25 lessons life taught me in 25 years

25 lessons from being 25

Rufus Chinenye Precious has reminded me that I haven’t written any new lessons and I’m glad she did. As the years go by, I reminisce about the lessons I’ve learned and you can now read the “22 lessons life taught me in 22 years” on Instagram and online + “19 lessons from being 19.”

Here are my 25 lessons from being 25.

1. When you get ‘there’, there will be another ‘there’ to get to

I heard this first from Pastor Tony Aleogena-Raphael. It’s simply that many of us have goals we believe that when we hit, we’ll be set for life (or something of sorts). Ironically, when we hit those goals, we’ll realise that there’ll be new things we need to accomplish to maintain those goals. There’s always a new ‘there’, a new accomplishment we hope to get to and the consciousness of this has taught me contentment in some ways; to enjoy reaching milestones without rushing off to accomplish the next best thing out of societal pressure or to keep up with the Joneses.

2. Life dey shock o

Life is interesting and I’ve had my fair share of doing and being part of things I never thought I’d do. Indeed never say never (used to say that a person should not say that he or she will never do something because people change their minds – Merriam Webster). Treat people well, live, do, be discerning and pray.

3. The law of compound interest

It’s one of the greatest forces in economics and life in general. If you let your money accumulate and grow over time with compound interest, it multiplies in great ways. Translated to life, if you consistently grow a skill, bit by bit and add new layers to it, over time your results grow exponentially. It’s things like this that make people think success just came and knocked on your door one night and decided to give you a big hug and live with you forever. The results of compound interest gives a feeling of overnight success. I recently completed “The Psychology of Money: Timeless lessons on wealth, greed, and happiness” by Morgan Housel and the law of compound interest is highlighted here.

4. The law of honour and gratitude

“The ways you express your gratitude towards others always inspires me to be more grateful, so thank you for reminding us as a team and as individuals to always share what we appreciate about others”Maeve Curtin. And that’s one of the very sweetest messages I got on my birthday from my teammates at Social Enterprise World Forum. I am naturally always in awe when people do things for me! So as Sesan Kareem quoted, the more grateful you are, the more things you’ll have to be grateful for. Counting my blessings and being thankful helps me see things from a “glass half full” perspective, and sometimes from a “my cup runneth over” perspective. But I also try to be discerning of people who only give so I can ‘owe them one’ or so they can take back what they gave in another form in future, and they use that gratitude to guilt trip. For the law of honour, I learned years ago that you don’t reap from what you insult and dishonour. Honouring someone or something shows you value it, and we become like the people or things we place value on. I’ve recently listened to Joshua Selman’s message on the law of honour.

L-R: Maeve Curtin and I at Hagia Sophia Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

5. You do not find a happy life, you make it

Said Camilla Eyring Kimball.

6. Not all poverty is caused by laziness

“But realize that not all success is due to hard work, and not all poverty is due to laziness. Keep this in mind when judging people, including yourself.” – The Psychology of Money

7. It’s okay to build affective boundaries

“The affective domain (Krathwohl, Bloom, Masia, 1973) includes the manner in which we deal with things emotionally, such as feelings, values, appreciation, enthusiasms, motivations, and attitudes.” – Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy. If you’re someone who sponges up other people’s emotions and lets people’s anger, sadness, feelings etc. dictate your own emotions, building affective boundaries is a way to say “hey, I can see you feel this way and I’ll love to support you but I don’t also need to be angry or upset like you”. How do you build affective boundaries? Listen to Doc Snipes on how to do that and more.

8. Don’t mind-read

“Oh they must hate me.” “What if she …” It’s tiring to try and predict or assume what someone else is thinking about me or a situation. I constantly remind myself not to read people’s minds on their behalf and assume the worst-case scenario. Predicting someone’s next step is a great skill. However, I try not to assume what someone else is thinking. I’d rather ask or work with better facts.

9. The value graph on After Effects is like the 20% effort that gets you 80% of the results

When I animate and make motion designs, just being able to manipulate and adjust the bezier handles in the speed or value graph is the small but mighty effort that gives my entire motion design that extra oomph and makes it look dope and exquisite! So when I work, I always wonder mhmm, how can I work smart and what is that small but mighty task that may determine much more in this entire project? You should often ask yourself that.

10. What you constantly feed and water is what grows


11. You don’t have to answer everything

Not everyone deserves an answer and not everything has an answer. Be comfortable with silence or simply not knowing yet. 

