I am not old, but I am not also getting any younger.
Today, as I turn a year older, I chose to celebrate myself — an act I seldom do on the anniversary of God’s decision to add another iron-willed cynic-dreamer into this world.
How many birthdays has it been?
I almost lost count. You see after you turn 25, you tend to forget how old you really are. I had to check in with my husband the day before to be sure.
But enough about counting the years. We all know it’s the life in those years that matter, right?
So let me celebrate this day by looking back at my younger self and sharing some wisdom I am certain my older self will be grateful for.
I’m turning 27.
When I was 9, I got my first taste of being an entrepreneur. I sold almost all the candies my grandmother gave me for personal consumption to my classmates. The same thing happened when my uncle gave me chocolates from abroad. I sold all of them without taking a bit to indulge in.
If somebody had told me back then that being a savvy entrepreneur is the surest way to make millions, I would have continued my entrepreneurial endeavors.
When I was 11, I had my first standup comedy, where I got a standing ovation from a few of my classmates for being a shameless goofball who had no qualms about making fun of myself.
Sadly, I lost such wit and audacity as I became conscious of my every move during adolescence.
Had I not lost touch with that kind of humor, I might have been a YouTube sensation by now. We all know it’s a cash cow these days. The only humor I got now is a dry one. Sometimes, bordering on dark.
When I was 16 years old, I did not know I would end up working from home. Given my leadership skills and draconian looks, I was certain I would become a mega CEO or VP of something in the corporate world.
I had a lot of aspirations and working at home wasn’t one of them. God redirected me to the path that I least considered, and I was surprised by how this path gave me a lot of blessings I hadn’t known existed.
If I had known that I would end up working comfortably in my pajamas, I might have paid more attention to gaining useful skills like coding, which pays a lot in the freelancer industry.
I sucked at coding. I almost failed my high school computer class finals exam just doing basic HTML stuff. But that wasn’t a big deal to me back then, as I excelled at almost everything.
When I was 23, I realized grades don’t hold their weight in the real world. Skills, grit, confidence, and attitude do.
It didn’t matter; I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing Communications. Some people performed better than me at almost everything, given their experience and practice. These people became my mentors, and they humbled me.
If I had known that the real world operates like that early on, I wouldn’t have instilled in my mind during my formative years that I was better than most people I personally know. That is such immature thinking now that I think of it.
I would have connected to people that matter in the industry and sought their help. I would have developed such a thick skin to approach these people and bow down to their excellence. I would have learned more than what I know today.
I would have become a people person; instead, I became a virtual recluse.
But I wasn’t all that wrong.
The decisions I made in the past led me to where I am now. And I’m still happy life for me turned out this way.
Some people aspire to be where I am now. It may not be that glamorous, but I can say I sleep peacefully at night knowing tomorrow is another day I may or may not take a bath going to work in my home office.
I may not be some big-shot corporate shark who gets paid barking orders, making important decisions, signing deals and paper works, and sitting in some fancy minimalist office with a view of the city skyline.
And that’s okay.
Someday, I might be the one calling the shots in my empire. Who knows!
The path we’re taking in this world isn’t set in stone.
I am proud of myself today, and I know I can still do better in the next years to come. So I’m giving myself some advice to make the next 365 days of my life worthwhile.
Relax. Don’t rush things — Everything in life worth having takes time. Don’t rush. Sit back and enjoy life. People my age rush to be successful like they have a countdown timer to beat. S-L-O-W DOWN. What’s meant for you will be waiting, even if you take your time.
Love yourself more — You’re pretty awesome, even if you don’t acknowledge or see it. You are cool, creative, intelligent, inspiring, and brave to others. They love you. They respect you. You deserve praise, and that praise should be coming from your lips. Sure, others don’t like you for your opinions, stubbornness, or even the sight of your face. You’ve accomplished so much that the negative things they say about you are just noise in the background of your greatness. Own it or learn from it. You are not perfect, and that’s okay.
Focus on the positive things — Don’t let negative thoughts take over. I know it’s hard to slip back into a negative way of thinking. You’ve been doing it for so long that it’s become a hard habit to break. But you’re an iron lady with an iron will. Anything you put your mind to will always be possible. See the good in things and people more often. Don’t get stressed out easily. 99% of the time, our worries never actually happen.
Keep doing the things you love — You’ve learned you should work for money, not for passion. So you must find a passion that earns you money; by money, I mean lots of it. The good news is you’re doing it right now; you just have to be very good at it. Keep dreaming, keep doing, and keep on learning.
Now it’s up to you to open up your ears, mind, and heart and listen to your own words of wisdom.
Happy birthday, Nikkah! Things might not be quite what you want, but you can live your life the way you want.