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23 Things.

YAY! IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!!! And it’s also Chimamanda’s, so I’m putting up a picture I took with her.

The Beautiful Chimamanda and ...I

I’d like to share 23 lessons I’ve learned over the years. Yes, yes. This is me feeling like a world-wise philosopher. And maybe none of this means a thing, maybe I’ve just been lucky and these… lessons, picked from the books I’ve read, movies I’ve seen, music I’ve heard and conversations I’ve had, are incidental. Whatever. *It’s my birthday and I’ll spout if I want to*

  1. Put God first. It’s hard to go wrong when you’re in sync with Him. The importance of a relationship with God deserves a blog post all by itself, I can’t do it justice in a few lines. Suffice it to say that when I put God first, my life becomes absurdly simple. When I do things my way, it ends up complicated and difficult.
  2. Drink milk. How else will you fulfil your RDA of potassium, vitamin D, calcium etc.?
  3. Be content. Be happy. When I was much younger, I used to think that having more money would make me happier. When I got a bit older (and got a larger allowance) I figured I would be happy if my crush reciprocated my feelings. The goal post kept moving, complete happiness was elusive. Then in university I listened to a Pastor Trevor say something like, “Your thoughts influence your emotions. If you can’t appreciate what you do have, if all you can think of is what’s wrong/lacking in your life, you will never be happy.” Complete epiphany, that moment was.
  4. Pleasure isn’t always happiness and vice versa. I once spoke with a priest who said, “What will make you happy? Forget about doing what you think is your “duty”. Forget about what your family will think, or what your friends would say. You’re God’s child, He loves you and He wants you to be happy. If you aren’t, He isn’t. Even when you serving Him.” Father Jean wasn’t encouraging me to indulge myself, he was helping me understand the delineation between “pleasure” and “happiness”. Pleasure can be an ingredient of happiness, but it’s non-essential.
  5. Be restless. It staves off boredom & lethargy and you never know what will finally click for you. Learn a language, start a blog, get professionally certified, write a book, enrol in a leadership/skill development programme, volunteer in church, start a business, grow a garden, travel, start a hobby. Be restless.
  6. Be physical. Walk instead of taking a bike. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Stretch. Dance. Run. Skip. A free workout. 🙂
  7. Be mentored. If there is one thing that has influenced my life’s course like nothing else, it’s that I’ve been mentored, in one way or  the other, since junior secondary school. I have mentors for my personal life, mentors for my spiritual life, mentors for my professional life. It doesn’t have to be anything formal; some of my mentors are relatives, others are older friends. They help keep me accountable, they challenge me to set goals and meet them.
  8. Meet people. Here’s a confession: I used to be very shy (still am, to an extent). I avoided social gatherings and if I had to be at one, I would gravitate to any familiar face or I would clam up. I’ve tried to work on this in the last two years. I realized I was missing out on becoming friends with interesting people, kindred spirits even. Worse, I was earning a reputation as a snob. So far, I haven’t regretted coming out of my shell. My life is so much richer for all the people I’ve met in the last year alone!
  9. Make good friends. I have been blessed to call exceptional people my friends. I do not always agree with their ideals but they are ambitious, hard-working, intelligent, passionate people and they (knowingly/unknowingly) make me better. Oprah Winfrey said, “Only surround yourself with people who lift you higher.” Yes, it has snobbish undertones but she knew what she was talking about. Thanks, guys!
  10. Don’t ever outgrow Disney.
  11. Premarital sex is overrated. Sex was God’s idea not man’s and He established its boundaries. Within marriage. My mother told me so when I was 12. At 13, I took a chastity vow. It’s been difficult, I won’t lie. But it’s made my life a lot less complicated. p.s. having friends who share this principle makes it easier to live!
