This Is 2021.

Aderinsola Oluwafemi
8 min readDec 31, 2021

Often, I have this (very unnecessary) feeling that everything I do has to be perfect and for it to be, it must follow a certain standard or “template”.

It’s why right now, as I write about what 2021 was to me, I’m tempted to open a couple of Medium articles and see how others write and structure theirs and then try to structure mine the same way.

I find that when I do this, I don’t give myself room to just be me and approach things the way I want to.

So, without me trying to make this a “perfect” post, I’m just going to write. Here it goes…

Just so you know, I’m just going to expose myself here. I started writing this sometime in November and completely abandoned it. Now, I’m back, with less than 15 hours to the new year. Better late than never, right?

I’ve never been the person to really take note of things that happen in my life. It felt like there was no point trying to write this because it’ll end up being 2 paragraphs long. But I guess that’s the perfectionist in me trying to sneak out — to whom I say, “Get thee behind me.”

Okay, let’s do this (I mean it this time).

Since this is my first “Year in Review” post ever, I’m still not entirely sure what I’m going to talk about but I can’t deny that 2021 was a pretty interesting year for me.

The Part About My Product Design Work & Growth

I joined Eden Life in December 2020, but the real work began in January 2021. Looking back, it’s been such an experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.

A lot of times, I tend to feel like I haven’t grown as a designer. Almost like, I’m still on the same level I was a year ago. But thinking about the work I’ve done at Eden so far, I realize that I have grown. I’m handling projects now I never thought I could. I’m taking the lead on things I didn’t think I was capable of. I still have a whole lot to learn and improve on but I’m grateful for the learning and growth opportunities Eden has provided me.

I used to like to be in the background at work. There were two designers in the team, asides my team lead: Damola — a really really amazing designer — and I. I let Damola do most of the work, especially when talking to stakeholders as well as organizing meetings too. Then he left the team, and I became the only other Product Designer at Eden.

I was so scared that I’d mess up and be outed as the imposter and scam I often think I am. I don’t want to go into much detail here, but you can read more about how I felt in this post I wrote after he left Eden.

Looking back now, I’m super grateful because the situation made me step up. I became more confident in my work as a designer. I could confidently speak to stakeholders and design solutions that they needed. I got better.

Andddddd, I got promoted ✨✨✨

I was also a speaker at about 5 different tech and design programs. This is an achievement for me because I used to be such a timid person who felt she didn’t have anything to say or any value to offer. I find it really humbling and encouraging that people find me inspiring. That people believe I have value to share.

The Part About My Social Life

If you asked anyone about me a year ago, they’d probably say, “Derin? She’s so shy and reserved. It takes a while to get her out of her shell. She never leaves home — except Sundays when she goes to church.”

If you ask anyone about me now, their response will probably sound more like, “Derin? She’s our enjoyment minister. Our Social Prefect. She never sits at home. She’s always up and about, flexing. Anywhere you see her, there is enjoyment.”

I’m not exaggerating about that last bit lmao.

I find the contrast between who I was last year and who I am now — in terms of my social life — very interesting.

The trigger was hot breakfast 🧍🏾‍♀️. I got into a relationship with someone, and I was barely at home on the weekends because we were always hanging out. But after we broke up, I couldn’t stay home because it just reminded me of what I’d lost. So I started hanging out with friends more. I started going to people’s houses to work instead of staying in my room and crying all the time. A few days later, I created The Social Club group chat.

Before I created the group, some friends and I were planning to go see Godzilla vs Kong I think. I was sending everyone messages trying to figure out timing, location and whatnot. It felt like a lot of back and forth so I just opened a group chat on WhatsApp where we could just plan as a group.

I had so much fun and decided I wanted this to be a thing. Being around my friends made me happy. Sure, it was a temporary high because I’d get back home, remember my breakup, and start crying all over again, but it was nice to forget about it even if it was for a short while 😅.

I started planning more hangouts with my friends. Since then, it’s gotten to a point where I don’t think I’ve spent a weekend at home in months. We don’t necessarily always spend time outdoors. Sometimes we just meet up at someone’s place and have a movie marathon or a games day/night.

Sadly, I can’t drag my friends out every week for many reasons. One is, outside is expensive, especially in Lagos 🥲. You breathe, 10k is gone. Another point is that some of my friends are introverts so if you see them at one hangout, you shouldn’t expect them to come for anything for the next couple of months lmao.

But I love it. Whenever I have any plans for enjoyment, I go to the group and get them involved. We’ve done various things like movie marathons, games nights, movie days at the cinema, beach day, getaways out of Lagos and the likes.

This whole thing has helped me see that I’m pretty good at planning and organizing things. It’s stressful — very very — but I love that I’m building this skill. I can’t wait to see where we take it next year. Thank God for breakfast that draws us closer to our friends 💀.

I made really great friends this year. If you’re reading this, I love you guys ❤️.

Just gonna insert a couple of pictures from some of our hangouts here before I move on ✨

This year had its highs and lows. Overall, I learnt a lot of important life lessons and I’m looking forward to working on myself and getting better in every area of my life next year. I have this feeling that a lot is going to happen in 2022. Let’s see how it goes. See y’all next year!

This is the part where I do a photo dump 🧍🏾‍♀️