17 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Turned 21

21st Birthday
Photo Cred: Boho Weddings Online

 

Towards the end of last year, my aunt asked me to help her put together some advice/words of encouragement for a young lady who was turning 21 years old. She asked me to think about what I wish I had been told or what I wish I had known at the age of 21. As I did the list, I realized that there was so much that I was forced to learn from experience as I entered adulthood.

 

I think it is an assumption in our more modern black African community that you’ll figure things out as you go, especially because most of us are growing up away from home and from our elders. Granted that the best teacher is experience, but some guidance and counsel never hurt anyone.

 

Most of the words of wisdom we receive as we enter adulthood is to work hard, get a good job and get married – especially as black African women (bAw). As though that is the fullness of life. This got me thinking that there may be some young 21-year old who hasn’t had the opportunity to receive counsel on life and could benefit from reading up on a few key lessons that can help make their next stage in life more fulfilling. Or possibly, just a woman who needs to remember what is important in life.

 

And so here goes – 17 things I wish someone had told me as I turned 21:

 

  1. You are beautiful both inside and out. From this age onward, understand that society and your own doubts and fears will try to disagree with that statement. Begin now to choose to believe that you are beautiful and tell yourself that truth every day when you look in the mirror.

 

  1. You are more than worthy of love. You may find yourself seeking validation and worth in different places as you reach this stage of your life – in men, friendships, career, beautiful clothes or just looking good. In all instances, nothing and no-one will be able to validate you. Understand that your worth and value stems from your Creator God alone. This will serve you well in years to come.

 

  1. Be much kinder to yourself. You’re going to find yourself making some major mistakes in life because now you’re playing in the big leagues. There are enough people out there who will try to make you feel bad about this so don’t add yourself to that equation. Learn to be your number 1 fan by encouraging yourself when you fall.

 

  1. When it comes to people (associations, friends, family, romantic relationships etc) take those associations with an emotional maturity. Understand that not everything done to you deserves for you to take it too seriously. Most times, it’s not even about you.

 

Be Kind to Yourself
Photo Cred: WordPress.com

 

  1. Expect less. This is not about lowering your standards but about what you hope others will do for you. This gives you the opportunity to be taken by surprise in a good way in life. The less you expect from people, the better.

 

  1. Rejection and disappointment is not the end of the world. Now that you’re a little older, rejection and disappointment will hurt a little more than it did when you were younger. Try now to learn that it does not mean the end of everything. The sun will still rise tomorrow.

 

  1. People who were meant to shield, love and protect you the most may end up being the ones who hurt you the worst. Learn to discern the hearts and intentions of people early on so that you can gauge those you can lean on a little more. Remember that only God will never disappoint you.

 

  1. At all costs, avoid debt in your life. You will soon be on your own, making your own money and making your own financial decisions. There is such a pressure and a tendency to want to get all the wonderful things in life that you can’t afford just to keep up with others or to “show what you’re working for”. Try as much as possible to adjust this mind-set and attitude. Instead, pursue the freedom and peace of owning what is yours and living a lifestyle you can afford. This will allow you to sleep better at night.

 

Save Money - Don't Get Into Debt
Photo Cred: Frugal Farm Wife Online

 

  1. Make time for your family. Yes life is exciting and you’ve got so many amazing friends and adventures but remember where you have come from. Your family will always be there for you regardless of what you go through or how life changes. Remember to make time to appreciate and enjoy them.

 

  1. If you haven’t already found it, seek out your life’s purpose. This is usually closely linked to what you are passionate about or what you’re really good at and love doing. It’s the thing you would be willing to do without ever getting paid for doing it. Knowing your purpose makes life that much more of a joy to live. It gets you out of bed on a tough day. It warms your soul even though things are unbearable. It can also become your career. Find out what you’re on Earth for.

