2020 (Year in review)

iyosayi14 Reflections

I think we can all agree 2020 has been a weird year. I bet everyone’s year-end review will make reference to the covid-19 pandemic and how it shaped their year. 2020 has been a year of canceled plans and having to make peace with the new normal. A year of chaos, anxiety, calm and surrender. The year facemasks and face shields became a necessity.

At first, there was so much hope that in a few months the pandemic will be all over and life would be back to normal. But as the months went on, everyone had to adjust their lives and stopped fighting the change. The feeling of apprehension mixed with hope slowly faded into one of acceptance and readjustments.

No one envisaged that the year will turn out the way it did. Asides from covid-19, there were numerous deaths of loved celebrities people looked up to. Two deaths shook me to my core – Kobe Bryant and Chadwick Boseman. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) abroad and then the Endsars movement here in Nigeria (which was crushed when the Nigerian Government decided to use the army to shoot its unarmed citizens) caused a major strain on my mental health.

2020 did have collective dark moments, that’s one thing for sure. But thankfully, we saw Trump get defeated at the US presidential elections. At least, that’s one thing 2020 got right. The energy shift; four years of lousiness and chaos finally ended. It’s back to decorum and decency. Good riddance to bad rubbish. 

If I’m to capture this year in one word, it will be ‘omo!’  Just when I was getting over one L, the year would hit me with another.

A huge part of my life went dormant this year. I’m an avid traveler and this is the first time in three years I didn’t get to leave the shores of Nigeria. I had grand plans to tour at least five countries in Europe and take the number of countries I have been to from 11 to 18. But covid-19 made sure I didn’t have to bring out my passport all year round.

I had planned to start a graduate program at the University of Benin this year, in line with the commitment I made last year as regards furthering my education. But 2020 was the year the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) went on strike for a record 9 months period.

However, I made good on my last year’s commitment to do some professional courses. I got inducted into two professional bodies this year. Preparing for the examinations made me miss schooling. Besides, it’s been Ten years I got my first degree. I had healed and rested enough from the rigors of my undergraduate days and was ready to get back in the game but then 2020 and ASUU strike happened.

The strike has led to loss of one year off of my short term goals. I’m not going to bother about it, I’ll trust the process as usual and see where life leads me. One thing I know for sure and have seen happen severally in my life is, God is not a God of confusion. He always gives me better than I plan and in the end, things always work out well. So I’m chilled and waiting for school to resume.

I long gave up on 2020 even before the coronavirus led to a somewhat collective write-off of the year. A major part of my life/year is usually centered on my career. So imagine how I felt when my Group Head increased my team’s already bloated budget for the year. The initial budget was already a tall order, only to get stretched even further. Then covid-19 induced lockdown happened, affecting businesses and certain economic policies were taken to even worsen the already impossible situation. I detached, knowing this wasn’t going to be the year.

People were like, things will work out fine in the end, but nah, when it comes to certain things I love accepting reality and making peace with it. If things do get better than I envisage, good. If not, I’m fine all the same. 

“And then this: Fighting against reality really is foolish. Find out what the reality is, and then work with it, embrace it, shape it, use it. This way, you achieve your goals with the least resistance, and you have peace.” – Chude Jideonwo

Even as I write, my team recently lost a big account. I said ‘omo’ again and moved on. See eh, 2020 do and end because the evil you have done is enough.

I remember starting the year frustrated because my finances were not looking great. I had set the largest personal savings target ever for myself, next thing interest rates on investment instruments started plummeting. I also didn’t get a dime of performance bonus paid out half-year and full-year at the office. Usually, the bonus helps me meet my saving targets before the year runs out, but this year I was just looking as my colleagues were all getting credit alerts around me. 

There was a time I had to ignore my financial excel sheet for weeks. At a time, I thought for once, I won’t be able to meet my savings target for the year. Falling interest rates from NGN Treasury bills were having an adverse ripple effect on various investment instruments. I had to pray that God provides alternative investments, and He did. My year was saved by alternative investments, and one prayer God also answered for me, was that none of my investments will go south. Thankfully, despite my two almost near misses, I didn’t lose a kobo. 

Also, despite the sacrifices made to be there for friends and also without my go-to investment options and productivity bonus, I was still able to surpass my savings target. Though this was also partly due to no travels this year.

When all my trips got canceled, I realized I had a good opportunity to build a structure for my passive income (everyone is about creating a path to financial independence these days). I’m thankful for reduced expenses which enabled me to have more disposable income to invest, even though I had to endure a pay cut due to the pandemic. I sat down and cut my expenses, letting go of certain luxuries. I think this is a mistake most persons make; not reducing their expenses in times of falling income.

I decided to practice delayed gratification. Shoes are my weakness and I’m also a bit of an online shopping addict. I’m so proud to say I conquered these habits this year. Even though I kept adding things to my cart online, I didn’t purchase anything. The only things I spent money on outside my usual monthly expenses were asoebi for the numerous weddings that came with the year and a jacket to support my friend’s tailoring business. 

I also learned to convert cheap debt to source of revenue. On the norm. I’m risk-averse and hate being in debt. But this year, I had to adjust my risk level and take some calculated risks. I mean, a major part of my job role has to do with intermediation, so why was I not applying these skills in my personal life to boost my passive income?

I dabbled into the capital market, thanks to Henry. I made some cool bucks here though I later realized I should have held the shares a little longer. Anyway, it was my first time and I have learned a lot in a few months about the best time to sell or hold shares. But one thing that still holds is, investing in the stock market needs market knowledge/share price history and lots of patience.

