Personal Growth

Why I gave up on bleaching my skin

Last night, I was at the Poets in Autumn tour in Johannesburg. I really enjoy attending Poets in Autumn because the poems and the poets themselves remind me of how deep God’s love is, how real life’s struggles are,and how gracious God to us. But last night, there was something, or should I say someone else that caught my attention – Ezekiel Azonwu, before his first poem, introduced his wife to the audience and mentioned that she teaches African women how to love and grow their hair. Surely, more African women are returning to the beauty of their natural hair and it made me smile to see yet another amazing woman dedicate herself to teaching young women how to love their hair.

It took me down memory lane, to the days when my hair and my skin were my biggest battles. I was born and raised in Nigeria for the first 16 years of my life and during that time, two messages were clearly communicated to me:

1.) Relaxed straight hair made a woman more beautiful and sophisticated while natural hair made her look poor and in distress

2. ) Dark skin on a woman is unattractive. It looks blotchy, does not light up the room and certainly does not attract a successful crop of men. People desire dark, tall and handsome. There was no such thing as dark, tall and beautiful. Well, if there was, it was not mainstream.

For the longest time, these were beliefs that were drummed into me at every family event. My aunts did not hesitate at every opportunity to mention how much I looked like my father and took his complexion. Often times in Yoruba, they would say “wo bo se dudu bi baba e” (look at you, as dark as your father), their facial expressions indicating that they were sad on my behalf. To put things in context, my sister is a lighter complexion and no one ever said “wo bo se pupa bi mummy e“. No one looked sad or worried for her. She was fine and they did not hesitate to praise her beauty. The message was clear – my dark skin was undesirable and well, if I did not like it, it was up to me to change it.

So the experiments began. With my hair straight and relaxed, the only giant left to conquer was my dark skin. I purchased my first two bottles of skin lightening lotion and expected the best. They were serum-free products because I did not want the results to be drastic. As much as many people expected me to fix the problem my God-given skin represented, I wanted to ease them into the transformation. I watched as my skin went from dark to a light brown, with some parts remaining stubbornly dark. I told myself I was not lightening my skin, I was ‘toning’ it, ‘using the lotions to get an even complexion, only lightening areas that were unusually dark like my forehead…. and all those other lies darkskinned women tell themselves when they are unsure of why they are doing what they are doing

Some of my friends praised the transformation. It was a step in the right direction. My foundation was a shade lighter, photos looked ‘better’; if I kept it up, I could be flawlessly light-skinned, attracting the right kinds of people into my life and being noticed in the right spaces. Afterall, in Nigeria, it is hard to find a successful man with a dark skinned wife.

But there was a problem. The lighter my skin became, the more I detested my looks. Everytime I looked in the mirror, I saw more blemishes than I ever did. I saw the areas where the lotions had failed to be effective. I saw the dark spots and lines. It was like slowly peeling off a mask to a new identity, an identity I was beginning to realize I did not want. Even though I was only a shade lighter, I felt like I was no longer me. I craved the shine of my dark skin and how bright it made my eyes every time I smiled, I missed the fact that I could simply put on sunscreen and step out on a beautiful sunny day. Now I had to be careful of green veins popping through my skin and burn patches revealing the harmful effects of the lotions I was using. To make matters worse, the chemical smell of the lotions in spite of how perfumed they were did not give the comforting aroma of attained beauty. The smell stuck to my skin, and sometimes during the night, it felt like my sweat had been contaminated with these toxins. I needed to stop and stop I did.

I had only used one bottle of skin lightening lotion when I quit and told myself that I would never go down that route again. But it would take many more cycles of me trying to attain the light skin standard of beauty and returning to my God-given complexion for me to finally quit. Everytime I went to a family event and was reminded I looked just as dark as my father, I ran back to my lotion. When my friends and acquaintances spoke about how they would bleach their babies if their babies ever came out dark-skinned, I was tempted to attain that level of being one shade lighter than my original complexion. I fought the urge every time and on the occasions when I lost, I did not stay on the skin lightening path for long.

