4 things to do in your 20s


The defining decade. That is what Meg Jay calls it. The ages between twenty and thirty are crucial in a woman’s life. It gets confusing, and it never gets better. You make mistakes and realize who you do not want to be. It is also the age that you are supposed to build a career or business, grow it to success.

Don’t forget family as well. Your biological clock starts ticking, and children start getting cuter. Your social circle changes and you go from young adult to a working mother and wife. All in the same number of years it took you to properly learn and write English.

Well, there are some pointers that Meg Jay gives in her TED talk, “Why 30 is not the new 20”. The same were replicated in her book “The Defining Decade”, but I do not want to be a spoiler (unlike some GoT fans). Here, however, is a tease of what I picked up.

Always invest in who you want to be

It does not matter whether you recently graduated and are jobless, or whether you have this amazing opportunity to do what you love. Always keep growing and maturing into the general direction that you want to end up in. That means that you do not have to take that boring unpaid internship that does not really interest you.

tumblr_lm8y73v2nz1qapt3zo1_500Keep collecting your identity capital. That way, when you are asked who you are, you can state what exactly influenced you to be yourself. There’s no need being a Scandal fan if you cannot really live it. What’s the fun in that?

We’ve shared some more ideas were given in an earlier article. So, really, you have no one to blame but you.

Those that are farthest from your reach are the most helpful

Most people think we are who we spend time with. That may be true when it comes to shaping your character, but it’s not entirely true for career and business. The weakest ties can come in handy. Your cousin’s friend’s wife may just be the ideal person to get you that dream job.

200_sAnd no, it is not cheating the system if you are qualified for the job. It is called networking. And really, it’s no time to play niceties with your career.

Be ruthless in getting those connections going. Extremely nice girls never get the corner office. You have to get your hands dirty (the good kind, though).

Own your lifestyle

So many people change who they are to fit into what society expects of them. Once you know who you are, do not cram yourself into someone’s box or hide your light.

I’m sure we’ve all seen that meme of an orange piece fitting into a garlic bulb. The strongest words are expressed in the simplest of pictures. Once you get that job, express yourself. If you are a creative person, go ahead and do you, darling.

tumblr_o339cm90ok1v3lbbyo1_1280Be that leader that you are in your church. If you are a night owl, take up night shifts. Customize your life to your own needs. Truth is, if you don’t, no one will care enough to do it for you.

Never ever compare your life to anyone’s

Not only is this insulting to God, it is also a lie. Especially on social media. People will only show you an amplified version of the best in their life. You don’t get to know if  they are happy or not.

tumblr_oc505djkcg1qzg3f8o2_r1_500Just keep at your gift, work on it, keep your head down and keep going, you know, like a shark. Your actions will speak for you.

The whole point of this is, in your 20s, you get to make changes and set habits that may be hard to break. Use them well. You never know when winter would come.

Planner, actor or innovator? Which public health role is for you?

public health

Health improvement and making health better for all, is public health. Simple. But…we bet you knew that already. The first thing that came to mind when you heard ”public health” may have been masked figures a la the Ebola outbreak, but there’s much more to public health than just epidemics and diseases.

Having established that, do you think a public health career is for you? Read on to find out more.

Okay, imagine public health from the perspective of three groups. I call them, the planners, the actors, and the innovators.

The Planners – Behind the scene

Do you keep daily planners in your wallets or purses for your ”to-do” shopping lists? You do? Then, that suggests you have the ability to develop layouts on how to carry out activities! If you’re passionate about formulating and writing proposals, no matter how small, you are a planner. Oh yeah, it’s that simple.

Do you enjoy working with numbers? Well, knowledge in statistics, data analysis, data management and business intelligence expertise is all you need to collect and analyze health information. It goes without say that without numbers or data, there would be no health intervention.

More young women in industries that offer these skills set and expertise should consider taking their career prospects a notch higher within the public health arena.

Free stock photo of pen, calendar, to do, checklist

The Actors – Get on stage!

Just like in every script, someone has to get on stage and act!  Prevention and treatment as major tenets of public health offer a wide range of opportunities to allow for this.

Okay, picture this, the hand-wash adverts on TV with the proud mother ensuring that her children’s hands are squeaky clean after a hard day’s job. This is public health too. Are you championing hand-washing and basic hygiene in your community? Or are you engaging with other young women on sexual and reproductive rights? Look no further, you are one of the ACTORS!

If you love field work or outdoor activities, get on stage. Just remember that it doesn’t always come with the perks we read about in books or see in movies…but you may finally get that opportunity to travel and meet new people, as you literally try to save the world.

The Innovators – Seize the opportunity

I should say this is an exciting class to fall into, particularly, with the latest craze in I-TECH initiatives. Tech business is now a part of the world of health. Think of the mobile phone application that takes your heart rate and the menstrual cycle calendar on your device. And I can’t forget my personal favorite, the ‘calories burnt calculator’. Did you ever guess they were public health innovative tools? Well, they are.

