2018 Recap: Personal Struggles & Professional Gains

2018 is drawing to a close, and judging by my Twitter timeline, it’s safe to say that most of us want nothing more than for the ball to descend down Times Square (or a giant peach to descend down from a pole in Underground Atlanta). Anyways, this is my traditional end of the year opportunity to reflect on what happened over the last 12 months and look ahead to what I want the next year to hold. Read on for recaps of every aspect of both my life and my content as well as a sneak peek at what’s next.

Mental challenges

I figured it’ll be best to get through the heavy stuff (Heavy Rotation pun intended) early to model what this year has actually been like for me. 2018 has been a struggle for me emotionally and mentally as it was a big year of changes for me as I tried to figure out who I wanted to be and what I wanted my content to look like, dealt with the loneliness that came with graduating high school and the uncertainty that came with college, and the decision to finally let go of the pursuit of the first person that I was willing to bare my entire soul to and that I could confidently say I was in love with. 

I’ll talk more about the content in a bit, but the loneliness that came from leaving high school and deciding to move on from my longtime crush went hand in hand from me. While I’ve made friendships in college that I greatly value, the loneliness has followed me and the pain that has come from letting go has been a deep pill to swallow. Frankly, it’s a pill I’m still swallowing. Creating content has served as my main form of “therapy,” serving as one of the few places where I can quell my brain of the sadness, anxiety, and loneliness to just focus on creating something great which gives me so much motivation to push through in the other areas of my life.

Academic inspiration

Since August, I’ve been living and working mainly out of my dorm room at Georgia State University in downtown Atlanta and in a downsized home studio that I’m now affectionately calling the Westside Studio. Despite the increased workload that comes with being a student, being at Georgia State and living on campus has tremendously inspired me. Beyond being a chance of scenery, downtown Atlanta has lended me so many opportunities to create compelling content right in my backyard: whether it’s attending an advance screening for Venom or documenting Atlanta win its first sports championship in over two decades. It’s caused my Instagram to blossom into a home for consistent quality content in a way that I couldn’t have imagined going into this year with hundreds of new posts from all over Atlanta. 

There has also been the opportunity to learn and gather inspiration from the many conversations I’ve had with my peers and with guest speakers like CNN anchor Don Lemon.

The Content Spread

As I’ve previously mentioned, my YouTube content has metamorphosed several times over the last 12 months, shifting from the gaming content that until this year was the tentpole of my YouTube presence to content that relies more on my personal perspective. Heavy Rotation moved from occasionally airing on Twitch or the Andrew Okwuosah YouTube channel to having every episode live on its own channel (big thanks to VirtualDJ to launching native broadcasting and making that move that much easier). 

In terms of the Andrew Okwuosah channel, it shifted from the gaming  to focus entirely on vlogs and commentary. From my livestreams talking over Apple’s WWDC keynote and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 launch to For Your Consideration (which blew all of my expectations in terms of reception and how quickly the show went from idea to fully realized final product) to the many, many vlogs I released this year, I feel truly proud and excited of the content I’m making on YouTube and where things are headed for me in the future for the first time in the eight years I’ve had a YouTube account.

For the first time, my entire brand has a consistent look and feel

For the first time, my entire brand has a consistent look and feel from andrewokwuosah.com to my YouTube thumbnails to the Heavy Rotation album art to my merch and beyond. I’m beyond grateful to my friends Nada and Sabrina for being there to provide feedback through the many, many sleepless nights that I randomly have an existential crisis or an idea that I want feedback on. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have settled on my now signature look and For Your Consideration probably wouldn’t be a thing.

Miraculous Can Unite, the Miraculous Ladybug fan Twitter account I run with several of my friends, got its own brand identity that I’m really proud of that allows it to be extremely flexible for any graphic we might need. 

Peeking Under the Hood

This year was a big year of growth for me in terms of both gear with several key additions to my arsenal and in terms of stats.

