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Nestled inside the last two decades of my life are hundreds of first experiences, pains, growths, laughs, wonders, that have slowly shaped my life for the future, and there are many life lessons that I’ve learned, unlearned and relearned through the journey. Today I turn twenty years old, which isn’t specifically considered as an important milestone, but it should be. This post outlines twenty life lessons learned in the first twenty years of my life, that people didn’t often tell me when I was growing up (or; they did but I ignored them and now I wish I hadn’t.)

The different personalities I’ve created for myself during these years has wavered greatly, some have either pushed me towards knocking down my goals and becoming a better version of myself, while others have gradually sent me across the pond, away from who I truly am and who I want to become.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been counting down the years to twenty. I adopted this believe that twenty is the decade of living life to the fullest; chasing dreams, making mistakes and finding oneself. I couldn’t have been more wrong-ish.

Despite all the great adventures I’ve been on, the amazing people I’ve met and the wealth of advice I’ve gathered up; somehow my mind remained fixated on the waiting, for what exactly I do not know. While twenty is the decade of finding oneself, I personally wish I had started the process a lot earlier. Someone once said that as humans we are most susceptible to drastic changes, I, on the other hand, have come to learn that while this may be true, we can design the life we want and have it as we want it – or close to.

You have a very busy time, so I’ll get right into it. I am really excited about finally launching this blog, to learn more about me and what i hope to achieve with this blog, click here. Let’s get on with the blog post!

20. My Life, My Business.

Nobody has an executive right to exercise any kind of power over who I am, I’ve had to constantly learn and remind myself of this lesson. This present society has a habit of telling you to ‘be yourself and do you’ but the moment you start getting comfortable in your own skin, the narrative changes, they tell you ‘that’s not how to do it.’

I’ve fallen prey to these times too many, at some point I decided that allowing society to keep dictating who I should or shouldn’t be would inevitably lead me into an undesirable life.

19. No Excuses.

I realized, rather recently that the majority of situations I find myself can be improved majorly if only I discipline myself to stop giving excuses. A large chunk of today’s millennial have excuses for everything (me included) some have even gained mastery that they can spin an excuse out of the blue without missing a beat.

We all have excuses for something: “I don’t have time”, or “it’s impossible, it can’t be done”, but pretty much every excuse I tell myself is not reality. If I’m in a funk and need to get myself out, I just tell myself the truth of the situation and get to work.

18. Talent Alone Doesn’t Cut it.

For the most part, I am multifaceted and this in itself is a problem. From the outside, it might seem like such a good deal but wait until things are consistently falling apart from juggling too many things and never really knowing exactly what to throw your energy into (is this even possible? Let me know in the comment section.)

I started interning and building experience from thirteen years old when I finally turn twenty. The real-world experience taught me that while my bosses might be impressed by my talent, if I’m not putting in the unspoken effort excepted from me, then I can kiss a great future buh-bye. Hard Work can overtake talent and make it seem redundant, but talent and Hard work? That’s a combo even the gods can not stop from succeeding.

17. Haters? More like super fans. 

The first time I read a hate comment directed at me, it left me shaken to the core. For a few days, it was all I could think about, one morning I just snapped out of it. It was back in secondary school, i and my SAGE team were running a community development project. Our goal was simply to provide as much aid as we could to young rural startups, yet someone singled me out (as i was unit lead) and delivered some completely off the rails false information. Following the thread of conversation, I was surprised at how many people did not like me (cause I thought I was a pretty likable person and it was impossible to not like me.)

Since then, I’ve come to understand that anyone doing something and getting some level of recognition and publicity will receive a degree of hate. How I react to that will determine how it affects me.

16. SLEEP Baby Boy; Sleep.

Sincerely, I feel like a major hypocritical human for even writing this. This is one lesson I’m struggling to fully accept. The need to allow my body to rest has nagged at me for a while now. Since sixteen, I don’t remember how many times I’ve gone to bed before 1 AM (and not for lack of trying.) I always have some kind of work I need to complete so I can get ahead by dawn. 

The tiny symptoms of not getting enough sleep have been mounting up slowly and getting to an even higher peak. I am currently working on squeezing in as much sleep as possible so as to give my body more chance for success.