Take the drones now used in transporting medications. Think of entrepreneurial activities such as designing of health promotion wellness kits, including mother and baby care products and sanitary towels as practical tools in health promotion. The list is endless. Prepare to think outside the box! Be an innovator! Create!

giphyPublic health is so not limited to those in the health field. It offers wonderful opportunities to everyone in their various chosen career paths. I believe there is a potential public health specialist in every young woman. And hey girl, if you’re a part of the public health sector, I’d love to hear about your experience and how you are changing healthcare in your country!

Join us next week on the SLA platform for tips for graduates and young women joining the public health sector.

Thembelihle Terry-Lynne Zulu: Every woman needs a big sister

The idea of women helping other women, benefits both parties and demonstrates just how powerful every woman can be with the right support. Thembelihle Terry-Lynne Zulu, through Girl Grandeur Zimbabwe which she co-founded, is going the extra mile to encourage women to pursue their dreams. Here is what she is doing to support other women. 

How have you used your personal challenges to inspire other  young women?

Women shouldn’t be shamed for sharing their pains, struggles and life experiences. No woman deserves to be slammed or termed ‘attention-seeking’ or ‘too sensitive’ for sharing her story. Our stories need to be told because in them is the hope for survival for every woman.

My life’s journey epitomizes, to a great extent, the challenges faced by the African girl child. I have been through most of the issues plaguing young women, from abuse to pregnancy, and everything else in between. I once wrote on my personal blog, “I went through some mistakes so that you don’t have too.” Walking young women through their ordeals is a mutual healing process as it helps me as much as it does them.

Tell us more about Girl Grandeur Zimbabwe, how did it come to be?

As the first of five girls, I considered it my duty to help my sisters make the right life choices. Gradually, this mentoring circle grew to include their friends. Our goal is to help every woman, especially the young ones access safe and comfortable adult counsel. We need them to be able to do this without the fear of being judged or unduly reprimanded. To address this, Girl Grandeur Zimbabwe has a mentorship program for business newbies, as well as a Big Sister program for the little girls.

In addition, to debunk the myth that women are naturally unable to work together, we created a platform that has some semblance of a sisterhood. Here, women come together in an informal setting to discuss issues relevant to them, share opportunities, advertise their businesses and have meaningful debates about womanhood in Zimbabwe.

How does a social club in Zimbabwe function?

Girl Grandeur Zimbabwe may not be the first social club for Zimbabwean women, but our approach is the first of its kind. We have branched out into various income generating programs and it’s a constant learning process. The club is accessible to every young woman in Zimbabwe, subscription fees are affordable and within reach. Our structure includes a board, a committee, and ordinary members. Our diversity reveals the implicit beauty of our differences and we are determined to do much more.

How do you provide support when needed?

Through our several social media platforms, we invite Girl Grandeur Zimbabwe members to contribute to planned projects or offer free services. For example, one of our members in Harare identified a pregnant homeless woman who needed help. To alleviate her plight, we brainstormed on possible support solutions.

Our growing membership increases the need to incorporate a wide range of issues facing every woman. We work closely with other NGOs while monitoring progress through the appropriate authorities.

IMG_20160610_211957As a co-founder, what advice will you give any woman looking to start a business with someone else?

When starting out, it’s easy to go for people who are within your reach and that’s usually kith or kin. In getting the right hands, be drawn to people who are not only passionate about your vision but who have proved that they can deliver results. You won’t always end up with the ones you started out with and you need to be okay with that. Appreciate small beginnings and don’t mess with the growing process.

Among other things, Girl Grandeur aspires to bridge the generational gap between mothers and daughters. How can young modern women overcome this gap?

A friend once suffered vaginal thrush but couldn’t tell her mother for fear of receiving retribution. There’s no gainsaying the fact that mothers need to create more time for their daughters. These days, more women work as hard and long as most men. And so, inadvertently abandon the formative training of their children to maids, nannies, the media, peers and even Google.

Some parents have been distracted by the cash-stretched times but good parenting isn’t just about money. Making time for your children is paramount – you can’t put a price tag on a thing like that.

Tell us about your relationship with your mother, was there any tension? How was it resolved?

When is there never any tension between mothers and daughters?! As a young girl, I didn’t understand half of the policies she’d put in place. As cliché as this sounds, as I grew older, I began to understand why she did what she did. Now, I understand that she didn’t ‘hate’ me but had to curb some of my rebellious tendencies.

Open and honest communication is key to the mother-daughter relationship. I strongly believe that when a child understands the reason(s) for a reprimand or punishment, he/she is more unlikely to repeat offense.

What do you love best about your mother?

I consider my mother a warrior!  A warrior who never let societal beliefs stop my sisters and I from finding our identities and flourishing in them. In retrospect, she understood that everything I did was in preparation for who I was to become.  Never did she ask me to be who I was not.

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

How to be a badass? 5 Epic lessons from our favourite TV Moguls and their creator Shonda!

shonda rihmes

Unless you have been living under a rock, or generally lack interest in everything pop culture related, you’ll have seen or heard about one of these shows: Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Private Practice or How to Get away with murder. The brain behind all of these television gems is Shonda Rhimes, the most powerful woman in television. She’s the first African American woman to run three consecutive shows on television’s most expensive real estate: Thursday night.

