I turned 22 roughly a month ago, on the 8th of August. A few days to my birthday, I started reflecting on the things I’ve learned in my relatively little time on earth. I was originally supposed to make this post on my birthday, but somewhere along the line I lost motivation and decided I wouldn’t post it anymore. A few days back, I read the draft again and decided it was worth posting. So I’m posting this in the hope that someone learns a thing or two (let me know in the comment section if you do!). Personally, I also intend to use these lessons for some goal-setting and life-planning going forward.
Lesson #1: Relationships are important.
I am someone who values close relationships. You don’t need to have thousands of friends but the few ones you have, cherish them. If nothing else, the COVID-19 pandemic showed us that we are largely social animals. I recall being stuck in self-isolation and the highlight of my day was long video calls with my friends. Always value the people around you because they matter.
Lesson #2: Budgeting is a lifesaver.
I started reading Arese Ugwu’s The Smart Money Woman a while ago, and it motivated me to start creating an estimated budget for myself every month. This has been an actual lifesaver! Your budget does not have to be anything complex. You can simply list all your expected income and all your expected expenses for the month – the difference is your disposable income. If your disposable income is a negative figure, you know that you obviously have to cut down on your expenses or find alternative income sources, otherwise you will run into crisis. If your disposable income is a positive figure, that’s great! Any spontaneous non-essential expense should come from your disposable income and not your overall income, otherwise you might end up being unable to pay for your essential expenses. This should guide you to make smart money choices. I’m not trying to suggest that I’m a financial management expert, as I still go outside my budget sometimes. But I really enjoy having my budget as a guide, especially in terms of seeing how much my disposable income for the month really is. Once you remove all your essential expenses, you realise that you have much less money to throw around than you think you do!
Lesson #3: Start investing yesterday.
One bad decision I made was not investing when I was in uni. I used to save but I never really started investing until I graduated. If I had started investing from my first year in uni, I would have made a decent amount of profit by now. So I’m saying start investing yesterday so that you realise how urgent it is. Recently, I was watching a video on The Break and one point really stood out to me: the fact that with the high rate of inflation, saving your money without allowing it appreciate actually amounts to losing money. This is because the same amount of money can buy less things today than it could yesterday. If you live in Nigeria, the rapid inflation rate in the past few months should drive this point home starkly. The good news is that there are so many easy ways to invest even if you don’t know much about investing. My favourite investment platform at the moment is Agropartnerships, a digital platform that allows people to invest in agricultural commodities, offers 30-40% returns on investment and is 100% secure. I mean, your bank could never!
Lesson #4: No knowledge gained is wasted.
My parents always used to say that no knowledge gained is wasted, but I never realised how true it was until I started experiencing it personally. The knowledge I have acquired from doing random things like volunteering or taking a training course has helped me a lot in my studies and even in my job. When you are going through the process, you might be thinking to yourself, ‘When will I possibly need this?’ But one day, the need will arise and you will be grateful that you gained that knowledge.
Lesson #5: Do things that scare you.
When I was younger, I was very shy, but I never let my shyness get in the way of doing certain things. A good example is public speaking. I would always volunteer to give a talk or facilitate a seminar – whatever it was – until public speaking no longer scared me. And eventually I realised that what made me scared wasn’t public speaking per se – I was just scared of embarassing myself. So I would prepare and pratise and prepare and practise to minimise any chance of me embarassing myself. Did I still embarass myself sometimes? Of course, but who cares? In the grand scheme of things, you are the only one that remembers those embarassing cringe-worthy moments you had, because everyone else is too busy remembering their own embarassing cringe-worthy moments! So do things that scare you, and maybe even embarass yourself a couple of times, until they no longer scare you.
Lesson #6: Adopt certain ideologies and stand by them.
I’m not here to preach to you about what ideologies you should adopt, but I do think that everyone should have certain ideologies they stand by. As the saying goes, if you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything. For me, one strong ideology I stand by is feminism.
Lesson #7: You can’t control how others behave…
…but you can control how you respond to them. The other day, my Bolt driver almost brushed someone’s car while trying to make a U-turn. The guy came out fuming, hitting the car, and hurling insults at him. The Bolt driver was calm, apologised, and said he’ll come out to look at the car. The guy just hissed and drove off. He must have felt stupid. People can be very impatient sometimes, and some are even looking for someone to argue with. But you don’t have to degenerate to their level by raising your voice back. More often than not, if you respond calmly to someone who is raising their voice and throwing insults at you, that person will feel embarassed and eventually stop.
Lesson #8: Some things are more valuable than money.
To me, things like happiness, health, peace of mind, and time with friends and family are invaluable and cannot be compared with money. I was speaking to Philobells the other day, and he was telling me about four types of wealth: money (financial wealth), status (social wealth), freedom (time wealth), and health (physical wealth). You would need some measure of each kind of wealth to live a full life, but if I had to rank them, I would say health is probably the most important, followed by freedom, and then status or money.
Lesson #9: NEVER compare yourself with anyone else.
You’re the only you that there can be, and the only person you’re allowed to be in competition with is yourself.
Lesson #10: Invest in yourself.
The best gift you can give yourself is to invest in yourself. Take a training course. Read an impactful book. Learn a skill. Start exercising and eating healthy. Whatever it takes to improve your knowledge, skills and overall wellbeing, do it.
Lesson #11: You deserve to ‘ball’ every now and then.
Go on a vacation. Take yourself out for dinner. Do something that makes you happy. Life is too short! I make it a point of duty to treat myself to a nice meal in a restaurant every now and then, because good food makes me happy. You don’t always need to do something extravagant. Find those little things that give you joy, and give yourself a nice treat every once in a while – you deserve it!
PS I wanted to increase this list to 22 lessons, but I thought that it would have been quite a long read. So take this as one lesson for every two years, if you will.
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