As I approach my thirty something birthday tomorrow I have been reflecting on my life and concluded that I have had some really incredible life experiences and some really tragic experiences and both types of experiences have shaped me to be the woman that I am today. So I decided to celebrate my life by imparting the world with wisdom by sharing 10 key lessons that I have learned from my life.
1. Everyone deals with death differently — and every death is different.
I lost my parents within a year of each other and my half sister who I was very close to died on the very day that mum died so I could not even attend her funeral because I had to bury my mother. A day after burying my mother I went out to have a meal with my friends at the local Country Club and there was an outrage from relatives on my decision to do so, what they did not understand is I had 3 people I was grieving and being out was my coping mechanism because I felt like I was drowning in my grief and needed to escape a bit. As I continued to grieve I would attend parties and social events preferably where no one knew me or knew that I was grieving and this is how I managed my grief as controversial as it seemed to relatives. Losing 3 siblings was so hard but losing my parents was even harder. When my dad died, I had lost a parent. When my mom died, I lost a family….Mom was the one who kept my siblings and me together, and made us feel like we still had a home, and a parents love and in a way was the link to most relatives. When she went, so did that feeling. Confusion and loneliness is an understatement. It was terrifying. Someone said that “when we lose a parent we lose part of ourselves, we lose our childhood, and our youth is behind us forever. This is a Grief in itself.” I also learned from my losses that holiday time will be difficult forever. People will tell you what you should and shouldn’t feel and how you should and shouldn’t grieve. Ignore them and grieve your way.
2. You can receive honour and respect from the very place or people that shunned you
When I was in high school I really wanted to be a prefect ( (in British and African schools a senior pupil who is authorised to enforce discipline). I worked hard for it and everyone knew that i deserved it but I was not appointed a prefect. I even went to plead my case to our Principal but it didn’t happen and I just wanted to curl up and die because all my friends were prefects. Now many years later I have been invited to the school as a Guest of Honour and the same teachers who denied me the opportunity of being a prefect wait on me like I am royalty. I am invited to speak to incoming prefects and mentor them and when the school has official functions as the President of the High School Alumni I also attend and have been asked to give a vote of thanks on some occasions at the very school where my leadership qualities were overlooked.
3. Your heroes are human
Many a time I have placed some men and women on a pedestal and fallen apart when they also fell from the pedestal I placed them. The people we look up to have flaws, fears and will disappoint us but that does not make them bad people. The best role models I’ve had are the ones who admit their shortcomings. It helps them love me and guide me through my own shortcomings and mistakes, urging me not to make the same ones and showing me how to set things right through their loving examples. It is only through understanding that my mentors are not perfect that I am able to truly respect and love them.
4. Your pain is attached to your purpose
I was brutally raped when I was about 3-4 years old by a relative and then my brother and I would get sexually molested by maids. I lost my parents within a year of each other in the same month and the day that my mum died is the exact day my half sister died I couldn’t even attend her burial because I had to bury my mother. I have had many other moments but these ones are the first ones to come to mind. But now that I look back in retrospect these WhyGodWhyMe moments are the ones that have strengthened me and given me that capacity in walking out my calling. I can minister and identify with rape and sexual abuse victims, I can do the same for orphans, people who have lost siblings ,single mothers and people who have had a lot of pain and tragedy in their lives. I made a choice to add purpose to my pain . I stand amazed that out of my deepest hurt I found my true purpose; God has given me grace to help others heal even while in my broken state. There are seasons I have silently bled internally barely able to stand, yet I have managed to lift many who were unaware of what I was going through as I saw them through some difficult seasons. It is in that place of pain where I have had the most impact on people’s lives and I have often wondered how I managed to do it.
5. Learn to say no and cut off toxic people
Give and take is the lifeblood of true friendship. Sometimes you need a hand, and sometimes your friend does, but in the end it more or less evens out. Not with the toxic person — they’re often there to take what they can get from you, as long as you’re willing to give it.
6. You don’t have to be Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg to change lives
When I was in hospital after my C-section in Mbuya Nehanda Maternity Home I witnessed mothers who lived in abject poverty and would not even have clothes for their newborn so I started giving away some of what I had for my own baby even though at that time I was not working and had nothing. I was literally living on handouts and assistance from friends and not even sure how I was going to provide for my baby after we were discharged from the hospital. It broke my heart to find out that some of the new mothers did not even have cotton wool for the post natal bleeding, thick blood clots on the floor were a common site in the post natal ward.I then immediately understood why I had been in that situation of being an unwed unemployed mother so I shared the little I had.
7. When you have found your calling opportunities find you
Ever since I decided to start blogging in 2007 and decided to publish a book an opportunity to contribute on the Huffington Post platform was made available to me. I have also been a approached by a local magazine and appeared on the magazine cover. I have travelled to Europe and had access to some of the most influential leaders in the world. I have been invited as a keynote speaker at many events because I dared to walk out my dream. I have had access and developed friendships and mentorships with 4 millionaires (some not even Zimbabwean) and learned a lot from them.
8. Love can be both beautiful and scary at the same time
The thing with love is there is so much at stake. Every day, we are putting so much of ourselves and our well-being into this person’s hands. We trust them not to crush us, knowing at any minute they could and it can be catastrophic. There is so much to risk and we could lose it all any time. With that being said, that is also what seems to make loving someone such a beautifully rewarding thing. The other beauty about love is you are never ready. The truth is, you don’t know when you’re going to meet someone who blows your socks off. Or maybe it’s someone you already know, whom you suddenly see differently. From what I know about life, it comes when you least expect it or when you’re not “ready.” So what do you do, turn down a chance at love because you read somewhere that you need to be at a certain “place” to love? We are dynamic, always changing, evolving, learning, falling down, getting up, getting hurt, healing, letting go, moving on. There is no such thing as ready. Because you’ll never be perfect; there is no such thing. So you just love as hard as you can with what you have and hope for the best.
9. Becoming a parent will change you for the better
Becoming a mother has changed my life in the most beautiful of ways. Becoming a single mother has taught me more about myself than I ever thought possible, it’s taught me that no matter what comes my way, I’ll survive.
10. Never compare your life to others
I used to throw pity parties and mope and complain that out of my circle of friends I was the only not yet married, not yet driving, and not yet owning a property until I realised that when we focus on other people, we lose time that we could otherwise invest in ourselves. We don’t grow green grass by focusing on our neighbor’s garden, we do it by nurturing our own. So, instead of wasting time comparing your path to someone else’s, spend it investing, creating, and caring for your own. After I decided to focus on me and my own life purpose I have since managed to accomplish so many things some which my friends have not yet accomplished because they have their own accomplishments.
Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com