By Babafemi Aderounmu
11 years ago I shared the same joy every other kid would have returning home after their first lengthy spell away from home. I wanted so badly to share my freshman experiences. I wanted to tell her all about life in the University while we make reference to what transpired in her days. Unfortunately, life had other plans. Against my wish and expectations, life dealt her biggest blow ever when she took Esther away; the best amongst all. If you ask me today, I could barely remember our last conversation. This hurts me deep. No wonder I yearn daily for one more conversation, one more warm embrace, one more head on her shoulders, one more glance of her smile and larger than life presence.
Like the fighter that I have grown to be, I have moved on, developed the courage to soar and emerge from the shadows of passing through my teenage years without my mother, best friend, number one fan and pillar. Year after year, it’s been a new layer of lesson, one more message and one more food for thought in my journey through life. And if you were in my shoes, below are a few lessons you would have had the opportunity to learn.
There would come a time when only the important things start to matter. You will crave for new experiences and the illusion called “stability”. Time would not be your best friend as you will have a lot to achieve within the possible 24 hours afforded to you. Being able to make the best out of every 24 hours becomes more important than ever. You will grow wiser with your dreams, possibly lament the chances you didn’t take and crucially learn to make the best use of every opportunity. Sometimes you will get a feeling of being left behind by contemporaries but your persistence, hard work, bigger picture mentality, extensive network built over the years and most importantly your faith in God would matter and become the foundation for the future. They will hold you through the storm and motivate you to keep fighting.
You will learn to appreciate the beauty of persistence and the art of making calm out of chaos. You will learn how to deal with life on your feet, make ends meet through the gift(s) God has endowed you with. You will learn and embrace the art of starting all over again especially when you fail or your back comes against the wall. You will re-affirm the essence of humility and cherishing your humble beginning. You will learn how to make the best out of every little drop of rain. You will learn to appreciate how far you have come. You will learn and re-affirm that there are various means to an end and your ability to succeed in life would be dependent on being able to explore other means when the one in front of you doesn’t seem to be working. You will come to learn that your circle is very small and indeed very few genuinely care about your wellbeing and prosperity. You will realize that the most difficult decisions about your life would always have to be taken by you and only you. Even if you have the most robust support system, you will still have to be the one to pull the trigger!
The only day you stop fighting and pushing for your dreams should be when you draw your last breath, hopefully in your ripe old days. You will learn to make the big decisions and manage the potential outcomes. You will learn that in this journey called life, momentum is key. You will learn firsthand what it takes to risk it all and go after what you believe in. You will learn that excellence cannot be compromised. Amidst the chaos, excellence should always be evident in the outcome of your actions. You will learn to start celebrating the small victories even when your biggest dreams are yet to materialize. You will learn that the good deeds you undertake in the past somewhat have a say in your future.
With life comes many disappointments and No’s, you will learn to manage the let-downs and keep faith that a Yes is always on the way and would reach you in no time. You will learn to keep up appearances and a cheerful outlook even when things don’t seem to be going your way. You will learn the virtue of investing your experiences in others, ensuring they don’t make the same mistakes you did, ensuring they win and learn faster than you did. You will learn and re-affirm that help does indeed come from unimaginable places sometimes. You will learn that there is no such thing as comfort zone because comfort is all about your mindset and your ability to stay in life’s race is dependent on creating comfort even in the most difficult scenarios and strangest conditions.
Nothing good comes without some form of restrain, discipline and conscious investment in the right decisions. You will learn that you are the champion of your race, no one would run it for you. Not even your family or trusted friends. You will learn how to survive even in the strangest of environment. You will realize that the world is constantly changing and that those who will survive the future are those that are able to get out there and take learnings and knowledge from other cultural backgrounds. A few of the beliefs you have kept over the years would be challenged by new experiences and different people you come across from varying works of your life. Your ability to manage and leverage on these changes without compromising your identity is key and would be pivotal to the man or woman you will become in the next few years.
Patience is a virtue, one that you must learn to continuously absorb and cultivate as you pass through life. Not all of your dreams would materialize as planned, at times you will have to wait them out while you re-strategize and gather a few other elements required for implementation. You will learn the ability to maintain focus on your dreams even in your period of wait. You will realize that self-discovery is an unending adventure and that daily you will learn and realize a few more things about yourself. More importantly, you will realize that we are sometimes made to wait for our dreams or experience delay in our plans because we still need to build stamina and acquire a few more tips required to take flight and navigate the journey ahead.
The essence of hard work, persistency and dedication cannot be overemphasised. You will learn to appreciate the importance of these elements and the many rewards they are capable of generating. You will learn to prioritize what is most important per time and approach every journey as a phase in the bigger picture. You will learn the importance of foresight and the need to be aware enough to draw insights from those around you that show a great deal of vision.
You will learn firsthand the importance of getting out of the blocks early in your youth. The more learnings you are able to absorb early on in life, the better and easier your journey through life. You will realize that your strength is in your youth and that discovering your purpose early enough is the biggest acceleration to your journey through life.
You will go through a phase when you constantly and daily evaluate what the future has in stock for you. Even though some of the expectations that you develop at this stage might not necessarily be correct or perhaps materialize in the future, it is important you start developing these thoughts early in life. In as much you will want to explore your growing maturity and youth, you will equally have to learn to efficiently and responsibly manage your newly found freedom. Ignorance and the excuse of being young would no longer hold ground as they used to.
Beginnings don’t always start up as envisaged, the ability to re-adjust after a slow or poor start is very essential. You will learn that historical success don’t necessarily transfer or apply to the future. While your past successes offer momentum for future plans or endeavors, you always have to learn to work harder and smarter than you did in the past.
There would be a time when quantity stops to matter and quality of life would take center stage. Procreation and the thought of bringing a new life to earth would linger. And if they fail to linger, friends and family would ensure they do. Asides the degree(s) and previous accomplishments, you will need a new challenge, in fact you will need to find something bigger to look forward to. Something to drive you out of bed daily faster than before. You will learn the dynamics of being responsible for others and meeting the needs you can barely afford.