More than being an incredible writer, Shonda is also an example of what it means to be a badass leader and how to turn your dreams and aspirations into reality. She wrote a book recently called ‘Year of Yes’ and it is not only incredibly moving and hilarious. It also teaches many lessons about getting to the top in your respective field.

Here are 5 lessons from Shonda and her incredibly written female lead characters: Annalise, Olivia and Meredith.  

Annalise Keating – Think on your feet

For those who follow HTGAWM (How to get away with murder), if there’s one thing we can learn from Annalise it is the ability to think on your feet. She is the fast-talking attorney on the show and is quick to come up with arguments to defend her clients. She ultimately created the twisted story that let her students get away with the murder of her husband.

Though a bit dirty and twisted, I still think there is a lesson here. In whatever field you are in, immerse yourself in it, so that you can draw from different aspects when you need to. Annalise knows the LAW. Therefore, she knows how to get around it and make it work for her.

You want to be an entrepreneur, but do you know the rules of the game? When you find yourself in a difficult situation, it’ll be those moments you had invested in knowing your craft that will get you through. Do the work, and when you do, be better than Annalise, and use it for good.

Olivia Pope – He is not the sun, you are

Arguably one of the most drawn out love stories in television history took a turn for the crazy when Olivia moved into the white house to be Fitz’s girlfriend. For those of you who don’t understand why this broke all of our hearts, it would be the equivalent of President Clinton moving Monica Lewinsky into the White House as his girlfriend at the height of the scandal. Yes, it was that crazy.

Although there is no doubt that Olivia loved Fitz, what became clear as she lived out the role of First Lady was that it was not who she was and she had the courage to do what she knew she had to: end it and move out.

The truth is, sometimes love is not enough. Your life goals need to be aligned with your partners, otherwise you will be betraying yourself. He is not the sun, you are!

We need to internalise this to be the Motherland Moguls we can be. There will be times when you will have to make sacrifices, but you should never have to sacrifice yourself. Remember that .ladies, and choose wisely. (Preferably not a married president like Olivia. Let’s try to keep it drama-free.)

Meredith Grey – It takes a Village

The saying ‘no man is an island’ has taken on new meaning as I have spent the past 11 seasons watching Meredith Grey go through all sorts of heart shattering life events in Grey’s Anatomy. Most recently (spoiler alert), she gets attacked by a patient and loses her hearing and her ability to move for weeks. She has 3 small kids! How will she survive? The answer is simple: she has a village of people who will do whatever it takes to look after her.

As I wiped my tears watching all of her friends step up to look after her and her family, I was reminded of how she did the same for each and every one of them at a different time. It makes sense. We cannot rise to the top alone, we need to realise that the people around us have a serious effect on our ability to reach our goals. Get your immediate circle right. And the best way to do that is to be the type of friend you wish you had.

This will heavily pay off in the future. Life is full of uncertainties and we cannot control what will happen. All we can do is put ourselves in the best position possible to deal with whatever life throws at us, and a huge part of that is the people you can call on no matter the situation.

Do you have those people? If not, are you that person to anyone?

From creator, Shonda Rhimes – Dreaming is for losers

This point for me was very difficult to internalise. I am a dreamer, it is in my blood. The phrase: ‘dream come true’ is featured on my blog over a gazillion times. Shonda as the badass leader that she is really burst my bubble on that one. The people who get things done are not the dreamers, they are the doers. Shonda explains:

‘I wanted to be Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison. That was my dream. I dreamed and dreamed, and while I was dreaming, I living in my sisters basement (FYI dreamers always end up in a relative’s basement). I actually couldn’t be Toni Morrison because she already had that job and wasn’t planning on giving it up! One day I read an article that said it was harder to get into USC film school than Harvard business school. I could carry on dreaming or I could do. At film school, I discovered an entirely new way of telling stories… a way that flipped this switch in my brain. Years later, I had dinner with Toni Morrison. All she wanted to talk about was Grey’s anatomy. That never would have happened if I hadn’t stopped dreaming of becoming her and gotten busy becoming myself.

Rather than spending time dreaming about how we can be like the amazing women we admire, let’s get busy becoming our true authentic selves and doing things to bring our dreams to life. If you want to be an actress, rather than dream about it take classes. Are you putting yourself out there? If you want to grow your business into the world-dominating company, are you taking the necessary steps to get it there?

And lastly, a point from me.

Seun Awolowo- Be your own reference point!

There doesn’t have to be precedence for your idea or career path! No one knew a show with a diverse cast would last but Grey’s Anatomy is going on 12 years. There hadn’t been a black woman as the lead character on television since the 1960s, yet Scandal is a hit.

You can start your own first! You just need the right attitude, and the correct Shondaland tools in your toolbox to make it happen.

Superwoman your way to badassery ladies! If Shonda can do it, so can you.

Ps: Badassery= new word meaning knowing, accepting, and celebrating your gifts, living life with swagger, and not caring what anyone thinks about you. Add it to your dictionaries! It’s in mine.