Multitasking

This is going to be a boring post.

I have 1 main job, 2 side jobs, 3 ‘hustles’ I’m trying to get off the ground, and 2 others that are still in my head. Thing is, ideas are very cheap and easy to come by, but execution isn’t. Everyone knows this, including me, so why am I still doing this to myself? It’s probably because I’m a loner, and I haven’t figured out a secret sauce to getting users or a community for a web product. I mean, I know the ground rules but actually putting myself out there to say “I made this, please use it because it could actually make your life easier, and also please leave feedback” is a bit scary – especially as no one knows me and we all know how clique-y people can be, so why should they agree to be early adopters for this product made by a person they’ve never heard of, let alone learned to trust? I’ve tested my ideas on my immediate circle and everyone agrees the ideas useful and in good niches, but I can’t seem to build followership, and I know I should hire someone but … wait, I was going to say I don’t have money but now I can sort of afford to pay someone part-time so I’m not sure what’s holding me back. Heh. Okay I know: when I first got these ideas, I didn’t have my main job which pays the most, so I was essentially a broke ass. In that state, of course I couldn’t afford to pay anyone so my brain got used to thinking I should (and better be able to) do everything by myself. To be honest, I can probably do things myself, but it’s easier and faster to hire a person to do it.

[And, to answer the question you’re probably asking: no, I can’t recruit my current friends and family as users because the platforms and products I’m trying to build are not targeted towards them, e.g. there’s one for caterers, and in my immediate circle, there isn’t a single caterer. Maybe I should stick to building things people in my immediate circle can use and pay for.]

I read something about a multi millionaire who spends his days sailing his boat. He doesn’t quite believe in cofounding, and doesn’t think every new business should be ‘viral’ a la Twitter or Uber, his own businesses are not viral in that sense, but they provide useful services at great quality and are spread out over different cities. I think that’s what I’m trying to achieve, but as a person who doesn’t have that much money to throw at a business (i.e. to hire people, rent space, etc), my options are a bit limited I have to tweak my methods to suit my constraints. It’s cool though, I like my comfort zone but I know you only grow when you step out of there.

I’m not sure how to combine growing these platforms with my main job and 2 side hustles, especially since I want to kick ass at everything. For now though, my method is to give one thing my undivided attention for a period, and then switch to the next, and the next. Fortunately for me, of the 6 things I do – or am trying to do – for a living, only about 2 or 3 require me to think, read and strategize a lot; the rest can be handled without much fuss. On the flip side, I usually put off the ones that don’t require a lot of thinking, because I’m tired and I’m like “that only takes 10 minutes, I can do it later”. Of course, later almost never comes. I need to be more efficient, and learn enough about myself to know (how to maximize) my most productive times.

I’ve also just remembered something Shonda Rhimes said and I’m pausing for a bit to think about whether there’s any point struggling. No, she’s not God, and I’m not a mother, but there’s some sense in it.

If I am accepting a prestigious award, I am missing my baby’s first swim lesson. If I am at my daughter’s debut in her school musical, I am missing Sandra Oh’s last scene ever being filmed at Grey’s Anatomy. If I am succeeding at one, I am inevitably failing at the other. That is the tradeoff. That is the Faustian bargain one makes with the devil that comes with being a powerful working woman who is also a powerful mother. You never feel a hundred percent OK; you never get your sea legs; you are always a little nauseous. Something is always lost.

Sorry about the rambling, I was going to do a post about my current life and parallels with the movie, Confessions of a Shopaholic, and I wanted that to be interesting but I got stuck halfway and decided to do this instead.

Have a lovely weekend, and Happy Halloween if you’re getting in costume!

À bientôt.

Settling in a new country: Food, Toiletries and Infrastructure

I moved back to Nigeria in July, and I have not been miserable yet. There have been a few frustrations, but for the most part, I’m okay. I suppose that’s a good thing, and I have to credit the positive changes that occurred in Nigeria during my absence AND my good fortune.

