On May 24, 2001, Temba Tsheri, a 16-year-old from Nepal, became the youngest person to climb Mt. Everest.
In 2012, 19-year-old Proscovia Alengot Oromait was elected as a member of parliament, becoming the youngest person ever elected to office in not only Uganda but the entire African continent.
Malala Yousafzai, a 16-year-old Pakistani Muslim girl, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her fight for Women’s Rights advocacy of allowing girls in Pakistan to learn to read and attend school.
Kieron Williamson was 7 when he started selling his paintings for at least £900 each. In 2014, he was selling out art exhibitions in minutes for £400,000 and had more than 10,000 people following his newsletter. At only 13, his paintings have already made him a millionaire, and his parents have become his employees.
You would probably have the same reaction I had after reading through the achievements of these incredible young people. How did they have it all together at such an early age?
If you are like me, you must have heard the famous myths about being young;
- Enjoy your youth; feel free to make as many mistakes as you can because that’s what growing up is for.
- Drink till its dawn, smoke now that your lungs can’t tell the difference, eat whatever you want; your metabolism is at its peak.
- Kiss a stranger, have one-night stands, don’t worry about your life; no one figures it out at such a “tender” age. By the way, you are too young to get infected.
- Don’t care what people think of you, dress exactly how you want to, have as many followers as you can even if it requires faking. Live life on your terms; it’s all about you.
- Always be yourself, tell it like it is in your head. By the way, you’ve got it figured out, all of it. And if you have any doubts, ask your friends; they are way smarter than your parents and elders.
- Never take a menial job. You know the drill; we start big, with huge expectations and fat checks. Why the hell should we ever start from scratch when shortcuts are littered everywhere?
I’m a very young person who drinks, parties, spend hours choosing filters and watch Instagram videos about nothingness. But I also understand what might happen if these were my focus.
Regardless, there is no telling what life hand over us but as the Igbos say, “One does not learn [to use] the left hand in one’s old age.”
Though I’m not a prodigy in any field, I intend to have a successful life and this is how I plan to do that;
- Cut half the time currently spent on social media and TV. Rather, actively use this time to make new friends, learn new ideas, spend part with yourself and embrace your person. There will be plenty of time for TV and snaps. You are not missing a thing and can catch up later.
- Spend at least an hour daily, away from others, working on a form of art with no expectation of economic gain but for the sole purpose of exploring your creativity. Write, draw, sculpt whatever you want, and dance if you will. Do anything that makes you feel alive for yourself.
- Research on the industry or industries that interest you. I’m still not definite about my current choice because it keeps changing but I think that’s the point. Apparently, our world isn’t streamlined as was the case decades ago; the more versatile you are the better.
- Make moves career-wise; your parents may have had the same job for 20 years, but you won’t. It’s just not realistic in our time. Do not depend on school to get you ready for a career. Re-invent yourself; take private classes to explore new horizons in your chosen field. Never stop reading. Work for free if you have to but do whatever it takes to gain experience and exposure. I have learned not to worry that it’s not your field instead, take the unique opportunity to experience different organisations. Certainly, do not burn bridges, and be sure you’ve made an impact at any company you’ve been at, but leave when a new opportunity presents itself that offers a better chance for personal growth and education beyond the current. However, if you feel underpaid let them know, be assertive if you want monetary upgrades.
- Call and spend time with family. I’m the biggest culprit of this, it’s always easier to find excuses but I try to remember that they wouldn’t be here forever.
- Love life, don’t worry so much; no one has it all figured out anyway. Laugh as hard as you can, listen to music, look at the sky, and smile at people for no reason. Plan hangouts; attend parties. Avoid the talk of how uncertain the economy is and all the forecasts about a “hard future”. Travel if you can and take as many pictures as you can.
- Wait on marriage — there is no point yet. You’re going to be married for more than half of your life, what’s the rush about? Plus, I personally believe that it takes a certain level mental maturity to successfully run a family but what do I know?
- Be active, be active, and be active. Love your body; it’s the only one you’ve got. Not only does it leave you feeling energetic but the effect on your appearance is priceless, that’s the entire confident boost you need. Look your best at all times, you never know who you might bump into. By the way, enjoy food, healthy food is not the enemy.
- Seek out a mentor, it has to be someone whom you respect and has proven the effectiveness of his words in the chosen sphere for mentorship.
- Never quietly hope for something to happen, make it happen.
- Always pray; sometimes, the only thing you can do is pray.
Like I said earlier, this is my idea of being youth. it’s up to you to accept only what you identify with.