 

  1. Take your time and enjoy your season of singleness. Contrary to what social media/family/friends may say, singleness is a blessing. Seek to enjoy and bask in all the goodness that it holds for you – your own time; travelling; meeting new people; excelling in your career and purpose; making mistakes and getting back up amongst other things. You will never get this time back so get over being single and get into how amazing it is before it passes you by.

 

  1. Wait for a man of his word. You’re young and beautiful with so much life ahead of you and men will recognize and desire that. Try to keep a cool head when it comes to choosing the men you date. Be selective – be hard to get but easy to be with. Be a delight but set your boundaries early on. This will serve you well in protecting you from men who do not have your best interests at heart. Wait for a man who does what he said he will do and with whom you will have no questions about his intentions.

 

Be Selective 2
Photo Cred: Skinny Sticks Tumblr

 

 

  1. More likely than not, your heart will probably be broken despite all your efforts to wait on the right guy or to protect yourself. Don’t beat yourself up over that. Instead, learn from your experiences so that you are clear on what you deserve, which will make it easier for you to identify that in future.

 

  1. Understand that you will probably lose friends as you journey on in life. It’s not necessarily because you or they are bad people. As you grow, you evolve and so do those around you. You may not grow in the same direction and sometimes that may mean that you must part ways. It’s alright. People who are meant to be in your life will remain there to walk with you as you become your best self. The rest are for a season or a reason. Learn to differentiate who is who in your life.

 

  1. Find a mentor. Be on the lookout for a woman or women you admire in terms of how you desire to live your life and where you would like to end up. Women who uphold your principles in life. Seek to develop relationships with them. Life is not lived in isolation and as a young woman, you can learn much from your older sisters and mothers who have already walked the path you are embarking on – regardless of how “old school” you may think they are! Life and its principles never go out of fashion.

 

  1. Never make anything or anyone else more important than God – not even yourself. As long as you grasp this simple but powerful truth, you can have the best life ever and become all that you were meant to be.

 

  1. Have fun!!! You are young. You’re at the peak of your youth and the world literally is your oyster. Don’t rush to grow up because that comes with its challenges. Soak up every single year of your life because it will never be the same again. Have no regrets.

 

 

Have Fun
Photo Cred: Allure Online

 

 

And so there it is. Thanks to my colleague Tumelo Bosaka who also helped me out by sharing a few of the truths she wishes she had been told at 21. I hope this serves someone well as they enter into the next season of their life. Maybe you’re past 21 but you haven’t come across some of these. It’s never too late to learn and grow. Or you may have just needed a refresher. Let’s keep going ladies 😉

 

Let me know your thoughts on the list and please share any other lessons from your experiences. Maybe you had a completely different experience. I would like to learn from yours too.

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

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Photo Cred: Noxolo Chalale

Before you go sis, just a few things you may be interested in:

  1. We have a Hiking Event to celebrate you gorgeous bAw on Sunday the 27th of August at Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve in the South of Joburg. If you desire to get out, meet other bAw and hear inspiring stories about how to best reflect on your life and live it in a way that God desires for you, this get-together is for you. We will have a lovely picnic after our short hike and some uplifting words from our older sisters who have learnt the value of taking stock of their lives. Come and let’s Heal, Exhale and Reflect together.
  2. Would you like to be part of a community of women who are daily speaking and seeking healing for different aspects of their lives and returning to their true identity in Christ? Then join us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to receive daily encouragements and connect with like-minded sisters!

 

Chat to you soon!

H.E.R. Hike Event

H.E.R. Hike Poster - August 2017 Final Edit

We’re thrilled to announce our upcoming event in celebration of women! The Healing | Exhaling | Reflecting (H.E.R.) Hike aims to bring women together for a moment of reflection. We would like to encourage our fellow sisters to embrace the journey their on and take a moment to appreciate how far they’ve come. So often we focus on moving forward or on how far we have to go. This time, we want to take a moment to celebrate how far God has brought us.

H.E.R. Hike is for every woman who needs a moment to exhale, and what better way than out in nature at Kliepriviersberg Nature Reserve.

