Last week I turned 27 and upon entering this new era of my life (omg, 3 years until 30!), I’ve been super reflective over my journey thus far - how far I’ve already come and where I want to head to. So in true and typical blogger fashion, I’ve rounded up some of my biggest life lessons to date - in hopes that one or two might resonate with you and act as a helpful reminder on days when things aren’t going your way (I’ve had many of those days so I know what I’m talking about, promise). Oh and there’s a few baby photos scattered throughout the post, including gap tooth smiles and monobrows-not-on-fleek - y’know just for your entertainment and my humiliation. Enjoy! x
1. Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number
I used to really struggle with the idea of getting older, panicked at the thought of my youth dissipating as quickly as water drains through a sieve. Now I see the ageing process as a blessing as I continue to safely reach another year of my life when so many others haven’t. I’m happy wracking up all this life experience, getting wiser and developing more confidence in myself. At 27, I feel hot as hell so there’s nothing really to stress over (more here).
2. You Are a Miracle
The odds of you being born as you are, where you are in and in this lifetime are so small that it’s really a miracle you are alive. If that’s not enough motivation to get out into the world, pursing bold and purposeful living, I don’t know what is.
3. You Will Never Influence the World By Trying to Be Like it
Trying to be like everyone else is boring and you’ll never stand out from crowd. You have to do the unusual, embrace your differences and use them to your advantage (more here). This is one of my mother’s favourite lessons and by setting herself apart from the standard (she’s Nigerian, so obvs!), she’s a living example of how to successfully do things your own way, rather than going by the book. Well done Mama!
4. Your Comfort Zone is Nice but Nothing Grows There
In order to truly develop your skill set and character you need to challenge yourself from time to time, otherwise you run the risk of remaining stagnant. Do things that scare you more often and watch yourself reach new heights every time.
5. Never Be The Smartest Person in The Room
Growing up I was always told, “show me your friends and I’ll show you who you are”. Over the years, I thrown myself into numerous circles filled with inspiring people who teach me incredible lessons as I journey on this rollercoaster we call life. It’s important to have people in your life that help you develop into the best version of yourself, whether actively or simply because you stalk them (joking - not joking lol).
6. Widen Your Network
Being an introvert, I was very happy growing up with a couple of ride or die friends because who needs 100s of pals when I can spend 5 hours on the phone with my one bestie, debating general world affairs. As I’ve entered the world of work, I’ve seen the positive effects of having a bigger network pool of people in my life. By engaging with new faces and listening to more experienced individuals than myself, I’ve gained a ton of new opportunities, more close friendships and stellar advice to advance both my professional and personal life. So get out there and mingle stat - your future depends on it.
7. Find a Tribe
In the process of expanding my network base, I’m starting to build small tribes of friends - whether a girl boss squad or my blogger besties - that I call on for help with specific issues. We have our own Whatsapp groups, cute gang names and most importantly we push and support each other in every venture of each others’ lives. As such, we all grow together. The working world can be a lonely place (especially when you’re a freelancer like me) so find your people, those who motivate and empower you. Before you know it, your squad could be collaborating with Nike as per Sharmadean Reid’s International Girl Crew #squadgoals (more here).
8. Fail Hard & Fail Fast
The sooner you accept that you are going to fail numerous times in your lifetime, the better. Failure is the best teacher you’ll ever have. The more you fail, the more you’ll learn and the more likely you’ll never make those mistakes again. So the quicker you get all those #fails out the way, the quicker you can pick yourself up and get to the next level of your excellence.
9. What Looks Like Genius is Most Often Persistence
We automatically assume that successful people are talented when in truth they are simply gritty (you must read Grit by Angela Duckworth - it changed my life!). Winners are those that refuse to give up, no matter how many disappointments and setbacks they face. Adopt a ‘fall down 7 times, get up a 8’ mentality and you’ll go far in life because perseverance is the true key to success.
10. Done is Better than Perfect
Perfectionism is a disease that stunts your growth. Put 100 % effort into everything you do and then send it out into the world. Forever re-tweaking and editing slows down your progress. Trust in your ability to do a good job and make a pact with yourself that when the work is done, it’s done!
11. Keep Writing Even If No One is Reading
This one might sound blogger/writer specific but can relate to other areas too. Basically, whatever you’re doing keep on doing it, even if no one initially takes notice. You just need the right person to stumble across it and bam, you’ve hit gold! While you wait, keep experimenting, practicing, learning, growing and getting better and better. Just by repeatedly producing work, you’ll learn things you didn’t know before so by the time people are reading it, you’re pretty much a whiz.
12. (Deliberate) Practice Makes Perfect
Carrying on from the point above, the more you do something, the higher the chance you’ll get better at it. We all know the quote “it takes 10,000 hours to make a genius”, so start clocking up that time asap. However, it’s also important to actively seek out ways to improve, whether asking for feedback from others or researching and practising new techniques, etc… This stops your growth from plateauing and keeps you skyrocketing to success!
13. Stop Overthinking and Just Get On With It
I’m one of those deep thinker types that revels in over-analysing the microscopic elements of every detail. Most days I can’t turn my head off - it’s a blessing and a curse. Unfortunately, no one is paying me to just think (if only!). We all love to brag about our big plans and strategise every angle of said big plans but it don’t mean shit until you actually do some fucking work so…
14. Do Less & Focus More
Millennials love a good hustle life story. We love to throw the quote “you have the same hours in the day as Beyonce” around, competing with each other over how much blood, sweat and tears we are putting towards our futures. We fool ourselves into pretending we are multi-taskers with the innate ability to juggle a million and one tasks. Sorry but that’s not effective (I’ve tried and tested this one people, believe me). Successful people do less in a day but focus more. With all the distraction we have in this modern society - from Whatsapp messages, to Twitter notifications to Facebook pokes (what even is that?) - we need to practice the art of intent focus even more. Pick two or three major things to complete each day and dedicate all your time and energy on them and them alone. You’ll get so much more done that way and move towards your goals much quicker #worksmart (more here).
