Hey Folks!

2023 - Rising from the Ashes: Friendships

A year in review should contain things about failures, success stories, and what we plan to achieve in the next year, at least that is what I think it is but this is somewhat different for me. I want to write about my journey as I unravel many things. I write so that folks who think they are alone will see that it is okay to fail and fall on your knees in hard times.

Earlier this year, I wrote about my year in review for 2022, 2022 - Blood, Sweat and Tears; many folks reached out to me and shared some of the things they passed through and are currently going through. It would be insane not to talk about how I got back up after all my failures last year.

At the beginning of the year, I was broke and had nothing going for me except my company, which I was on the verge of shutting down. After being sick and having nothing, I told my co-founder I could no longer run the company, but he wasn’t having it. There is something about him that really inspires me, and that is that he is relentless. He paid most of the company salaries while I tried to find my feet. It was about to go down. I thought to myself: It was either I left Dubai for Nigeria (where I’m originally from) to start life afresh, or I wait to see what would happen to me, possibly eviction.

I have two friends who just got married and were willing to allow me to live with them till I get back up on my feet in Nigeria. Still, after everything I had accomplished, I asked myself how I could return to Nigeria with nothing to show. How do I go back and start life again? I was so full of regrets and sadness. I only wept when I was alone but always raised my head high. If you are very ambitious, you will understand how difficult it is to accept defeat. I did not even have a plane ticket to go anywhere. One of those days, while I was conversing with a close friend. He always loves to use one line saying I dey for you which means I got your back I was explaining how life was treating me and how I might have to start life afresh. I was saying my rent is due, and I cannot pay it anymore. On the call, he said, “Check your wise account”. I was in shock; $1000 had been sent. Good Lord, I lost myself only for a few moments and almost fell from my work seat in tears to thank him.

It made me realize how much friends matter, especially those who genuinely love you. I didn’t ask for it, but he knew I needed help. Wiz showed up for me. I could add a little money and pay for my January rent. Okay! The biggest hassle is sorted. February was the same shit, and my close friend, Brain, showed up for me again. He gave me money for rent, $1000, and I survived again. March came again, and a friend who was a huge inspiration in the DevOps world gave me another $1000. Sorted again.

I began to ask myself, shouldn’t I pay for tickets, return to Nigeria, and start again? I was $3000 in debt. One of the things that played a massive role for me was I lived in a residential area close to Indians, so food was cheap; I tried cooking but ended up with cooking rubbish 🥲, so I stuck with all kinds of cereal and my favourite go-to food was Rice with butter chicken I was in an abusive relationship with that meal and Poratha sandwich (which was another Indian food I liked so much). It was cheap and filled me up, mainly when I ate it with oatmeal. Lmfao! Phew, OG meal!

Where was I? Oh yeah! Even my mom, was supporting me. She sent me money one day, and it might not have been a lot, but I got some food to eat that day. I was on compulsory fasting because I had no money; if I remember correctly, I had $3 in my name in the bank.

In April, I got a Kubernetes contract and damn, it felt good; I did not understand how I was the person who could have an average of $7000/month to get super excited seeing $500-$700 a month. Again, I returned to my co-founder and told him I could not continue this anymore. I thought it would be crazy to ask him for money, considering he was doing a lot already, but he did send me some money again, and I paid my rent in April. Mind you, I had been contemplating moving in with my friends. In fact, when I told him, he wanted me to join them. It might be inconvenient, but I didn’t mind sleeping in the living room. Usually, when I visit, we play tennis, and I go on a joy ride with his scooter. This would have been fun, but I had to think of something; there was no way I would want to inconvenience another person.

During this time, I kept building. My CTO/Co-founder was triggered that I wrote almost 5-6 new products in 2 months. He was like “when will we ship all these?” I was on steroids, LMAO! I don’t know, but we will figure it out and cook. However, the worst happened in May. The rent was increased, and I was told I could not renew. I was panicking; there was no way this was happening to me at this time. I am finished, I said to myself. This may be the end for real. Maybe I should take my Ls (losses) and go back home and start again. I had 2 weeks to move out, and this was peak season in Dubai. Things were increasing, and man, there was no way I could have done this. I was panicking.

Luckily, a client that gave me the Kubernetes contract, which I did, recommended me for another company in YC, which gave me an offer I could not refuse. Even though I signed that contract in June, I was so happy. I could not believe I survived for 6 months with debts. My CTO/Co-founder gave me more money to sort my rent out, and none of these folks who supported me gave me an ETA for when to return the money. I moved into another apartment and sorted my rent for 2 months. I could not believe it; I could afford better meals and go out. I am sure my neighbours did not think someone lived in my apartment; I was either coding, sleeping or upskilling.

After my contract ended, I was about to get another job as a Lead Engineer in Dubai, but I had never been in an office to work; my job was always remote, and due to that, I asked them “Would you give me a stipend or extra salary to come to the office for the 3 days a week?” One of my friends said that was the most Gen-Z thing to say, but I mean, I was not about to use my salary to go nowhere. Finding out employees use their actual salaries to go to the office was new to me. I always thought they had a stipend for coming to the office or something. Anyway, I got another offer as a Staff Engineer after my birthday, and this was the special gift I needed.

I have been living in my new apartment, and I’m happy I took that risk (this is not an advice). Did I have any accomplishments? Definitely!, but this year in review is not for that. While I am grateful for it, it is about my friends. Even though I have refunded my debts to them, I want to take this time to appreciate them. I could never have gone through this year without them. Finding people who genuinely care about you and go through life with them is essential. I hope you take that risk; I hope you scream a little; I hope you cry a little; I hope you stand back up. I hope you rise from the ashes.

I want to leave you with something that stuck with me this year, and I read it all over again, even in doubt.

I know of no better life purpose than to perish in attempting the great and impossible. The fact that something seems impossible shouldn’t be a reason to not pursue it. That’s exactly what makes it worth pursuing; where would the courage and greatness be if success was certain and there was no risk. The only true failure is shrinking away from life’s challenges - Friedrich Nietzsche.

The real treasures are the friends we made along the way. Thanks for reading!

NB: The names used in this article are aliases and not their real names for privacy reasons.

— Jan 17, 2024