  12. Love as completely as you can. Early last year, I learnt a few things about love. First, it goes hand in hand with sacrifice. If you claim to love someone, you should want the best for him/her. You should also acknowledge that being with you may not be the best thing for the person in question. Let go. Second, love is useless if you don’t show it. Make sure the people you love know it.
  13. Don’t take yourself so damn serious.
  14. Forgive. I’m a big fan of Life Uncomplicated. I lost family members when I was young and I remember thinking how petty and irrelevant their disagreements with other people were. In the end, does it really matter that she gossiped about you? That he betrayed you? People die. You never know when next you’ll see that person. Shrug, move on. Keep smiling. Life is too short to hold onto feuds and grievances. To forgive is not to be a doormat, it is to realize that there are more important things in the world than ‘justice’.
  15. Love You. Accept your physical flaws; K-legs, freckles, six toes. Acknowledge the existence of your emotional/mental flaws. Love yourself enough to seek help for them. Love yourself enough to stay away from friendships and relationships that hurt you or undermine your self-esteem. You deserve to be happy. Love yourself.
  16. Read. When you read, you know. I understand that I have a rather emotional relationship with books so I’m not exactly the most objective of persuaders. But there is this: not many of us will get the chance to travel around the world. But you can with a book. History, philosophy, math, science, sociology. Keep your mind on its toes.
  17. Make a difference. I have this nightmare where I wake up one morning, aged 55 and I look back on my life with horror, realising that I wasted my youth. I will never get these years back. You won’t ever get your youth back. Make them count. Create value in your family, community, work-place. In fact, if you’re in Lagos there’s an NGO called VolunteerCorps at 63. Adelabu Street, in Surulere. This is  their phone number 07028605264. This Saturday, September 17th, 2011, some people are volunteering to clean up Bar Beach. If you’re interested, please call Ngozi – 08032642262. They really need volunteers.
  18. Spend time with old people. If you’re lucky, you still have grandparents alive. Some of them can be royal pains, agreed. But old people have a unique perspective. When I think that I have life all figured out, a conversation with my Grandpa cures me of my delusion. He’s also a reminder that one day, I too will be frail and wrinkled all over. Sobering thought.
  19. Spend time with children. I have a confession to make. I don’t particularly like infants. Especially when they’re at an age when they can’t articulate their wants and needs. But there’s just something heart-warming about a 5-year-old climbing into your lap of her own accord without so much as a “May I?” And if you ever feel like your whole world is about to crumble, spend time talking with a kid. She won’t solve your problems but you’re guaranteed to feel better. Children give the best hugs, by the way ;).
  20. Focus. There are probably many things that you can do. And maybe about six that you’re fair at. But unless you’re uber-talented, there’s probably only one or two that you’re really good at. (Really good meaning that you’d beat the average Joe at it). It’s not enough to be intelligent or precocious. Conductors and insulators are both made up of electrons, protons and neutrons. The difference is that the electrons in conductors Can. Be. Directed.  Life is too short to not have a direction.
  21. Don’t touch your acne. Only causes scars and makes it worse.
  22. Be nice. Let someone go through a door before you. If you can afford it, leave your change with petty traders/artisans and conductors, and even though they can be bloody annoying, don’t shove away beggar kids. Smile often.
  23. Save. Someone advised thus: If you still live with your parents and eat from their kitchen, save 50% of your salary and 90% of unexpected money (gifts, lottery winnings etc.). I adhere to the former, I’m hopeless with the latter. I think this should be my new resolution.