Hosted by the formidable Zandile “Zahr” Mqwathi, a drama therapist trainee, we want to get your endorphins kicking with the hike, followed by a lovely picnic and conversation about life and how far we’ve come.

Book your tickets here before space runs out. A big shoutout to our sponsors, including BOUNCE South Africa.

We hope to see you there!

Should you encounter any issues with purchasing your tickets please do not hesitate to contact us.

With love,

Sonia Dee

Guest Post: Dealing With Disappointment When We Move In Faith by Rumbidzayi Dube

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Photo Cred: zsazsabellagio.com

I am a thinker, a wonderer. When I am overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions, I find writing helps relieve the pressure like an acupuncture of the soul.

I ‘recently’ took a step in faith. Well, it has been a journey of 20 odd months in the making with each stage requiring that I move in faith. In the beginning, I grappled with it being the path that God really wanted me to take. I didn’t deserve to. This was WAY out of my league. But God did His thing and through prayer, the Word, tears, fighting through doubts and fears, I accepted that it was for me. God has led me every step of the way.

It is nearly crunch time for that dream to come into effect. I am in a period of waiting and it has been the most difficult, heart wrenching, spiritual, hopeful time of my life. I have found myself oscillating between confidence and uncertainty, faith and fear. I know I am not meant to be fearful for “God has not given us a spirit of fear but of…” (2 Timothy 1:7). Have I failed as a believer then? I don’t believe so because ultimately, I rest on the laurels of God’s promises and that He loves me. He could never hurt me.

In approaching this critical point in my life, I have had to be brutally honest about what the outcomes may be. As friends and family alike pray and fast for me, I have come face to face with many a reality. God can come through in the most unexpected ways for me as He has done for the Joseph’s, Daniel’s, Esther’s and Ruth’s in times before. He could also decide to take me on a different course. The question becomes, how do I deal with disappointment in the face of faith?

Dealing with Disappointment

I am reminded of David’s story when his son fell ill and he prayed to God for his healing. His son ultimately died. But David’s reaction was so potent. He rose up out of his place of anguish, bathed and went to worship God. The same goes for Job. He had been a faithful servant of God and trial after trial faced him. In all he faced, he continued to worship God and praise Him.

You see, faith is not dependent on an outcome we want being fulfilled. Faith is a belief that “all things are working for the good of they that love the Lord” (Romans 8:28) and He is working for your good. So in that, faith is about praising and worshipping God no matter the circumstances or outcomes. You trust that He is working in your favour.

I struggle with this notion – grapple with it. On one end, you would have heeded God’s voice every step of the way. Surely, He was working towards a particular outcome. So, when the outcome is different to what you had expected, then what? Did you hear wrong?

Maybe. Or maybe you have not reached the final destination. God needs to take you on a detour to work out some kinks in your character before reaching that destination. There are lessons to be learnt so you know Whose you are and ultimately, who deserves the praise. For Joseph, it was 13 years of slavery and ill treatment so he could learn humility; have his faith tested; point others to God; and lead his people out of starvation. All this, I believe, so he would not claim all the praise and glory for himself but give it to God.

It is hard. Difficult to understand, but remember that God’s thoughts towards us are “thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Remember, these thoughts are ultimately for your salvation. So, come what may, that is God’s number one priority for you. Learn the lesson and do not let go of His promises. And whatever may be, DO NOT LOSE HOPE. All is never lost.

Rumbi Dee 2

Rumbi is a member of the bAw Team and a contributor to the movement. She is a gifted young woman with the ability to bring to life the dreams of others in the marketing and creative realm. She currently consults as a PR and Marketing manager while daily pushing to fulfill the dreams God has placed on her heart to make a difference in this world. She also pens her thoughts on life on her lovely blogsite, and can be found on Instagram, FB or Twitter.