15. Vision Without Action is Merely a Dream. Action Without Vision Just Passes the Time. Vision With Action Can Change the World.
Need I say more? (If so read here).
16. If You Don’t Ask You Don’t Get
Being shy or coy or proud ain’t getting you nowhere honey! Get out there and ask for the things you want in life. We often limit ourselves because we don’t think we could ever get the thing we want more than anything in life but if you don’t ask or try then you most likely won’t get. In life, you should never be afraid to ask for the things you want. Sometimes you get a no and you have to pick yourself up and try again. But sometimes you get a yes and it’s pretty fucking awesome (more here).
17. Enjoy the Journey
It’s enjoyable fantasising about our end goals - about being super successful or having this or that. While it’s really important to set yourself targeted goals, it’s even more important to enjoy the process of trying to achieve those goals. Really and truly that is what most of your life is made up of: trying to achieve your desired goals. So enjoy the ride because that’s where all the fun is truly at.
18. Have Faith
Okay, fair enough, the journey isn’t always going to be fun. There’s going to be some (translate to A LOT OF) tears and heartbreak along the way. It’s a given. We’ve already agreed, perseverance is the true key to success and remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Whether you have faith in yourself, your dreams, your God or whatever, use that vision to take you the long-haul and trust the process required to navigate your way there. When you find that deeper purpose, you’ll sleep a lot better.
19. Be Proactive, Not Reactive
My University Netball coach once told me, “if you’re waiting to see what your player is going to do, you’re already behind them - you have to make them do what you want them to do”. Essentially she was pushing me to be proactive in the game, rather than reacting to the events unfurling around me. A lesson that can be applied to all walks of life, me thinks.
20. Only You are in Control of You
I can’t guarantee that you’ll always be able to proactively control the world around you (I’ve tried and it’s tricky business) but there is one thing you can always have a handle on: that’s you. You have a choice in every of your actions, reactions, thoughts, etc… The more you exercise that control, the more effective (read calm) you’ll be in all your endeavours. Life will flow much smoother once you accept that you cannot control people or situations but you can control how you react to people or situations.
21. Develop a Winner’s Mindset
Henry Ford is quoted as saying “whether you think you can or you can’t - you’re right”. Negative Nancys don’t do very well in life, just saying. You have to think like the best to be the best, so quell that sarcastic and doubting inner voice and start seeing the positives in your life. Those with more optimist mindsets do better in school, enjoy emotional and physical health, have stronger relationships. It’s a win win (more here).
22. You Time: It’s a Priority Not a Luxury
Stress is the biggest killer out there. We know you work hard honey so don’t feel guilty for taking some much needed time out. Put it this way, you could work yourself to an early grave or you could schedule in regular breaks for some personal TLC and live to a mighty fine old age. Your choice toots!
23. Spend More Time IRL than URL
The world is tech crazy and all the advancements we’ve made over the last 50 years are super impressive but once in a while, you need a break. Put your phone down and pick up a book. Peel yourself away from your laptop screen and go to an exhibition. Get inspired by the world around you. Make real connections with in-real-life people. The world is a magical place if you give it a chance (more here).
24. Get Creative and Experiment
I started my creative journey a year ago, utterly terrified about the world I was going into because how could I be sure I was creative (more here)? Do creative people even make money? Will I like the jobs I’m given? Want to know the best way to answer these questions? You guessed it, by giving it a bloody go. As children, we spent most of our time testing out new ideas without shame or embarrassment. You think you just walked out the womb? No, someone yanked you out, plopped you on a mat and you wriggled around for a while until you figured out how to drag your body across the floor. You practiced enough muscle movement to start crawling around, then to the annoyance of your parents, started pulling on a variety of furniture to stand up so you could try walking unaccompanied. Now, you’re a walking, talking adult because the kid in you wasn’t afraid to get their hands dirty. The same applies to finding the right job, the right partner, the right anything. Thanks for teaching me a valuable lesson baby Elvira, you did good!
25. Trust Your Gut
Yes it’s cheesy AF but it’s still oh-so-true. You know yourself better than anyone else so if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Intuition is real people, listen to yourself from time to time.
26. Family Comes First
Living in such a fast paced world, it’s incredibly easy to forget about the little things that really matter. Whilst fully in hustle mode (*eye roll*), I stopped appreciating and respecting the value of those in my life. I was too busy chasing money, honey. My mum would call for a chat and I’d listen, whilst answering 20 emails - so not really listening then. My niece would need help with her science homework and I’d be supportive, whilst scrolling through Instagram. After reading Shonda Rimes’ Year of Yes, I realised that my professional world wasn’t going to crash by giving my full undivided attention to those that are important to be for as little as 15 minutes. It’s the smallest sacrifice on my part but means the world to my family and friends.
27. Learn the Power of the Double Cleanse
And finally, while this point might not necessarily lead you down the path of life success, it will give you successful looking skin. So ladies, no matter how tired you feel in the evenings, take off your makeup, wash your face and wash your face again! It’s a short term pain but a long term win when your face is looking all clean and spot free (more here).