A few days ago, I celebrated another birthday. As the years go by, I am grateful for this gift called life; sometimes birthdays might seem like a reminder of the things we have not yet accomplished. Nevertheless, I am thankful for health, strength, for the opportunities, and the misfortunes. In the past year, I have had my fair share of highs and lows. I failed to go home as I had earlier planned not to mention missing the significant events of dear ones. However, I traveled to Ghana, presented at my first international conference, got a job in Korea before graduation which I resigned after five months (I will save this story for another day).
As I celebrated my over 30 years of existence, these are some of the things I have learned so far;
1. Cultivating Friendships
There are those people you will click with right from the start, and there are those that you will fail to click no matter how hard you work at it. Some of those friends will stick closer than family; the non-judgemental type, the ones that stay with you through thick and thin, the ones that will love you regardless, the ones that show up for you in good and bad times. They might not be the longest friends you have had, but they will show up in your life, and it sure feels you have known them for a lifetime. When you find that friend, it’s worth cultivating that friendship.
2. The Importance of Networking
Having the right connections is as important as having a university degree or having the right qualification. It’s important to make an extra effort to network, build new relationships, and nurture them. To some people, networking comes easily, and to some like me, we have to do the work. It pays off! Having the right connection will give you that extra push you need to get something done, whether its business or personal.
3. We all have our races to run
We are all designed for a particular purpose. Even though we might seem to be running in the same direction, our races are unique. We go through life comparing and judging ourselves to others, who obtained what you’re believing for first. We all have our timelines, what this comparison does is to steal our joy, we pay so much attention to other people’s victories while forgetting our accomplishments.
A few years back I found myself paying too much attention to what people were posting on social media. I used that as a yardstick to judge my life and forgot about my wins. It’s important to know your dreams and move steadily towards accomplishing them and celebrate other people’s wins rather than be discouraged.
“Do not compete with anyone in the race of life. Compete with yourself.” – Lailah Gifty Akita
4. A right Perspective will increase your success and Happiness
The ability to think about a situation in a wise and reasonable way is everything. I know two people who were subjected to the same conditions while growing up, same dysfunctional family, same punitive living circumstances and yet one used these circumstances to turn their life around while the other whined and complained about all these things to date. Instead of focusing on the wrong side of the situation, look at it from a different angle, identify the good thing in a situation, and amplify that.
5. Enjoy the detours in life
Life is bound to have twists and turns, we often at times end up in places where we didn’t expect ourselves to be. We may not understand these detours at that very moment, but one thing for sure is they help us get out of our comfort zones. The most exciting moments of our journeys may be experienced on a detour. So sit back and enjoy the ride.
6. It’s okay to be vulnerable
Being vulnerable means being comfortable in your flaws. It means owning your story for what it is. It might be difficult but not as challenging as trying to run away from it. For many years I have put up this wall around me, this thick skin where I don’t completely let people in for fear of being hurt. And to some extent, this affected my relationships both with family and friends. Being vulnerable may be uncomfortable, but it surely creates trust, it’s a strength rather than a weakness when it comes to love.
“What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.” – Brene Brown
7. It’s okay to put yourself first
I am that person who creates discomfort for herself as long as others are comfortable. Constantly trying to please others will suck the life out you. It’s okay to put someone else first but not relentlessly. As I try to be the best version of myself, I am trying to treat myself with compassion and work towards creating happiness for myself before making others happy.
8. Rejections will always happen
The fear of rejection always limits our options. In one way or another, we are bound to face rejection. We all strive to fit in and get accepted in society, and this might not always be the case. As we tread this path, rejections will happen, but it’s important not to dwell on the rejection but look at it from a different angle. With each rejection, we develop a thick skin that makes us stronger for what lies ahead.
9. God is always faithful
Even in our unfaithfulness, God remains faithful that’s who he is, we can’t change his nature. This is not only proven in scripture but over and over again I have experienced his faithfulness. He always pulls through for me in his timing.
10. Exercise as a lifestyle
Not until you try to shake off some excess weight, that is when you know you should have exercise as part of your daily routine. I used to be that kind of person that would eat anything without worry about adding any excess weight. Sometimes I turn to food as a source of comfort especially the sweet foods. Of late I have noticed some extra weight in some unpleasant areas. Despite hitting the gym for a couple of weeks now, I am still on trying to shade it off. I am learning that the older you grow, the harder it gets to lose weight.
Besides the obvious benefits of staying in shape, the benefits of exercising every day are enormous. Regular exercise boosts your energy, improves your mood, improves your brainpower among others.
11. Embracing failures
As we traverse through life, we are bound to fail in unimaginable ways. We will not always win but what we do when things don’t go as expected is what matters. Failure is not a setback but a learning process, to go back to the drawing board and figure out where we went wrong. A chance to get things right. The fear of failure to some extent has pushed me to accomplish some of the things I have done, but to a certain degree, it has also crippled me. Crippled in the sense that I am afraid to start something new. Failure cripples creativity; I am learning to embrace my failures.
“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.” – Henry Ford
12. Happiness is a choice
We have all been hurt by people we hold dear to us; maybe a family member, a close friend, a colleague, or even a significant other. Beat by their actions or their lack of it. Based on our expectations of them, we have let them control our emotions, attitudes, and aura day by day. We give them so much power to decide our happiness. We play the blaming game. Blaming them for our unhappiness, it is us that gave them the power to dictate our emotions and feelings. I am learning day by day that happiness is my choice. There is no one to blame for my unhappiness but me. I am in charge of my feelings and how I approach the challenges and how others treat me entirely depends on me.
“Stop giving people the power to control your smile, your worth, your attitude and your day. Don’t give anyone that much power over your life” – Germany Kent