Not gonna lie, 2021 was a challenging year. It was an exceptional year, but my goodness, it was difficult.
It tested me, and well, I’m alive now so I guess I did something right.
I learned at a young age to learn from every situation.
That doesn’t always mean finding the silver lining or looking for the good in a bad situation and all that. It’s more like knowing what to do or not to do.
Well, 2021 taught me that sometimes, the unpleasant situation is the lesson.
So here’s what happened in 2021; what the year really taught me (and they may or may not be in the order I learned them…)
Start with God
… and start with a plan
I am a woman of faith, raised in a (fully) Yoruba christian household in Nigeria. That means that as I welcome every new year in church with the brethren, I am starting with God. I will admit, it was a little weird welcoming 2021 in the living room with my family over a Zoom meeting with the rest of the church (no thanks to COVID), but I started the year with God, anyway. And when you’re a newbie entrepreneur with literally all you have (and all you are) on the line, it only makes sense that you seek help from a higher power than you. For me, that meant lots of prayer and scripture—and it paid off in a big way. So, if you’re a person of faith like me, start with God.
Also, start with a plan. Not a resolution, but a plan. A habit I picked up in 2020 (before the ‘Rona hit) was the Year Compass and my personal Year Calendar. It basically outlined month by month, everything I wanted to do and how much progress I expect at the end of the year. It might not turn out exactly as you planned, but it’ll keep you on track no matter what the year throws at you.
Try and try and try and try
… and try again if you get tired.
The world runs on experiments. Someone had a problem, they thought of a solution; they experimented with said solution; it didn’t work the first 19 times, so they tried again until it finally did. And now, we have flushable indoor toilets! No more rushing out in the dead of the night to use the outhouse and risk sticking your hand or foot where it shouldn’t go.
In my case, I had to try something I’d never done before. Took a risk, with funds and very little experience. And well…I had some interesting results.
… it was gonna happen, anyway
The result is I failed. Like my mentor Alex Cattoni (even if she doesn’t know it yet) says, “fail fast”. My failure wasn’t epic or earth-shattering. It was more like sticking your finger in flame; you will get burned, but you’ll learn one way not to get burned again.
It wasn’t fun, there were tears, there was sweat, there was anger and a heavy, heavy heart. But I tried, I failed early and failed fast. Thankfully, I recovered… in a way.
… if at first you fail, cry and try again
I once read that weeping eyes see better after tears. After you have felt the feels and the tears have washed the pain away (somewhat), the only thing left to do is to regroup. Try again, try something else, try something new. But whatever you do, don’t stop trying.
… there’s always a reason to celebrate. Find it.
Celebrate you. Your passion, your growing skills, your new knowledge, and the small wins you have. Celebrate your life. The things you still have left even after you failed. Celebrate your newfound ability to start, even if you haven’t quite figured out how to win. You’re better than when you started, and that’s worth being grateful for.
… the ones in your corner
They might not always be supportive, they might not understand. They may be family, or someone who made an unexpected purchase. No matter who it is or what they contributed, appreciate those in your corner. You may not know it, but you have drawn strength from their presence—from their very existence.
… own your sh*t
You’ve learned how to try, you’ve learned how to fail. Somehow, you’ve learned how to win too, and make things work. Well, now’s the time to own it. Tweak it and make it work. Improve on it, master it until it exudes finesse. After all you’ve been through, you’re almost an expert!
… you’ll need it for the next phase
It’s not over yet. One win doesn’t mean the battle is over. It only means another hard level to beat, one even harder than the last. You cannot relax, run away from comfort.
One win is not enough, and the next one will be tougher to get. But, you’re stronger than you think. You’re building up strength.
And if you think you don’t have enough, find it wherever you can because you’re going to need it!
Learn to sleep
… there’ll always be storms, but even a plank-minute doesn’t forever!
No storm is worth losing your sleep over. Seriously.
In the heat of the moment, every situation looks bad, daunting even. But, as with all things, it too shall pass.
What’s not going to pass as easily? Sunken eyes, dull skin and severe craving for cold fruit cake and shrimp mayo that you can’t afford and will eventually give you trouble as you try to shed it off running up and down the steps (I learned this the hard way).
All because you didn’t get enough sleep.
… only happens after struggle
Growth is never comfortable. And you never really know when it happens until after. You’ve made it this far, did you think you would? It wasn’t what you expected, but my, have you grown! You have learned; you have toiled; you have taken lessons and even given some to others.
Look back at where you started, you have a lot to be grateful for.
The Big D Energy
… the seat is yours, so sit!
After all you’ve been through, why do you hesitate? No no, you deserve it as much as they do. Borrow a page from their book. Fake it if you have to (how does one fake what one already is?) and kick that imposter syndrome to the curb.
Rejection is a possibility, but when has the world stopped spinning because of a no?
… detty December is a must!
Well, maybe not 100% detty, but it is still time to enjoy. You worked hard; you endured some bruising and battering, now enjoy a bit of pampering. Show some gratitude. Laugh and smile. And do some reflection as you dine, for another year beckons.
One filled with stories of its own, lessons to learn and memories to be made.
What lessons did 2021 teach you?