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Hello November: Full Circle

The Big Sister Initiative is a year old, the journey has been enlightening and an interesting learning curve, but most importantly, we are grateful to have impacted lives in our own little way. On the 1st of November, we visited Ajao Estate Grammar School to spend some time with the students and it was indeed an amazing experience. Our discussions spanned from career to relationships to money and it was great watching the students (girls and boys) excited about learning and asking questions.

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What struck me during the session (this happens at almost all sessions with the students ) was how accommodating and eager they were to learn. Their curious minds  eager to know more and trying to figure out ways to be successful. One message we try to reiterate during our sessions with the students is that -you are only a decision away from a completely different life- We realize that the adolescent stage is one where critical life decisions will be made and it is important to reiterate the need for the students to have core values and principles that will guide their choices. There was however a red flag I observed , I must confess that I was concerned about the state of the infrastructure  of our public schools, it speaks a lot to the deterioration of the educational system in Nigeria. Nevertheless, we at the big sister initiative remain focused on the students  and the content they are exposed to especially the parts that are not covered by the school curriculum.

 

If you are a school administrator and you will like for us to spend some time mentoring your students, please leave us a message or contact us via any of our social media handles.

Lots of love,

From All of Us.

Unending Learning: My Recipe for Greatness

‘’Knowledge is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” ― Albert Einstein

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Last year, I did some soul searching which was basically evaluating my life and the lives of those who had access to me. I made a long list of those I have always admired (The fine ones with fancy stuff), Those that motivated and inspired me (the ones I wanted to be like), during my evaluation it became clear to me that each category of my peers had distinguished characteristics/attributes that made me form the perceptions I had about them. More importantly for me, were the ones I wanted to be like – Oh My! They shined all the way, had answers to every question in class, among friends, anywhere and everywhere and I remember attributing it to them being the teacher or lecturers favorite. Guess what I discovered from my evaluation series – The people I wanted to be like were not academic intellectuals, they simply had a deep quest for knowledge and were inquisitive about life and its components, they were bold to ask questions and never afraid to fail at first attempt; they take every moment as an opportunity to learn, they are not close minded and they embrace every form of teaching.

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This made me have a rethink on my journey and how close minded I have been which has been nothing but self-limiting and I made a vow to make it right by actively developing and cultivating the habit of learning especially because every gathering of successful people I have been privileged to sit in has been governed by a common principle – Learn, Learn, Learn! You just can never be too old to learn because Knowledge never goes out of style, it is power, it is what makes us who we are and what ends up placing us where we want to be, it is the driver of our path. And because of this, the things I thought were fascinating and interesting suddenly became meaningless as I decided to pick up hobbies that will enhance my growth such as meeting people from different places, trying to find meanings for words I never knew existed, trying to learn new language and the best of all my appetite for reading grew overnight.

I have come to realize that great and successful people don’t know it all, they sometimes don’t even know it at all but they stay with the questions much longer than ordinary people, they stay learning as if they are going to live forever because they believe so much that it is only through learning that they will go places others only dreamed of.

Personally, the more I read, the more I realize that I know nothing and I can only keep at it to get answers that will catapult and prepare me for every next level of my life.

My dear young ones, you cannot get tired of learning, you cannot get tired of seeking answers, you cannot get tired of failing because Failure teaches important lessons and you cannot get tired of getting Involved…. And Do not forget – The Goal is to be nothing short of the best there can ever be.

I will round off with one of my favorite quotes;

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.” ― T.H. White, The Once and Future King

Lots Of Love,

Eniola

 

Today’s Girls, Tomorrow’s leader.

IDGC 2017

There is potential for every girl to be a powerful voice in her community. This is the message from The Big Sister Initiative.

As we celebrate the girl child today, let us take it a step further by helping tackle the issues the girl child faces, this way we can help every girl achieve her dreams.

 

Lots of love,

From the Big Sister Initiative

Cultivating Character

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The topic for today is Character.

