If there is something that hits equally as hard as Mike Tyson’s punches, that’s going to be age. Growing old sucks. Your body begins to change. You start to prefer lemon water over sugary drinks. Your taste buds begin to act up. Sleep patterns changes.

You immediately realise that you can no longer pass blame, or go missing from the scene though growing up is a painful choice one has to make.

You certainly can’t sit back and relax waiting for your parents to sort you out because responsibilities stare at you like a CCTV camera.

I’m not complaining because growing up also reminds you that time is not yours to keep. Time, just like fine sand slips through your fingers. When you become a grown up, you loosen the chains of minding what others think about your life.

When I turned thirty, it hit me like a tonne of bricks. A few years ago, I was an agile young boy who was running and herding cows in the plains of Kano. A few years ago, I was in high school where my passion for writing was cultivated.

I remember when I had just cleared high school, I met a guy who was 25 years old. I saw him as an old man.

It’s been almost 3 years since I started writing. What began as a way of venting my frustration at some leaders has quickly morphed into a powerful platform that God has used to change situations. Yet it has not always been easy as sometimes it might look to the ordinary eye.

When I started writing, attacks in the comment section were more regular and they would hurt deeply especially the ones that came from people I knew. Yet I also had loyal fans that would check out my work and send me messages of goodwill. I was told that my writing was a passing cloud by some naysayers while a majority of those who read my work and cared to leave feedback told me that the future was bright.

Some people said that my tone was boring and I wasn’t a creative writer yet another section said that I was a writer who was called to awaken the conscience of the nation. I was called a bigot in some posts; while other people called me a bold candid writer who was sent to tell the truth.

Yet looking back, that phase was extremely relevant. Because during that time, I dug deep into my heart to find out why I was doing what I was doing. Was my writing a platform of vanity where I was going to show my prowess or was I writing specifically to impact the world and make it a better place?

God has given me a powerful platform to influence the world. This writing has opened doors to many places that I couldn’t imagine myself accessing. TV programs, international travelling, job security, favour, financial doors among others. So here are some of the lessons that I’ve learned along the way.

Shut your ears completely to the noise that is coming from the world.

Negative words have a powerful effect on your well being than positive words. Therefore be intentional in who is speaking into your life. Are they critical, negative people who don’t see anything good you do or are they people who are proud of you but wants you to be better?

If I had listened to the few voices that were speaking negatively about my writing, I wouldn’t have had my first international travel courtesy of this writing. I wouldn’t have met dignitaries and senior government officials were it not for this writing.

People’s opinion doesn’t matter

While I know that this might sound arrogant to some people, the most liberating truth I’ve come to learn is that everyone has an opinion. While it’s good to listen to advice and let people into what you are doing, ensure that you sieve the advises that you receive so that you don’t fall into the trap of living for people’s opinion. If you do, you will certainly die when they reject you.

The moment you allow your life to be controlled by what people think about you, about what you do, how you do it etc. you have ceded the one control that your maker gave you. Many people have been killed by a simple line, “what will people say?”

That particular question has killed many innovations, has dwarfed buildings and silenced singers. That one question has led many to head to the grave with their talents, abilities and skills.

Listen to advice but at the end of the day, do what makes you happy as long as it is in line with your belief system.

Value yourself

Let me break this news to you, if you don’t set your worth, nobody will set it for you. People will come to you with all manner of offers yet the basis upon which you will say yes or no would be because of the value you assign yourself.

While the principle I’m communicating here might appear straight forward, I don’t think it is. There are many of us who were raised in poverty stricken homes. Our esteem, therefore, took a beating. Some of us were raised by dictatorial and overbearing parents therefore even taking charge of our life is hard.

Some have gone through tragedies that have taken away their sense of value. I understand, I truly do. The hope we have is that as long as you still have breath in your lungs, you can decide what path to take with your life.

Read books, invest in yourself, and hang around people who will challenge you, take risks, travel the world and just do the things that make you happy.

Whatever it takes, take back your value. When an employer gives you shitty contract, say no. When a client gives you a deal that you believe is raw based on the value you are giving, say no.

Take care of what you wear

Even though they will tell you that don’t judge a book by its cover, the honest truth is that that we are wired to judge by looks. We judge someone based on the car they drive, the clothes they wear, where they live, how they smell, the university they went to etc.

We are living in the world where vanity has consumed the heart of men. While you shouldn’t fall into the trap of pleasing the world, do the things that are within your powers to make you presentable.

When I turned 30, someone bought me 3 brand new suits worth 30k each. He also gave me shirts for each suit and a pair of shoes. He told me that how you dress is the way you are going to be addressed.

Don’t compare yourself

Please, unless you have walked a mile in their shoes, don’t compare your self to anyone. People are running different races in life, focus on your own. Don’t be a Usain Bolt who wants to run a marathon simply because it looks lucrative. Stand out!

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Author: Dannish Odongo

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