Socrates famously said, “The unexamined life is not worth living” and while this dictum is certainly true, self-reflection is not necessarily an easy thing to practice. We live in an incredibly fast-paced world, our mobile phones are constantly buzzing, social media is infinitely calling, and Netflix always has something new to binge on. Taking the time for reflection is now a bit of a lost art.
I turned 19 three weeks ago and if I’ll be honest, I don’t have any idea what I’m doing anymore and I’ve never been more excited (lowkey terrified) to find out. 19 feels like my water year – no longer rooted, but gold, flowing; embracing surge, embracing life.
Looking back at my life before 19, it felt to me that I lived in a relatively unconscious or semi-conscious state. And now, I am ready for life. I am ready to live. And I’ll like this year to be a real wake up call to live unconsciously.
That bit of wisdom made me reach out to some people I know with a vast store of life wisdom. I learn from these fine people, and I know firsthand that collectively, they are the keepers of tremendous wisdom and healthy ideas. They are guardians of life knowledge the rest of us can benefit from if we’d only take time to listen.
So recently, I asked these amazing individuals one simple question – what advice would you give your 19-year-old self? Here are their answers:
Oluwapelumi Jegede (AnikeBeloved)
Be present. In every sense of it.
Almost all the time, we have our heads buried in wanting a result or building a future that we fail to absorb what’s present. We worry too much about the future, shift plans to the future (because we believe that the future is the best time for whatever we’ve conceived), and fail to live in the now. We fail to harness the power of now because we have our eyes fixed on the future.
Here’s what I have realized – There’s no future without the present. This present works the future so whatever you do now dominates a greater part of your future. It’s not like a future is reserved somewhere and you will be ushered into it. Have a routine and stick to it. Good things don’t happen in isolation. One intentional step after the other takes one to one’s destination. We often time wait on lifts while we can climb a stair of steps. A stream flows into a river over time if it won’t stop flowing (I love to think we are tributaries). But many want to be rivers without flowing first. So, sometimes, they dry.
Don’t play the game of comparison. It kills one’s reasoning. Be yourself. Be confident in your skin.
Get a Godly mentor to guide you on this journey to avoid making mistakes/errors. Some mistakes can easily be avoided because you have someone who has gone through such a process and learned his/her lessons.
Give room for growth. It’s okay to make mistakes but it’s not okay to wallow in regret or mistakes, rather pick your lessons from them.
Choose your friends wisely. Your network determines your net worth. Choose friends who are goal-getters and of like minds.
Mubarak Aremu (MB Banks)
My 19 was free. I knew what freedom looks like even though I wasn’t caged before. I saw and felt the freedom to be, the freedom to live. I learned how to write my own stories, literally. Not to sound too abstract. I ventured into literary arts writing with little or no knowledge of literature. I never had a history in arts too, so, coming into the writing scene felt new and liberating. I was able to free my ideas into lines of poetry, a bulk of unedited prose, and trickles of drama.
So, one thing I think perfectly describes that moment is FREEDOM. I was creating at will, most of the time. It then grew into what it is now – what I am now.
If I get to speak to the 19-year-old me, I’d only say; EXPLORE MORE, as much as you would have, as much as you can.
If I could advise my 19-year-old self, what would I say?
Appreciate the gift of people. I know that one tough quality I never had was relying on people, trusting people, and holding on to people. I have gotten better at this, but it would have been much better if I knew it early. To know that no one comes into my life without a reason.
To be sincere, I don’t think there’s much I would say to my younger self. She was a younger, imperfect yet perfect version of me. All I did to her was improve and smoothen out my shortcomings.
Okay, there’s something else I would say and that’s “to take life one day at a time.” I worried so much as a young girl (I’m still young anyway). I worried about everything and anything and I was quick to anger. Many people complained about the constant lack of a smile on my face but I didn’t care. This habit is something I’m still trying to fight. So, if I could have said anything to my 19-year-old self, I’d tell her to chill. Relax babe, you’re going to get where you’re going, no need to rush. Stop worrying because God has you and you have the greatest backing.
If there’s a piece of advice I wish I had gotten earlier before 19, it would be the fact that the best of God for me, for us, for anyone, might be the least of what we envisioned.
If anyone has a definition of what ‘best’ is, that would be God. I was just this naive and zealous young man who didn’t really know what life is about. Never envisioned failures. All I could see was a smooth smooth journey, like a Smoove drink. (Even the sound of “Smoove” causes a vibration in the vocal cords. So how is that smooth?)