12. My travel hack is to travel light and come back heavy

I like to pack only a few necessary items when travelling so I can have more space in my bag because I never know what I may purchase or what could be given to me when I return. It’s the same thing when attending events or starting a new project, I go with an open mind so I can learn a lot more.

Meeting with other facilitators | Credit: ChangemakerXchange WhatsApp group

13. The three rules for a perfect TED talk

  1. Don’t talk about a concept, a deficiency or a product; talk about an idea.
  2. Focus on just one idea.
  3. Talk about the idea in such a way that people will want to tell others about it.

Culled from The Communication Book: 44 Ideas for Better Conversations Every Day by Mikael Krogerus & Roman Tschäppeler.

14. Negotiation tip – don’t think about the person

Don’t come from the perspective that you’re the weaker person. Think about what the other person/party needs from you and where you both share common interests.

15. Exercising pays

Get fit, future you will thank you later. You’ll also meet new people at the gym or in a sports club.

16. Learn to invest in yourself, in people, and in your finances.

17. From a natural human emotion to ‘the root of hatred’, say hello to jealousy

It’s telling you something about yourself, about your present situation, an insecurity you may have and many other things. There are health complications that come with jealousy like chest pain and insomnia etc. People get jealous of people and it’s a complex emotion that’ll make you feel threatened. Bro, rather than being jealous of someone’s accomplishments, allow that to motivate you to do better things. Take a step back from a person or situation that makes you feel jealous so you can have some time to think why you feel that way and reset your compass, for good.

18. Confidence is so attractive

I did not write corkiness, I wrote confidence. Affirm yourself, and celebrate your small wins, they really help. Ah! I was never a confident kid and it took me years to feel comfortable in myself, to think for myself and like what I like because I like it, not because other people like it. Having people who also cheer you on is a confidence builder. One of my favourite scriptures is “for God has not given you the spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind” – 2 Tim 1:7.

19. Sometimes the minority is also right

Listen to people.

20. Having a friend show you around a new country can be much more fun and cost-effective than tour groups

A big shout-out to Yasmina who picked me up from the Linate Airport in Milan, Italy; took me around Milan Central the next day and just checked on me. Girl! I appreciate you and know that I learned a lot about ancient Milan from you.

Yasmina and I at the Duomo Milan, Milan, Italy

21. Give people their credit

Reference the people you get inspiration from. Sometimes we forget to, but it’s a good practice. From time to time dey follow cut soap for others.

22. In applying for global opportunities, don’t just tell, show

There are many tips and tricks but this one works for me, especially after reviewing a number of applications myself. If you have done so many things and you’re asked to give examples, it’s often a good practice to narrow down your answer to one project you’ve done (and a second related project if necessary). Build on it using the STAR (situation, task, action, results) approach. Don’t go about listing all the conferences and awards you’ve gotten, how about writing a bit more about the things you’ve done that got you those awards? What actions brought you there? Give some figures as well.

23. Stay away from trouble but when it comes don’t be afraid of it

That’s what a Bolt driver told me years ago. I don’t remember the exact year but I remember his words.

24. Own your accomplishments and talk about them

Remember how you always dreamed of doing a certain thing? You felt that life would be so wonderful, that you’ll be ecstatic once you reached that goal. And now that you’ve accomplished it, you feel so… bleehh! If it took you so much to get here, then please enjoy it. Celebrate every win, big and small. Na who get life dey celebrate sometin. Don’t let anyone steal your joy or make you feel what you’ve done isn’t anything.

25. “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism”

Said Dr Stephen Shore. Don’t generalise that all autistic people are one and the same. It’s a spectrum, people are unique and different.


26. Think for yourself

Oh this is a MEGA big one for me! Anytime someone makes an important statement, asks me to do something, says “The fact is that …” or when a group shares the same perspective and I catch myself doubting or struggling to place it side by side with my previous knowledge, I always say to myself, “Mirabelle, think for yourself”.

27. Delegate things to people

One of the hardest things I struggled with was delegating things to people, learning to trust people enough to hand over certain precious tasks to them believing that they’ll get me the same or similar results using their own unique skills. Delegation saves time and gets people to feel like they’re part of the team and process.

28. Build systems and structures that will outlast you in business

Teach your team members and staff what they need to know to properly function in their roles. Will they leave you to start their own stuff? Probably, but the risk of not training them properly will mean mediocre output for you and you don’t want that. Their individual success too should matter as well. Build roles and systems that don’t depend solely on you. Processes for doing certain things should be standard enough so people don’t just walk in and do things anyhow. There is a whole lot more about systems and processes that I wish I knew earlier, and I’m still learning more about this.


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