AND SO THE CLOCK STRIKES A NEW YEAR!
Well, the earth has gone around the sun for a whole year since I last marked my birth. Here I am again, a year older.
I decided to mark this year in an unusual matter. I want to openly reflect on how the past year has been for me. The past year has been filled to the brim with lots of ups and downs. There were good times and not-so-good times.
Compared to previous years, I have been molded than I could ever account for this last year. I am grateful for the progress I have made. I am remorseful for the mistakes I recorded; I am thankful for the humans who had one hand or the other in my continued growth. I learned because learning is a continuum. I learned because I understand that change is constant, and we must embrace each phase as it comes.
I would like to share some of the things that I have learned. They have shaped the past year for me. Who knows, others might just pick one or two talking points from my experience.
I hope here goes for something.
Everyone has their values, and this past year shook some of my own even as it strengthened my convictions. I have always seen myself as a highly value-oriented person. Still, I didn’t realize that you can only beat your chest and say that after your supposed values have stood the test of time. As you grow older, your values will be tested. It is only then that you can know what you truly stand for. This year showed me that nothing should affect your values.
Know them and be faithful to them.
Surprisingly, my gender advocacy had minimal opposition compared to past years. But regardless of how small or insignificant, those will still get to you. However, once I reminisce about the young girls and boys that I have inspired and impacted, I am motivated to go on. After all, the impact is one of the reasons we are encouraged to pursue our goals.
That is my coping mechanism. It won’t change.
I do not see what I do or my gender advocacy as a project because I believe those are what you do for a duration of time. That is, there’s always an expiry date or a timeframe within which the project would be completed. Instead, I see my advocacy business as a lifelong business, and along the way, I learn, unlearn, and relearn.
It should never stop until a heart stops.
I reflect on my journey as a gender advocate, and I remember those that consulted for guidance. I am grateful for their words of advice that have helped shape my advocacy journey. I have also come to realize that nothing beats experience and knowledge. In retrospect, I see that I have grown. To my fellow young people out there, my advice is if you have that idea in your head, I would say just start from somewhere. It is understandable if one does not have everything figured out. I didn’t have it all mapped out when I first set out either. Experience comes with engagement and activeness. Along the way, you will evolve, like I did because ideas will come to you, too, and you will experience a great insight. After all, there is always an evolution on the way to Damascus. Those people ahead of you won’t just throw requisite experience and the nitty-gritty of your journey into your lap.
You have to experience it. It is a journey and not an occurrence. I am usually not too hard on a young graduate who does not have some things figured out. I do not reprimand them; I am somewhat patient with them. Personal development is a prerequisite, no doubt. Still, we should have it in mind that experience, background, and all affect some things too. As a corps member that year, I was that average young graduate who didn’t know some things, and there are instances I was reprimanded for it. I approached situations in good fate, and I learned to work on myself. I reflect on this and smile. I ensured that I discovered myself. Let’s give people room for growth. I will add this, these days, most youths are in for instant gratification, most people don’t want to follow the process and stay through to sacrifices. Personal development usually won’t happen in your comfort zone. We should be patient enough to follow the process.
We should appreciate the importance and benefits of asking for help, too.
Over the years, I’ve cultivated Intellectual humility. Intellectual humility is a concept that allows you to entertain the possibility that you may be wrong. This makes you open to learning from the experience of others. It is about being aware of your blind spots. An intellectually- humble person owns his or her cognitive limitations. He or she recognizes, and can even openly acknowledge his or her intellectual debts to others. He or she should not consider the social status of the person(s) from whom they learned those things. I don’t know it all, none of us do. When you acknowledge that you are not a walking encyclopedia or a compendium, you open yourself up to new ideas and knowledge or information from any and everyone. This makes you learn, grow, and get better.
Be humble, always.
This year, I learned that sometimes it’s okay to forgo some chases. I am naturally a go-getter. Once I set my heart on something, I ensure that I get it. This has helped me in my academic journey so far. Still, recently I am beginning to understand that being persistent about getting anything in any aspect of life may not work. Some of our keenest hear desires are toxic to us along our life’s journey, and clinging to them will only hurt us. In such situations, it’s okay to let go. Persistence is not necessary when it is affecting our peace of mind.
We should know when to move on and when to let go.
IT’S FINE TO SAY NO
This past year, I have strongly realized that people would ask you for a lot of things. If you want to guard your mental health, you have to be prepared to say No when the need arises.
But how you say no matters too. Recently, a friend commended me on my ability to say no without making the other person feel offended. Although I wouldn’t say I’ve had formal training on that, I just like to think about the other person’s feelings too. Sometimes, I even go the extra mile and make recommendations for them. For example, I am a gender advocate. Still, my area of focus or specialty is female leadership and breaking stereotypes. However, I receive invitations to talk on sexual health, which, unfortunately, is not my area. In this case, I say no politely and try to recommend someone else for them.
You can always say no, but be polite.
SAFE SPACE AND VULNERABILITY
Over the years, I’ve learned to be more sympathetic and less judgemental. I come from a morally strict background, and as a result, I know I have tendencies to be judgmental. Still, these years have taught me to allow people to be vulnerable to you so they can see sharing with you as a safe space. This has made it easier for several young girls to confide in me.
Hence, it is okay to be vulnerable.
TALKING TO PEOPLE IS A SEED
I am not perfect, no one is. Ergo, I am grateful for the gift of good friendships that have helped and shaped me over the years. I cherish constructive feedback and guidance. I also realize that sometimes when we talk to people, and it seems that they are not yielding, most times, it is not a waste. The seed is being sown. I have various friends and even parents who have corrected me over certain things at different stages of life. To them, they might feel not worth it, but it eventually paid off. At times constructive criticisms could be like Paul sowed, Apollos watered.
Always open yourself up to someone.
This is not to sound cliché, but I take my prayers seriously. I know how standing in the gap of prayers has affected my life, especially in this past year. I would say that it is indeed an invaluable ingredient on every journey.
It is a whetstone to/for one’s cutlass.
In conclusion, I’m grateful to everyone who has helped make this past year beautiful for me and those that have pushed or motivated me in one way or another. May this new year be much better for me, even as I hope that I would accomplish a lot more than I was able to last year. Amen.
Happy Birthday to my twin brother and me!
Oh, you think I’d tell you my age now. Nah, the talk is over! Later darlings!