Who would have thought that 2016 would end so soon? It’s amazing how a year can pass by so quickly. Now that we are in our final month, I thought it would be nice to write a reflection of the year. For many, 2016 has been a year of unforeseeable events – Leicester’s success in the Premier League, Brexit and the U.S. Elections. After a while, many of us no longer knew what to expect. My 2016, on the other hand, has been a challenge. I never thought one year could test me so much, dealing with my own personal issues, as well as external issues, was not easy.
At the start of 2016, I was four months into university, however, I still had not settled down the way I expected to. I was able to take care of myself, but I struggled to make the most of my “new” home. The main highlight of January were my examinations. After leaving a stressful year of A2’s, the thought of sitting exams again filled me with dread. The January exam period was hectic; irregular sleeping pattern, the constant cramming of content I did not even understand and additional stress. I felt like a mess. On top of this, I was still battling with a lot of insecurities –I was still very shy, had low self-esteem and a lack of self-belief. This is something I have battled with internally for years. To be in the same position at 18 years old was quite upsetting. I wanted University to be my turning point, but I was 4 months in and nothing seemed to have changed.
Then came February. It was a monumental month for me religiously. I have always been a Christian however, I decided it was time to fully strengthen my relationship with God. This was an extremely fulfilling moment for me. I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulder. Despite this, the task of living a completely God-centred life is not easy (If you know, you know). Temptations become more prominent resulting in a constant mental battle over whether my actions were right or wrong. The journey has been difficult, but it was worth it. My most valuable lesson was remembering to always stay true to myself. Not everyone agreed with my views and decisions, which was perfectly okay. I placed God at the centre of everything I did and I am proud of it.
By March, my confidence levels were still quite low. March was quite a busy month because our ACS put on their first culture show. I was a model in the African section, but was tempted to drop out numerous times, I persevered through it as I knew the experience would be worth it. And it was. It was a great experience, and I was delighted I was able to conquer my fear of being on stage. (Not completely, but enough to get me on stage for another 5 minutes). This is where the change began.
Fast forward to July. I went on the Powerlist Foundation and Deloitte Leadership Programme. Wow, my life changed. Till this day I will never understand how a two and a half-day leadership programme, had such a huge impact on me. I was so inspired and encouraged to be someone great, that majority of my fears disappeared. I realised that continuously putting myself down was doing more harm than good. At this point, I knew it was time for some serious change.
Following the leadership programme, in the summer I got more involved and took advantage of the opportunities around me. I balanced two jobs while volunteering at the British Heart Foundation (Do not do this, the stress is not worth it!) I attended networking events, and the constant interaction with others increased my confidence. I even started this blog. By the end of summer, I had so much to write on my CV, I was in complete shock.
It was October and the start of second year. I was officially starting as the Vice President of Open Minds. I was definitely a lot more prepared than when I first found out I was the Vice President. Nevertheless, there was still a slight problem. I hated public speaking and this was something I was required to do. I was afraid of mixing my words or just embarrassing myself in front of an audience. The first event was our “Meet and Greet”, which I had to talk at. I was extremely nervous but to my surprise, all I remember is being congratulated for the way I spoke. I was amazed that no one noticed my nerves. I concluded that public speaking was not as bad as I thought.
Now we have come to the end of the year and I am proud of everything I have achieved during the course of the year. In the space of one year, I have come such a long way – from a young woman who thought she was not capable of much to someone who is so involved that she cannot even balance her time anymore (lol sigh). The growth has been monumental. So, I started off by saying that 2016 has been a challenging year, but it has also been the best year of my life. I am so grateful for the growth and most importantly, the life lessons. I wish the 2016 process was easier, however, I probably would not have gained as much as I did.
This is not a detailed version of my year, nonetheless, I wanted to share a few memorable parts. Here are a few of the life lessons I learnt:
1.Stay strong in your faith – As aforementioned, being a Christian is not easy, but it is rewarding. My faith and perseverance are what got me to this point today. At a particular point in time, I was receiving so many blessings that I did not believe it was humanly possible. God has done a lot for me this year, and I can only hope his wisdom and guidance will follow me into 2017.
2.Do it yourself! – Learn to use your initiative and learn to do things at your own will. An observation I made while being in University is that a lot of people are very dependent on each other. Some individuals refuse to get involved in society activities, or other university programmes just because their friends are not doing it. I was guilty of this, but I soon asked myself whether I was in University for myself, or my friends? University has so many resources available to us, and this is the best time to take advantage. You can develop new skills, meet new people and add experience to your CV.
3.Friends – Friends come and go. It’s unfortunate, but it is the harsh reality of life. Disclaimer: This does not mean every friend in your life is temporary! As we grow our mentalities change. Things that may have as acted as a bond between you and your friend before, may not exist anymore. Do not be disheartened by the situation, as this is natural. Despite this, you may find that some great people may walk into your life when you least expect it. One thing I have learnt this year is that the number of years you’ve known someone does not determine their loyalty to you. You can receive more support and guidance from someone you have known for months, than someone you have known for years. (I know a lot of people can agree with this).
4.Your achievements are only great to a few– This life lesson definitely hit me the hardest. Not everyone will be happy for you and not everyone will have your best interest at heart. Unfortunately, I have witnessed this first hand. At first, I was confused but realised I am not expected to please everyone. I know a lot of people are upset by situations like this, but it is important to remember why you started, the impact you plan to have, and with that continue whatever you are doing.
Take those lessons on board and remember,
“Until you conquer the enemy in yourself, you can’t deal with anyone” – Lauryn Hill
I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and wishing you a happy new year!