I recently had an opportunity to listen to one of my mentors speak on the importance of character and competence. Listening to him made me ruminate about my life, some choices I had made and how to generally improve on myself and I thought it would be important to share this with you. The thing is, self-improvement will remain a constant in our lives. I am sure you have heard the saying, “we learn everyday”, Self-improvement allows for us to learn something positive every day and apply it to our lives to help us become better rounded individuals, for ourselves, our immediate families and society in general.

How does this apply to Character you might ask? Our characters do not come from what we have learnt from the classroom alone.

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The dictionary defines Character as one of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual another definition is a person’s usual qualities or traits. I like to define character as what you do when no one is looking.

The qualities of character can be developed through a number of influences: family, school, church, community influences, social media, our individual temperament, experiences, and choices. Are you honest, kind, responsible, courteous trustworthy, fair, compassionate, respectful, and involved in the greater good of your family and society? A quote by Thomas B Macaulay accurately captures character: The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.

Character is the result of two things: Mental attitude and the way we spend our time.

imagesSimply put, as an individual, your character can be described as your set of complexities, your own opinions, and your personalities. You need to take time to nurture growth, development, and relationships. Developing your character is a skill that cannot be taught. It starts from the little things such as being honest about a mistake that was made, sticking to commitments, being prompt to an event, having the ability to say no to an almost irresistible offer that you know you shouldn’t take on, the list goes on.

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.  – John Wooden

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Like I earlier said, self-improvement is a continuous activity, which means that building ones character remains a continuous exercise. Don’t stay the same, rather be deliberate about being the best version of yourself. What this means is that you when you become focused on building your character you will see yourself evolving, learning from mistakes quickly and overall bringing a lot of value to your life and the lives of those around you.

I should  add on a final note that while it is important to build your character, it is also important to maintain it.

Here’s to wishing you a pleasant week ahead as we remain deliberate in our journey to self-improvement.

Lots of Love,

Nkiru

 

 

 

 

Back to School- Stay winning

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Hey Guys, I hope we had a beautiful summer/third term break.

A new academic year starts today for many of us and I thought to cheer you on for the year ahead. I attended a boarding house back in high/secondary school and the emotions were different for me for every school year. I’m pretty sure those of you in boarding schools can almost relate to this. In JSS1, (the current 7th grade), I recall being so excited about finally leaving the house, no more nannies/helps/aunties/mummy/daddy to police my every move. The joys of having tons of provisions and pocket monies. My sisters had prepared my mind for the punishments and horrors of boarding houses in Nigeria and also old tricks to get out of trouble, so I was ready. As the years progressed, the emotions ranged from excitement to trepidation, to anxiety then in my senior years; glee, happiness, euphoria and then sadness when came to an end.

A couple of things however stayed true throughout my high school and even later as an undergrad. I will like to share those tips so that it helps you deal better with the school year.

  1. Setting Goals: Make a list of your plans and goals. I had always been an A downloadstudent and my parents expected me to keep up with the pace in secondary school, this automatically meant I had to study. Early enough, I reached a compromise with them which was to remain in the top three in any class so it made my goal a lot more flexible-Remaining top three in class- without putting too much pressure on me. What this did was to help me focus on school and my studies while having enough play time. Initially, I studied because that was expected of me but much later I discovered that I actually enjoyed reading. I found my strength; reading, being imaginative, writing, story telling. There are some people who have their strengths in other areas outside of academics eg sports with almost no passion for academics. Setting goals will be needed to excel both within and outside the classroom. The goal could be to be a better athlete while maintaining B’s or C’s. It could be to represent your school at a debating competition. It could be to become an all-round high flying student. Whatever the goal is, decide to constantly improve on it while not overlooking your academics. I know reading can be a chore sometimes, see it as something that has to be done for your good and put some extra effort to it. Try a new approach this year.
  2. download (1)Get Involved: There are a bunch of co-curricular activities you can get involved in. Literary and Debating society, Drama club, Food and Nutrition club, Drama club. Pick one, pick many, pick something that fascinates you and learn something new. Interestingly, a lot of these co-curricular activities will help you identify where your strengths lie and how you can do better. Some of which become highly relevant later in life. If you are shy and quite introverted, getting involved is a sure way to get over being shy and making friends. If you are boisterous and always the star of the show, working with other people will teach you how to better be a team player.
  3. Talk to your teachers and classmates: Stay curious. A lot of the times, we tend to shy away from being asked questions or talking to our teachers. It might help to know that no-one has all the answers.  This academic year, set out to ask at least one question to your teacher on any topic you chose to or talk to someone in your class you typically would not relate with. Asking questions does a number of things to you: it teaches you to think things through logically, it makes you concentrate lot better especially in areas your teacher might have and it helps you learn something new from the other party.