Food: When I lived in Nigeria some years ago, I think I used to eat bread for breakfast. Now, I’m older and try to eat healthier, and white bread makes me almost-nauseous. My new breakfast preference is granola, but apparently you can only find granola bars here, not the cereal version. You can find muesli, though (but ewww). I considered – and even attempted – making my own granola but can’t find maple syrup, honey is too sweet for me and I need a better oven. So, for now, I subsist on Kellogg’s Fruit n’ Fiber. It’s fine.
I’ve also been experimenting with all sorts of Nigerian food recipes, and none has gone wrong yet (except my burned granola, of course), so yay! I snack on yoghurt with fruit chunks, like when I lived in Finland – which makes me miss it more, by the way – and groundnuts (Virtues and Vision). Many times, I find cider (Savanna Dry or Stella Artois) when I go to the store, but when I don’t, I have to make do with beer (Heineken). I tried that thing called Star Radler recently, and, no. Just, no. Unfortunate that there isn’t a great wine store that I know of, but I’ll be happiest when I find one!

Toiletries: I’m detailing all this because I remember writing about how, when I move to a new city or country, my default-meter resets and I have to choose my default food combos, toiletries, etc afresh. I still have some cosmetic stuff left over, but I now use black soap (Dudu Osun) to shower. It’s fine because it’s supposedly all-natural, but it doesn’t leave my skin feeling silky smooth like my old default shower gel. Will try other things. Body lotion is the hardest thing to choose, and I currently use a Nivea lotion that claims to give you even skin tone (but we all know this doesn’t happen, at least not with Nivea). I miss my Sanex range. And I use sunscreen when I remember.
Roll-on was not difficult at all to choose, and if there’s one thing I missed about living in Nigeria, it was my easy access to Old Spice. Glad to say I’m back to using that.
One of the things that makes me want to tear my hair out is panty liners. I mean, you try some stuff before you settle on a variant that makes you happy, but in my trials (abroad), none has ever been as appallingly horrible as the box I bought last week. Goodness.

Infrastructure: The one thing that has improved in Nigeria is electricity. It’s almost-nearly constant, and even when it’s not, I have access to an inverter and a generator, both of which ensure that the fan and router never go off. Yay.
Internet access is 24/7, and it’s super fast, but there’s a data cap. That said, I think there’s something wrong with the way my internet juice runs out every month. With all my streaming in Europe, I doubt that I ever went beyond 20Gb/month, but now, I blink and 50Gb is gone. I don’t stream movies any more, so how on earth? Also, internet access is ridiculously expensive – I pay ~€180 for 50Gb – and sometimes, it gets spotty or even non-existent, supposedly because of some base station problem, then I have to call customer service but it’s almost-okay because calling my ISP is toll-free.
I can do pretty much all transactions without having to leave my house or touch cash now, and that’s very nice because I don’t like going anywhere or touching cash. Except when I try to make a payment and it doesn’t go through but the money leaves my account anyway, and then I have to go to the bank. FFS.
Spotify works for me here, as long as I use it in the browser – or rather, it was working and now it doesn’t work anymore. I currently own an Apple device though, so I can switch to Apple Music; and I think I’d be willing to pay the required €4.99/month when my trial runs out, but let’s see how that goes. Finally, I think Uber is one of the top 5 best things to happen to Lagos, Nigeria. I hope they branch out to Abuja and PH soon.

All in all, apart from the tiny frustrations which can add up to become really annoying and rob me of my peace of mind, I think I’m okay.

Happy end-of-September, good luck with next month!

À tout!

Luxembourg

I moved back to Nigeria. And I think I’ve lost my writing mojo. This has little to do with the rest of this post.

In March, on the weekend RUJ(A) got married, my friends and I took a road trip to Luxembourg, and it was such fun (even though I was nursing a cold and was often tired), I wish I could have squeezed in one more like it before moving back to Nigeria.

One of us now has a car (yay!), and we rented another one because there were 10 of us in total. Because of some errors or whatever, we didn’t get the rental car we wanted, we got a shiny silver Mercedes C-class that looked like it belonged to a drug dealer. It was so shiny, people would stop and stare everywhere we went. We went from Amsterdam to Eindhoven to Weert to pick up other friends, stopped at Maastricht to grab lunch, and stopped again in Liege, Belgium to rest a bit because, like me, the owner of the car I went in also had the sniffles.