Bloody long, isn’t it? Lol! Thanks for reading to the end though. Let me know what you think. If you liked, please share it. Thanks! 🙂


  1. Nnaemeka says

    Happy Birthday!

    These 23 things sound like they come from an experienced sojourner. Bull’s eye truth. Great wisdom in one so young…

    Plus, I’ve lived by Number 2 all these years 😀

    As for number 1, its importance cannot be overstated. May you continue to grow in His love and knowledge.

    Once more, happy birthday, o creamy skinned West African Jewel (a description of you I saw on a Kenyan online forum when ZAC was on air. Lol!)

  2. Lovely piece,as expected of you. i feel like i soaked in the knowledge of an entire book. Happy Bday again, miss Osemhen 🙂

  3. Gbeminiyi says

    I agree with everything here and I have always tried my best to live by them. Reading this has made me realize I’ve fallen short in some of these things.
    Thank you Osemhen
    And Happy Birthday again 🙂

  4. Fashola Babatunde says

    Thank God am not alone in this chastity thingy.
    Think I love the restless part.
    Many thanks for writing challenges words and exemplifying them as well.
    Happy Birthday Friend. You’re just a true paragon.

  5. This post is a treasure! Happy Birthday again, dear. I pray you continually grow in Him and that at the end of the road, He would only have”Well done, my child” to say.

    • Amen! I pray it for all of us. I’m not sure I want to imagine what Heaven will be like without my friends. And thanks!

  6. “Every man I meet is my superior in one way, in that I learn from him”, Ralph Emerson. I like “BE MENTORED, BE RELENTLESS AND PUT GOD FIRST”. You forgot to include, “LEARN TO FORGET HOW MUCH YOU KNOW” but I guess…you explained it somewhere. You will never know how much you’ve taught me. I wrote an essay about you -The Girl in the Green Scarf. I never really had enough chance to get to know you more. The first meeting was terrific- how I said, “I was Convinced my workshop story would qualify…”. Then you said something with your eyes- you can never be too sure. Keep blogging, keep ranting…keep being Osemhen. It saves lives…:-)

  7. taiwo fagbo says

    very very beautiful post, totally agree wiv all,but i love no 11 d most,happy bithday osemhen

  8. Abdullahi says

    Matured piece…I could relate to a number of the points including 11 and I must say you write with similar poise, as Sefi Atta (currently reading her “everything good will come” novel). Eargerly looking forward to your best-seller Osemhen. Best wishes.

    • Thanks, Boss! That’s high praise oh! Now I’m seriously praying I don’t disappoint anyone. Thanks for the encouragement 🙂

  9. Osemhen, I really enjoyed reading your blog. I want to start blogging and I happened to see your blog openned in my friend’s room and I was reading through your list of 23 things…its refreshing. I just entered the best season of my life because GOD helped me learn to put HIM first. I feel like the veil over my head has been yanked off ! And the stone at the mouth of Lazarus tomb has been removed! I am free to grow in the garden of GOD’s love. Reading through your list I was pleased to know that I do most of what you have listed and I live a joyful existence every day…by GOD’s grace of course. I need to fix number 7 and 23 though.

    • Yup! The most important relationship you can have is with God. About to start blogging? Good for you! Keep me posted so we can come visit sometime 🙂

  10. Asekhame Yadua says

    This is so nice, Osemhen. I kept on smiling and reflecting while reading it. Keep it up.

  11. Anita Igberaese says

    Nice post. Sobering too. Ive cause for some sober reflection.
    Thanks, dear.

  12. Arogundade @Don_Akwaaba Taofeek says

    Beautiful Beautiful Beautiful stuff… Good read! I sooo have to pick up on a lot of these…The ‘Focus’ part – I suck at that. I also need a mentor too.. Really good piece, I guess I shud read dis every morning before I start my day, and see which I’v been able to work on before sleeping errnite. Thanks!

  13. I totally love this! I don’t even know why I’m just seeing this. I’ll reblog this later today. This is aweosme.
    I learnt many things.
    Wishing you many more successful years.

  14. I totally love this! I don’t even know why I’m just seeing this. I’ll reblog this later today. This is aweosme.
    And I learnt many things. Thanks for sharing too.
    Wishing you many more successful years.

  15. I think I am in love with you; just from reading this piece. You are the kinda person I would definitely want to expose my kids to. I know the male version of you, funny thing is you guys kinda look alike too (not tryna arrange a hook-up tho), coz I seem to have feelns for him but would willingly give him up for you coz u guys would compliment each other. But he should learn from your 13 if you would educate him farther. Very nice piece Osemhen.

    • Lol. #nohomo at “I think I am in love with you” Thanks. 🙂 Who is this guy? Does he write as well?

  16. Naaa, I dont swing that way. Very platonic kinda love laced with plenty of admiration. He does write some, but he doesnt blog at all. I would find a way to draw him here, tho it is true that most people either do not recognise or admit to their reflections in the mirror.

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  18. Omoluabi says

    Awww Osemehn.
    This post is full of wisdom. Thank you for sharing. And you write incredibly well…

  19. Mary says

    Lol. I’m guilty of the acne tingy,can’t seem to keep my hands away From my face. Thank God it doesn’t leave much scars. Tnk u for everything Osemhen. Its really going to help me.

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