Dec 23, 2019

2019 in Review

2019 in a Note shell.

“You are a tiny masterpiece, a breathe of fresh air put into a block of clay”

Quick disclaimer: This might be a lot of quotes and phrases, pardon me. I write as I think.

As I sit in my home office space at almost 3 AM on a Thursday, I am trying to decide if I should go to bed, or keep writing? Seeing that it is at this time my creative juices are flowing, I wonder how to summarize this year.

Mostly I have had to think about how much this year changed me, my experience with my career, personal relationships, the way I view certain opinions. I grew a lot this year. Got a $1000 worth of knowledge for $1.99. Yes, you just read that in Jay-z’s voice. At least I did😂

It all sums up to one thing. “You are a tiny masterpiece, a single molecule of something great. Find your niche and you will make meaning out of all this” — Obinna Ekwuno

I’d be lying if I said 2019 was ordinary for me. I honestly think someone is rooting for me from above. In my 2018 review I stated that I was a child on a journey (Nwa Biara Ije). Well, I am still on the journey so let’s discuss what happened in the chapter that was 2019.

In the beginning

The last year in university, 2019 came with a lot of uncertainties for me. Will I finally get a full-time job? Will I get to a stage of conscious competence with my coding abilities? I went through life at 100WTFs (what the f**ks)/hr while still keeping it together. I had a lot of dreams and I couldn’t let myself be held back by anything.

As the long academic strike continued at school, I stayed back in the city of Enugu with two (sometimes three or four depending on if David and Dike had no electric power in their houses) roommates in one room, living out of a suitcase while working part-time at the institution I completed an internship. Learned more about JavaScript, and shared my thoughts through Scotch.io — shout out to my man Chris Sevilleja for providing a platform for developers to share and earn a few $$. I also had the opportunity to contribute to LogRocket blog where I posted a lot this year.

Eventually, I had to go home since I had been away from my mom for almost ten months.My mom lives on the ground floor of a two-story apartment building. Connecting to reliable internet was always an issue. I could not allow this minor obstacle deter my coding journey. I asked the neighbors on the second floor if I could sit on the balcony — the most convenient location I could get my MTN internet working, so I could get some work done on my laptop.

This was no walk in the park as I was mostly under the sun sweating my a** off.

On one of those hot afternoons, I saw a hashtag trending on “tech twitter”, #TechTalkWithTJ. Feeding into my curiosity, I found out it was a talk about personal branding. I hopped on the zoom call with no hesitation and I can sincerely say that I do not regret it.

It gets easier. You just have to show up every day.- Bojack Horseman Show

Cloudinary Media Developer Expert program

After a while you start to question everything you know but it feels right so you give it your all.

During the chat with Timirah James organized by Andela, I asked a simple question. “How does a developer become a developer advocate and who really is a developer advocate? ”

I’ll tell you why I asked this simple yet intriguing question. I had seen a lot of developer advocacy job postings and they always seemed to want people who have a lot of expertise under their belt. Note that at this point I was just a curious kid who loved to learn, build and blog about code. In some sense, I felt like an advocate 😂(okay maybe not in the entire description of the role but you get the point).

After Timirah answered my question she said: “Maybe send me a DM on twitter?”. Did I ??

We had a chat and one day in February at about 11:35 pm (GMT+1) I received a DM from Timirah asking if I was open for a zoom call. Again…

Long story short after a series of chats and interviews, I became a Media Developer Expert 🥳. Literally the youngest person in the MDE slack 😂. Following this big break, several opportunities presented themselves.

IT’S NOT ALWAYS ABOUT WHAT YOU’VE GOT, SOMETIMES IT’S ABOUT WHAT YOU HAVE AROUND YOU

I will most likely explain the above quote in another blog post. I have realized that I am simply a product of all the amazing conversations I have had and maybe a reflection of the inspiring individuals I have had them with. Was it the one time I was feeling like I wasn’t where I wanted to be in my career and my 14-year-old brother said to me “ Progress is always progress”, or when Jemima Abu yabbed me into looking for a “real job”? I guess we’ll never know.

What this quote means in a feed sentence is that you don’t really have to overthink the situation like “Am I strong enough?” , “Am I old enough?”, “ will Mr. X help me ?”. Sometimes you have to take that leap of faith. Keep faith, positive energy and people that sincerely love and SUPPORT you around.

Relationships

Every day we meet people. It’s mostly a new beginning with those first words, a smile here and a conversation there. Slowly but surely you start to define the relationship and then it becomes something you either want to keep or something you don’t.

Personal relationships


“Deep down, are you really a good person? The thing with deep down, I don’t even believe in deep down. I really just believe that you are the things you do.” — Bojack Horseman Show

In a way, sometimes I feel like BoJack Horseman. He has some similarities to how I feel about dating. I think a huge part of this stems from some decisions I made back in 2017 (I can not keep writing about this every year). I do however know that sometimes we meet someone really special but we are not ready to hold on for so long. Yes, I said I got through that breakup like a champ. Whatever! I’m not crying…you are lol.

Sometimes I still find myself listening to 2005 by James blunt in the dark wondering what if I didn’t take that bus ride to Enugu in 2018. What if I didn’t think the only way to achieve anything great was to neglect the one person that would give it all for me?

Anyway, I am still single but not searching. Still learning, and still growing. Still getting older😂, my little sister swears I will marry a robot.