We got into Luxembourg around 17:00, and walked around the city for about 2 hours, just taking it in and marvelling where appropriate. I remember needing to pee but the toilet was locked because it was late or something, and one of us met a friend she hadn’t seen in so many years, while we were walking on some bridge. How nice. Anyway, that was that, and off we went, to our hotel in Metz, France. We had to sleep in France because hotels in Luxembourg are (or were?) too expensive for us, and anyway it was an excuse to explore a bit of France. We had dinner in a nice restaurant, and I used my mother’s card to pay for mine – after which she sent me the sms debit alert from her bank, probably wondering if indeed, her daughter was still out and about at 23:00. Yes mother, that was me. After dinner, we thought we’d wander about a bit, and we ended up in a bar/club space that made me remember Aix en Provence *sniff* but I couldn’t stay long as I was super tired, neither could my friend, the driver-who-also-had-a-cold, so we drove back to the hotel and I slept off.

In the morning, we went looking for breakfast in the city centre. We ended up in some place that appeared to be the town square, and had regular French breakfast fare, croissants and tea and all such things – and then we decided to explore the city and the quaint shops, churches, etc. We spent a bit of time walking along a river, during which I discovered that apparently, swans are (or can be) terrified of geese, if the geese honk loud enough. Some people were feeding stale bread to swans, and the geese spotted this from about 500m away and started honking and moving en masse to the food-sharing location. I thought there’d be a scuffle, but no. The swans moved away, waited for the geese to eat their fill and leave, and then returned. And here I was, thinking that the bigger you are, the more feeding priority you get.

From Metz, we drove to Trier, Germany, for lunch. I don’t remember what I had, but I remember struggling to choose between pasta and standard German food, and I think I chose schnitzel. We wandered around before lunch too, but we couldn’t do too much because this was 17:00 on Sunday and everyone had to be at work on Monday, and Amsterdam was 4 -6 hours away. I was tired but happy, and I remember getting home around 23:00 and tumbling into bed.

That was my weekend in Luxembourg. There are pictures, which might be uploaded later, but because I’m lazy, maybe not.

I’ve just written this post because it’s August 31, the unofficial end of summer, and even though I’m in Nigeria where (at least weather-wise,) summer never ends, I feel some type of way not having gone on any ‘interesting’ trips this period – so I thought I’d cheer myself up by writing about the time this year when I did go somewhere. I miss Amsterdam, and Finland, and France, and cheap, easy travel. This feeling was a tad amplified by this post, but well, like the writer, I had a nice alternative summer in which I did other things, too.

For people who had a proper summer break and are resuming school or work or anything else, welcome back, and good luck with the rest of the year!

À tout!

Who are you? Where are you from?

Let’s pretend I posted this in March, shall we? Okay.

Yesterday, I was reading this, and while I usually read that column for entertainment, it got me thinking about myself: I was born in a city (Enugu), lived the first 10 years of my life there, and then moved to another city (Ogun – 600 km away) for school. I went to school there for the next 11 years (high school and university, obviously), only going back to the city of my birth for holidays. After I graduated, I (went to the city of my birth for holidays, and then) moved to another city (Abuja) entirely for work. I lived there for almost 2 years, and then I moved to France (Aix en Provence), Finland (Turku), and Netherlands (Tilburg, Terneuzen, The Hague, Amsterdam) over the next 2.5 years. So where am I from?

In Nigeria, when people ask where you’re from, they typically mean where your ancestors originated from. Where I live now, I don’t always know what they mean: Do they mean where I’ve lived the longest? The answer to that is ‘Ogun’, but it’s not pleasant to think I’ve lived in school the longest. Do they mean where I was born? Then that’s easy. Do they mean where I lived before coming to my present city? I don’t really know how to answer that then, because I can say where my family lives, but not quite sure where I ‘live(d)’ because there are so many answers. To answer “where are you from?” I usually say “Nigeria”, but when they ask “where in Nigeria?” then things get a bit complicated. I usually say “the East” and if they know enough about Nigeria to ask “are you from Abuja?”, then I say “yes I lived there before moving here”, same for Lagos (“I went to school in a town really close”). Meh. Once upon a time (or twice, but who’s counting), I answered “Finland”. Why? I had just moved to NL, had 3 huge suitcases and was struggling to put them all on the train before it left the station, and when I finally managed and was then looking for how to arrange the suitcases in an unobtrusive manner AND find a seat for the 2 hour trip, someone asked “where are you from?” The person asking was a brown-skinned person like me but I was too tired to even begin to think of nuance, so I said Finland.

