When I first talked to Khadijah Oyerinde, a 14-year-old high school student in Osun, southwestern Nigeria, I was able to see her dreams clearly. This was because of the confidence and passion with which she conveyed them to me. Within the first two minutes of our conversation, the young and inspiring Khadijah had mesmerized me. She’s got guts, no doubt!

When I inquired about her greatest dream and the likely stumbling blocks, she gave me a sharp response. “I want to become a caterer that would be known all over Nigeria and Africa for excellence,” she said. “And only death can stop me. I cook well and I’m working on myself every day.” She was one of the participants at Leadnovation 2016, a flagship initiative of Hope Rising Foundation (HRF) Nigeria, a NGO I co-founded to raise responsible and innovative young leaders in Nigeria.

Having been impressed by her clear vision, I quickly asked how she hopes to reach her destination. Khadijah stared at me with some discomfort, and said; “Well, I just know I’ll get there. I haven’t seen anyone on TV to look up to as far as my exact dreams are concerned. But I’ve just learnt from this leadership training that I can get help on social networks.”

More often than not, I have come across many Khadijahs in Nigeria. I have met and interacted with numerous young Nigerians who are brilliant and ambitious. They are high school students, undergraduates, or even graduates eager to shape Africa with their lofty dreams. But as much as they are passionate about their dreams, connecting with them remains the big challenge. So as a young African, how can you connect with your dreams?

Believe in your dreams

In reality, no dream is too big to be realised as long as you have a “can-do” spirit. As a young person, it’s good to have a clear vision of what you hope to achieve, and start working towards it. You shouldn’t be discouraged by what other people say. People don’t really care about your dreams, they only care about results. Once you reach your destination, everyone will want to associate with you. So, get on the wheels and start driving into the kind of future you desire.

“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice”

These were the exact words of Steve Jobs, the legend who must have had YOU in mind when he was crafting this beautiful sentence.

Take advantage of MOOCs

Right now, education has moved beyond the walls of a classroom. And the effects are magical. That you don’t yet have the opportunity to receive lectures within the walls of your dream school shouldn’t deter you from working on your dreams. Start from where you are and with what you have. You can sit in your village, so far you are connected to the internet, and learn from the best professors in top universities in across the world at no cost. Yes really, at no cost!

So far, I’ve taken over fifteen Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) from some of the world’s best universities in the last three years or so. There are a number of sites offering courses to help you get the expertise that would move you closer to realizing your big dreams.

Get a laptop, tab or smartphone, connect to the internet and start learning.There are many MOOC websites available, including Future Learn and Harvard. Choose the course(s) that best fit the kind of skills you’d like to acquire. There you go!

Use social networks effectively

For me, social media remains the next greatest invention after the discovery of electricity in the 17th century. With the effective use of social media, you’re not only able to expand your network but also able to connect with the people that matter, as far as the realization of your dreams is concerned.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Skype, YouTube are fantastic social networks you can leverage to connect with your dreams. You should find role models and people who can help you believe more in your future, and then connect with them via these networks. It’s that simple. SheLeadsAfrica and a few other platforms also offer the unique opportunity to connect with mentors who can help you better navigate your life’s journey. What are you still waiting for?

You can go the extra length to connect with your dreams by believing in yourself, taking advantage of MOOCs, and making effective use of the various social networks. No matter how short it is, just take a step. Keep moving!

I have discussed just three of numerous useful tips. You can add one or two tips of your own in the comments section as well. I’ll be glad to hear from you.

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