It has been four years since my last attempt and I am happy to say in spite of the many pitiful looks at my dark complexion in social gatherings and the constant reminders of how people are more attracted to light-skinned women, I have grown to love my dark skin even more. I realized through self-reflection that the desire to be light-skinned was never mine to start with. The fear of being unattractive, going unnoticed or being seen as ugly was never mine. The fear of not being pursued by a Nigerian man who wanted to ensure his collection of beautiful things was made complete by a light-skinned wife was never mine. My actions were the product of a society that taught me to criticize the earthen jar in which I existed for the sake of meeting deeply contorted definitions of beauty.

I had never been taught to see beauty in my melanin-endowed skin so I became a fertile soil for the seeds that taught me to fear it. Realizing this made me resolute in my love for my skin. I fell in love with it anew and like lovers dedicate themselves to life-long learning about each other, I have dedicated myself to learning about my skin like I would learn about a lover.

Now I know to use my homemade sugar scrubs during the winter for moisture, to mix my Shea butter with glycerin and bio oil during the summer, to get rid of impurities using a mud mask once a week and to apply that vitamin c mask for a beautiful glow. Learning to love my dark skin has been more difficult than lightening it, but now when I look in the mirror, I no longer see a mask that’s slowly being peeled off. I see me. Just me. Glowing. smiling. complete and secure. The fears that were planted in me have since been uprooted and the smell of chemical sweat is long forgotten and never missed. This melanin jar which encases my bubbly spirit and carries my beautiful soul was given to me because it was perfect for me. I was woven by God, fearfully and wonderfully crafted, and I would not like to look any other way. I see beauty in the dripping perfection of my melanin sauce and I hope you see yours too.

Blog

Why I chose the topic I did for my TED talk

When I received an invitation sometime in May to give a TED talk at my alma mater, I was unsure of what to speak about. You see, while I was there, I was known for my academic pursuits. People knew me as the girl who got the innovation grant, the girl who won the three-minute thesis competition, the girl who was selected for the sub-Saharan Africa L’Oreal-UNESCO fellowship. Based on that reputation, I figured people would be expecting me to tell them how I did it. I mean, it was not unusual for younger students to come to me while I was there and ask what the secret of my success was. I remember telling one young lady in particular that I always make a decision to give anything my best before I even start on it. She nodded in approval but the look on her face was that of disappointment. It did not seem like tangible advice.

So, when I was invited to give a TED talk, my first thought was to give an inspirational and methodical speech on how to be excellent. I even thought of using my experience to tailor the speech to be “How women can succeed in science”. Surely, people would find that useful, it could go viral, reach a million views in a week and become the talk everyone is raving about. But as I sat in a condo in Toronto, staring at my PC, poised to write my speech, I realized I was about to do a big disservice to all the female scientists who have worked hard in their careers, yet bent beneath the weight of condescension and non-recognition. I remember stubbornly typing the title “How to be a successful female scientist”, but my hands would just not go on to type the self-glorifying speech.

I walked to the window of the condo I was staying in Toronto and looked out at the sky-high buildings, the fields of green and the people who walked hastily down the streets, rushing to their next appointments. Here I was, gifted an opportunity to speak on a huge platform like TED, and I was thinking of telling people how well I had done? Surely, there were other women in the world who had done much better and could give a better speech, but what price did they have to pay for their success?

The realization that came with that question caused my shoulders to drop as I closed my eyes. In what was a rush of emotions, I remembered every single time I had to fight twice as hard as a male scientist to get what I needed. I remembered my friends who cried in the bathrooms at work because their male bosses abused them verbally, harassed them sexually and intimidated them at every turn. I remembered the days I had to call out a male supervisor after he had sent an email in red and bold, claiming that I did not know what I was doing simply because I used a word that was different from his choice even though both words had exactly the same meaning. I remembered the many times I and other female scientists were taunted for not having an ‘MRS degree’ (i.e. being married) and were even told we might soon ‘expire’. I remembered not only the things that were said and done, but also the emotions they evoked. The emotion of feeling like we were not enough, feeling like we did not belong, feeling like we were expected to not have other life interests else we would be considered to be unserious about our careers. I remembered looking at the workplaces we were hoping to get into and realizing there were not many people who looked like us. I remembered the doubt this cast on our career goals. Did we really stand a chance?

