In My Journals: The Mountains We Climb

Because the mountains we climb are not made only of rock and ice but also dreams and desires. The mountains we climb are mountains of the mind. - Willem Dafoe, Mountains.

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The first time, I came across the phrase "…mountains we climb" was at the preacher's scene in the movie, Pursuit of Happyness, that tells the story of Chris Gardner, who had to contend with homelessness and raising his kid alone. Ever since then, the phrase, like glue, has stuck to my brain. And I even named my diary after the phrase.

From My Journal…

We face mountains regularly. And like it or not, we've got to climb them. No sooner had we just struggled to climb one, there is another, even bigger, mountain waiting for us, beckoning towards us to climb.

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The thing is, we have to climb them. Or we stay where we are. Staying stagnant leads us to be unhappy. We get dissatisfied and discontented with life. Sometimes we hide behind the curtains of religion and superstition. We talk about destiny and fate.

But somewhere deep within us, we know this is untrue. Nothing is ever set in stone. It's either we climb our mountains, or we remain stagnant. Disillusioned. Unhappy. Insecure.

The Japanese say you have three faces. The first face, you show to the world. The second face, you show to your close friends and your family. The third face, you never show anyone.

Well… I'm showing a fragment of mine now.

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06-February

Sometimes, I feel weak emotionally. I feel I'm beset by too many mountains every time.

  • I lost my chance of avoiding work and building my skills during the vacation. My team didn't win the Ideathon prize. Now I have to worry about paying my school fees and accommodation fees.

  • I cannot go to OSCAFEST, even though I won a ticket, because I have no money on me to pay for transport fare.

  • I want a new PC. My PC battery power is too weak. I can't work for more than an hour on it.

  • My PC being a 32-bit machine is giving a lot of problems when installing EvalAI-ngx (EvalAI is the project I intended to work on during GSOC - Google Summer of Code).

  • I need a new phone badly. It hinders my communication with people.

  • I need a steady stream of internet subscriptions. I'm too broke to be subscribing to the internet every day.

  • I need to learn Django, Docker, and Kubernetes so I can participate in GSOC. I need to work on my ML skills.

  • I need a bit injection of cash into my life.

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10-March

Writing today with a bit of gladness in my heart. Surprisingly, most of the problems I wrote are solved.

  • It wasn't so easy, though. Even though I managed to find ingenious ways to install Docker and Docker-compose on my 32 bit PC, the frontend of EvalAI won't run on my PC because of a missing component in i386 (32-bit). So I couldn't really participate in GSOC.

  • And I slipped into depression. I couldn't do anything productive for up to two weeks. Left my friend's place at OOU, Ijebu, and came back to Abeokuta. Then things started to get better.

  • DSN AI in Cities started, and I was a facilitator. Seeing people I'm teaching, grasping concepts so easily, they come to me for help, and being able to help them got me back on my feet.

  • Through the program's little remuneration package, I'd a little money on me. I was able to raise cash and attend OSCAFEST. And I was glad I did.

  • Few days before OSCAFEST, we started our AI 'Train the Trainers' program (I'm the Deputy Campus Lead for AI+ FUNAAB). What a set of amazing trainers we have now!

  • I got a new phone, a small Itel phone, albeit. I can't thank Folex enough for this!

  • By the time I was back from OSCAFEST, I was fresh and ready to continue. I had an honest chat with my mentor and I dropped out of GSOC, to keep my sanity intact.

  • I found out that I really enjoy teaching, a skill I was hopeless at before. And my students do enjoy me teach.

  • I started reading my books well. Gaining new perspectives along the way.

  • Then Young Professional Bootcamp mail came through, and I was among the 200 picked out of the 3000 that applied. I think it was my storytelling ability that won this for me.

  • I'm reserving the best for the last. DevCareers picked me! Cheers! Now I'd be given a PC. I'd have unlimited access to a hub with electricity and internet, mentorship, and courses, too. We should start in a month's time.

  • I have learned that happiness is really a state of the mind. It is an illusion, just like almost everything else.

  • I also learned about gratitude. Since I'm a half-atheist (I ask too many questions), I'm not sure if I should shower my gratitude on God. But then, I'm grateful for my life. I'm grateful for every morning I wake up. I'm grateful for my sisters, they are finding their feet at their respective varsities. I see lots of ways opening up for me now.

  • And lastly, every failure and disappointment is a stepping stone. For instance, DevCareers weren't considering students. When the interviewer initially said he'd get back to me, I could smell a rejection. My emotions surfaced. He noticed and asked me why I'm scared? And I told why this is crucial for lots of stuff. I told him how I dropped out of GSOC because of my bad computer that couldn't install Docker effectively. I told him other stuff too. He got to know that I attended OSCAFEST (most of the DevCareers people are organizers and speakers at the Open Source Festival).

