I’ve been listening to a lot of Ted Talks lately. I like to listen to people talking about varying topics and getting perspectives from people from all over the world. Thted-talksat is the appeal of Ted Talks to me.

Yesterday I listened to Kemi Adegoke’s inspiring and educative talk on ‘The Culture of Low Expectation’ and her take away summary at the end resonated with me. She spoke about how a counsellor at secondary school had advised her to aim lower for a university placement instead of the top tier university she wanted attend. She was told top institutions were elitist, posh and that she would not fit in. They were not for people like her. She listened and took the advice only to find out later when meeting people who attend said university that they were not any posher, elitist or smarter than she was. Lesson learned.

I experienced an eerily similar situation after my junior certs. My Dad and I had a session with a counsellor in school who was supposed to help guide you in selecting your subjects for senior high based on what you intend to study at University and sit for at the senior leaving exams. I’d always wanted to be an architect and said this with confidence at the meeting. My counsellor proceeded to convince my Dad that my maths was too poor to shoot for such a major. I was encouraged to go for social sciences or art because those were easy enough for someone like me.

My Dad agreed and I left feeling so crushed and defeated. Suddenly I had to start thinking about what else i could study when all my life i’d wanted to design and help build beautiful spaces. I grudgingly decided on the social sciences and never had any sort of firm conviction about what I wanted to be again. I’d been convinced that my dreams were too hard for me to achieve instead of being encouraged to achieve them. I still suffer with self doubt till today and it takes a lot of mental work to go for things I want with the self belief that I can do it.

In summary:

-Understand motives: check motives behind every advice you are given. It may be well intentioned but still wrong for you.

-Make no assumptions: Never assume the worst about people, groups, organisations because your experience with them might be different to what everyone is telling you.

-Speak with your own voice: Create your own pathway, make and own your choices and it will make you more confident to speak with your own voice.

I’m learning my lessons.

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