5 Things I would Do Differently If I were 22
LinkedIn is running a series called #IfIWere22. It is interesting to see what people like Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, Alanis Morrisette, Suze Orman, David Letterman, and a host of others would have done differently. I’ve been thinking about what I’d say to a younger me. At 22, I had not only graduated from college, but also finished my mandatory one year service to my country as a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member. I remember being on the Nigerian job market, unsure of what opportunities were available to me besides working in the banking industry (Banks were/are the major employers in the country). Looking back now, here are five things I’d say to my 22 year old self.
Make better use of learning opportunities: at 22, I was fortunate to have completed my University education, however, I went through the motions without paying attention to what was needed to succeed after college. I missed out on a lot of learning opportunities that would have improved my skill set and increased the value I could bring to the table. As a mentor to young adults, I always encourage them to use their high school/college years wisely, i.e. volunteer with organizations, take internships seriously, and engage in extra curricular activities that will help them develop soft skills.
Feed your Passion: from an early age, I always knew I wanted to help people. It broke my heart to see people suffer/lack access to things we take for granted such as having a home, food to eat, shoes, getting an education, being able to afford healthcare, etc. knowing what I do now, I would tell a younger me that I could make a difference regardless of how little I had, or how old I was. Anyone can make a difference.
Take more risks: I love everything that is stable, familiar and certain. Taking risks involves the possibility of failure, which at 22 wasn't something I was prepared to face. I have learnt a lot of valuable lessons from my mistakes and past failures. This has made me a stronger and more compassionate person. One of the sure ways to grow as a person is to reach beyond your comfort zone. That involves taking risks. Go for it!
Cultivate a spirit of excellence: another way to say this will be to always give your best to every task, and do great work. Don’t be mediocre. Strive for excellence!
Love yourself: I am one of those people who spends quite a bit of time making sure that everyone is okay, and I sometimes forget that I matter. There is nothing better than loving yourself, attending to your own needs, and knowing that you matter just as much as the next person. Loving yourself is the only way you can give your best to others. More importantly, it is the only way that you can be your best self.
As I write this post, I realize that the 30 year old me still needs to be told a few of these things every day. My hope is that as we grow and mature in age, we will learn from the past, in order to create a better future for ourselves.