by Otieno Lynn

About two months ago I added one more year to the ones I have gathered. I always imagined things would be different, that I would feel totally different. I actually expected to wake up with a beard…LOL (Pun intended) but I still feel the same way I felt when I turned twenty one. My life has been a medley of great monumental moments and just like everyone else, I have had my share of the bad and the ugly. I have met people, I have fallen in and out of love, I have made friends and lost some, I have grown physically and mentally, above all of these, I have learnt some valuable lessons that I thought I would share with you;

1.Appreciate more, complain less

The most important asset we have is life. We might be making all sorts of plans for the future but there is just no way can we be able to execute them in death or when we are taken ill. I have learnt to appreciate good health. There is always someone out there who wishes to just be up on their feet and do something for themselves, so for as long as I live, I will always appreciate the things I have, however little or clumsy.

2. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

No one wakes up looking forward to a bad day or hoping to fail or with the notion that their plans for the day are going to fail. We all hope to succeed in every single thing we do. If we hoped to fail then we would presumably not try at all. You do not have to win all the time, so give life all your best, give   your work the best shot, and if things do not work out the way you hoped they would, you always have an untouched 24 hours to start over, if you are still breathing that is.

3. Learn to let go.

I have lost things and people that were very close to my heart. Haven’t we all? And sometimes I feel very grateful that I came out of every situation alive, in mint mental health…and each time, even stronger and better than I was before. It is not as easy as counting one…two…three or eating popcorn, but you have to work towards it. We all go through unfortunate life wrecking experiences, the ones that make you feel suicidal, everyone does, but the most important thing is to get past it. There is very little you can do to change the past, you have to accept it the way it is and move on with your life. However down-trodden or feint hearted you are feeling, you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself and keep moving. In the words of Martin Luther king junior, ‘If you cannot fly, then run, if you can’t run, then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward’

4.Listen to good advice
They say that nothing is new under the sun, and there are people who have lived longer than you have, and if not, they have been in the situation you have found yourself in. Good advice is priceless. Do not let anyone make decisions for you, but learn to listen to other people’s opinions and experiences. These will help you in making more rational and sober decisions.

5. Be patient.
Train yourself to delay gratification .This one has taken me time to master and it’s by far my most treasured virtue. Patience is priceless and a life saver. Not wanting to wait can land you in situations you never thought you would find yourself in or make you do something that you will never be able to get back from. You might want to rush into things because you so badly want to be like your peers, have what they have or go to the places they go,waiting a little longer doesn’t hurt.This brings me to my next point.

6.Do not compare yourself to others.
We are all different, in so many ways. We can never be the same. The way we look at life varies from one person to another and that is largely shaped by our experiences. You do not know where someone has been, or who they have been with, or how they have lived, or who they have met, and then you meet them and want to compare yourself to them. If you keep comparing yourself to other people, you will always come second. If you want to compare your level of success to those of your peers or friends, you’ll always see that they have something that you don’t. That is like letting someone else choose the path for you. The only person you should compare yourself to is the ‘you’ of yesterday. Are you getting better or worse? Are you getting closer to your dreams?

7. Be your own person
Each one of us has cultivated relationships whether with friends, family or partners. The people we interact with on a daily basis have a lot of impact on us and how we choose to do our things. Despite all of this, you need to be autonomous. You need to think and make decisions independently. As i said earlier, it’s important to listen to advice, but the process of making decisions lies squarely on your shoulders.

8. Appreciate your friends
Friendship is what keeps life going. They say it’s a long road when you face the world alone, when no one reaches out a hand for you to hold. We all need somebody. Once in a while, we all need a good laugh and we all need someone to share the joys and the sorrows of this life with. Check on your friends, talk to them more often, be there for them when they need you, spend time with them and above all, pray for them.

9. Trust in God
This might sound too cliché but the reason why it is, is probably because it is something we cannot live without. I was born and brought up in a Christian family, and for as long as I can remember, God is good. No one knows about tomorrow, but I know my ‘handler’ has it taken care of. That is why I go to bed with plans for a new day, or the future. Trust Him with your bigger problems and your smaller ones. We might struggle for a perfect life but if God is not part of it then it’s like chasing the wind. “Kupuliza gunia.” You’ll never know how many things He shields you from. I call Him the man behind the scenes.

10. Learn to forgive.
From my own experience, when you forgive, you do not do it for the other person; you do it for yourself, for your own peace of mind. Forgiveness is liberating. Bearing a grudge is as overwhelming as having someone dangle the pain of death over your head. Forgiveness is healing and therapeutic in itself, a cleansing of sorts.

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