That was when I decided to speak about the issues women in science face. I started to read reports on the subject to see what the general trend was. Many reports spoke about women struggling to balance the work life and family, while very few spoke about the conditions under which women are expected to work in science. It seemed like even reputable organizations were trying to tiptoe around the real issues, and instead preferred to blame it on something no one could really figure out how to solve – work-life balance. Please don’t get me wrong, women in science do face issues around balancing their careers and staying relevant in their chosen fields. But, why are the women who do not have to face these issues feeling like calling it quits? These are some of the issues I highlight in my TED talk.

I am aware that the solutions proffered in my talk do not fully address the issues I raised, but I hope they serve as a starting point. Many of the younger students in my alma mater look at me and see success, but what they don’t know is that beneath all that glamour, there was a lot of unnecessary perseverance. While I believe in working hard for my achievements and earning my success, I do not accept that the scales must be deliberately tilted to subject me to the psychological and emotional gymnastics that come with being a female in science. If the men in science are allowed to fail, to not know enough, and are given opportunities to learn and grow, women in science should not be crucified for wanting the same.

If you have not seen my TED talk, please watch it here. I hope it resonates with you, and even if you disagree, I would like to read your thoughts.

Featured image: From the 2017 L’Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science sub-Saharan Africa fellowship. The women shown are female scientists in Africa whose research have the potential to positively impact the continent.

Personal Growth

Why I Revamped my Blog

When I first started blogging in 2012, I did not know why I wanted to be a blogger. It was a cool thing to do at the time and seemed like a good avenue to tell fictional stories, so that’s what I did. I wrote 16 episodes of “a woman’s world” but could not bring myself to ‘land’ the story with the expertise of a seasoned fiction writer, so I left it hanging with the blunt end of zero suspense and delved into relationship blogging.

This seemed to make sense. I knew from seven years ago that being mistreated in a relationship was not acceptable and even had what you might call ‘feminist tendencies’ without identifying with the movement. I loved relationship blogging; it made sense at the time to sit on the stool of idealism and scream at people to ‘do the right thing!” Lots of exclamation marks were used to pass points across. A friend said he read my blog and felt I was in the room yelling at him. I felt embarrassed. I did not want to be a yelling relationship expert (and the use of the word expert is a stretch considering how single and drawn to unhappy relationships I was) so I went to some of my posts and changed the exclamations to periods. I left some of the ‘yelling’ because well, ‘how else would people get how passionate I was?’

As time went on, I started to realize there was a lot of nuance to consider when speaking to people in bad relationships. People just don’t wake up, look at an abusive partner and say “dayuuum! You fine! Can I get me some of that?”

No. People are led to that, conditioned into it, sometimes subdued into it. I realized people needed motivation so I changed my blog name to Motivation Springs. I wanted to motivate people and get them going. I imagined myself on world stages, telling people to “aspire to acquire what they desire because it is required” – yep. It does not get emptier than that in motivation speak.

To make it seem like I had fans, I did a Facebook advert of the Motivation Springs Facebook page and got over 1000 likes. It boosted my blog follower count on the site but led to zero engagement because those ‘followers’ were not real. Thank you Mark Zuckerberg.

Recently, the scales fell off my eyes. Everytime I delved into something new with my blog, I did it with the conceited impression that I had and knew everything I needed to tell people what to do and who to become. My position on matters sometimes lacked nuance, and in cases where they hit the nail on the head, I could not say I was living up to everything I was telling everyone to do.

See, that was the problem. I was telling everyone what to do from an idealistic point of view because it sounded sensible. It took a few years for this brand of ‘sensible’ to begin to sound empty to me and I realized I was losing my love for helping and inspiring others because I was watching the world through the eyes of idealism and not that of experience, and by doing that, I was creating a subtle kind of falsehood.

Hence this revamp.

It has taken a long time to get to this comfortable point of saying “I am not a relationship expert or an expert motivator. I don’t always have the right words or know the right things to do. I am just a young lady who has lived alone since 16 and has grown to view the world through different lenses. I want to share the reality of happenings around me, not the idealistic images of perfection I once tried to force on you.

