In honor of her birthday this week, I present to you the story of my dear friend., Elizabeth Abena Adifah Osei aka DDS (don’t ask what that means). I met Lisa (like she prefers to be called) back in secondary school. She has been one of my support systems since…I hope you enjoy her story and a Happy Birthday to You in Advance babe!
Also, Elizabeth’s approach to answering her questions was different from the others generally…. so it would not be the normal Q&A. (Just because it is her birthday week it is allowed!)
Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” And they were amazed at him. (Mark 12:17)
It’s funny that I should begin with a Bible quotation but I believe the message will resonate more with this example. I do hope that this post inspires a change in lifestyles in the right direction.
When Jesus made this statement, he did not mean that Christians should live double lives or double standards. What he meant was we are not hermits. Society will demand certain responsibilities from us which we must duly undertake to maintain decorum and also to his glory. We are in school to study better our lives. So once we are there, we should do what school demands of us. There was a time in Uni when all I did was go to church. I would study the Bible all day, go on evangelism, basically just doing God’s work. This was perfectly okay and it didn’t affect my academics in any way because I was quite a good student. However, after Uni, I realized that all the time spent engaging in these activities could have been channeled elsewhere. All of my Uni life could be summed up as doing church stuff and books which were okay but it wasn’t the best. In the end, I realize that I could have done more with my time and applied myself to other areas which could have made me more open-minded and where I could have acquired one or more added skills. This is in no way saying that church work is bad for a Uni student (Serve the Lord in your youth) but try to find the balance and realize that you are in school to school (If King Solomon wasn’t telling the truth when he said “there’s a time for everything”).
There were students who prayed all day and all night every single day of the semester. During exams, all they could manage to write on the paper was a prayer for help from God. I am in no way belittling anyone’s faith but C’mon, don’t mock God. There are others who would die for the opportunity to be educated but you were selected from the lot so why not make the best of the opportunity and shame the devil. If you want to do God’s work, by all means, do so but do not let your education suffer for it.
Christians should never tip the scale so the church benefits at the detriment of other aspects of their lives. This I believe is the genesis of corruption in Ghana and in Africa in general. We spend productive hours in church and when it’s time to work, we cut corners and ‘give gifts’ for favor. We rush through duties we are paid for so we can go back to sit in our offices to read devotionals and Bible passages. Can we pause and reflect? If you want to use your break time to do these things, that’s your choice and it’s perfectly okay, but let’s not use man hours to do the things of the spirit. At the end of the day, God placed you in school not to fail but to do well. Let his glory shine through your ability to balance your academic work with your spiritual life.
You should read everything and anything. Roll your eyes all you want but this is the best advice anyone could give. When I was young, I took pride in the fact that I was a voracious reader; I read everything and anything that could be read. Along the line, I lost this knack for reading outside school work. I became so fixated on passing exams that I’d rather reread my texts than being carried into another life through creative pieces. This is one of the things I regret most in life. Luckily for me, I’m young and this is a habit that is easily inculcated so I’m glad to say that I’m back on the reading machine!! Read because you must be inquisitive about what goes on outside the lecture theatre. Read about Syria and why there is so much upheaval there, read about Africa, about politics, about the many kingdoms past and gone, read about cartoons, about creative arts; READ! READ!! READ!!! I cannot belabor the importance of reading. I could beg but I’m not one to manipulate so I’ll just hope that this paragraph does the job.
Network!! Another eye-roll paragraph, I know but please don’t sleep on this. This networking very basic; Make friends! Make it a point to know as many people as you possibly can. I don’t mean going around and forcing yourself on others. Try as much as possible to know your course mates by name. Believe it or not, you’ll meet them on your climb up. Don’t be the hermit in class especially because you’re doing well and making A+s. Do not be condescending. Get to know those who are even weak in class; the lazy ones always have a thing or two you could learn from. Do not neglect those who are in the creative arts even because one day you might need that free ticket to a concert or need to enroll your child in their topnotch dance or drama class. You can bookmark this post so you can return t it when the “Aha” moment hits you.
This goes without saying that you need to have some form of relationship with your lecturers as well. One thing I have learned is that these people do not bite and are some of the nicest people once you get to meet them. They’re trained t be nice but we are bridled by fear of not wanting to be fingered in class to answer questions so we stay as far away from them as possible. After school, you will need your lecturers to write recommendations for you and this is when the relationship comes to play. Imagine writing a recommendation for someone you do not know? What you will get is a generic and stoic piece of information that will not put you in a competitive league. So know them and have them mentor you.
Get involved in extracurricular activities (aside from religious ones). Join a club, advocacy groups, start a campaign with friends about something you’re passionate about. Be EXTRA in that sense. Why? Because it’s an avenue for meeting new people and learning about values and principles of others. I was never a participant of these things and I only realized how useless I was after I left Uni. So make sure, you’re doing something extra. The TV shows are fun to watch but be your own show. Also, who doesn’t want some of these on their CV. In the end, organizations are looking out for how well you applied yourself to make an impact outside the classroom.
Finally and most importantly, be nice! Be a nice person that people are comfortable with. Be a person that you would want to be with all day long. Treat others with respect, be fair, be just and smile often. Be a warm individual. All of above will come easily if you’re nice and hearty.
I end this with a short activity:
1. Write your CV without your academic laurels.
2. Make a list of people you know. Are they the same friends you started Uni with or have you made new friends? What is the percentage of new friends against the old?
3. Make a list of the Lecturers/TAs you know.
Assess your life based on these and decide now to give what belongs to Caesar to him. Life after Uni is the life but if you have the balance, there’s an 80% chance of having it easy. At the end of the day acquire as many skills as you possibly can, be a holistically educated and have fun!! Uni should constitute some of the best years of your life. Do not let anyone take that away from you!! Be blessed!
Facts only! I hope you enjoyed reading this…Stay tuned for another feature in a few days! Have a lovely week ahead.