And I think the main reasons I was selected were because of my GSOC failures, OSCAFEST, my frustrations, and my stubbornness.

There are still some mountains to climb, though…

  • I haven't gotten into my flow state yet. Since I'm in the right frame of mind, I'm positive I'd reach that altitude soon.

  • I need a MiFi. Connecting to my phone for internet connectivity is a pain.

  • And lastly, I need lots of cash. Resumption is getting closer. I've been able to acquire a bit of money. I'm getting there.

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Sometime in the Third week of March…

  • Egbon Yinka, the AI+ City Lead for Abeokuta, told me that he might leave Abeokuta soon and I'd have to step up and be the Acting City Lead. I'm feeling so excited, and a bit scared, too.

  • YPB postponed the Bootcamp because of Covid-19. I'm devastated.

  • DevCareers postponed the 3-months training program, because of Covid-19. This is a real blow. I need a new PC badly.

  • DSN AI Invasion has been postponed due to Covid-19. I volunteered as a trainer, and I was already giddy with excitement.

  • Abocoders (a foundation that equips females with tech skills) has postponed their program. Funny thing, they canceled their program the same week they sent me an acceptation mail as a Volunteer Trainer.

  • School's resumption has been postponed.

I'm not sure there are many people in the world RN, whose plans are being thrown into disarray by Covid-19 as much as mine plans were.

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March 21

Umoja Hack Africa is done and dusted. Twas a real thriller. Almost all of our trainers showed up at the hub we used for our purpose, 720 degrees Hub. (The fruits of community building, eh) Jummy came from Ota, Bussy came all the way from Ikorodu. I could barely suppress my elation at these guys' commitment.

We did quite well in the competition, not quite well, though. Out of the 156 teams/participants that participated in the competition from all over Africa, FUNAAB guys were at positions 12, 17, 18, 23, 31, etc. Guess who was at position 12? Me!

​At the end of the day, Beloved (the Campus Lead) and I were dog tired and broke. Both of us had spent our own cash to fund the event. Generator fuel, Data subscription, and refreshments. Zindi Africa said they'd reimburse us later. The Hub manager (an ex-Funaabite) gave us the hub usage for free, including a projector and a giant monitor to watch the live feed.

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Last week of March - First week of April

  • Hit a bit low today. And I'm just so fucking depressed.

  • 365 Data Science offered all their courses for free from March 15 - April 15. I didn't hear about it until the last week of March. I started the Probability course while I was at Tobi's place. Left Tobi's place on March 28 and came home. That one also got a twist, I won't be going to Tobi's place again in a long while.

  • My sisters were already waiting at home for me, for guidance. Got home and made our learning plans with them. 365 Data Science is a really great site. Everything we need for our learning purposes is there.

  • We planned on going to Ogun Tech Hub for our learning on Mon, March 30. First, blow… Sun, March 29, Buhari announced lockdown in our state.

  • We went to the Hub on Monday, but it wasn't opened, just as we feared. We sat down right at the entrance and restrategized. I had up to 6k in my account so we went back to our old neighborhood, negotiated with a cafe manager (who has a reputation for being money-greedy and would always open office. Lockdown or not). After a lengthy period of haggling, we agreed on 3k for 14 days. Then we rallied money and did a 20GB sub. And we started using the hub for our purposes.

  • Our Governor postponed the lockdown Ogun till Friday. The first day of work went smoothly until my phone developed a fault. Wasn't bringing up a network signal. Guess connecting 2 PCs to its hotspot did the final damage. The engineer said it is the motherboard. He won't be able to get a new board until after COVID-19

  • NaijaHacks sent a mail telling me we could request aid from them. I sent a mail asking for a MiFi modem, sending along with picture proofs. They didn't get back to me. I guess there are others with more pressing needs than mine.

  • Managed to connect an old fashioned, dial-up modem to Grace' PC, and then create an ad-hoc WiFi hotspot on her PC, and connected mine PC to the hotspot. Viola! Worked for a day, then stopped working, for whatever reasons.

    • Grace's PC was lagging badly. We dredged every kobo in our bank accounts, haggled desperately with my PC technician, and managed to upgrade the PC's RAM to 4GB.*
  • We invited Mary (Grace's friend) to our cafe, so we could use her phone as a WiFi hotspot. Once the lockdown started, Precious was home so we started using her phone as our hotspot.

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April 8,

  • We exhausted our 20GB. 365 Data Science has been superb. We gathered Airtel SIMs in our building and got free 1GB on them. They don't last long, though.