  4. Stay Positive: Hey, It’s just another school year. This time around the plan is to win. So, stay positive while winning.

Lots of Love,

Nkiru

 

 

Making mistakes and learning from them(i)

If you live life long enough, you’ll make mistakes. But if you learn from them, you’ll be a better person. It’s how you handle adversity, not how it affects you. The main thing is never quit, never quit, never quit – William Clinton

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One of the things about being human is that we come into the world as a blank canvas. Apart from the natural instincts, many things are learnt and developed. We tend to pick up almost every other thing from our immediate environment, things like friendship, religious beliefs, values, character, reactions, the list goes on.

Interestingly, it seems like there is a lot of emphasis on preventing mistakes or completely ignoring the mistakes and a lot less on how to rise above a mistake, when you make it. While it is good to prevent mistakes and better to learn from other people’s mistakes, the fact remains that, You are human. it is inevitable that at some point in your life especially in your teen years, that you will make a bad call, this could vary from keeping a grudge, pulling an offensive prank, making a mean comment, or mixing with the wrong crowd.

Realise that your mistakes and failures are gifts, gems, guideposts in your learning and growth as a person. Take the necessary corrections and looks at ways to redeem the situation where you can. It is never easy to admit you’ve made a mistake, but it’s a crucial step in learning, growing, and improving yourself.

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There are quite a number of lessons to learn from mistakes made. You learn about intergrity, taking on responsibility and taking on feedback. The feedback we get from our mistakes can be the most specific, and powerful feedback we’ll ever get. Many times we can trace mistakes to recurring patterns of belief or behavior—things we do, say, and think over and over again. When we spot and change a habit we may find that other areas of our lives change for the better. One way to gain maximum benefit from mistakes is to examine them through asking ourselves some questions: “How can I use this experience?”; “What will I do differently next time?

Admitting the truth increases our capacity to change. It is like holding up a mirror to ourselves and really seeing, this allows us concentrate on learning and growing.

Personally, one interesting lesson I have learnt over the years from making mistakes is that it teaches us to clarify what we really want and how we want to live. Remember that, while, You can’t change mistakes, but you can choose how to respond to them.

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P.S: I know this is not the typical easy posts, but I recall being a teenager and realizing whenever I had made a mistake or mistakes, my typical reaction would be to deflect, ignore or simply wish it away. Now I know better and I will love that you learn from this as well.

Have a beautiful summer Holiday

Lots of Love

 

Our Message of Encouragement

I recently had a wakeup call.

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It came early this week while trying to resolve a dispute between two of my dearest friends. I had asked them both to narrate their experiences, one of them felt the other was too slow and lazy in getting results, the other person felt the attacker was disrespectful and not considerate enough in interactions, hence didn’t see the point in wasting relevant time with her. Well, since they are both my dear friends, I knew they were very far from the truth. One has a very dominant personality, an A-typical go-getter but had the sweetest heart, while the other was a lot more introverted with a homey personality and quite hardworking. After a lengthy chit-chat, we reached a middle ground.

