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Tomorrow is the last day of the year and it seems like a good time to take stock of how this year panned out. I entered the year tired – just weighed down by things I hadn’t achieved yet and obsessing over why success seemingly takes forever to manifest.

 Twelve months later I have an entirely different outlook. I will itemise the lessons I learnt and want to share because I like lists (ngiyadlala that’s a bad Facebook joke).

1. Patience

We live in a tricky time where social media is such a big part of our lives, and because of that it means we have unprecedented access to the lives of the people we know. We see people getting fancy new jobs, we see people flying all over the world, people graduating, people getting married, people having children, making and enjoying their money. It’s beautiful to see all of that until you turn the mirror on yourself and wonder where your glow up is and why you aren’t checking all the boxes you have made for yourself.

That personal scrutiny can take you down a deep and dark hole. Until you realise that you’re okay. Your pace is not particularly slower than that of your peers, you realise that the roads to success or personal fulfilment are many and you are on your own course.

As the risk of sounding like a cliché, you realise that you are also able to slay in your lane. Someone still looks at you and is inspired by what you are doing and that has to count for something because it is what leads you to being inspired by yourself.

2. Diligence

The thing about diligence is I believe it serves one better than talent does. Obviously if you have talent and are diligent, then for all intents and purposes you should be unstoppable.  I will beg your indulgence and share a story about myself. I’ve loved writing from the time I first learnt how, when I realised I could communicate with people and evoke emotion without opening my mouth my life changed. Which is why when I was given the opportunity to pen this column five years ago, I did not take it lightly and I still don’t. My natural talent for writing and using this space to advocate and entertain, led to the Head of the Youth Division at the African Union Commission (AUC) stumbling across my column and she reached out to me to work on an intergenerational session with the division.

Which opened my eyes to the opportunities that the AUC had for young people and I moved to Addis Ababa and worked in the highest office in the continent, where my gifts were honed and tested. During the experience I chose to keep my column going, after days that often ended at 2am I would come home and write my column and email my editor. Every single week (well...) and that has been my biggest take away about this. Be diligent and tenacious even when it makes no sense for you to keep going, especially then.

3. Honour

A few months ago my cousin and I went to visit our grandfather. She had just returned from the United States of America as a Fulbright Scholar with her Masters in Operational Research and I had come back from the AUC. Our grandfather turned 95 on December 9 but he remains lucid and wise, so he addressed us individually and congratulated us. The words he spoke over our lives remain with me to this day. His one requirement of all his grandchildren when we leave the country or return is for us to see him. The lesson in that is you have to go beyond loving and respecting the elders in your family and life in general and settle comfortably in honouring them. We honoured our grandfather’s one requirement and he continued to cover us in his blessings and assurances that we are still on the right track. It matters so much.

4. Ambition

The most tragic thing about ambition is that it cannot be taught. You have to want more for yourself. This is why I always encourage people that if you ever have the opportunity to do so you should travel and see the world just for context. Because seeing how large it is will show you how much is still out there for you to lay a claim to.

5. Say yes

There are more lessons and growth opportunities for you when you say yes and either fail or succeed than when you say no and remain in your safety bubble. I cannot even tell you the number of times my willingness to say yes has led to me being thoroughly embarrassed but there are lessons in failure which you can never find when you walk an unencumbered line to success.
I wish you all a happy and bountiful new year.

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