In pursuit of happiness, sorry, Capitalism

Keyukemi Ubi
7 min readMay 16, 2023

Hi peeps, it's been a minute, hasn’t it? Lately, I have been feeling overwhelmed. I have a lot going on because life will always be — life. Between earning my daily wage, maintaining my relationships, being rushed to the emergency room, growing my mind/knowledge, improving my skills, and living healthy, you would wonder where I find the time to write think pieces that no one asked for.

Bruhhhh, there is so much to do and so little time.

When I was younger, my mom scolded me for watching too much TV; her usual retort was that when I was older, I would have all the time in the world to watch as many movies as I wanted. Ugh, Liar, Liar, pants on fire!!!

I am older now, rent my own apartment, control everything, and yet barely have time to watch TV.

Adulthood creeps on you. The next thing you know, you are calling a friend and crying on the phone for no apparent reason other than that everything feels too much. You are overwhelmed. (by the way, this is not me; Idan doesn’t cry)

If you grew up a gifted child, as I did, there’s the pressure always to be at the top, to be the best. But I think at some point, the field levels eventually. Genius can only take you so far. Things like grit, consistency, and being a proper human are what make a big difference.

A long time ago, my Dad told me this “The only one you are truly competing against is yourself. Everyone has their race to run, with different starts, timing, paths, and pace. The question is, are you doing it better than you did it last time? Are you giving it your best? Run your Race, Keyu”

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Once you learn how to talk, one of the most common questions adults ask is, “What do you want to become when you grow up?” In retrospect, it is probably a ridiculous question to ask children, don’t you think?

When I turned 7, I started mouthing off to everyone that I wanted to become a lawyer. And I worked towards it with the single-mindedness of a bull charging at its aim. As I rounded up my University education, I began to suspect that life might not be for me.

It beats me when people ask me why I changed my career path. I was 7 when I made a decision. What did I know? Do you recall the decisions you made as a child/teenager? Some of them were not very wise, were they now?

Moreover, I think we can reinvent ourselves as much as we want and as many times as possible. It's your life. Go wild!

But don’t mind me; I was born with the how-hard-could-it-be gene, which can be very helpful in learning and self-improvement. But it also makes one a tad delusional, especially as it concerns the extent of one's capabilities.

I already warned you guys. I don’t give advice. Listen to me at your peril or benefit.

Repetition, Legitimizes

This is not a technical article. This portion is a segue. Well not exactly a segue; it’s connected to the overall discussion of this essay (somehow).

At some point, when I became an adult, I decided that I wanted to become a software Engineer.

From Law? to Software Engineering(SWE)?

How? Why? Oh, the horror?!?!?

I don’t think people talk about it enough. About how hard it is actually to become a SWE. It’s been my goal for the last three years. I first started to learn in early 2020. It was a difficult time and the heat of COVID, and I had a lot of responsibility. Youtube and Stack overflow have been my best instructors so far.

Then I got into post-grad school end of 2020 till September 2021. And post-grad was super tough. My health was the worst too. But I tried to code on and off during that time. I joined my current company in October 2021, not as a SWE but in an interesting role. It took me a while to settle in and get the hang of it, but I am really good at what I do now(on most days).

I started coding again in March 2022 and was consistent until August 2022. Then I had surgery and couldn’t combine recovery with work, so I took a break. I started again in October — November 2022. Then something major happened in the beginning of December that did a number on my mental health, so I took another break. Then I restarted coding AGAIN in February 2023.

I am sure you are thinking, “Why the long story?”

My point is, Life is what happens when you are simply trying to chase your dreams. And when it gets tough, it's okay to slow down for a bit.

Right now, I am at the point where my biggest question is, “Am I a software engineer now?” At what point do I get the validation that proves that, yes, I am now one? Honestly, I don’t know, but I sure as hell have Software Engineer on my bio on LinkedIn.

As a sidebar, I hate LinkedIn, I actually find that platform quite pretentious as a whole. I never post anything there, I only have it because it seems to be a visibility requirement for a hireable person. But I can’t seem to stand that place. I am not-gonna-make-it, am I? (anyways I have shamelessly plugged my link)

My new hurdle is getting a job as a SWE to validate my knowledge. That’s the icing on the cake. There’s a lot of advice on Twitter on how to do this (you can tell that I spend a lot of my free time on Twitter by now, I am probably addicted. I even won an award at the office for it recently).

The advice that gives me heebie-jeebies the most is the “posting about your work” and “tooting your horn” advice.

I wonder if I struggle to toot my horn because I am not confident in my work or because I find attention (and seeking it) stressful (This probably has a lot to do with my introversion, but we will talk about that another day). Now that I think about it, I don’t think confidence is my problem. I am a bit too conceited for that. I think my problem is probably the fear of not rising to the challenge if I am ever thrown into the deep end.

I just started learning how to swim, and I imagine that if my instructor pushed me into the deep end, I would use what I have learned so far to stay afloat for as long as possible (of course, I would sue him for attempted murder afterward, but you catch my drift). But I also know I would “almost drown” a few times. I guess I am mentally avoiding that process of drowning unnecessarily.

By the way, I think humility is overrated, and confidence is sexy. If you know who you are, wear it proudly and blow your horn if that’s your cup of tea.

One of the songs I love listening to when the voice of self-doubt gets very loud.

Is the needle moving?

Several times, I have asked myself this question. Is the needle moving? am I even making any progress at all? Am I moving closer to my goal?

Sometimes I think I need someone to be hard on me so I can get shit done. But I also know that I am largely a very self-motivated person, and using any external force to get me to do anything is an arduous, impossible, and probably unnecessary task.

Recently, a friend reminded me of how far I have come. It is easy to get caught up in the future, the goal that you lose a view of the past or present. This is why I have come to like journaling. It is a great tool for measuring progress and ensuring gratefulness.

The truth is the grind is a life-long task, but you can only hope that the grinding is enjoyable. Because when it eventually stops, you are probably too old and frail to really enjoy life. That’s why work and enjoyment must be simultaneous. We must find a way to strike a balance.

I like to talk about how important it is to find intrinsic value in things other than work. It is important not to let your work be the sole joy and misery of your life. What we do for a living already takes at least 1/3 hours of our everyday life and determines what we do for the other 2/3 hours. But I am pragmatic enough to know that it's hard to see past your work when you are in survival mode- you know, the physiological need in Maslow's hierarchy.

So till then, I wish us all the strength to keep pursuing happiness, sorry capitalism.

PS: Oh, here is a link to my GitHub. If you are curious.