We locomote ! ▶️ — Every tech bro


Awesome Friendships 👫

This year I strengthened a lot of friendships which is really cool. It’s always exciting to link up with my friends from twitter, shout out to Trojan okoh (Thanks for giving me a place to sleep whenever I was in your city), Kofo, Anijola, David (Commissioner of Design), Bolaji(God when), Bolaji (Loki), Gift Egwuene, Ore Ogundipe(The real OG!!),William Imoh , Kenny IO and of course Chris Nwamba (Hi dad! ). The list goes on …

Travel, Speaking & Writing

Part of the perks of being a Media developer Expert is that I get to go on sponsored trips to speak at conferences and meetups (Cool! I know) So I took advantage of this opportunity to amplify my love for sharing and learning. This year I spoke at eight meet-ups/conferences and gave a workshop on using Cloudinary at a Hackathon. I did all these while also navigating my way through final year and working on my project.

The most interesting opportunity for me was speaking at Concatenate Conf where I gave a lightning talk on Creating an empathetic web for the next billion users. I also met Sarah Drasner, had conversations with Tatiana Mac who btw is a really fun person to talk, Simona cotin who loved my T-shirts and whom I promised to make some t-shirts for. I hope I can keep up with my promise.

P.S: I love to travel and explore new environments. Invite me to your city and I will be there.


Y’all!!! Somebody in heaven really loves me.

I wrote a ton of articles this year thanks to Kenny Eze and Christian Nwamba most of which I published on LogRocket .

I was really active in the community this year and I am really grateful for the MDE program for amplifying my efforts. Shout out to Mickey Aharony (Coolest dude ever!!!) Timirah James (🤗), Doron Sherman(Sensei for all talk tittles), Maya shavin for letting me help out with JAMstack Isreal.

On knowing Self-worth


If I can do better, then I will be better — Stormzy (Do better)

I have found a couple of times we tie our self worth to the wrong things. Or sometimes we let people tell us who we are (or who they think we are) which in my opinion sometimes can be a bit tricky.

While working part-time at the startup (2018 review), I quickly realized that as much as I was investing a lot of effort into working at this company, I was uncomfortable with the way some things were handled. This often left me with a feeling of sadness and misery. I then took a deliberate decision to not allow myself to enable things that make me sad. Though grateful for the opportunity, let’s just say I have not looked back ever since.

Dear Humans,Do what you love .Best,Obinna .

( I’m going to put this post from Timigod here because it makes a lot of sense )

Gatsby

I joined The great Gatsby (No, not the Scott Fitzgerald novel that was later the movie). Gatsby JS the awesome JavaScript PWA generator (This is what we are calling it now ).

Quick back story about why I started sending out job applications in the first place. First of all, I met a girl, Jemima Abu in May. We had a few conversations and in one of those conversations, we shared our plans for the rest of the year. I had very specific plans: Finish uni, Stay in Enugu for a year, Do my NYSC and figure life out from there

You know, a simple life. Then Jemima said to me, “I rate you so much, but it sounds to me like you don’t rate yourself. You can do so much more! ” I would liken her words to this photo.

So I started sending out a lot of applications and I was so excited when I saw the tweet for a position as a Software Engineer on the Gatsby Learning team. Well, the rest they say is history.

Teaching for a living

Now, what joining the learning team at Gatsby means is that I get to work with this awesome service first hand, create readable, accessible documentation that enables other developers to learn to harness the power of this wonderful tool (Teach I must ! — In my master Yoda voice).

https://twitter.com/Obinnaspeaks/status/1202721674514358272

I have the privilege to work with people who I had secretly been a fan of. This team of super awe-inspiring humans led by Marcy Sutton (Marcy is super cooooollll btw). I had just finished watching her Frontend masters course on Accessibility when we had our first zoom chat. For the first five minutes I was trying to keep it calm. I mean I was actually chatting with Marcy sutton about accessibility amongst other things.

In my team, I get to work alongside really amazing people like Aisha Blake (my buddy😎) , Laurie Barth , Kyle Gill, Brittney Ball. I am really looking forward to learning and growing with the good people at Gatsby.

https://twitter.com/cloudinary/status/1203010349638619136

My Cloudinary family’s comment made me tear up a bit.💛

2019 goals — (shattered expectations ) and new dreams.

So let’s see how I did with my 2019 goals😅

  • Travel to two African Countries: I did get some opportunities to visit South Africa and Kenya however, I got denied a visa to South Africa and I had exams around the time for my Kenya trip
  • 1,500 commits on GitHub: Epic fail!!
  • Become GitHub Campus Expert: I became a Media Developer Expert, so I guess this counts😁
  • Give more Talks: I really wanted to speak at concatenate 2019; I DID ✅
  • Give a Ted Talk: Though this did not happen, I still have some ideas worth sharing
  • 100 Articles on Scotch.io: Epic fail!❌

Now for the above, I don’t know what I was thinking 😂

  • Write more code for more Startups🌚
  • Mentor more people: Currently doing this — trying my best
  • Take more photos 📸: Evidence below inserts shy face, no judgment allowed

2020

Next year is going to be a significant year for me for a lot of different reasons. Starting a new job, visiting new countries (If you see my in East Africa a lot, it’s because I am officially a hobo developer). Do I have a list of stuff I want to achieve in 2020? Sure.

  • I would like to be on podcasts: I am big on having wider conversations so I am open to discussing Tech and beyond
  • Start a Gatsby JS community in Nigeria: Already working on this 😉
  • Speak at more conferences and meetups: I love to learn and share so I am open to any speaking engagements
  • Write a book: I started working on this project this year but I look forward to publishing in 2020
  • Mental and Physical Health: This is the year I go to the gym and take time to meditate as I am making an honest effort to be happier
  • Looking to make more visual content through Egghead.io and LogRocket

Well, that’s all folks! Until next time. The world🌏is yours. I look forward to writing my 2020 year in review.