My Top 10 Lessons for 2021

Every year I get to write 10 things life taught me and find my top 10 lessons for 2021 





1. Never be afraid to take on a learning opportunity: In early January this year, I joined the MasterCard Foundation as an intern on creating a mentorship programme for refugees in Uganda. I learned on the role, wrote my dissertation on the work, deepened my knowledge in Monitoring and Evaluation. And the experience led to my role with Refugee Education UK. So, sometimes we are not too big for an internship. It’s sometimes a learning experience. 


2. You may lose your confidence if you hold yourself up to the expectations of what others think of you. It did happen to me but with self-awareness, I was able to cope and reflect on what I wanted. 


3. You need help, you cannot do it alone. The best scores in my postgraduate studies were the ones I sent to my colleagues to review and the ones I discussed with my lecturers and asked all the stupid questions. I didn’t do poorly on the ones I never asked but it could have been better if I had just asked for help. 


4. Social media can be very toxic and also be a platform for social good. I was able to distinguish between the two and created a pattern that works for me.


5. Life is never fair. No matter how good you are, brilliant and amazing. You can still be turned down and be rejected. Again self-awareness is key. Knowing that not all roles are meant for you and the people who turned you down are not bad people. They are humans too. You will do the same if you are in their shoes because life is never fair. It’s the person with the most convincing story or who can communicate their skills that win. The awareness and understanding as helped me a whole lot as a person. 


6. As much as you do good on the outside do not forget about the inside. We do so much good for people who are not close to us that we neglect those who are close (e.g., our close family, close friends, close colleagues).


7. Always be one step ahead- Do not fully depend on anyone that they are going to save you or help you. Yes, people would always be there but you have to be one step ahead. Always have your plans and be one step ahead. 


8. Journal your thoughts and worries. Most of the time when I go through hard times or find it difficult to make a decision. I write them down. Some I share, some I don’t but what journaling does to me. It helps me think things through. It relieves me of the burden of carrying so many thoughts. It helps my mental health. Especially when you are doing a very rigorous masters degree. 


9. Always give your best and demonstrate excellence. As a graduate student at times, the work you put in may not reflect in the marks and feedback that you get, and those comments at times may sound demeaning. I do not feel bad about them, knowing how much I have known and learned in the process. The ends most time justify the means. So far you put in your best and have tried. If you put in the work and strive for excellence. It sometimes shows in other ways. Results are always in the process at times, not the outcome. 


10. Not every time you talk about yourself. Learn to let people talk about themselves and if they feel shy about it. Prompt them. People like to talk about themselves and you learn a lot from it. The conversation should be two-sided, not one-sided. 


Bonus: If you can afford it! Go on a trip with friends. Take a vacation. The best things we learn sometimes happen in unusual places and not in the classroom.


Hammed Kayode Alabi (c) 2021

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