How did we resolve it, you might ask? The magic was the word “Kindness”. They both agreed to consciously take steps in improving the relationship by being a lot more tolerant with themselves.

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Today, the message is simple, be kind to people. It is not a coincidence that we had earlier talked about random acts of kindness. A brief definition of kindness is the ability to be friendly, generous, and considerate. Life has its way of being rough at certain phases. Your awesome week might be the next person’s crappy phase. I know the buzz word in recent times pushes views like “I’m all about my money/the hustle” this corrodes the message of kindness.

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However, consciously try to improve your life by reengaging with people.  They in turn might be your next friend, or a support system and even if they don’t, just be kind to people because it is liberating for you. How can you show kindness you might ask? A question as simple as, “Can I help you” will go a long way in helping the next person feel welcome. Ever feel like the next person is super slow and not as cool as you would like? Why not switch things up by putting yourself in the persons shoes. It might help you to be kinder in your future interactions. Where someone has hurt you, try to actively forgive and forget, rather than rehashing what was said or why the person hurt you. Also, focus on self-improvement; Everyone has their own kind of fears and insecurities and we often hide behind it by judging others. Why not channel that drive to improving on your flaws. It is in being available for others through kindness, that we make ourselves available to be channels of blessings.

At the end of the day, can we all get along? I bet we can.

Be conscious of your counsel

Hey guys, hope you had an eventful Easter celebration and a fun weekend?

Please, who else has noticed the increasing number of posts and advices that seem to have bombarded social media. It seems like everyone with a phone simply picks a random thought and turns it “gems/words of advice”. This brings us to the topic for today, “Counsel”.

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Counsel can be gotten from a number of sources – Parents, Mentors, Role Models, Siblings, Friends etc. Infact, I am a big advocate of taking counsel, because I believe that some experiences shouldn’t be dealt with personally, we can learn from other peoples experiences. I also believe Proverb 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel. I want to believe that a number of us have that one person or a number of people that can do no wrong in our eyes and we almost yield to their advice blindly without stopping to think it through – If you fall into this category, Yes, it’s not entirely a bad thing, it simply means you have decided to trust without reservations or doubts.

Growing up, I had tons of people around me, especially in secondary school they came in form of ‘School Mothers’ (If you went to a boarding house, you are definitely familiar with this term) I loved every bit of having a senior care for me, get people to fetch my bathing water, extra food and every benefit that comes with it and oh yes I had to pay the price (nothing goes for nothing) and guess what I had to do in return – Keep malice with their enemies, do all their biddings even when my moral values were on the line but trust me, at the time, I couldn’t see beyond my nose so everything seemed right to me as long as my school mother had given her nod of approval.

Getting into the university – I had it worse, they came in form of friends and I had different clusters (The crew ranged from the fashionistas, the party rockers, the relationship advisers, hook-up masters, the library group and the gossip association , this is a short list, trust me) I was always drawn into one of this groups at one point or the other – did it shape my reality and way of life – ABSOLUTELY and you know the intriguing part, I became the master of none. I became so confused about life because the knowledge and almost every thought I had in my head was planted, they weren’t mine, my perspective was crafted, my definition of life meaningless and I was just another naive girl that jumped on a ship amidst confused people to an unknown destination.counsel

Something had to give, I woke up to reality firstly, by defining my relationship with everyone that came my way- both young and old. I stopped seeking approval and validation for my every passing decisions and actions, I started looking out for myself and identifying toxic relationships, relationships with no substantial value became meaningless, stopped looking for friends – I started looking for companions that shared same vision, I started yearning for new energy that can push me and elevate me closer to my goals each day and with every conversation, and most importantly, I developed a better relationship with God. Guess what, my world suddenly changed, my supposed friends started calling me names – arrogant, selfish, ungrateful, etc because ‘The New Me’ was strange to them instead of getting upset about the name calling, I only wished their eyes were open and that they understood my new perspective, until eventually, I was okay with them not understanding the new me.