15. Law of 6 Degrees

I’m sure we’ve all heard about this at some point, but if you haven’t, I’m glad to be the one telling about the law of 6 degrees. The six degrees of separation theory states that:

Any inhabitant of the Earth could meet anyone in the world with a maximum of six or fewer mutual connections between them and another person. Be it through acquaintances, friends, or members of their family.

Frigyes Karinthy – 1930

That means that if you’re trying to get to anyone (say Beyoncé) and it seems rather impossible; look deep into your circle, there’s someone who knows someone who knows someone… who basically knows someone that knows Beyoncé. 

This has led me to forge strong relationships with people (especially those I meet at networking events for the first time) because you never know who they know.

14. Relationships are Important… Until When They Are Not.

While I still hold NO: 15 above in high regard, I’ve learned that sometimes it is much better to let people out of your life. Yes, you might be missing out on whoever might be on their extended network but don’t let that cloud your judgment. 

Bishop T. D. Jakes in one of his sermons taught me never to talk another person into staying in my life. When someone decides to walk out, it doesn’t make them a bad person, it just means that their journey in the story of my life has ended. It is toxic to me to try and salvage relationships that have expired.

13.  See Life in the Positive… With Pinch of Salt.

There’s so much going on around that globe that’ll make our ancestors roll over in their graves. Acts of terrorism, disease breakouts and outbreaks of disasters have left the human race at a bitter time In the space-time continuum. However, I’ve learned to see the light and keep it shining but not completely rejecting the darkness. What I’m trying to say is that I’ve learnt to maintain a positive viewpoint on humanity, that someday all this will pass away and we’ll live in harmony. Until then, I make sure to take every action with a pinch of salt.  

12. Romance is great… but I’d rather be in a Mercedes than a relationship.

I consider myself a pretty decent guy. I’ve had tons of direct and indirect invitations to get involved in a relationship. I am not sure at what point I even adopted this lesson, but somewhere in the last twenty years, I made the decision to focus on building myself. I have seen great men and women fall in their pursuit of greatness because they decided to focus all that energy and emotions on another human. That is not to say that getting a significant other Is a bad idea; trust me it isn’t. I have also seen men and women who were raised to greatness because they got into a relationship with the right person. For me, however, the hassle of weeding through and finding that ‘right’ person is honestly not an adventure I’m quite ready for yet. Like my friend Richard Billions always says

“I don’t want to be in a relationship; I want to be in my own Mercedes-Benz.”

Richard BIllions

I’d much rather be a boss, date a boss and build an empire together.

11. Best friends are awesome; mentors are awesome-er.

I don’t like stress. It is a personal thing. I can’t stand it and I’ll always find a way to either avoid it or get through it as quickly as possible. In my quest for growth, I have scaled through some experiences and amassed an archive of wisdom that would’ve taken others years to learn because I simply decided to allow myself to be mentored. Mentors are living; breathing bank of wisdom. My first mentee experience when I was about sixteen. Fresh out of secondary school and excited about the freedom to finally walk into the fashion industry full time. I attended an industry event and there I met costume designer and celebrity fashion stylist Eno Jerry. She literally grabbed my hands and helped me navigate through the intricate industry, showing me the ropes and introducing me to the people who mattered. I immediately went from entry-level to fast-rising in less than one month. This has led me to build an entire army of mentors who serve in different areas from business to mental development and everything in between.

10. I’m unique.

I am a different kind of magic not meant to be understood by everyone.

lynette cenee

And that’s completely fine. Everybody else might be comfortable following the bandwagon, but I’ll rather forge a new path for myself. And like I said earlier, anyone who goes against the grain and strikes out to something different will receive varying degrees of hate from the rest of the bandwagon.

09. Support systems are a must. 

I can’t tell you how many times within the last two decades that I’ve been so close to giving up. I’ve been disappointed times too many. Knowing who I am, chances of me throwing my dreams away and settling into a pre-designed life is certainly at an all-time high. But my family; friends, cheerleaders and even haters give me the emotional support I need whenever the need arises. They don’t always come armed with soothing voices and strong motivational speeches. Sometimes, I’m put on the spot with no way to escape (s/o Mrs. Uche, i see ya)

08. Family is baeLiterarily

This is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned. No matter the situation, at the end of the day, we all go back to our roots. Family is the all-powerful support system that tethers us in place least we drift off and get lost in this crazy world.

