This column is structured as a conversation I have with myself, in various forms, about life. Follow me on this journey as I reflect on what I’ve learnt as I’ve grown, and share it with myself. This should be fun!
Long time girl. I saw you the other day in your high school prom picture looking all sorts of yummy. I won’t go on about it lest I get reduced to a lip-quivering, hair-pulling, snot-wiping mess. But that’s one thing I realised, you never took enough time to just…be. You were always worried about the future, you worried about me too much. Well, I am good. Way happier than you, dare I say. And it’s not because I’m having a glass of wine either. Oh, I didn’t tell you? We drink now! Cheers!
We turned out good! Real good. You would be proud. You never thought you would be here without an inter-galactic collision causing some mind-altering consciousness where the world transforms into this giant rainbow and you can swing from one side to the other, stuffing your face with chocolate and collecting achievements on the way. Let’s face it, nothing you thought about the world has turned out to be real. You lived in a fantasy, but if you listen to me now, we can pretend it never happened and we shall never speak of it again.
So I spoke to some ladies, Sianka. I was doing some research for you. I hope you appreciate it, because between cramming all the lyrics to anything that comes out of Beyonce’s lips and rehearsing her dance moves, I am really really busy.
It’s hard work. I start off on a good, even tone and by the end of one song I’m hyperventilating and sweating like I work in construction, and by this time I haven’t even began the dancing. She makes it look so easy, Sianka. The fact that I struggle to this extent is displeasing to me.
I try to use my time wisely, so I can have something meaningful to say to you. However, this doesn’t always work out well for me because I spend most of my time in endless banter with Bey and Jay and we laugh and laugh and then I go to sleep. You can see how one would struggle in my situation.
Anyway, I spoke to some ladies, and they spoke back. Oh, the distant recollection of longing, Si. Remember when you used to spend your nights fiercely scribbling in your diary, about how that guy you had a crush on accidentally stepped on your toe and you instantly got a vision of your future life and all the kids you would have? How you could literally see yourself, in an incessant loving stupor, with prince charming skipping into the distance, so dainty a swan would be jealous? Yeah, well first of all, we are working on the dainty part…still. I can already see your judgmental face. I WILL HAVE AN ENTIRE MEAL WITHOUT SPILLING AND BURNING MY BOOBS OK! One day…
I wanted to know what we can expect for the future. All these questions girl, we need answers. So off I went on a quest for these answers. I asked ladies of varying ages, from ladies in their 20’s all the way to ladies in their 50’s, what advice they would have for their younger selves. Calm down, I got you. This is what they said:
“My life changed dramatically the moment I realised that the world owes me nothing and this is what I would have told my younger self:
Gal, you want something in life, you go out there and get it! Nobody is walking in your shoes to know what you want and how bad you want it. Only YOU know. You are responsible for your own happiness. Thus, make the effort to meet people, foster good relationships, improve yourself academically, and uphold whatever else that makes you happy. Making others happy starts with you being able to realise happiness within YOU.”
‘Listen to mummy especially when you do not want to and pay attention to daddy and do not forget what he has taught you silently about the virtues of a man; do not take his kindness and respect as weakness. Cherish your older siblings, they will not surprise nor mislead you. Remember you clear the path for your younger siblings, so travel far. Above all else but God, love yourself fiercely: do your best because when you love something you give it your all. Work your hardest because when you love something you invest your most precious asset which is your time. Invest in relationships, not experiences. Learn from your mistakes: accept them but do not tolerate them. Be true to yourself always-remind yourself regularly who you are and who you want to be, the world will try to change you. Keep dancing especially in the rain and do not stop running because you will regret it at 21. Cry when it is necessary but do not waste your tears which is something you will eventually learn. Not every bridge needs to be burned. To be kind is human, not weakness. Empathy is an art. Perfection is strewn. Love like anything and everything in this world is a choice. When making choices, always choose you the rest will follow. Also, no you are not weird for playing business, starting a frog and chameleon zoo instead of playing family or dolls you are just being you. DON’T STOP PLAYING LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO BE A GROWNUP.”
“Success is not guaranteed, but failure is. You will not always win. Sometimes you will fail, you will lose and you will get hurt. Loved ones will pass away and it will break your soul. You will learn from your failures, emerge stronger, smarter, better. You will get over the hurt and time will heal you. Give time, time.
Real friends are hard to find and even harder to keep .You will need them. You will rely on them, you will fight with them and make up with them. They will be your next best asset next to your family and loved ones. You will carry each other through the best and toughest times.”
“Mine is short and sweet. To a younger me: “work harder. No matter how busy you feel your disposable time is endless. Use the time wisely and create early achievements so that later in life you can give more of your time to your children“.
“I would tell myself not to conform to others’ expectations as much or worry about what people think. That I can do anything I set my mind to as long as I believe it even if it is not the norm. I would tell myself not to quit my sport just because none of my friends kept on with it. That God is a lot more forgiving and loving than I thought he is and he isn’t up there looking down at me angrily. That God wants the best for me and I deserve to have an amazing abundant life in every area. That the way someone talks about others to you is the way that they talk about you to others so invest your time and your friendship wisely.”
“I would tell the 18yrs old me:
1. Don’t care so much about what people think!
2. Money isn’t everything, you don’t need a lot of it to be happy! Study first, you will have plenty of time to work at amazing places that you’re going to love! Learn how to live with what you have now first! It’s very important!
3. Speak your mind! You’re not surrounded by mind-readers!
4. Don’t be so hard on yourself and stop overthinking situations!
5. It’s ok to put yourself first sometimes!”
“Never fear asking about anything from whichever source (Jobs, favours, help) The worst you will get is a no…which is what you already have with your mouth shut.
2. Share your happy moments, weakness, hard moment, real side. It will scare away every fake person in your life or it will inspire them and open doors to most important and fulfilling relationships you will have
3. Make and keep valuable friendships when you are young. You don’t make as many true friendships when older
4. Everything gets better…Eventually. Pray for God’s grace to deal with the time in between the Eventually and just know one day gone is one day closer to eventually.”
It’s not about how much you make rather how wisely you use it. Money makes a good servant but never a good master. If you take care of the pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves. However, distinguish between being money-wise and having a poverty mentality. With money, like the Bible says, do not despise the days of humble beginnings. They say a dollar a day saved from the day one is born would give you a million dollars at age 40! Simple, but not necessarily easy. Life: In life, go after the things that are truly in line with you core values. For some, that could be quality time/strong family relationships. Be true to yourself, others and your values for you can lie to others but never to yourself. At your death bed you won’t wish you spent more time in the office but rather more time with your family. Love what you do or else do what you love! After all you spend 2/3rds of your life working. Besides, life’s too short not to be happy. This is the main show, not the dress rehearsal.”
So from all these wise words, I can conclude these three things:
- Mum and dad were always right.
- Always right is what mum and dad were
- Mum and dad…they were right.
Sianka, there is a wisdom to be had from growing older. Life is our best teacher, and if you use your life as a class, you will always be happy. At our best, we are all teachers. I hope to use all that you have taught me, to teach another soul. Thank you for the lessons.