  • Later on, Data Science Nigeria's Data Support for AI+ community members came through, and gave me 5GB.

  • My sisters also registered to join the DSN AI community. Once they're approved, Precious applied for the free data and got 1.5GB, Grace is still awaiting.

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April 14,

My 5GB from DSN is almost finished. DSN announced the Algorithm Challenge. Participants are to build Logistics Regression from scratch. 20GB for the top winner, 15 for the 1st runner up, and 10gb for the 2nd runner up. Just because of the data, I plan to participate.

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April 16,

  • I woke up to 365 Data Science having closed their site from free users. It's a bit of a blow, really. I've been using their courses to a great effect, managed to complete 7 courses. Now I know the Maths and Statistics behind the hood quite confidently. SQL and Tableau, too. What I'll do for 5k now, to buy a month's access to their platform at their new promo price!

  • I've exhausted the 5GB from DSN. We're on Precious' 1.5GB now.

April 16, noon,

HackSultan was doing a data giveaway on Twitter, asked us to tell him what we're learning on the giveaway post. I wrote a very big nice reply about what I've learned and what I wish to be. My sisters also were there. Surprise surprise! None of us were picked. Twas a blow, really. We did write well and eloquently, compare to others on the post. I guess HackSultan was inclined towards the web and android folks. And to the Progate users, Startdotng users and one other platform like that. I was not quite surprised, though.

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April 17, 2am

  • And my phone gave up the ghost (I've been reading my books on the phone, and connecting to WiFi so I could use WhatsApp on it) never to wake again. I was devastated.

  • We're running out of Data too. I was brushing up my maths knowledge for the Logistic Regression I was working on. Nothing was sinking in. I'm emotionally stressed.

April 17, 8.30am.

As a last-ditch, desperate attempt, I decided to message up HackSultan via DevCareer's Slack platform(He is the founder of DevCareer). I think being one of the DevCareer 2.0 cohort members would sway him. So I explained why I didn't get Progate access due to a faulty phone. I told him I've been using 365 Data Science and Pluralsight. Told him I could show him my certificates of completion if he wishes. Told him I would really appreciate getting the data from him. Blah blah.

April 17, evening.

  • Slept throughout the day. I'd wake up, brood, and trudged right back to sleep. Up until nightfall, no reply from HackSultan.

I'm defeated, frustrated, out of cash, out of data and I just wish for some kind of divine intervention. I've always been lauded for my toughness and never-say-die mentality, and I think I'm used to mountains showing up regularly. But I feel this particular mountain is too big for my strength.

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April 18, 2 am.

I can't sleep, probably because I slept throughout the day. And I've been writing all night. Writing has always been a form of Catharsis (the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions) for me. I don't feel drained anymore. I can feel my inner strength rallying, like usual. Writing always does this, to me. Probably, by tomorrow, I'll be raring to go again and wrap up my work on the Algorithm Challenge.

I'd still be short on internet subscription, though. Data subscription is like the school fees for online courses. And right now, I'm on the verge of dropping out. LOL

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But then, it's just another mountain, which, I think I'd climb over soon. One way or the other.

And there'd be others, this I'm sure of. Maybe one day, after climbing and climbing and climbing, maybe I'd reach the summit (the highest peak of a hill or mountain), with an ocean of white-capped peaks on my every side and the clouds at my feet. Maybe…

MODIFIED... October 05, evening.

Opeyemi, a friend of mine, made a reference to this article this evening (I can't fathom how she stumbled on it) and I came to check it up. I couldn't help getting awashed in emotions. Lots of stuff have changed since then.

  • When I finished writing this back then, I debated posting it publicly, but I later did. HackSultan somehow found it and asked me to reach out to him. I could still remember Precious shouting with joy when she saw HackSultan's tweet reply. We were given about 20GB of data or so. It lasted for a week.

  • I did my first internship job shortly afterwards. I'm currently doing my second. And I'm much more financially comfortable now. Not quite, though.

  • I got a sleek PC two months ago, courtesy of DevCareers. I also got a free 3 months Hub subscription with constant electricity and internet connection.

  • My public speaking skill is improving a lot these days. I gave a talk at this year's PyCon Africa and I'll be giving another one soon at PyData Global 2020.

There are lots of small wins along the way, as well as lots of niggling disappointments. Since 3 months ago though, I've switched from this form of daily journalling to Gratitude Journalling.

These days, I only write about the days' positives and what I could do to be achieve my (failing or not) dreams. Viktor Frankl said that between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Comments (2)

Adenuga Adesanya's photo

I'm inspired. It can only get better Bro.

Steven Kolawole's photo

I'm glad that you found it inspiring, bro. Yeah, things can only get better.