Nkem Story

25 to 25: Becoming the Woman I Want to Be

December 11, 2017

In exactly 23 days I will turn 25-years-old. Twenty-Five. Vingt-Cinq ans. A quarter of a century.

It’s just crazy.

The Versions of Me

In some ways, I still feel like the passionate, wide-eyed 18-year-old that first skipped off to college, excited to embrace a world she knew nothing about and make her mark on it.

Other times I feel like the 21 year-old-girl that had recently returned from a semester abroad in Senegal, confused, lost and unsure what to make of the world around her that she had only recently been truly awoken to.

Often I yearn for the almost overconfident 16-year-old that was sure of her path, generous with her time and energy, trusting to a fault, and optimistic with wild abandonment. But there are some things that cannot be unseen so surely that girl is gone.

Rarely do I feel like the young woman I envision in my head: graceful, confident, ready to tackle the world and all its -isms, while creating a better future for those around her.

Where I am. Where I want to be.

So what I have now is stuck in a place of where I used to be and where I want to be. Some days are better than others. I wake up, excited for what’s ahead, filled with inspiration from a recent podcast I listened to, seminar I attended or story I read. I’m ready to tackle the world, offer my talents for the good of humanity and march forward knowing I’m on the right path. Change has to come, and I’m going to do my part to ensure it does. I spend days like this working on my blog, researching and writing, contributing actively to groups I’m in, planning ways to get more clients, planning for the future, making to-do lists.

Other days I feel – hopeless, frustrated, annoyed, apathetic – why does this matter? How does any of this matter? I have nothing unique and interesting to contribute. This world will never change. No one understands the effects of systematic sexism and racism. Why do people act like these -isms don’t exist? I spend days like this scrolling through Instagram and twitter, journaling sometimes, moving listlessly through my day-to-day activities, annoyed if I sense the slightest disagreement to my views and generally procrastinating at life.

Then I’ll look back and wonder why I’ve gotten nothing done. I’ll look at my blog and lament about how silent I’ve been. I’ll scold myself for procrastinating on my future. I’ll scold myself for lack of discipline. I’ll read some stories, listen to some podcasts, have a few rant sessions and jump back into “go-getter” mode, before the novelty dies down again and I’m back to square one.

The Bridge.

It’s like there is this river between where I am, and where I want to be, and I know exactly how to build the bridge, and I have within me the capacity to build the bridge. Some days I even start working on the bridge, but most days I feel stuck and unable to move. Some days I even make plans to build the bridge, just to feel busy, but I’m not actually BUILDING the bridge, I’m just drawing up plans for what the bridge will look like.

I’m sure there’s a word for this in psychology, or maybe it’s just called being in your 20s, but I know that one day, I woke up, and decided I was very tired of this cycle. I’ve still gone through the cycle several times since then, but being able to name the cycle alone is a big step.

The List.

That day, I decided that I needed to take baby steps towards becoming the woman I kept envisioning in my head. To do this, I needed to :
1. Wipe off all the things that I kept on carrying over from to-do list to to-do list.
2. Make steps towards my future in the form of my writing, my brand, my finances, etc.
3. Continue to set myself up for becoming the woman I want to be.

So that’s how I ended up creating a 25 to 25 list. A list that had (semi) achievable things on it – things that could be achieved in a short amount of time, and things that would allow me to start my 25th year of life on the right step. I first made the list during the last week of October, giving me a little over 65 days to accomplish everything.

There are already things on the list that are not going to happen and other things that I have already completed. The point is just to be working towards each of them as diligently as I can. Like I said, I’ve been through the “let’s do this!” and “why does this matter?!” cycle a few times since I’ve written this list, so factoring that in, I think I’m doing okay.

Looking Ahead.

Regardless of how many things I end up completing on this list (I really hope it’s a lot), I think I would have made strides towards building that bridge.

I often wonder if this cycle that I spoke of earlier is one that we ever truly get out of – I believe that it is perhaps just something we learn to manage better. I think no matter how successful we get, no matter how far we have come, we always have moments of self-doubt, we always have moments of “what’s the point?”. The important thing is shortening those moments, learning how to manage them, getting up after every rut and continuing to build the bridge towards becoming who we want to be.

 

Turning 25 isn’t going to be a magic wand that will suddenly make my path clear and give me the qualities I desire. But turning 25 is a landmark that I can use to reflect on where I have been in life, where I currently am and where I want to be in this world. These are all things I’m still thinking over, and while I still have many many reasons to scold myself, I also have lots of reasons to be proud of who I am becoming and to continue working diligently towards my goals.

Are there any birthdays you consider milestones? When do you like to reflect on your life goals? Would love to hear your process below.

Yours,

Omolayo Nkem

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4 Comments

  • Reply Nana Abena Pokua Mensah December 31, 2017 at 07:24

    This was such an incredibly insightful post Omolayo, so much so that I’m here to read it a second time! Like I said to you earlier, I undoubtedly see you as the woman you’re aiming to be and envision in your head but I’m also excited to see your growth in this new year and beyond

    • Reply Omolayo Nkem January 15, 2018 at 04:12

      Thank you so much Nana! You already know that means so much to me! Here’s to 2018 being the year I see that too! lol. Excited for what we have planned for this year!

  • Reply Jodean Schmiederer December 31, 2017 at 12:28

    In November I turned 49. For a number of reasons I’ve developed a severe dislike for my trips around the sun that end in an odd number. But, considering how awful this year has been (perhaps because 2017 ended in an odd number), this year I decided to create a “50 before 50” list so I could center 2018 on finding joy in life and the world. What I love most about your list is the grace you are giving yourself to not complete everything. I needed to see that (as I’m currently struggling with a few items) and will try to carry your grace with me as I move through my list. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

    • Reply Omolayo Nkem January 15, 2018 at 04:08

      Wow! I can’t believe I’m inspiring PHD student, working full time (and at Elon for that matter so we know that’s like full time x10), mom you!! Thank you so much for dropping the comment – it’s making my heart flutter! But yeah, being lenient with ourselves with a to-do list like this is so important because otherwise it takes the fun out of process. Would love to know some of the stuff on the list – especially the ones you’re most excited about! Happy New Year to you as well Jodean! Thank you again!!

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