By Risper Ondijo
Today is my 23rd birthday! I’m grateful to God for adding another year to my life. I’m also grateful for all the growth that has happened in my life and for everything that I have learned. Here are the three main lessons I learned at 22:
I don’t owe anybody anything – every second counts
This paragraph is not about being selfish or inconsiderate of others. If you promise someone something, you should follow up. If it is something you know you can’t do, say no. It is about prioritizing. If God offered to give me a super power, I would choose to be omnipresent. How cool would it be to be able to be in more than one place at the same time and experience every moment? But clearly that is impossible! There is so much to be done, and I always felt like I never had enough time to do it all. I have a friend who plans every second of her week in advance. When I told her about my problem, she calculated how many minutes I had in a day. Then she asked me what I did with all that time. The truth was that most of what I did was not too productive. It made me realize that I was overcommitting myself. I was trying to keep up with way too much, and I was letting things that didn’t matter trouble my mind, hence waste my time. It was all overwhelming. I decided to have a meeting with myself about what I needed to keep and what I needed to let go. I let go of what I didn’t need. After that, I was able to regain some order and peace back in my life.
I decided from that day onwards, every decision I make, no matter how little, has to be congruent to the woman I want to be. I decided that I was not going to waste my time indulging in any activities that didn’t help me get to the next level. I learned that every second counts. Not everyone is going to be pleased with my decisions. I might lose people along the way, but it is okay. Because I don’t owe anybody anything. People who get mad at you and try to guilt you for not saying yes to their requests don’t belong in your life.
When I move, God moves
I’ve always dreamt of working in the fashion industry, not just as a model, but as a stylist, creative director, designer and basically everything else. I just love fashion! That has been my passion ever since I was a kid, but in the back of my mind I told myself that it could never happen. I dress up everywhere I go. I made sure I dressed up real nice for my job at Home Depot for a few months last semester. People would notice my dressing and ask if I was crazy. Whenever I wasn’t dressed up people wondered as well. Customers and co-workers always told me I belonged in the fashion industry, but to me it meant nothing.
One day as was I checking out a customer, (and yes, I had on high heels). The customer told me that I should be a model. He was a photographer. He handed me his card and told me to call him if I wanted to build a portfolio. At first, I was skeptical, but after a few weeks of thinking, I decided to give him a call. We had a meeting, set up a shooting date. I put all the outfits together. When the day came, my friend – who also happened to be a talented make-up artist – did my make-up, and that whole entire day became a success. I was excited with the work that we had done. Since then, I’ve worked with at least 8 other photographers, I’ve done so many shows, I’ve had people message me to style their shoot or model for them. I’ve met a lot of creative and talented people, I have mentors, I have a coach, and I’ve gained so much confidence from when I first started. I’m not saying I’m a supermodel yet, I believe there’s still a lot more work to be done – I’m still building my brand and can say that God paved my path when I took my first step in spite of my shaky faith. Now I believe anything it is possible. It is possible to live my dream.
Embrace every moment
Lastly I’ve learned to embrace every moment. I’ve learned to be resilient. I allow myself to feel down, but I don’t allow myself to stay down. The Bible says that in Romans 8:23 that, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” It also says in Jeremiah 29:11 that “… for I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Everything that happens in your life now, good or bad, is to prepare you for tomorrow. Instead if feeling sorry for yourself, enjoy every moment. Get your lessons and move on to the next stage. Don’t be like the Israelites who went round and round for years without realizing it, because they were too busy complaining. I wouldn’t trade anything that I’ve learned for anything. They’ve made me who I am today.
I hope you have a great birthday this year and pray you’re able to reflect back on all the growth in your life. Remember to make decisions that are congruent to who you want to be. Don’t forget to embrace every second of your life. Time and tide waits for no one.
I’m still building my brand. But I can say that God paved my path when I made my first move – even though my faith was shaky. Now I believe that it is possible to live my dream.
I was born in Kenya. I came to America in 2007 when I was 12 years old. My culture makes up a huge chunk of who I am, and I’m obsessed with it. I have a deep love for my country and for Africa in general. I believe that we are the future. I have deep passion for fashion. I express myself through fashion. My favorite part of every morning is getting dressed. Lastly, I love Christ with all my heart and I’m grateful to him for showing me the definition of true love. Just like everyone else, life is sometimes challenging to me, but I always strive to please my Heavenly Father.