I failed so many times. I broke my neck, broke my back at certain points. Even with the wounds and my backbones looking for their sockets again, I still moved. I still leaped.
Only if I had known, that the best of God for me might seem the opposite, to me (so to speak) at some point, I would have prepared for 19. I would have maybe worn some protective gear. Maybe wore hiking shoes to hike the mountains. Maybe take some extra water and bread. Maybe take along extra sweatshirts for the cold nights. And maybe, take an extra wine to celebrate my wins.
It’s so beautiful to be 19. My life started that year.
At age 19, I had my wins and my losses for sure. As they say, you win some and lose some.
MY SPIRITUAL LIFE: My walk with God was not balanced. I struggled with balancing the doctrines and teachings in school fellowship with what I had known from home. Also, God was to me a mean God, who once you decide to come to Him, you must be perfect else He strikes you dead at the slightest opportunity. I struggled a lot and I had an almost non-existent relationship with God.
TO 19-YEAR-OLD ME: Baby, God is the best thing that could have ever happened to you. He’s a loving Father and a just God. He is always on your side, He is for you and not against you.
MY ACADEMICS: I had my first carryover at this age. I was shattered, I was down, I was almost broken.
My result in my 2nd year in the university was nothing to write home about. I was confused. How am I not writing the right things? How am I to answer these law questions? What exactly do these lecturers want from me and a lot more? Maybe I’m not as smart as I thought I was. Maybe this law is not for me and lots more.
TO 19-YEAR-OLD ME: I know you messed up and that’s okay. It’s okay not to get a hang of everything the first time. You’re okay and you’re fine, however, you should have spent more time reading, understanding, and regurgitating everything. You are smart and you’re worth everything good in this life.
BUSINESS ASPECT: Well, this aspect makes me proud. I launched my business at age 19. I started boldly and I took huge risks. I spent my birthday on the streets of OAU advertising my bedsheets to 100-level students who had just resumed. I took huge risks this year. I also had a few losses, times I doubted myself, sold below my profit margin just to retain customers, and many more.
TO 19-YEAR-OLD SELF: I can’t be more proud of you right now, you took a huge risk that is now making way for you. I’m proud you took that huge step, however, you should never doubt yourself. You work so hard for every penny you’ve ever made, and you should never sell yourself cheap.
RELATIONSHIP ASPECT: I spent my 19th year so angry, bitter, and full of hate. I hated the male gender, I was hurt and I held on to my hurt, I refused to let go and let God heal me. God! I had no relationship with anything “male”, I could barely stand them. I just would never let anyone get close.
TO MY 19-YEAR-OLD SELF: I’m sorry for your hurt. I’m sorry you had to endure so much hurt and pain, and I’m sorry your young heart had to hold on to so much hatred and bitterness. However, I know God heals, let Him wash away the hurt, talk to Him about it all and leave it with Him, don’t carry that load of hurt with you. It’s okay to be down, you don’t have to be strong all the time, you can ugly cry if it’ll make you better, but never continue with the bitterness. I love you, little heart.
What advice would I give to my 19-year-old self?
Live for something. Simply put, live purposefully.
Starve your distractions– gadgets, friends, e.t.c, and focus on what truly moves the needle. Read so well and study so hard.
Keep your circle of friends simple. There’s no award for who has the largest number of friends.
Be there for your close ones. Be present.
Kill every feeling of jealousy. Kill it as fast as it arises.
You want to be in a relationship? Define YOU first. Don’t rush.
A lot of things will not matter in the coming years, so, chill. This is the best time to take all the calculated risk. Take that course now. Start that business. Build that connection. What’s the worst that can happen?
Stay happy. Kill guilt. Learn from your mistakes and move on.
We all have much to learn from others in our lives, especially those who have perspective that results from living life, experiencing life, and learning life’s lessons through the years. I encourage all of us to listen carefully to the people around us. You just may find the piece of wisdom you need to help you in a difficult moment.
Do you have a favorite piece of advice that you wish you had known when you were younger? Feel free to share your wisdom with us in the comment section below. We’re excited to hear from you.
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You might not be 19. But still ask: What do you want to tell yourself today?
Love as always + peace,
Graphic by Mayor Graphics on IG.