07. Self-love is the best love.

I like to be pampered, I like to go out and explore new places. I enjoy spending all day trying out new recipes and a host of other things. Sadly; it’s kind of hard to get people to do it for or with me. So I learned how to do it for myself and have a heck of a time. Last month; when Wanderers and Warriors my mentors in the travel blogosphere (they don’t know it yet) posted this quote, it resonated so much with me:

Destroy the idea that you need to be constantly grinding and working in order to be successful. Embrace the concept that rest, recovery and reflection are all essential parts of the progress towards a successful and happy life.

charlie & lauren – wanderers and warriors

This means spending all day getting massaged is healthy for me… right?

06. Being the lab rat isn’t always a bad idea-ish. 

When I meet with industry insiders and senior-level influencers; especially the ones I know can be pivotal in helping me climb the ladder of success. I’m always excited to ask them for an opportunity to work for/with them for free. The majority get taken aback by my bravery and it doesn’t take them long to invite me into their team and inner circle. When it comes to building experience and a powerful network; it doesn’t hurt to sometimes offer to intern for free with an already established name, you need the knowledge they possess and they could use some extra help balancing their crazy life/schedule.

05. It’s not a competition

Less than two years ago I finally quit trying to outdo everybody. This was one problem I had to admit to myself. I had to orient myself with a single notion;

I’m not in competition with anyone. I am in my own class.

This mindset helped me become more original, unique and exciting. 

04. It’s never that serious.

I used to get edgy about the littlest things. A hair out of place was enough to get me feeling like my world was falling apart. The tiniest comments would leave me irked out. A dear, dear sister of mine, Uduak Okpo taught me that while it’s important to take life seriously; it’s actually never that serious. This let me breakdown my walls, throw my hands in the air and set myself free. Enjoying life as a gift is perhaps one the best thing that has happened to me.

03. Build bridges; not walls.

It is generally easier to build walls that protect us from the outside foes; one thing I’ve realized is that the best part usually lies beyond the horizon. Blocking out everyone and everything does you more harm than good. Rather, I’ve learned to build bridges and connect myself with greatness. You never know what Is unless you try it.

02. Discipline is the key; Fun Is the lock.

I have the attention span of a goldfish or maybe even shorter. I can get distracted by the littlest things. I’ve had to discipline myself commit to greatness and stick to it. However, for a multi-faceted individual like me, this is easier said than done. The trick for me is finding ways to squeeze in little bursts of fun in between. If I can’t enjoy the experience then maybe I shouldn’t be doing it. Discipline is the ingredient that you need to activate your dreams.

01. Shine baby, shine.

This next phase of my life that I’m stepping into is governed by one scripture;

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 5:16 KJV

I have learned that the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong. But by the grace of God, I’m not walking into twenty just to shake tables and beat around the bush. Nope; I’m with barging in with a revenge; I am coming for the entire table. Someday; you and I will enjoy a tropical kombucha at some exotic island and the one thing I want to be able to tell you with all pride is that I followed my dreams, knocked down my goals and now I’m totally free!

I am most excited about the new opportunities and challenges that this new decade will bring to me. I’m open to discovering myself more and growing into the awesome adult i know I’ll become. I’m ready to love a lot, love a little, travel the world, tinker with new ideas, immerse myself in everything possible and never allow myself to touch the ground. I. AM. READY! Via this blog, I am inviting you to tag along for the ride; it’s going to be a pretty #Insane one.

Thank you so much for reading,

P.s. Please comment below which of these lessons resonated with you and why.

See you next post,

Love,

Benson Ekpo.

xoxo

8 Comments

  • Kevin Morgan
    Posted October 30, 2019

    You give me inspiration

    • thebensonekpo
      Posted November 4, 2019

      Thank you, Kevin, your kind words warm my heart. I’m glad i can be an inspiration.

  • Oluwadamilola Akintewe
    Posted November 23, 2019

    This is everything young people need to see.

    • thebensonekpo
      Posted December 13, 2019

      I totally agree, thank you for the kind words!

  • Esther-Nene
    Posted December 15, 2019

    A lot of us wish we knew this in our twenties. You are smart and intelligent, and heck very ready to storm the world. Kudos

    • thebensonekpo
      Posted December 26, 2019

      Thank you for your kind words Esther! You’re amazing and i celebrate you!

  • Ibukun Amusa
    Posted March 19, 2020

    “Discipline is the key, fun is the lock”…i’ll hold on to that always.

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