by Ololade Ajekigbe
Since last year I started to document and do a post on the lessons I have taken away from each year. It’s a form of yearly insight on the events that have shaped my year, and offers some sort of assurance that I am going into a new year wiser. A number of slogans resonated with me during the course of the year because they went from words which were passed down from a sage or generation to experiences I actually went through in my personal or professional life. It’s been a rather interesting and challenging year for me. If I thought 2015 was tough, then it was because I was totally ignorant of what 2016 was preparing to dish out at the beginning of the year. But, with everything that happens to me, I like to take away lessons…lessons which I summarise below;
Remain teachable: Apart from being privileged to be able share a bit of my knowledge with a couple of people this year, I have also gone out of my way to seek knowledge like I always do. But beyond that, this year, I have sat at the feet of people who are younger than me to learn new things. What’s more, I thoroughly enjoyed the education. It’s important to have a hunger for knowledge, and regardless of who’s imparting it, it’s good to be humble enough to admit that we don’t know everything and be willing to receive from those who know better. I also find that once people perceive that you’re willing to learn, more often than not, they’ll go out of their way to put you through the hitherto dark path. I don’t care if the one who has the expertise in an area is 2 or 100 years old, as long as they have what I need, then I am open to sitting at their feet to learn. My seven-year old niece recently started to learn to play the piano, who says she can’t teach me to play if I’m ready to learn from her? Mark Zuckerberg in all of his “glory” and status visited Nigeria to see what the young people are doing with information technology in Lagos. I bet he learnt something from them.
Nobody owes you anything: One thing that bedevils a lot of Nigerians is the entitlement mentality. Something happens to us and we expect everyone to scurry around for our sake. I know it’s why we have family and friends. They are supposed to be the support system nature gifts us. Nevertheless, except you are a minor then I dare say it’s irrational for you to expect people too much from other people regardless of how close they are to you. You may be the most talented person in the world, and some people would still choose not to acknowledge it. They don’t have to. If you want them to pay attention, you have to find a way to make them. The truth is, everyone is dealing with something, and once you take that into consideration, it becomes easier to accept that technically you are all you’ve got. Think about it, when something untoward happens to you, as much your friends and family can empathise with you, they really can’t feel what you are going through. One of the marks of adulthood is an ability to solve one’s problems by oneself. If help comes along the way, fantastic! But like a friend of mine would say “Never expect and you shall not be disappointed.”
Life never gets easier: Growing up, many of us only had to worry about getting good grades to be on the good side of our parents and make it to the next class. Money and relationship worries were reserved for adults. Now we are adults, and those worries which seemed light years away have suddenly become our reality. I know that the issue of finance for instance has been a challenge for an overwhelming majority this year. I also know that beyond finance, a lot of people have problems that are peculiar to them, ranging from health issues to bad marriages to failed businesses. Many are glad that the year 2016 is coming to an end and are optimistic that 2017 will be a better, especially hoping that the country comes out of recession. I hate to sound pessimistic, but there are no guarantees. In 2014, we had to contend with the shocking news of the abduction of the Chibok girls and the Ebola virus pandemic, in 2015 it was the continued onslaught of Boko Haram, and the uncertainties surrounding the presidential elections, while 2016 has been all about the recession and its aftermath. Who knows what 2017 will bring? Even if the cash crunch and job losses become a thing of the past, there’ll always be a fresh challenge. The good thing is that we have managed to survive what life has thrown at us each time, so it’s safe to assume we will survive any challenge the coming year throws up. Nonetheless, it’s silly and unrealistic to expect that all will be smooth sailing simply because it’s a new year. History has shown it never works that way.
It’s okay to be vulnerable: I was having a conversation with my friend where I mentioned my dislike for being a nuisance to anyone. It was about sending a some kind of reminder to someone, and I wasn’t too keen on doing that since I had sent a message earlier. But, my friend thought otherwise, and gave me a little lecture on allowing myself to be vulnerable, and not being too shy or proud to ask if I needed something and knew a person was in a position to help. I saw plenty of sense in what they told me. Nobody likes to be seen as needy or vulnerable, but we are bound to find ourselves in that position sometimes, and it’s important to recognise that it’s just a phase that will pass. As much as nobody owes us anything, there’s absolutely nothing wrong in asking for a little help (or big as the case maybe) when we find ourselves in a tight corner. At the end of the day, no man is an Island. No one can be entirely self-sufficient.
Nothing is impossible: Before now I thought this saying was something that was chanted or repeated to psyche people up and get them to give their best. Look beyond their seeming limitations and shatter glass ceilings. Until Leicester City won the English Premier League. Until Brexit happened. Until Donlad Trump emerged president-elect of the USA. If all these events are not enough to convince anyone that impossibility is only a figment of the imagination, then nothing else will.
I learnt many more things this year, but these are my top 5. I’d like to know yours.
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija
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