Who am I? Ha. Nigerian. In Nigeria though, I’m not sure I’d say “Nigerian” in response to that question, but I’ve thought about it a bit and I really cannot say that there’s any single thing that I feel defines me, so: Nigerian. Person. Nuance is important, because an old man in the village who’s asking you that question is not expecting to hear “Product Manager”, he’s likely asking whose child you are. But for the purpose of this epistle I’m writing, I shall assume the person asking is like me: close to my age, lives in the big city, and has met me in a social-ish setting. I’d like to say I’m a Product Manager, but then I’ve only been that for a few months so I sort of feel fraudulent when I say it. ‘IT Professional’ seems very vague, sort of like ‘businessman’ and I feel very uncomfortable when I have to be vague – I’m a very black/white person. Okay, so maybe I’m a: Nigerian. Person. [Aspiring] Digital Product Manager [and the ‘aspiring’ is silent :D].

Sometimes, I envy people who have lived in 2 places or less all their lives, because they cannot be stumped by answers to these questions, I think. But meh.

In conclusion, I’m from Nigeria (Enugu/Abuja)/Finland depending on who’s asking and how quickly I want the conversation to end, and I am a Nigerian person who’s trying her best to be a kick-ass Product Manager. Some adjectives (e.g. respectful, sarcastic, etc) may apply, depending on who’s talking. Fin.

Who are you, though? Where are you from? Do those answers come easily to you or nah?

À tout!

February 2015: Jumble

This month, I started work at my new job. I felt productive the first couple of days and some, and then things got old really quickly. I found there was quite a bit I didn’t know, and in fact, I think my boss knows that, so he’s been extremely patient. But still, I feel like a fish out of water. Some days, there’s quite a bit to do and that’s when I’m most productive. On the days when there’s only one thing to do though, I get sluggish. I feel guilty about the lethargy I feel, of course, but I wonder if there’s something else I can do to get over it? There are quite a number of balls I’m juggling at the moment, but my employer is paying me to work 8 hours a day, so it would be dishonest to use that time to do other things. Sigh. Also, I’m more productive at night, apparently, and this is very bad because it means I work late and wake up early, but I also can’t sleep during the day because what if my employer or colleagues need to reach me?

Speaking of balls, I got a new social media management client the other day, so yay – and bye bye to my carefree weekends 🙂 Another ball I’m juggling is this crowdshipping experiment, in which if you need to send something from A-B, you can post on the platform, and someone who is going from A-B will respond. It’s still in ‘Beta’, so it’s not yet an app or anything, and I need suggestions on how to make it better, please. I especially need advice for the ‘How it works’ section – it’s way too long, and I’m not sure how to make it shorter and easier to read. Flow charts, maybe? How to make colorful ones, does anyone know?

I’m moving house today. I had the misfortune of choosing to sublet from a flighty (or crazy? he calls himself crazy) person, and now he’s decided to move, so I have to move too. He knows how annoying this is, so he’s offered to help me move my stuff to Amsterdam, in a Fiat Punto. I have a lot of stuff so I think we might need 2 trips. On the plus side though, it’s good that I’m moving to Amsterdam because the closer I am to Schiphol when the time comes to leave, the better for me. I shudder to even think about the cost of a cab from The Hague to Schiphol. I still haven’t packed, or done the things I’m supposed to do…I really hate moving, and I reckon I’m going to move at least 2 more times after this before I’m finally settled. Gah. Also, need to buy new suitcases, because the poorly trained humans – and it’s only because of my manners that I call them humans – at Murtala Muhammed airport made certain to break at least one part of my suitcase for every single time I passed through in December (total number was 5, I think). Well done, everyone.

I have to go now. Take a shower, stuff suitcases, trash stuff (and this is the annoying bit – always having to trash stuff to make space. Nobody will buy my old stuff because nobody is a size XS like me!), go sell my old Toshiba laptop (which has ‘shown me pepper’) and ancient Harman/Kardon speakers {Side bar: my office sent money for a new laptop, and as an experimenter, I chose an Asus 13″ ultrabook. Core i7, 128Gb SSD, inbuilt Bang & Olufsen speakers, etc. I chose this, for science. I’ve had it for about 1.5 weeks and it’s been lovely so far}. I need a new, portable, bluetooth speaker. I can’t afford JBL because, broke. Please help? Do you know any good – but inexpensive – ones that can be gotten in Europe?