I am an ‘expert’ who knows nothing more than to see people, events, opinions and life in the real expressions of what they are about. My posts might inspire you, some might make you laugh (if you have a dry sense of humor like me) and some might rub you off the wrong way. Whatever they make you feel, I hope for healthy discussions and sharing of real experiences. I hope to talk about everything from having a loving relationship with God to your best chicken wings recipe. I hope to read about your real life experiences not dream life experiences and I look forward to sharing this space with all my 200 followers. Yes, I deleted that Facebook page. 200 humans over 1000 robots for me any day! (Oops! I’m yelling again ūüėĄ old habits).

Signed:

Your not-so-Nigerian girl.

Personal Growth

Now I See Me…

It has taken years for me to arrive at this point – a point where I look at everyone and everything I thought I lost and said to myself “but truly, they had to go because if they did not, I would not be where or who I am today.” This epiphany hit me like a ton of bricks. It was sudden, unexpected, shocking, yet enlightening.

For years, I had sacrificed myself at the altar of approval. I chased down what I thought I needed to the detriment of my own sanity. I sacrificed my heart over and over, with the hope that these sacrifices would be enough to convince subjects of my affection to reciprocate my affection for them. But that did not happen. The more I sacrificed, the more I lost myself; not because sacrifices are synonymous to loss, but because I was cutting myself for things and people who did not care I was bleeding. In retrospect, I cannot blame them for not noticing. I could barely see myself bleeding. I was so focused on what I believed would be the perfect compensation, that I failed to realize how much of myself was bleeding out for affections I yearned for but did not deserve.

Image result for woman sees herself in mirror
mariefranceasia.com

Don’t get me wrong. I did not deserve them, not because I was insufficient, but because they were insufficient to satisfy me and take me where I needed to be. I did not deserve the nonchalance with which they would have treated me, or the emptiness they would have constantly poured into my life. I did not deserve the pain they would have brought or the feelings of insecurity they would have happily fostered in my spirit. I did not deserve these but I also did not know because I could not see me. I was so focused on seeing them as I wanted them to be, rather than seeing them as they were.

But today, it hit me. Like a blinding ray of sunlight hits the eyes when the blinds are pulled back without warning, so did the image of me hit my consciousness. Here I am, gloriously and beautifully created, crafted in the gentle hands of God, filled with the beauty of his grace and blessed with the power only his love can give. For love in its truest form only seeks to empower. In true love, there is no fear of loss. There is no fear that requires me to constantly contort myself for the sake of pleasing. There is simply no fear.

Now I see me – who I am, what I am and who I can become. I see me and I realize with peace in my heart that everything and everyone I lost was insufficient for where I am meant to be.

Now I see me, and I hope you see you too.

Personal Growth

Cutting People Off Won’t Change Your Life

“New year, new me”

These are words we have all heard, seen and possibly grown tired of as people repetitively declare them as their mantra at the end of every year. Threats of cutting people off in the new year often fill social media posts and lots of popular blogs and platforms advise as every year courses towards its end that we cut off the people who do not add any value to us. Everyone brags about it in some way or the other:

the ultimate New Year mantra

“I am blocking people who do not add any value to my life.”

“This is the year I cut off people who do not care about me.”

“If we have haven’t spoken for x number of days or years, it means you can do without me so I am cutting you off.”

“If you are not pushing me towards my goals, I am cutting you off”

The bluff goes on and on from mid-December till the end of January and then suddenly, everything is silent. People go about their normal lives and the scissor is put to rest until the next December. Yes, call it a vicious cycle.

Can I burst this bubble? Can I make this unpopular announcement?

“Cutting people off will not change your life if you are not in the right mind space to change your life.”

Yes, I know that sounds weird. It is meant to be because no one ever tells you this. When the epiphany first hit me, I shook it off and told myself I was crazy. Of course, cutting off toxic people, sad people, destructive people and all the kinds of people I did not want in my life was a great thing to do. But then I asked myself how many times cutting people off made a difference in my life. How many times did I experience any visible change in my life’s journey solely from cutting people off?

