To many people, especially the female folk, marking their 16th birthday is a great milestone achievement. And there is no doubt that it is something to be celebrated; the gift of life at any stage is not something to be taken lightly.
I do dare to say, however, that while 16 years of existence is something worth celebrating, 25 is a more realistic time to mark as a milestone in anyone's life.
This is when most young adults sit down to take stock of their life, identify their winnings and shortcomings and decide where to go from there. Well, I am 25 now and thinking back, I have mixed emotions.
I have shed tears for my regrets and laughed for my victories. I have being impressed upon and have impressed upon others.
But one thing is sure - the journey has just begun. So here are a few lessons that have stuck with me on my life's journey so far.
1. Life is fleeting
One of the greatest pains in life is the one you endure when you lose someone close to you. At 21, while I was in college, I lost a close friend of mine. School was on vacation at the time, when news came through that he was involved in an accident.
I wept like a baby on the funeral day, not just because I had lost a friend but because he had died so young. This changed my perspective on life drastically. Now I try to make sure that every move I make is aimed at achieving something positive for myself or others.
Life can be taken from anyone - young or old - in the twinkling of an eye.
2. The first impulse isn't always the right one
For the longest time I was prone to anger. I could be happy one moment and steaming the next. Little things used to piss me off - they still do sometimes.
If you identify with this problem then you understand the dangers of acting impulsively. That urge to plant your fist firmly in the face of your offender at the slightest provocation.
Even if it doesn't come to punches, you can make disastrous decisions in anger only to find out later that you completely misread the situation. I have been there and done that.
Now whenever I begin to feel the anger rise within me I just bite my lips and do a breathing exercise. This helps me calm down so that I will be able to think more rationally and avoid making harmful decisions.
3. Friends that 'dream' with you are worth keeping for life
Friends to the end - I have two of these. I have known Sarah and Ken since we were 3 yrs old. We hit it off from the start. We practically did everything together - I mean everything.
I remember when we were thirteen, we put together a skateboard racing competition for the kids on our block. We initially wanted to collect fees for participation but instead we turned into a money making opportunity for the spectators.
We put Sarah in charge of collecting the money while I set about determining the odds for each racer based on their capabilities. It cracks me up now, whenever I think about it. We were so committed to the success of the competition, we looked like a juvenile sports betting startup.
I have made some other friends in the course of my life - and lost some too but Sarah and Ken will be with me until the day I die. Of this, I am sure.
4. Procrastination is a cancer to you and everyone else
Your life may be your own but when you make a dumb move, the consequences are often not yours alone to suffer.
Procrastination actually makes no logical sense. You are just pushing back things that will only serve to clog up your time in the near future.
I cannot remember how many times Ken was late to pick me up for school because he was playing video games in the morning - usually before getting ready for school.
The result? He was almost always late for class - and so was I. His procrastination earned me a suspension or two down the road.
5. Mistakes are an integral part of development
My primary temperament is melancholy, so you can guess how pissed I get whenever things do not go exactly as I planned.
Ken is the exact polar opposite of me - sometimes I wonder how our bond is still so strong. I remember when he started out in programming; he was learning to develop websites. He would often show me the code he had written while smiling to himself.
To him, it was beautiful but to me it looked like chicken scratchings. His code usually carried some unnecessary indentations and he often pressed the spacebar too many times resulting in useless white spaces that made the code look like something was missing.
But the code worked and Ken was fine with that - he left me to border about the aesthetics of beautifully written code.
Long story short, Ken is a better programmer than I am now. He let himself make mistakes and learned from them.
Me? I tied myself in a knot too many times because I was trying to get it right the first time. Well, I have finally learned - or should I say learning - to make mistakes too (thanks to Ken) because sometimes that is the most organic way to develop oneself.