Meanwhile, I’m going to Luxembourg next weekend!!!

Okay that’s it from me. I will miss this apartment – it’s the best I’ve lived in so far, but I’m grateful for the memories.

A tout!

January 2015: Job?

Hey, how are you? Are you happy? Are things going well with you?

This month has been, as Januaries are, very long. That’s just me stating the obvious as I try to think of what to write.

When I was going to Nigeria in December, I expected to be interviewed for a job in an investments company, because I had already begun the process of introducing self and sending CV. I got to Nigeria and called to say “I’m here, here’s my number, here are my travel plans so here’s the window we have to get this interview and other things sorted, k? Ta.” And then I went about my fun activities and waited for them to call. No call. I called a second time, and they said “we’ll call you soon”. Still nothing. Around December 26, I started to converse with myself, like “So, you’ve come to Nigeria and achieved a couple of things, but you’ll leave without a job offer, is it?” and then I scrolled through my contacts to see who could possibly help. I mean, they say “opportunities don’t float in the air, they’re tied to people”, right? I’m not the biggest networker (read: I’m not at all a networker), but I thought I better sit up and ‘take charge of my destiny’ (-_-). Well, as it turned out, the only person I contacted had 2 (TWO!) opportunities ‘tied’ to him, so yay. I sent my CV, told him about my travel plans, yadi yadi yah, and waited. I was supposed to leave Nigeria on January 6th. January 5th, someone called to say he wanted an interview that afternoon. I had the interview, and then a test, and he said he’d be in touch. January 6th, I left Nigeria early in the morning. Let me speak about my airport run for a minute.

My flight was supposed to be for 6:20am, and I left the house at a few minutes before 5:00am. I tried to check in online on the way there – because that’s exactly what I did when I was going to Nigeria: checked in on the train, on the way to Schiphol – but that didn’t work. How sway? Anyway, I got to the airport, they said I was late and could not be checked in, and that they don’t do online check-in. O.o Well, in buying my ticket(s), I had paid an extra €5-8 for such a time as this, so that I’d be able to reschedule with no major consequence to my bank balance. So, I asked how I could reschedule, since I was late. The man in charge said “you’re very rich, abi? Because that’s what I’m hearing. That you’re very rich”. I asked how exactly I implied that, but at that moment, a very Yoruba woman came up, she already knew she was late, so she started – I don’t know what word to use here – wailing, but sans tears. “Ah, e gba mi, I’m a studeeent, I dun haf money, e jo sah, I’m sorry”. I was very amused but I didn’t dare laugh, as I very much wanted to be on that flight if it was possible. Long story short, the man in charge agreed and our passports were scanned and we were checked in, etc. The moral of the story is that Nigerians in any position of power are likely to expect you to be obsequious. They will help you eventually, but first, you should beg. Stupid, because, if you’re going to help me anyway, why make me beg first? To validate your importance? LOL. Moving on…

I landed in Schiphol at 16:30 and switched SIM cards, whereupon I saw that I had voicemail. I listened, and it was from the second ‘opportunity’. Apparently, they had tried to call my Nigerian number but it was switched off, and being aware of my travel plans, deduced that I had left Nigeria, so they called my Dutch number. I called back the next day, we set up an interview date, and now, yours truly has a job and is moving back to Nigeria. (I’m on probation for 3 months though, but fingers crossed.) I’ll be working remotely for the first month (and a half, probably). The investment company from earlier? Oh, they also tried to call me the day I left, and, not reaching me, did not think to call my Dutch number. I know this because they asked my original contact to send me a message. I rolled my eyes so hard, because why didn’t they contact me before now? Oh, the person who was supposed to interview you was on vacation and no one knew. You don’t say. So why didn’t you contact me when you saw that there were delays? Was I supposed to wait indefinitely? Silence. Meh. #ByeFelicia

