Looking back at ‘15

Year end reviews or look backs, however you want to call it, should be reflective. But I realize trying to scrutinize all that has happened to me in the last twelve months is easier said than done.

There were ups and there were downs but as of this particular moment all I feel is calm. It’s hard to go back in time trying to figure out how I felt on certain things or a particular mindset of mine knowing quite well it’s in the rear view. I do know this year didn’t start off on the greatest of terms. Knowing I had to pay up for the damaged camera lens made my first three months pressure filled periods. Money was constantly an issue and I had to tighten my belt even further. Yet looking back at it, I shrug now because it was yet another phase that inevitably passed. Sometimes we make a bigger issue of things than they really are.

I think back to me fretting over my dad seeing someone so soon after my mother’s passing yet realizing at his age, to be alone is not something I’d wish on anyone. As I struggled with loyalty to my mother, I couldn’t help but feel I was being selfish. My dad has always prioritized his children above anything else and in doing so has gotten the benefit of the doubt to live his life however he wants. This year has exemplified just how great a father he is, constantly making sacrifices especially financially to make sure his children are well taken care of.

Speaking of children, I had to learn to respect my brother’s decision of eking out his own place in the world, especially career wise. Just because I followed a certain path and had to undergo certain struggles doesn’t mean he should. Yes, I still disagree with him on certain things, but I look forward to seeing him become the man I know he can be. He has got a lot of talent, he just needs to figure out how to make something of it and the sky is the limit.

My sisters continue to make me proud as well. The adventurous one decided to move to the other side of the country in a region often gripped by violence. She did so to perform her mandatory service to the Nigerian government, one that every graduate of a tertiary institution in the country has to partake in. Did I mention said sister is the first amongst my parent’s children to procure a graduate degree? She continues to shine bright, not daunted by anything, striving for better. Blazing her own trails and being an awesome woman whilst at it. The future is bright for her, and I look forward to seeing what she does with her life.

The youngest and baby of the family surprised me by taking an interest in writing as well. It seems her elder brother has rubbed off on her as well. Its things like that, which makes me know that I mustn’t give up. The accolades might not be there (yet), but there are certainly those who look up to me and are interested in my work. I cannot let them down.

On a more somber note, my adopted sister as I tell her always, is still struggling with her health. It pains me to see such a lovely person suffering so. She never complains, taking everything in stride, but I more than anyone else knows that she deserves much better from life. She’s one of the sweetest individuals I have ever met, caring more about others than she does herself. Also one of the smartest people I have been lucky enough to know, without a doubt once she is back on her feet, the sky is the limit for this wonderful lady.

Career wise, I finally figured out that there’s a place for me after all. No longer do I have to dread not being able to do what I am passionate about. Worries and concerns about where I fit in and using creativity to make a living have been placated a bit. This year I finally got a better grasp of advertising and perhaps no quote encapsulates my thoughts better than this, “advertising is a place where all the lost and broken toys go.”

I have read a decent amount of advertising books this year. Some on the process, some on the people behind the process. What I have come to learn is that I do have a few similarities with the people that make a living in this profession. Mainly, how I come up with ideas and how I use it to solve problems.

Most importantly, two instances this year have prepared me more than ever for life after the degree. Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to get an internship at an integrated agency in Chicago. It was one of those things that came together pleasantly and I remain grateful for the opportunity. Prior to getting the internship I had been fretting that going into my senior year, my résumé was looking thin especially experience wise. After scouring the web for local agencies I came upon this specific place, sent their CEO an email with my website and before I knew it, I was brought in. If you’ve been following, notice whilst I said my resume was thin, my website is in fact full of projects I have worked on. This is also another valuable lesson I have learned this year. In the creative industry, there’s a lot more emphasis on what you can do and what you have done. A website/portfolio is more valuable than a résumé or a grade transcript

Working at this agency gave me the opportunity to see how the advertising industry really worked. I learned how valuable scheduling and planning ahead of time is to an agency like ours. I learned how roles might differ, yet everyone worked together to create a cohesive product. With this job, I saw how small agencies vie for clients, sometimes doing unorthodox things like seeking out potential clients (in our case, restaurants that don’t realize just how effective having a good website and using social media to advertise can be) and persuading them why advertising on social media can impact their business.

In addition, I learned the value of numbers and by this, I learned that 10 to 50 more patrons of a business on a particular day at a particular hour or period of the day, could affect their sales exponentially.

This was a small agency that wasn’t dealing with the mega clients, their job was to help smaller businesses grow and that included starting small and moving from there. Their use of metrics and data was fascinating and whilst I was hired because of my visual skills, I tried to glean as much of the process as I could.

I left that place with a much better sense of self and my abilities. Its one thing to work on ‘made up’ briefs, its another to actually work with real world clients.

Little did I know that my experience working there would give me a leg up as I went into the just concluded semester. I remember fretting about not having enough portfolio work and my resume not having the type of creative experience I would need when seeking jobs. Now I don’t feel that way anymore. In the span of 6 months, I not only gained experience in advertising but I have also been the editor and a key contributor to creating a talk show from scratch.

It wasn’t all rosy I must mention. Working with people especially in a creative environment, has taught me how important my contribution is and also how it can be overlooked. In pretty much every situation I will go in, chances are I am going to be in the minority. Being a minority in a creative setting can both be advantageous and the opposite. Your unique perspective may be sought out and in other instances ignored. It’s easy for me to blend into the background because I am so used to working alone. Yet these few months have taught me that I am going to need to be more assertive if I intend on progressing in my career. One thing is for sure, I feel more confident about my chances going forward. The prospects are very exciting and whilst there will be doubts, if I apply what I know and I have learned this year, with a willingness to learn and be corrected, then I see no reason why I can’t get better.

I cannot end this without talking about how instagram has affected and changed my life. Particularly in regards to creativity. A few years back, when I was just getting into fiction writing. I realized the more I posted about basketball on a basketball forum, the more it helped my writing. Now I realize that sometimes, in other to get the creative juices going, one must open the faucet at full blast. By writing on that forum, it not only improved my grammar, but it also got me locked into the writing process. The same happened this year with Instagram. At the start of the year, I embarked on a creative challenge. Every month I would try a different visual challenge. Little did I know, that not only would this make me explore Chicago more, but it would also improve my photography skills tremendously.

I used to ogle at the accomplished photographers on instagram (still do), wondering what it would take to get that good. Whilst I still have ways to go, at least now I know that I have work that I am proud of. After all, my portfolio was what got me my summer internship.

2016 should be fun, and I might just keep up the visual challenges. Already I have about 3 earmarked, just need to come up with 9 more. Easy!

In closing, I used to wonder where I fit in. I was a guy who rapidly came up with ideas and didn’t know what to do with them. I got my first story published in an African science fiction and fantasy magazine this year, which has also opened me up to the idea of writing more short stories. The biggest revelation was discovering that people like me, are plentiful in industries like advertising and boy has that been helpful. Whatever happens from this point on out, at least I know there’s a career path with my name on it. Interestingly enough, I remember being told by an account planner that ‘advertising is the home for defective toys.’ Our quirky way of thinking is appreciated in that occupation.

I may or may not end up in advertising. I do know my path has suddenly become wider. I am excited about 2016 and the possibilities it holds. Cheers and Happy New Year.

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