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I started to filter, manage my circle of friends (Young & Old) that I decided to keep, the ones I wasn’t wary of their counsel, the ones that shine light on my path and have made my growth, progress and well-being theirs, the ones that criticise me so that I can strive for heights that are even above them with no iota of jealousy. I simply decided to take on wise, positive counsel and let go of the dodgy,non-consistent advices. I found myself amongst people that help me learn, the ones that teach and remind me to believe in my own magic, My cheerleaders, My advocates – Those are the ones worth keeping around.

Any relationship short of these qualities in my opinion is not worth keeping or brooding over when you lose them – Not everyone you meet on this journey called life can match your energy. Never underestimate the power of the right counsel or circle as there is no limit to your achievements and finding your true SELF.

Do yourself a favour today, be conscious of the counsel you receive.

Lots of Love

Eniola

 

Who is in your Circle?

thJJI am a strong believer that Iron sharpens Iron and that one man sharpens another. This is one of the reasons why I guard my inner circle fiercely. I call them my support system and it is made up of some family members and a group of friends that over the years have been relentlessly supportive and loyal both when I deserved it and when I didn’t, and I will like to think that they feel the same way about me.

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There are some days that I am in no mood to be productive or I feel bummed out about an issue, I find out that after talking to God and then having a subsequent conversation with anyone in my support system makes a world of difference, I automatically feel a lot better.

I once read that, the next best Thing to being wise is to be in the circle of those who are. What this means is that You are simply a reflection of those who are in your circle. Guard your heart fiercely, also guard the energy you allow based on the people who come around you.

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I hope this helps you during the course of your week.

Have a pleasant day

 

Letter To My Younger Self

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Looking back on my journey to becoming a woman, there are certainly a million and one things I wish I did differently.

I wish I realized at an early stage, how much beauty radiates from within me without necessarily seeking validation from my peers, family members or even society and this is simply because I have come to realize God made all things beautiful in his likeness and most importantly because my beauty isn’t physical.

During my teen years, all I wanted was to be referred to as, was ‘cool’ . I wanted to sit with the cool girls, wear the trendy things (Spaghetti tops, miniskirts, lycras, short knickers , jumpers, paint my face in the weirdest ways), get the attention of the coolest boys especially my crush *wink and yes I was indeed part of the cool club and trust me, at that time I felt like I was on top of the world. My mum’s advices were beginning to fall on deaf ears, my focus had shifted from academic stuff to the ‘cool stuff’, I started missing classes, fellowships, began sneaking to house parties and boom I was a fast-rising cool girl. However, one thing struck – The not so cool girls were loved by the people I resented (Teachers, Principal, cool boys, even some of my cool friends were still struggling for space in their circle, which got me curious.

Dear Young Me, as you grow in life, you will come to realise the things that matter and the things that set you apart are values, attributes, and traits and not the social reputation the world expects you to project or the ‘Cool Stuff’. In confusion – seek clarity, in adversity – persevere and above all – define your value and standards which should not be compromised to keep friends and if you ever feel like you are in a position where you should compromise good traits to keep your friends, then it might be time to make new ones. I can assure you that I barely have a relationship with my “cool gang” from my teenage years now but over the years, I have nurtured and grown incredible friendships with the then “not so cool girls”.

Integrity, consistence and truth will take you so far in life and will attract all things titled good to you and will make you shine like a bright diamond. Yes, there will be doubts, there will be peer pressure, but you have to master the act of self-discipline in order not to be derailed from your vision, goals or aspirations.

You’d rather be cool in an air-conditioned office with a directorate title or even own the business of your dreams in your later years than be cool in your youthful days and live the rest of your life filled with regrets. There is so much life has to offer – The good, The bad & The Ugly! The choice is entirely up to you. Make every day of the rest of your growing life count.

 

Love always ,

Eniola