My new job starts on Monday, and I’ve been trying to learn all sorts of stuff that I need to know to succeed. Like, I’m really glad I got this job because I have zero experience but I’m prepared to learn and show them. I’ve learned that it’s not always important to cram information in your head, but you should know where to get the information when you need it. So I’m doing a bit of cramming and a bit of bookmarking, and a bit of experimentation (because, learn by doing). I’ve also not gotten to where I need to be because I’ve been supremely lazy. You know when my mates got jobs in the summer and then proceeded to travel and have ‘many funs’ on vacay? I couldn’t go on extended vacations because I was applying for jobs every single day. I was thinking “what if I get called for an interview and I’m away?” But lol, evidently, I needn’t have worried. Now I’m making up for that, somewhat.

Am I happier these days? Yes. Things on different fronts appear to be shaping up nicely, so can’t complain. New job is in a media company so promises to be lots of fun. Fingers crossed.

My 2014 In Review

TL;DR: First half of my year was fine and fun, second half wasn’t very fine.

January-February: Got back to NL from the UK, spent time with an old school friend who I hadn’t seen in years and who lived in Amsterdam. Tried to find an internship and really was beginning to panic because my lease was expiring and I needed to find an internship so as to know where next to move. That didn’t work out, and I signed another 1-year lease and then started an internship in a different city (with free accommodation), 2 weeks later. Shout out to the friends who agreed to help me move (it was a 1.5 hour drive) when it turned out I was too broke to afford professional movers or a taxi, and had way too much stuff to just take the train. So, yay internship, but what about the house I rented? I had to sublet it so that went okay. Got broke, and then not-broke. Settled into my new life in the town-in-the-middle-of-nowhere where my internship company was located, sorted out carpooling to and from work, got a new computer, etc.

March-April: My Master’s program required me to do an internship while writing my thesis, ergo, I was writing my thesis at this point. I set a plan and everything, but the project I was handling was such that I wouldn’t be able to write a traditional qualitative or quantitative thesis. Also, the literature review was not going very well. I decided to be ‘AGILE’ – as opposed to waterfall – about the whole thing and was writing various parts of the thesis at the same time, and designing what I was supposed to be designing too. I took a Lean Six Sigma course – because that’s required for all employees of my company – and passed. I also learned, painfully, how to ride a bicycle. I think I already explained why I had to in another post, but basically, it was because the company is on a very large site (and ‘houses’ 2200 employees) and my office is 15 minutes on foot from the main gate, same for many others, so the company has lots of bikes for employees who may have cars but want to move around the site, and for people like me. Anyway, I learned how to ride a bike. I made friends with a very nice Spanish girl and her boyfriend, and she helped me. She’d go out of her way to come to my office the first couple of times, to ride behind me and make sure nothing happened till we got to the gate. Same for when I was going from the gate to my office (and this was possible because we carpooled together). I went to the UK too to see the boyfriend and for a 4-day break from all the nonsense. While on this break, I didn’t check my university emails and as a result, missed out on a job opportunity. Welp. I was still wearing a jacket at this point and wondering why it was still this cold in spring.

May-June: Thesis and project were going well with a few hiccups here and there, and I have to mention here that I think my thesis went as well as it did because I had the best set of supervisors, at work and in school. I’d have been so lucky if I had them while writing my Bachelor’s thesis, but let’s not even speak about that. I had to learn and practise Change Management here too. I started a social media management side-gig with a friend. Then there was my birthday, during which Spanish friend and boyfriend and Colombian friend (all working in my company of course, and now I wonder, really, if any of us young foreigners ever made friends with any one who lived in that town but didn’t work in our company…) made us Spanish omelettes and mojitos. It was summer (and I know this because I was able to wear short shorts) and we’d had a party of sorts the day before, organized by the company ‘country club’. Fun. I had begun to feel old by my birthday, but meh. (Really though. The years are just flying by, and what am I doing with my life?) I submitted my thesis in time (special shoutout to the boyfriend for helping out), had to rewrite some parts, defended and (shot myself in the foot but) got a good grade. The World Cup started in June, and we interns (all lived on the same floor in a hotel and) used to gather in the living room to watch, we’d make a mini party of it, with food and drinks.