Most of these ideas I got were from conversations with friends. I’m extremely thankful for such productive friendships, not all the time vibes and sharing of memes. And yes, special thanks to Aduraseyi for introducing me to the agrotech world, this industry played a vital role in my finances this year.

Personally, 2020 has been quite a rollercoaster. My favourite part of the year has to be the lockdown period, funny enough. I loved the stillness that came with it. My life felt stable and peaceful. Sadly this was disrupted by anxiety from following the BLM movement on the news. 

In all, I had a good level of personal growth during the lockdown period as I was able to dig deep within, have conversations with myself I had long been running from and found clarity. I read lots of self-help articles online, and went through two hard copy books as well.

Another issue that also gave me anxiety, which I discussed with only one person (Henry) was the Edo State Governorship elections. Right from the primaries to the final elections, it was all twists and turns. The incumbent governor in a power tussle with the ousted APC chairman. The incumbent Governor winning had major consequences for me; career-wise and personally. Anyway, I’m glad that after all the drama, he won and the will of the people prevailed. Indeed Edo is not Lagos.

I had to lean on doing chores (mostly cleaning my apartment) to gain clarity and calm. It’s weird how that worked out well for me.

Towards the end of the year, I started perfecting my unbothered skills. It’s always been my desire to grow to that level where my initial reaction to things is that of calm. For someone managing anxiety, this has been quite a journey. But I think I made good progress this year mostly regarding not stressing about work or stuff that needs fixing or expenses to be sorted out. I learned to push them aside mentally till resources were available or I had the mental space to deal. 

I have learned to sleep on decisions the same way I learned to defer expenses. I used to be this as e dey hot kinda guy. I used to make decisions hastily, sort out issues, and clear out my to-do-list ASAP. But truth is, all that was adding more pressure to an already difficult adulthood. I think subconsciously, the stillness that came with this year has led me on a path of ease, of taking things in their stride and not hurting myself in the process. 

Life is easy when you take it one day at a time, breath after breath. No pressure, no rush (But this doesn’t make an excuse for laziness or procrastination. I still hold myself accountable in meeting deadlines and not flaking on commitments).

On love; this year I decided to start identifying as avoidant. Not after my rough February experience that left me with PTSD from being walked out on, coupled with a friendship that felt overwhelming and all so consuming at the time (I don’t think I handled this well though). I felt broken by both experiences, the only way to survive was to push them away. Thankfully we are all good and things have balanced out now.

As for being avoidant, deep down I acknowledge it’s not who I truly am. Yes, I hate the work that comes with relationships but truth is, I do want companionship and I’ll gladly do an easy relationship than being alone. But let’s face the facts, relationships require hard work. I’m all for ease, so being an avoidant is the less expensive option for my heart. 

Have you ever felt such pain that made you seclude into self? Shut the world out, lose trust in people, and always fear no one will stay? That they will always walk away and leave you shattered? That’s what I went through and I’m still recovering from it. So yes, being alone is difficult but I choose this cross over reliving that kind of pain. I’m choosing the lesser burden of being alone. It’s what I have made peace with.

2020 has been a relatively peaceful and stable year for me mentally, well, asides from the one or two times anxiety tried to get the better of me. In all, I’m thankful that compared to previous years there was no particular major breakdown. However, two weeks ago life wanted to try it with me, but thankfully, I managed to center myself and not lose it. Thanks to Dr. Pascal and Henry that were my anchor through it.

I told Henry at a point that I didn’t feel like celebrating my birthday which at the time was a few days away. He encouraged me to take each day as it came. Thankfully, it got easier as the days went by and I had one of my best birthdays ever. My colleagues showed up for me and friends sent in wonderful birthday gifts I wasn’t expecting. (I’m still not big on birthdays or birthday gifts).

Here’s what I posted on Instagram a few days ago about why I felt excited about my birthday even though we’ve all had quite a year.

On a lighter note, thanks to working from home during the lockdown period, I was able to grow out my hair and keep a mini afro once again. I once carried afro in my SS3 and early university days. Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep the hair for long this time around as the castor oil I purchased caused the hair at the middle of my head to come off. Still, I was fortunate to try three different hairstyles this year. I’ve always been the guy who loves to express himself creatively with his hair but this has been limited because of my corporate job.

“I just wanna be myself
And I want you to love me for who I am
I just wanna be myself
And I want you to know I am my hair

I’m as free as my hair
I am my hair
Free as my hair” –
Lady Gaga (Hair)

I’m thankful for the ‘weird’ year 2020 has been. I’m thankful for all that went down and all the gbas gbos that came with the year. What matters is that we made it and that we are still here. Here’s to those we lost along the way. Every soul lost to the pandemic means something, each individual is more than a statistic. Also here’s to all the heroes lost during the fight for social justice, especially during the Endsars protest. We will never forget.

At this very moment, I feel whole and I’m truly happy and feel this sense of freedom/peace, a feeling I’m not accustomed to at the end of a financial year career-wise.

I’m thankful for the clarity that came with this year, for the path I’m on, and here’s hoping that the coming year helps me consolidate on the progress I have made this year in all spheres of life and of course, a positive turnaround in the fortunes of my team at the office. 

Here’s to a better 2021, hoping it brings an end to the covid-19 menace as it’s now apparent December 31, 2020, is not going to be the expiry date for the pandemic as we all bullishly thought.