7 Lessons I Learned By 27
I have just completed my first week as a 27-year-old millennial business owner and doctoral student. This past year has surely been a ride. Last year, I left a very comfortable teaching position in the Republic of Kazakhstan which allowed me to travel the world without a care. I moved back to the United States and relocated from New Jersey to Madison, WI to begin a doctoral program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While attempting to feed my entrepreneurial bug and read through hundreds of pages of research each week, I frequently questioned my decision to go back to school while starting a business.
What have I gotten myself into? It was complete chaos and full and tears and fear but I got through it. Multiple stressful beginnings coming towards me like a 5-ton truck. It was madness. But, like my coach Mrs. Marshawn Evans-Daniels always says, “there is a message in your mess.” Inspired by my mess, I created a list of 7 Lesson that I receive time and time again throughout this 365 days process transitioning from mid-twenties to my late twenties. These lessons did not come easy, but I hope they serve as an inspiration to you as you continue your journey.
Lesson One: Pray and Express Sincere Gratitude Daily
There was a book that I enjoyed reading while I living in Kazakhstan called “Breakfast with God”. Every weekend I would make my famous oatmeal pancakes with almond butter and apple slices and reflect on my life and the world around me. Sometimes, I wondered why God wanted me to remain in Kazakhstan. What I didn't realize was that He was slowing my life down because He was about to hit me with an avalanche of responsibilities once I got back to the United States.
Praying, praying, and more praying is essential to my daily life. I could not have gotten through the first year of graduate school without the prayers of my mother, and my church family. Many times I contemplated leaving so that I could pursue entrepreneurship full time. But prayer changes things and shift mindset and realities.
I am also just grateful for the opportunity to even be in school. It's a privilege I often take for granted. Not make person can say that they are working on a PHD. I know that there is greater in store and I am an extremely excited to see where this is going to go.
I am also grateful for just the small things in life like food and water pressure. We didn't always have running water in Kazakhstan. I am thankful that I can create the live of my dreams because of good decisions that I have made in the past. You may not be able to see it now but you will be extremely grateful forever.
Lesson Two: Ask for Help
This lesson usually is learned the hard way. During the first six months of entrepreneurship and graduate school, I was drowning. I didn't feel like I was 'good' enough to be a doctoral student and I was constantly cheating on my job (school) with my passion (my business) and both were suffering. I wasn't sleeping. I was overeating (pizza once or maybe twice a week) and I was unprofitable.
I needed help fast. I hired a coach and invested in social media management during the last two weeks of the semester. It was a game changer that saved my business and my grades.
During this time, I realized that I was indeed smart enough to be a doctoral student and savvy enough to pursue my passion. I just needed guidance and help. Who knew? I got so caught up in being so independent as a solo traveler and solopreneur that I forgot the importance of building a support system and team that WANTS you to succeed. Lesson learned and I won't be doing that again.
Lesson Three: Self-care of Self-destruct
During my time overseas I lost 30 pounds. It was easy when there are no fast food restaurants for miles and miles. It wasn't so easy when I got to Wisconsin where they have delicious doughnuts and pizza in 2-minute walking distance. For just signing my rental agreement, I got a free box of pizza and then for just paying my rent on time I got another free box of pizza delivered to my door and there was free donut day and the pounds that were history were slowly but surely making their grand reappearance.
This additional weight made me tired, unproductive, and unprofitable. I needed to get this in order. Weight is something that I will continue to deal with. It is a battle that I plan to win. 27 is the year that I reevaluate my health goals and limit my pizza and ice cream intake to once a week.
Lesson Four: Social Networking Social Interaction
I love social media. It was the way I stay connected to my family when I lived overseas. My brother and I became closer because of it. However, it does not equal social interaction. It is not the real thing. Sometimes you have to pick up the phone and talk to people. This applies to your clients and your friends. There is something special about hearing someone else’s voice, seeing them smile or laugh in person. You can't learn that on social media. So plan to take some time off of your computer and start networking and meeting people.
Lesson Five: This Ain’t About You
As a sat in my advisors office crying after the first semester contemplating whether this should be the end of the road for me.... she pleasant replied, "this ain’t about you" Everything I have ever done has never been about me. Its been to push and inspire someone else to be who they have been or never imagined they could be . Its not about me then and even now. My greatness is for you. When I leave this world. I want to be on E. I want the world to benefit from every single gift that I have to offer and just maybe that degree has something to do with it.
Lesson Six: Your Degree is Aligned with Your Assignment
As much as I try to run away for school, I can't help myself. I love school! I am passionate about researching black women and issues in our community. I am surprisingly a little more Malcolm and a little less Martin than I thought. (That's what happens when you live in Wisconsin.) I can't help myself. I want to be a scholar and an entrepreneur and that's ok. I have met so many encouraging, bold, and beautiful scholarpreneurs this year that have truly challenged me to accept my greatness and go for the gold and the degree. Thank you so much for your encouragement and for allowing me to be authentically me. Yes I can talk about Foucault and Brand Strategy all in the same breath. I got it like that.
Lesson Seven: The Best Is Yet to Come
Yes, my one year older sista, the best is yet to come. Keep writing, contributing and be an engaged citizen of society. I look forward to seeing your 28 year old self. 27 make me proud. This lesson is the shortest because its still being lived through. Remember your best day is your next day. Continue to push towards your greatness and live a life of significance and excellence.