Like my good friend SkittlesBeats, I switched from Windows to macOS with the purchase of Versailles, my 2017 non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro. The ability to edit video seamlessly in iMovie without skipping a beat and to mix Heavy Rotation in VirtualDJ without having to worry about stutters or performance hiccups are perks that can’t be understated. It also allowed me to begin using the lower thirds you now see in most of my newer YouTube videos (thanks for allowing picture-in-picture iMovie) which also helps to create a consistent brand identity. I picked up Santa Lucia, my 128GB ProductRED iPhone XR last month, marking my firm switch into the Apple ecosystem. Aside from being able to shoot in 4K with the significant jump in quality that provides (85% of the MLS Cup video was shot only on the XR), the added conveniences of AirDrop and iMessage are so pleasant and I honestly don’t know how I lived without it for the eight years that I used Android.

Stats are booming pretty much across the board. SoundCloud was the biggest surprise for me personally, growing from just over 400 plays last year to almost 7,000 this year fueled by the 27 mixes posted this year (25 on Heavy Rotation, 2 on Odyssey). 

Cutting Back

You may have noticed two things that I haven’t mentioned once in this update: Andijack News and GameSentral. Well, they’re dead. I didn’t formally announce this but I knew I had to when the only content being posted to both sites was The Download and the GameSentral Rewind respectively on an infrequent at best schedule. To add insult to injury, they felt like chores to update and took significant time away from working on the other aspects of my creative passion that I could be pouring my time into instead. I will eternally be grateful for all that I learned in the seven years that I ran Andijack News and the four years of GameSentral’s existence once it spun off from Andijack News as it taught me a lot about branding and has played a critical role in developing my voice as a journalist. 

Goal Recap

Honestly, I failed miserably at all of these. Maybe I should aim for more manageable goals, but let’s see where things ended up regardless:

  • Read at least 25 books: 9/25*

*I’m almost done with The Scarlet Letter so this will be updated if I’m able to finish it in time. Still a fail though.

  • Write at least 250 blog posts: 54/250

I’m not calling this a fail because my priorities shifted midway through the year.

  • Upload at least 75 YouTube videos: 52/75

What’s Next

I’m at an interesting point in my creative career. Every major facet of my content creation identity is clicking and for the most part is at a narrative quality that I’m happy with. I plan to make significant investments in new gear to help my content have a finer quality and to aid in the process behind making content faster and better. I’ve already invested in Beaverton, a 2TB external hard drive from Western Digital that thankfully uses USB-C to edit off of and backup footage after my old Seagate hard drive died a couple days ago and both my internal and this new drive is bring backed up in the cloud to Backblaze to prevent future data loss. In terms of camera gear, I want this to be the year that I make the jump to 4K. Between my iPhone and the Sony a6300 that I hope to acquire sometime next year, I believe that this will be a very possible achievement.

Heavy Rotation will be back in 2019, and the podcast has switched podcast providers from Soundcloud to Anchor which has already afforded me the opportunity to add sponsorships to Heavy Rotation. I’m committed to ensuring that these ads don’t stray too far from the goal of Heavy Rotation of promoting creators and won’t intrude on the music. These 30-60 second ads will be at the very beginning of the episode to allow for the interruption-free mixes that you’ve come to love from the show. This also means that Heavy Rotation may finally come to Spotify in the near future. No changes should come regardless of the platform you’re listening on.

For Your Consideration Season 1 will be happening in 2019. I’m not entirely sure how many episodes will be produced in the season but the episodes will release on Fridays starting January 4. You should probably watch that video if you want a sneak peek at a new show launching next year as well.

Lastly and more importantly, I want to focus on me in 2019. During one of my crises tied to letting go of my crush, my friend Joanne (who doesn’t use social media so I can’t link to any of her profiles) suggested that I take time to figure myself out separate from relationships and to truly be free from the internal restrictions that have plagued me in the last year. Beyond figuring myself out, I want to just broadly take this year to focus more on my mental health and to become a happier person. 

Final Thoughts

I would like to give a big thanks to everyone that supports me through the good and bad. Whether you’re just stumbling upon and reading this post, retweeted an episode of Heavy Rotation, tweeted an awesome quote that got me through a tough day, have been there for the late night anxiety attacks and existential crises, you are all extremely appreciated. 

In the spirit of fresh starts, I want to end this update with a quote that I shared on my Instagram story that was originally posted by Todoist yesterday that I feel perfectly encapsulates my North Star for the next 12 months and beyond.

Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, you ought to set up a life you don’t need to escape from.

Seth Godin