Dear 26 year old Me…

Today, and today only, I claim to be wiser than you. Let’s just take a moment and laugh at that! We made it!! We made it to the other side of obstacle number 1(And by “obstacle number 1” I mean: all those “you should be married at 25” statements, hopefully, they realize that’s not going to happen now so we are good. We can breathe and do whatever *Whew*). Y’all it’s rough out here… If you know, you know. Haha.

One day we will have a conversation about the stumbling blocks. We will talk about the “almost” business deals, the “almost” companies and the “almost” jobs. We will talk about the “almost” happy ever afters and the almost baby daddies, lol. We will talk about all the almosts and then we will smile… We will reflect and, maybe, we will cry. We will cry about the hurts and the emotional baggage we picked up along the way (Girl, what were we thinking?).

We will talk about the walls that have been so beautifully built around every curve that is you (You know, the internal Berlin wall). Then we will tear them apart, brick by brick. That one brick that was placed because of lies and broken hearts – yep, it’ll be gone – , the wall that has been elegantly architectured with bricks bought with the realization that the knight in shining armour was actually a villain – that one will go to!. We will talk about the bricks of indifference that were delivered by the ghost under the bed and the witch in the wardrobe … We will talk about the walls of pseudo-confidence that were built by deliveries of insecurities. We will cry over the truck full of losses and arguments that put it all together…

One day we will tear the wall down, piece by piece. Like the wall of Jericho, it may take a couple of marched around the city… One day we will… But today, today we do none of that. Instead, we remember…

  1. There is no road map to originality. You have to cut through the undiscovered forests to be uniquely you so don’t be intimidated by the giant trees!
  2. It is ok to be weak. In fact, it is important to be weak! The strongest people are those who embrace their weaknesses and use them to their benefit.
  3. You will fail. Not once, not twice but countless times. Remember to take your failures as lessons rather than permanent losses.
  4. You cannot be the smartest person in the room. That will mean you have stopped learning when…
  5. You should never stop learning. Take every opportunity you can to learn something new.
  6. You should never stop LEARNING ABOUT YOURSELF!!! You are the most important piece of the puzzle and you need to continuously identify each part.
  7. You cannot let your past define you. It is the past for a reason. You are not who you were 2, 5, 10, 20 years ago (in fact, you are not who you were 2 minutes ago so there’s that). The sooner you embrace that, the better.
  8. Don’t dig up the skeletons. They are dead for a reason. Leave them dead!!! It is not for you to bring them back to life. Mummies are a no-no.lol
  9. If you still pay attention to what people think to determine your course of action, you are not going to go far. See (1).
  10. Take RISKS!!! Take ALL the risks. Better to say “I tried” rather than “I wish I had”.
  11. Take care of all parts of your “self”. Take care of your mind, take care of your health, your heart and your soul.
  12. Don’t give up on love. “The greatest of these is love” was not put in the Bible for no reason. Jesus is wiser than all.
  13. Give all or nothing in everything that you do. If you are going to give mediocrity, don’t do it.
  14. Know you why! Walk in your Purpose!! Never stray from these two, they define your legacy.
  15. Prioritize family! These are your people, family should be your safe place.
  16. Take time to heal… “Don’t bleed on those who didn’t hurt you”. If you don’t heal, you will bleed in the wrong places.
  17. Introspection is everything.
  18. Be quick to course correct. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Learn to know when you have failed and when you need to take a break.
  19. Fill up your well! You cannot draw water from an empty well.
  20. “Forget yourself long enough to help others.” It’s not all about you, it’s about service and servanthood.
  21. Celebrate your wins, celebrate other people’s wins! Nothing is as rewarding as seeing the fruit of one’s work. Join the party!
  22. A “Principled” centre is a winning centre! Never forget!
  23. Know your Vision and Mission statement, then “walk it out”
  24. “He who fails to plan plans to fail”. Prioritize Planning!!
  25. Put God first!! Nothing, and I mean N.O.T.H.I.N.G., should happen if God is not at the centre.
  26. Travel!! Travel far and wide!! Travel in season and out of season. It is good for your heart!

Today… Today we hope. We hope that the brighter days are many and the darker days few. We hope that these 26 reminders act as a guide where we forget how to live [Because, come on now baby girl. I know you are stubborn but you have to accept the lessons you give to yourself, if anything. Just saying]… We hope that the past failures and experiences are building blocks, not to the defensive wall system though – we are done with the walls fam! -, building blocks to a live well lived. Today we hope that we inspire, that we try, that we live… Today, we hope that our existence epitomizes a full life. We hope that we live it out and, where we fail, that we laugh it out.

Then we celebrate! We celebrate 25 years of up, downs, lefts and rights (oh, man… That was so cliche but I love it. Hahaha)… And, most importantly, we pray that the next quarter of a century brings with it wisdom and growth!!!

Reflections of a 22- year old!!!

