My dear smart girl,
I am writing this letter to you on my morning train journey into my busy job in Canary Wharf, London.
Not wanting to spoil the ending for you but it will be okay. You have an amazing journey ahead of you. However, your journey will be full of both ups and downs, hopefully, more ups. You might go from feeling unstoppable to wanting to quit to feeling exhausted, to feeling on top of the world, to feeling disappointed, to being bored, to not being able to sleep due to excitement. So here is my little advice for you.
Be a lifelong learner. Study as much as you can in terms of breadth and depth, and get VERY GOOD grades in school and University. Don’t miss any school homework, do them thoroughly and on time! I will encourage you to aim for the STEM subjects in high school (Mathematics, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Geography, ICT) I did them and they are so cool! Devote time to at least one or two core extra-curricular activities such as football (yes girls too play football! I see a few of them smashing it at my son’s football class), ballet, music or an additional language. Read as many books as possible, both fiction and non-fiction to broaden your views and mindset. Study the people around you. Be inquisitive, a good listener and take constructive feedback.
Be passionate about what you do. You won’t have an idea yet about your calling or purpose probably not until you are well in your 20s but building that core foundation with good grades and the right exposure will serve you well when you find your true calling. Keep that hunger for solving problems and helping people. Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. Always be kind even though your kindness might be taken for granted or seen as a weakness. Be a voice of empathy and be quick to help and assist everyone around you.
Take risks. The world is such a competitive place. You won’t stand out by playing safe. Be that girl that can be trusted to find solutions to complex problems. Don’t be afraid to fail instead fail quickly, learn from your mistakes and move on. Be that person who does not hide. Speak up. Go outside your comfort zone, if you stick to what you know you will never learn. You will not always have the answers and asking others is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Be true to yourself. Don’t compare yourself to anyone. You will need to be authentic because you will become a talented and ambitious woman. You might even end up in a male-dominated environment like me. Never compromise your kindness, honesty, integrity and trust your gut instincts. If you are a Christian like me hold on to your beliefs and values, don’t let the world change you. You don’t need everyone to like you or be your friend. Eventually, if you decide to settle down you will prove that it is possible to balance a career or business and a family. Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.
Have fun. Laughter is the best medicine. Attend your friend’s birthday celebrations as long as you don’t miss any of your schoolwork deadlines. Choose your friends wisely. You become like the five people you spend the most time with. Don’t spend too much of your free time on your phone, boys or on your hair or makeup or drama-filled friendships, it will be such a waste of time. Instead spend most of your free time with your mum, dad, and siblings. You will cherish the memories you make with them forever. Your parents should always be your biggest role model and will be your biggest cheerleaders whether you agree with their views or not.
If you do all these, I promise you will be even happier than I am now in my early 30s– married to a supportive husband, a mum of two delightful boys aged 6 and 3 and leading a small technology team in male-dominated environment within the global financial services industry and still chasing my interests which includes travelling, connecting like-minded women together and mentoring young people. I have always hoped I can have a girl as smart as you someday.
Remember that I am always here cheering you on.
Best wishes always,
Folakemi is a working mum, wife, Christian and a successfully published author who runs a 21st-century relevant blog on parenting, lifestyle, and career at PeacocksCanFly.com. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram at @notjustamom