July-August: Internship ended, began the search for a new apartment in another city, and I failed the second stage of an interview. I moved to another city, and loved it. How I chose this city? The mental equivalent of spinning a globe and things…only, I was a bit more ‘strategic’. Anyway, I moved, and then the house I moved to was quite rubbish. Falling apart. Unfit for habitation. (And people actually live there. No, I was not able to see detailed pictures before I moved.) So I moved again, after 2 or 3 days, and was quite lucky to find a much better apartment for the same price as the rubbish one. I went to France for my graduation and, when I think of all the rubbish that has constituted the second half of my year, I think back to my time in France and I regain some measure of peace, and happiness. The south of France is quite lovely (year-round, but especially) in the summer, and that, combined with good company, is the stuff that nice holidays are made of. It’s also funny that I didn’t appreciate it that much when I lived there.

September – November: Sorted my residence permit (because once you graduate, your reason for being in the country changes from ‘student’ to either ’employed’ or ‘looking for employment’), but first, had to sort out insurance (Nigerian one expired, and it is illegal to live in NL without insurance, among others) and move because of registration issues with the city hall. So in essence, I have lived in 5 houses this year. Wonderful. Kept getting bounced after interviews and stuff, for no discernible reason. I say ‘no discernible reason’ because my CV is quite solid (I’ve heard, many times), and I’m not terrible at interviews, if I do say so myself. Got another gig in social media management – which can’t pay the bills, but can buy groceries. Finally got a job in client support which I don’t like for shitty pay (but it paid the bills and I was grateful for that and for the opportunity to learn other stuff like account management). {Side bar: the reason I went for an MSc in what I got an MSc in, was because I’d tried the tech support/network admin shebang and found that I didn’t like it.} I got bounced from work after the probation period because I was ‘doing an excellent job but wasn’t integrating’. I never spoke with the person who fired me, so I didn’t get the chance to ask for an explanation. I was fired by proxy. Heh. Why I wanted an explanation? Because, while I always, always blame myself when things go wrong, I couldn’t find any way to blame myself for this one. So I was quite shocked, etc. Well then. Got betrayed. A bit broke. Etc. I got an instant camera, because I wanted one, and because it’s a nice thing that gets people excited, such that you forget your own struggles for a bit. I remembered, somewhere in all of this, that 2 years ago, I decided I wanted to become a Product Manager (for digital products like Gmail and Skype, rather than physical ones like Ariel or other FMCGs). But school and ‘the cares of this world’ made me forget that. I still want to be one, so I have taken (and am taking) courses to put me on that path. Also, I’m practising product management on someone’s yet-to-launch product, and I’m looking to practise all I can, for the experience.

December: Came to Nigeria, for a break of sorts. I’m still here, and it’s been nice to see people and eat food and all that jazz, but my mind is still quite troubled, and I’ve been a bit prickly. This has been my worst year so far. I’m grateful though, for family and friendship and kind words, thoughtful gifts, help, advice, and prayers on my behalf. I’m grateful for the lovely people who have chosen to love me even when I’m being prickly and rejecting offers of help. I’m grateful for the parents who have enough to help me if I’m ever homeless or something (God forbid though. The purpose of all the tuition money that has been spent on my head is not so that I can still be asking parents for money at age 25). I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a blessing to people. I’m grateful for the good things that have happened to my friends and family. I’m grateful for all the flatmates I’ve had this year, to whom I owe many interesting memories. I’m grateful for museums and music, books and instant cameras. I’m learning to think positive thoughts but that requires discipline. I’ve learned that I need to develop people-skills, because my normal self does not go out of her way to, for example, say more than just ‘hello’ to near-strangers. I’ve learned persistence, and to find joy in the little things. I’ve practised compromise. I’ve stopped being naive, I think. I’m going back to NL in a couple of days and I don’t know what’s going to be different, but we’ll see.

In summary, I’m not very happy right now, haven’t been for a while, but I’m very grateful. It could have been much worse, I think. I’ve coped by dancing, exercising (yay year-round summer body), by asking myself things like “are you the furst?” and “but did you die?”; I’m also hopeful because that’s probably all I have left. Hope that efforts being made will pay off, and things will get better. So here’s to 2015. May the odds be ever in our favour, and may the lines be arranged for us in pleasant places.

Happy Holidays (or what’s left of it)!