 

While You Wait: Insight from ‘A Time To Remember And Give’ Event by Larissa Subira

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The gorgeous sisters who formed part of the first ‘A Time To Remember And Give’ Event (All Photos Cred: Noxolo Chalale)

I recently had the pleasure of spending an amazing 3 hours with 8 beautiful women as we delved a bit deeper into the struggle of feeling left behind. I personally left that breakfast feeling as though I was exactly where God needed me to be. One of the ladies who attended the breakfast, Larissa Subira, chose to share what she got from the conversations and time we had together.

Enjoy 🙂


I had the pleasure of attending the recent bAw prayer breakfast, ‘A Time to Remember and Give’ , where an intimate group of women gathered to share and reflect on their experiences and pray for one another.  One thing we all had in common is that we definitely had an area or two in our lives that we felt we were lagging behind in.

One of the hardest battles we fight as women are the messages we feed ourselves about our lives, be it our family, friends, our studies or career choices and our body image.  Perception is powerful, but what is even more powerful is what drives these perceptions.

 

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The breakfast was at the beautiful Buitengeluk restaurant in Broadacres

Part of the discussion we had was what are these drivers?  How does one discern between this feeling perhaps just being an insecurity versus there being an area in your life that actually needs work?  It is perfectly normal to want to grow in all spheres of your life be it spiritually, career wise or family wise. Once you’ve separated the lies from the facts of your life, what do you do with the information? You now know that something in you is called to move to the next step but nothing is working. You don’t have the money or every time you come close to attaining that next step it all falls apart.

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Taffy Pfupajena graciously shared her own struggles with feeling left behind

We had the lovely Taffy Pfupajena share her own personal experience with feeling left behind, and what God taught her in that journey. In the end, everyone shared their own story and we were able to pick up on some key lessons with regards to waiting on God’s timing for our lives.

Here a few nuggets I took with me from the breakfast:

  • You’re where you’re meant to be: As hard as it is feeling like you’re left behind and nothing is going your way, there is a reason why you are at this point in your life (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Rushing to where you think you should be before God has readied you tends to have pretty catastrophic results.
  • There’s a lesson you’re meant to be learning at this stage of your life: So you’re at this point in your life, looking at what needs to be changed but you don’t know how. It could be there’s something you’re yet to learn.  Remember, God always keeps his promises. He says it over and over – Isaiah 41:10 “ Fear not;  for I am with you; be not dismayed; for I am your God; I will strengthen you; yea, I will uphold you with the right hand of My righteousness.”
  • God needs to put you in a place spiritually, emotionally or physically where you can receive what is coming: Think about any blessing that has come into your life. Okay, now think about the time before it. Despite your frustration, there were some lessons you learnt that prepped you for what came into your life and you think back and thank God for His timing because had that thing happened when you wanted it to …again catastrophic results.
  • Leave room for God’s sprinkling: God will always work things out for your good. Don’t be so tied to how you want things that you miss out on God showing you another way. As you grow, you’re meant to reach a point where you’re completely at peace with your life, because you have the confidence of the promise that God has for your life. I am not talking new age stuff here but rather knowing that God ultimately wants the best for you.  “For I know the thoughts I have toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and hope” Jeremiah 29:11.

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The lesson here?  While waiting on the change in your life, enjoy the ride, learn what you’re meant to and arm yourself in preparation for what is coming and this can only be done through a constant walk with God. The challenge is what to do in the meant time. I am in the midst of reading ‘The Wait’ and one of the nuggets of wisdom I noted was that the time when nothing appears to be happening becomes your personal self-development laboratory. The trick is not allowing the ‘wish for more’ to turn into a self-hating exercise. The key is using this period of your life productively as you seek and work to reach the next point of your life. Ultimately, God is using this point in your life for you to draw closer to Him, and once that link is solidified ‘all these things will be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

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Larissa is an intuitive young woman with a passion for encouraging and uplifting others to have the life that God has purposed for them. She is also such an integral member of the bAw team who loves Jesus and is on the journey to fulfilling her purpose according to His will.

The bAw Team
The beautiful ladies that make up the bAw team

It truly was a time to remember and give 🙂