I wish I could tell you it gets easier at some point. Trust me, I really wish I could. However, if I did, I would have told a blatant lie. That being said, I sincerely hope you do not see this as a ploy to create fear, anxiety or scare you. We are on the same boat; the only difference between us is that I am sharing my unfolding journey and experiences with you.
Adulthood hits hard when it finally hits. The impact of it varies with the life experiences, responsibilities, scenarios, and curveballs that come your way and how early in life they kick in. As fascinating and fulfilling as it would be to tell you to stay ready, I don’t think you can fully prepare for growth and be ready for all the things it will throw at you. No doubt, there are a few things that could be cultivated and imbibed to stay ready, but the key is to keep in mind that you will continually need to learn how to create, manage, maintain and transcend growth.
A few things you might want to keep in mind as you journey through adulthood:
Leverage your ‘Minority Advantage’ and shock value
I have never really considered the minority advantage approach as a thing – especially the potential it holds – until my recent meeting with a distinguished professional. We never really want to be the minority or viewed as such. But, in the meantime, it can be put to good use and you can gain a lot from being a minority.
Being out of place in a community – be it within a culture, professional field, country, etc – naturally could be demotivating. However, being in such a situation doesn’t always spell doom or, at least, shouldn’t be deemed as such. I agree that everyone naturally feels more comfortable in a diverse and un-bias space – a place where people share the same interest, background, orientation, etc, with you. Alas, this is not always possible.
That being said, this should never be a barrier to your self-confidence and motivation but it should be a stepping stone to make a difference, shatter biases and, in one form or the other, pave the way to bolden more minorities out there. The trick is that as a minority, the bar – in terms of expectation – is sometimes set low. By virtue of sustained excellence on your part, it wouldn’t take a lot to create positive outputs that would overturn any underlying bias and aid your journey.
Stay bold and go tear those walls down with grace, an open-mind, and unrelenting will to get your voice heard!
Reflective self-evaluation and feedback loop
Life is an unfolding journey with many unplanned scenarios and experiences. The more reason why you can never underestimate the importance of taking stock, internally and externally. The natural inclination is to always believe that our actions/decisions per time were warranted but it never hurts to re-evaluate from time to time, quiz yourself objectively and uncover improvement gaps. Sustainable improvement decisions come from within.
If you are lucky to have a trusted support system around you, seek their feedback when you can. Amidst the many scenarios life puts in front of us, there will be blind spots missed out or not considered. A second trusted opinion never hurts. I fully understand that trust is relative these days and seeking feedback sometimes opens you up more to potential judgement, bias and some vulnerability.
However, it is key to remember that you are still the chief architect and the one with the final call on the feedback you decide to use or not consider. Stay reflecting internally, but also maintain a feedback loop with trusted allies per time whenever you can.
Value is the most important currency in life’s trade market
A good network, strong educational background, and exposure can only get you as far as the value you are able to create per time. As far as opportunities go, getting your foot into the door is one thing, maintaining and transcending your presence would be down to the amount of value you generate. The context here is not restricted to professional or career settings. Friendships, family, community, relationships are all in full scope. The world is confounded with a lot of unanswered questions, challenges and gaps to fill and, more than ever, in need of problem solvers and value drivers. Sustainable income, happy relationships, influence within your community and amongst friends are driven by the value you are able to create per time. This is the currency you would be able to trade per time in exchange for advancement, growth, recognition and sustainable impact. Stay creating.
Be a life-long learner
Creating and driving value comes from learning and accumulating knowledge. In as much as you need to create and drive value, it is so important to upgrade your capacity and depth. The complexion of value changes over time. What was enough up until now might not be enough to generate the next value or unlock a new level of possibilities.
The more reason to stay curious and attentive. Ask probing questions per time, build solid interactions with people operating in things that pick your interest, read books, watch documentaries, travel when and if you can. There is a lot of information out there to ‘consume’.
In fact, too much information overflow could sometimes make prioritizing important information to consume a daunting ask. When it comes to prioritization, group the information you seek into two: the primary group would be things that generally relate to your keen interests in career, passion, faith, skills, hobbies, immediate environment and self-care; the secondary group will be for every other thing that interests you. For this, you will devote not more than 20% of your learning time.
Stay hungry and persistent
Although the sense of arrival can be gratifying, stay grounded and continue to build in silence with an unrelenting appetite for greatness. It is equally important to enjoy the moments of breakthrough, stay grateful for the progress and milestones.
Soaking in those moments becomes key as you may face days of drought and your self-awareness of the journey made so far would be the key to keeping you motivated. So, do not be too quick to belittle your victories – no matter how small they may be. However, treat each day as a fresh day and an opportunity to do better because it’s a very competitive landscape out there, and many are vying for the same opportunities you already or may not have in sight yet.
Own and control your narrative
Set your own timelines and live by them. Identify your relationship priorities when it comes to friendship and family and stay committed to them. Unfortunately, you will not be able to effectively juggle all relationships. Even when you have the means, time will fail you. It’s better to focus on what is manageable and meaningful to you per time.
Again, life is a journey, not a race; it is very important to control the narrative of your journey by faith and by way of expression. Ensure that by faith, consciousness and with a great sense of intention, you prioritize your self-defined priorities, timelines, and human relationships.
While you’re at it, remember it is your journey and that your path is unique to you. Seeking mentorship and aspiring to be like others you admire is good, but keep it at the back of your mind that envy and comparison kills.
Develop, grow and follow your faith
As a firm believer in my faith, I cannot stress enough the importance of a personal and direct connection with your maker. Trust me, there would be blurry and confusing days but your maker – that has put you on earth – will make things clear and is always available as your first point of call and sounding board. This, in itself, is a journey.
Put in the work, bit by bit, and ensure you build a personal and direct relationship. Emphasis on direct!
At the end of it all, be careful and be prepared for what you wish for. Keep dreaming, but more importantly, keep evolving!