The answer, which was NONE was like a cold blade pressed to my neck. I realized that the positive changes in my life did not come from cutting off negative people. It came from actively transforming my own mind and elevating my own perceptions, understanding, and actions regarding the reality I was planning to change. Without these active efforts, I simply cut off the people I did not want and replaced them with other people who were cut from the exact same fabric.

In other words, I could cut off a toxic friend who made me feel insecure about myself but go on to date a guy who did the exact same thing albeit subtly. Different people, same effect. The onus was on me to change my own view of the situation, place or mission in order to change my life. It was not about or on the negative or toxic people; it was really about me and my ability to effect change within myself.

“So what should I do with these toxic, negative and sad people?” you might ask.

My answer is NOTHING. Change your perceptions and be resolute in elevating yourself beyond their current comprehension or perspective. Naturally, you will start to draw away from them, and them away from you. It will not require any effort because your focus will be on the bigger and better, nor will it require your annual announcement that comes to naught. By stirring yourself within and resolutely seeking to elevate your thoughts and self, people fall off. Besides, I doubt announcing your intention to cut people off at the end of every year has achieved much, else you would not have to do it so often. Give this a shot. It worked for me and i believe it can for you too.

Happy new year! Expect more posts! XOXO

Personal Growth

There’s a Flaw in Everything That’s Perfect For You

There’s a flaw in everyone. At least that’s what we’ve been told – that no one is perfect and we should accept this truth.

We often reiterate this statement when a person we hold in high esteem disappoints us and we are resigned to the idea of forgiveness. Sometimes we state it with a dismissive wave of the hand when we want to evade unsavory discussions about others. But I have often wondered if at any point we apply this truth in some of the key choices we make.

I recently started shopping around for a new smartphone. I have had my old phone for a long time now, deliberately refusing to be swayed by whatever has been in vogue over the past three years. I assumed searching for a phone would be easy. Afterall, there are so many phones on the market, the idea that I could experience any form of difficulty finding the perfect phone for me was inconceivable.

I started shopping at the top of the range, not exactly because I was in search of a high-end phone but because whenever I typed ‘smartphone prices’ in my search bar, I was overwhelmed by a plethora of advertisements showcasing the latest phones and what they were capable of doing. These phones seemed so perfect – full of all the specifications I did and did not need, including many others I knew I would not care to use. But after staring at them for a while, I started to consider purchasing one. I was so consumed by the thought that I went to three different store in the closest mall to try them out, take selfies and see how well they fitted into my hand. They all felt great! I thought I had found what I wanted but a look at their price tags was the only discouragement I needed. Why on earth would I want to pay a hefty price for a thousand and one features I did not need? Sure they made the phones close to perfect, but the chances of me using any one of those features was really slim to none.

I headed to the mid-range section. Here, my wallet felt at home and there was less of the unnecessary stuff. The features were less bogus, more practical for my everyday use and really just perfect for me. But there was a problem. Everytime I googled one of these phones, there was a flaw. ‘The speakers are not so great’, ‘the screen is too big’, ‘ the processor is too slow’… the list was endless. At some point, I could feel my eyes bulging out of their sockets from reading so much information. But there was a lesson to be learned – these phones were imperfect but most of them had most of everything I needed. Perhaps the reason I was overwhelmed was because I started by first seeking perfection even though this perfection was not defined by me. It was defined by what everyone else deemed as cool and expected for a person of my age and status. This perfection was not perfect for me. It was perfect for the idea of me people wanted to see.

Think about your life and the choices you have made. Think about your relationships and the reasons you ended some of them. Were you seeking perfection set by the expectations of those around you or have you always sought what and who is perfect for you? Because the reality is that what and who is perfect for you may not sit well with the world. It may not be top-of-the-range or make people gasp and fawn over it. It may not have all the extra features everyone else is talking about but it will fit well with you and possibly have everything you need.

