • Make people laugh more