For as far back as I can remember, I have always prioritized the pursuit of knowledge. All through my school years, I was almost always one of the top students in class. I saw knowledge as a kind of power I could wield under appropriate circumstances to my benefit and the benefit of those around me.
But, knowledge is a rabbit hole. The deeper you go, the easier it is to get lost. The point of the rabbit hole is to dive as deep as you can while maintaining your sanity. With the hope that you can come back with something of benefit to yourself and others.
Somewhere along the line, I may have started to conflate knowledge with wisdom. Sure, I grew up smarter than average. But I wasn’t wise. I’ve never been wise. For wisdom is associated with good judgment…and trust me, my life up until my early twenties were riddled with some pretty bad decisions.
In retrospect, I don’t totally regret my questionable decisions; I have learned that life experiences (good or bad) are integral to developing wisdom. So long as you’re willing to learn from your experiences, you will get wiser with time.
I happen to be a firm believer in the value of randomness in a person’s life. Especially when you’re young and in your twenties. By randomness, I mean how often you are exposed to novel experiences. You need the right amount of randomness to live your best life. Too much can breed chaos, too little might mean your life doesn’t have enough unpredictability.
Unpredictability is good. It’s where all the fun happens.
My life up until this year hadn’t enjoyed enough randomness. Perhaps 2020, aka Pandemic Year served a wake-up call. So I decided to spice things up.
Here are a few things I learned in 2021.
Being clear on what I want in life.
I remember when I felt the need to call myself to order. My early twenties were a mess. I think it was mostly me trying to find myself. One day I opened my journal with the intent to write a detailed entry on what I want in life. My Polaris, my north star, my overall guiding values. I couldn’t come up with a straight answer. It took me months to gravitate towards my ultimate life goals: inner peace and good virtue.
Maybe one day I’ll write an entire note on why inner peace and good virtue are all we should ever strive for in life. Of course, peace might seem rather vague. What does peace mean? At the risk of sounding trite, I’ll say peace means different things to different people. Hence, the pursuit of peace will manifest itself very differently in the life of everyone. I think writing down my life goals is one of the best things I did this year. It gave me so much clarity on the kind of person I want to be.
Do whatever brings you peace so long as you maintain virtue towards yourself and others
Systems over goals.
More important than defining any goals, is defining systems that would help in achieving those goals. Very important. Goals are the overarching objectives. While Systems translate those goals into routines: daily, weekly, monthly… Repeated habits or behaviors that encourage consistent, steady progress and accountability. Ergo, Systems allow me to focus less on the goal and enjoy growth with the process.
I learned how to swim.
It is true that you never know how much you like something until you try it. Swimming is an activity I find incredibly fun. I only wish I had started swimming when I was much much younger. I picked up swimming sometime in march and found a way to be consistent. Twice a week.
Swimming is a fun hobby that provides great cardio. Plus it increases lung capacity and is very good for the heart. If you haven’t started learning to swim, maybe you should try it. As I write this note, I’m still learning. I’ve mastered the breaststroke. My freestyle isn’t perfect, could still use some work. Butterfly saps a lot of energy, so perhaps I’ll learn it when I’ve mastered the others.
Be friendly with everybody, but also know your true friends.
I learned more about friendship this year than in all my past years on earth. The word friend is often used liberally today. A friend, however, is someone who gives a genuine shit about you. A friend cares about you deeply, sees your struggles as their struggles, and your triumphs as their triumphs. However, in order to bond with someone to the level of true friendship, you need to have life experiences with them. You do not bond with someone over phone calls or text messages. You bond with them by having life experiences together.
But the truth is, you can’t have genuine life experiences with everyone you meet. There are literally billions of people out there. So, I think Naval Ravikant got it right when he said that the price of trying to make everyone else happy is making yourself miserable. This year I became a better person to my close friends. But somehow I still managed to disappoint a few people.
We all have a limited amount of energy. Energy directed at one person depletes from the energy that could have been directed to someone else. You can’t really give everyone the same amount of energy. But you can try to treat everyone with fairness.
I learned Drone Photography.
My foray into photography led me to drones. Sometime in January, I was hoping to secure a camera for my birthday. A friend advised me to get a drone instead. Drones are more fun and lend more power to photography. So, I got a few free courses on Udemy and Youtube. Then a friend of mine (Sola Oni) took me on some crash courses. Since then I’ve been flying my drone every other week; even got a few paid gigs.
I started playing the Guitar.
Around the time I was 7 or 8 years old, my mom got me a music teacher who taught me to play the piano. I recall memories from my childhood. Mrs. Anyanwu teaching me to play a new song; it was always a Christian song. Yeah, my upbringing was Christian and conservative. Sometime around the age of 12 or 13, I stopped playing. Can’t even remember why. I just stopped. I can only imagine the level of mastery I would have attained if I had stayed consistent up until now.
Rather than wallow in regret, I might as well start now and be a master 20 years from now. So this year, I picked up playing the guitar. My reason for learning to play is so I can play for my friends and family and maybe serenade my lover. Eventually, I discovered that playing the guitar instantly puts me in a good mood, and I started playing on days I feel stressed. I learn on a site called guitartricks.com where the courses are structured. It’s not free though.
Most importantly. I learned to never stop having fun.
I like the saying by Confucious: “Every man has two lives, and the second starts when he realizes he has just one”. Maybe because there’s a certain humility that descends on you when you realize you’re going to die someday. Yes. Regardless of whatever your pursuits in life, regardless of your life experiences, one day, you will die. You and everyone you know. The realization humbles you on so many levels. You start to understand that your time here is limited, and you have to make the most of it. And so this year I learned to spend more time with friends and family, people I care about. I’ve always been an introvert, but 2021 was a year I said yes to more hangouts and outdoor stuff.
Of course, I’m not perfect. But I’ll keep trying to do better.
Cheers to another year ❤️