I was a goodie goodie. I never drank, smoked tobacco only once or twice before, did very well in high school, had a decent group of friends, very caring and interested parents. Then how the hell did I get to that point where my life was almost not worth living anymore?

Starting NYU was going to be a crazy experience. I knew that before I started. Getting that phonecall from my future roomate the summer before college began was very exciting:

"Hey man, my name is Jeff. I'm gonna be your roomate next year. Do you smoke bud?"

It was also very depressing. My life was about to start anew amidst a stoner. The type of person in highschool that I would usually have nothing to do with. Someone who I viewed as a worthless drain on society. It is surprising how much you can learn about yourself from those you least expect it.

A month had gone by. Living in a room with not one, but two stoners, was very strange for someone from such a straight-edge background. Their daily bong hits and drinking games were getting quite crazy. Eventually, the bong being passed around, it comes to me, and instead of passing it along as usual without taking a hit, the thought of 'what's so special about it?' crossed my mind.

"Should I take a hit?"

"Go ahead man. You've never tried it before. Lose your virginity, go ahead, take a hit."

suck suck suck, carb, inhale, suffocate, blow out massive amount of smoke, cough, repeat.

People usually say they don't get high the first time. But people usually don't take 4 huge bong hits with strong kyne bud on their first times either. They were supposed to warn me, start on light stuff, don't dive directly into a bong with strong stuff. But they were stoners, they probably forgot.

"How will I know when I'm high guys?"

"Trust us, you'll know."

"I think I'm high guys. --- ear to ear grin, aka Perma-smile, red eyes, thoughts not making sense. Where's that bird chirping coming from? Oh, that's just the CD player. ---Yeah, I'm high."

Life changed. I met my parents the next day for lunch in the city. Will they notice I'm not entirely normal? That I can't remember some stuff they told me a few second ago? Luckily they didn't notice anything, they were just glad to see me. Weekends usually became pot times. Go over to Neal's place, smoke a bowl. His birthday's coming around, maybe we'll do E for the first time.

How did it come to this? I was so innocent before coming here. Now I'm considering doing cocaine and Ecstacy? Where did I go wrong? Is it my fault? Where is there to turn now? How should I get out of this? I hate my life. These people aren't friends. They're freaks, they just want to escape their worthless existence. Somehow they convinced me to escape to nowhere along with them. Come along man, burn out with us. I've never been so alone. I've never been so scared. I can't go tell my parents, and my friends aren't really my friends anymore. The highschool crowd has all turned into strangers.

The proverbial crossroads. Insane thoughts were running through my mind. On one hand, images of my parents extremely disappoined. Forget the world, you're your own individual, who needs their approval if I'm happy? Do what you want? Am I happy?

On the other hand, stop. Get your life together, grab life by the balls and find your niche. If these people are worthless, screw them, let them rot, and be there to laugh at them when they fail and you escaped their temptation. I chose the latter. It wasn't easy, but I did. It's a lose-lose situation, either way, the future will suck.

Why did I chose the option to stop? Because Neal failed out of school after freshman year. Pot became more important than classes. You really have to try to get a .75 GPA. And I was one of his closest friends there. We were 'bong-buddies'. Wake up call, slap across the face of the reality of the situation. I was getting a second chance, virtually consequence free. I better not blow it.

Now I know what it's like to be tempted into evil. Now I know that no matter how much they try to teach you in school, there's so much that just can't be learned without experiencing it yourself. These bozo teachers, having never taken drugs, telling us that they can offer nothing. Noam Chomsky is right, "Education is a system of imposed ignornance."

Ben Franklin once said, "The road to hell is often paved with good intentions." That road is lined with high stalks of marijuana and a promise of escape. I'm just glad I got a second chance at life and happiness. The first thought that usually crosses my mind when I wake up in the morning is:

"This is your last chance. Don't blow it. Don't do something stupid. Just live a life worth living."

Around 2010, I left investment banking to run my family business. In the list of my regrets, that decision ranks at number 3. Part of the reason why I left was that the firm I was working for seemed to have no focus. While it was a big name in the industry, arguably one of the most successful boutique investment banks, it did not have a culture of discipline. So, not much got done. It collapsed in 2015. I also thought poorly of it because I had joined it from a younger firm which had been set up by one of its former employees. That firm was an amazing place. Focused and full of smart people. Leaving that firm is my second most regretted decision. Anyway, I practically failed at running the family business. The company came close to collapsing under my watch. Mostly because I am a bad manager. Anyway, in August 2020, I got a chance to return to investment banking. I was invited to head a firm that had been set up 3 years ago, and which had not really done anything since being set up. The outgoing Managing Director, who had worked in regret 3 (before I had joined), had supposedly been unable to close out on any transaction, nor had he been able to get new mandates.

I am excited about this chance. Part of the reason why I got the job is that people who had worked with me when I was still in the industry thought highly of my abilities and thus recommended me to this new place. This is buttressed by the fact that in the last 10 years, I had gotten other offers.

Why did I not leave the family business if I was so unhappy and unsuccessful? Mostly inertia. And an unwillingness to publicize my failure. And pride - the thought of going job hunting was discouraging. And a lack of confidence. My business failure made me doubt my abilities. While I was aware that I did not have the skills to run the business, I thought my intelligence (which everyone always commented since I was a kid) would enable me to pull through. So, I stayed. And under my watch, the company's assets shrank from N600 million (approximately $2 million) when I took over to less than a N300 million now. Given the decline in the value of the Naira against the USD, this is less than $1 million today. I am ashamed of my failure. While I made determined efforts to do well in my current business of trading in LPG, my repeated failure to make a profit steadily demoralized me. I, who had been used to an expensive lifestyle became a penny pincher, borrowing money from my company for everyday expenses. It sucked. And it sucked even more because my mates appeared successful.

Why did I leave my career to come back home? Filial duty. I am not an only child. Nor am I the eldest. But I appeared to be the most competent because I was the most successful academically and professionally. I honestly thought my professional success would transfer to business success. I also was under pressure from my parents. My father was in his 70s. He had built up his business from the ground up. I was supposed to improve on what he had done. I had some successes. We went international for a few years but pulled back because conditions worsened in the other country. I also succeeded in introducing a new business line which is now the mainstay of the firm. But as I said, I am not making profits. I could have handed over the business to someone else but there are no candidates. My brother is dishonest. Nobody trusts him. I did not think any of my sisters could handle the pressure of business in Nigeria. My general manager is competent. But Nigeria is such a messed up place that if I'd put him in charge, I would not be surprised if he begins to treat the company's money as his. Given that our courts barely function, I would not be able to get redress or him punished if or when he embezzles.

What is my plan now? I intend to lease out my assets. I will maintain my trading contracts though. I usually made money on those. When I start the new job, I intend to do a masters degree in monetary economics and a PhD in something similar. I want to have those degrees because I want to be the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. I can have such aspirations now because the people I will be working with now are already in the circle of the rich and powerful.

I am hopeful.

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