Sunday, December 31, 2017

2018: Embracing Love & Following Dreams

#TheKBWedding was easily my favorite day in 2017

One night in July, my mentor sat across a table from me and listened as I said I would not go to INSEAD if I did not get a €50,000 scholarship. I talked about how expensive it was, and how the Naira’s devaluation had affected my plans. She let me finish, then told me she thought I would get the scholarship, discussed alternative financing approaches if I did not get it, and told me she thought I should follow that dream.

As my faith strengthened and waned in turn over the following months, conversations with Busola, my closest friends, and my other mentors, reinforced my belief and kept me going through the agonizing wait for the emails from the school. After I received the email communicating the scholarship, we shared many hugs, laughed excitedly, and I was reminded how fortunate I am to have such a strong support system. The people in my life have been a huge part of everything I have done so far, and will be huge enablers for what is still coming.

As a child growing up in Ibadan, I read about Janus - the ancient Roman god of beginnings, transitions, and endings. Strikingly, he was depicted as having two faces, looking both to the past and the future. As I sit here channeling my inner Janus at the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, I keep thinking about two concepts: people, and dreams.

2017                                                                          2018
My highlight in 2017 was marrying Busola on March 11. It was both a new beginning and the culmination of a long-held dream. The wedding also reminded me how privileged I am – as love, advice, and support poured in from family, friends, and colleagues. I once wrote, in 2013, about wanting just a hundred people at my wedding. I realized on March 11 that I had been wrong. I wanted the people I cared about around me, and they were well more than a hundred. I wanted to give them a reason to dress up, party, and be happy. I am grateful we did that.

I recently rediscovered my goals for 23-24. (I set goals by birth year and not by calendar year). I say “rediscovered”, because that was a few years ago and I had not looked at the document in a while. It was interesting to find that 3+ years ago, I wrote the following:
Life happened and I forgot about that target and did not write GMAT that year, but I achieved that score when I got around to taking the test, and well – I am writing this a few kilometers from INSEAD. I definitely don’t achieve all my goals and not all my dreams come true, but I am very grateful to be living the dreams that currently matter most to me.

I always make time to read, and my three favorite books this year were: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, How We Die by Sherwin B. Nuland, and The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. No surprises there, as my pensive side is alive and well! The first and last books are similar, as they were written by brilliant men who were diagnosed with terminal cancer at the cusp and peak of their careers respectively. They both went from having all their lives before them to having only a few months, and had to identify and pursue what was most important to them in the little time they had left. Reading both books and pondering Tolu’s death in August reinforced my belief in living with a sense of urgency. While it may be asking too much to live our lives as if every day is going to be our last, why don’t more people seize life and try to live it to the full?

In 2014 and 2015, my mantra for the calendar year was “upgrade”. In 2016 and 2017, it was to have the “courage, strength, and discipline to do things that resulted in happiness and progress”. In 2018, it will be to embrace love and the power of people, and to keep moving in the direction of my dreams. My highlights this year were only dreams five to six years ago. I can’t wait to see how today’s dreams turn out in a few years.

Let us dare to dream and to keep moving in the direction of our dreams.

Best wishes for the new year!

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