So I have been 22 for a full day now and I am feeling like such a grown up!!hahaha… I woke up with a pimple even and I’m sure that was God letting me know I’m getting older…Older and wiser, right? Birthdays, I think, are the best times to reflect, to see what God has done in your life and where you are headed. As I was reflecting, there are a couple of things that I was reminded of about 21 that I felt like taught me some of the biggest lessons of my life, so here goes FIVE REFLECTIONS OF A 22 YEAR OLD…

1. It’s not about you.

The past year has come with a lot of changes, a lot of decisions and a lot of redirection that I had not initially planned on. It was a year of “testing God” in the things that He challenged me on. One of the biggest things was growing in relationships, learning how to put every single interaction and friendship in His hands. I was challenged last summer to be more intentional in seeking Him at a deeper level and the year of intentionality with Him really exposed a lot of selfishness on my part. There are times, in listening and walking with the father, that we assume that everything that happens is for our own edification. I was (and probably still am) very big on asking the question, “what’s in it for me?” Everything has to affect me right? I need to gain something out of whatever is happening, if something goes wrong it is all my fault and I probably have to fix that. If I am not satisfied then why bother? If I feel like a failure in life, go through a few days of anxiety or exhaustion then it’s all me. I learnt this year that, sometimes – in fact, many times – my journey is not just about me. That sometimes the Lord wants to give me a new level of exposure, a new level of growth and a new experience. I learnt that, if I change perspective, I will realize that every single season that I go through is intended for a different theme, a different lesson and a testimony for the future.

2. It is not about anyone else either

I love the song “Jesus at the center” by Israel Houghton. It is such a declaration of who Jesus should be in my life and, every time I listen to it, I am reminded that everything revolves around him (see what I did there, ha). This year, in many ways, I learnt that my go to character is people pleasing. I learnt that my emotions are largely affected by how people around me feel, what they think. I also learnt that saying NO is hard for me, and I am sure I am not the only one who would say that. I learnt, also, that sometimes I worry about people’s emotions when I shouldn’t and that I do the Lord’s job for him when I shouldn’t. It was a big lesson for me, and it really changed the way I view a lot of things. The central focus shifted so much!! I re-understood (if that’s even the right way to say that) what it means not to conform, what it means to thrive and move forward. I learnt that there are things that you have to do without thinking about the responses from those around you. Actually, scratch that, I learnt that if you have conviction about an idea, a dream, a way forward, then there is no reason other people should hold you back from it. Don’t get me wrong, accountability, council and advice are all good but sometimes our go-to is thoughts such as “what will others think?” “how will this change how other people view me?” versus asking God what He thinks and whether He approves and then going for it.

Both 1 and 2 reminded me of what the central focus of my life should be and that, I will be cliche here for a bit, “only dead fish go with the stream”. They, I will not lie, boosted my confidence in so many ways where I struggled with appraisal and finding identity in the opinions of those around me. Yes, I still need to work on these, but sometimes when I feel like I am doing things out of expectation (or not doing things out of expectation) I take a step back and declare, “IT’S NOT ABOUT ME, IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU, IT’S NOT ABOUT THEM!!!”

3. Complacency is not an option!!

Complacency, according to the Webster dictionary is:

“a feeling of being satisfied with how things are and not wanting to try to make them better : a complacent feeling or condition”

There are many times when I have been comfortable in a specific situation. For different reasons, I get really comfortable and decide I don’t want to move forward or backward and just want to be at the same place. I learnt this year, in some hard ways, that once you get comfortable in the same place you start sinking. I’ll make an analogy: think of a sofa (or couch) that is always in use, you sit the same way in the same spot all the time. After a while, there is a sort of hole on that couch that develops because of that. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what complacency does. It fixes you to the same spot, stopping you for making those failures that will propel you forward or getting those victories that will push you upwards.

4. You are ALWAYS in transition!!!

I think this follows nicely. I remember, sometime this past year, I was struggling with something and I got so frustrated with myself and with the Lord. I found myself asking him, “why is it that I always feel like I am struggling with something?!?”. I am grateful that He can take all of my complaining because He simply told me, “it’s because you are always moving forward, calm down”. And of course I ranted on for a little bit more until I didn’t have any more ways to say the same thing to Him. I learnt that there is nothing lifegiving about going through a routine, and that the father knows that. I realized that transitions mean hard times, they mean challenging times and the struggles might look the same sometimes but they are so different. So I decided, I will always enjoy the ride, seizing the moment and riding along when the next transition happens.

5. Celebrate the small victories.

I was listening to a teaching by Joyce Meyer recently that enforced this lesson for me and I thought to myself, “thanks Daddy for aligning things so perfectly”. It is so easy for me to beat myself up about failures, mistakes, shortcomings or lessons that I fail to learn the first time around (hence lesson number 1). The Lord taught me over the last year that, in as much as it is important to anticipate the big successes and the milestones, it is super important to celebrate the little jumps and leaps as well. I realized that we get so focused on where we are going and how hard it will be to get there and we do not think of where we are and how hard we have worked to get to that place. So here’s to lots of celebrations for the small things in life. Also, being a sentimentalist, this spoke volumes to me because He was like, “you know how those small things resonate, why not indulge in them?”.

So here’s to another year of learning. A year for me to embrace the changes, to fail over and over again and then to succeed. Here’s to a year of zero stive!!! Bring on TWENTY TWO!!!

“Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations. Ask your father and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you.” Deuteronomy 32:7 [AMP]