¬†You must understand that in this life driven by the facade of perfection, there is no one definition for what perfection looks like. Perfection can be flawed; it can have a few bits missing, it can be obscure to many yet glorious in its meaning. It can even be cracked with the evidence of brokenness and being put back together. But if this perfection makes you happy, if it gives you all you need and none of what you don’t, this is the perfection that’s perfect for you. XOXO.

Personal Growth

How the Impostor Syndrome is Hurting your Progress

I haven’t written in so long and it feels great to be able to come back to my blog and share my thoughts with you all. I have been busy handling school, work, and life and I honestly tell you now that if hard work¬†does not kill you, it will make you detest all the rich and successful people you know. But hey, you can’t detest those you wish to become, so here’s me raising a glass to all the successful people out there who broke their backs to get to the top. It is not easy following your footsteps but my eyes are on the goal. Dine with you soon.

Yea, I know what you are thinking. Is this a post about whining and soliloquy? Well, no. Be patient and take deep breaths. I am getting to it.

Image result for lady crying with tissue in hand

Yesterday, a young lady approached me to discuss some problems she was facing at work. She told me about how her interpersonal relationship with her colleagues was suffering and how she just avoided getting in anyone’s way because she was worried being more visible at work would only expose her to more hatred. I listened attentively, watching her body language as she spoke and listening to how her voice dropped everytime she mentioned meeting with her boss. When she had told me all she believed I needed to know, I asked her the question that had been playing on my mind the moment she began speaking:

“Do you feel you deserve the position you currently hold at work?”

She was visibly taken aback. She had probably expected me to equip her with coping skills on how to deal with that mean guy from accounting or how to act so her boss can be nicer to her. But I asked her the question that I knew would address all of her issues. Did she feel like she deserved to be at her job, in her position, getting the benefits she was?

She proceeded to tell me how qualified she was and how she had worked hard to get where she was. But I didn’t ask her about all that. And it became evident right there that what I was thinking was true – she felt she did not deserve to be in her position at work so she dedicated her energy to either defending her right to be there or hiding away so no one would discover her secret.

Surely, she’s not a peculiar case. Many of us have had a brush or two with the impostor syndrome. It is that tiny voice in your head that tells you to introduce yourself as ‘a boring technician’ when you are actually the senior engineer. It is that whisper in your head that says you can’t call yourself a tech girl because you don’t know all the coding languages in the world. It is that mixed feeling of anxiety and confusion you get when you are invited to a prestigious meeting with your peers and you start to wonder when you arrive at the meeting if the said people are really your peers because they seem to be bounds of knowledge ahead of you.

Many people, including I, will tell you that this is a feeling you will have to deal with at some point in your life. The problem is staying stuck on it, or even worse – not knowing you are going through it. Some people swear “it is harmless.” “It’s just a feeling.” “One day, you will get over it.”

Image result for impostor syndrome

Well, what if you don’t? If you consider it to be harmless why would you be motivated to get over it or through it? Let me motivate you by telling you what the impostor syndrome really does to you:

1.) It makes you less likely to take initiative at work: People who let the impostor syndrome take over their lives are less likely to make decisions on their own. They often second-guess themselves even after ensuring that the decision they have reached is the best possible one. This makes it difficult for them to progress at work because really, no boss wants to promote a person who requires 10,000 emails of assurance before they make a decision.

2.) It makes you unnecessarily defensive: When people feel they don’t belong in a position, company or any place at all, they tend to defend themselves even when they have not been attacked. The lady I spoke with went on to tell me about her 1001 qualifications when all I was really asking was whether she felt like she belonged in her team and her workplace. A defensive attitude, no matter which direction you swing it is hardly ever a good way to climb up the ladder at work. It makes you unpleasant to work with, makes it difficult for others to understand you and makes you come across as ‘naturally abrasive’. Yes, we are all abrasive every once in a while when things are just not looking good, but when the people you work with start to think that is your natural disposition, you have a problem.

Image result for impostor syndrome

3.) It makes you cower: You know what it means to cower right? To grovel, crouch, kneel, crawl… basically act like you are beneath everybody including your peers. This is the opposite of being defensive and shooting down anyone before their words or actions get to you. It is the worst trait you can manifest at work. As much as people love to take advantage of doormats, no boss wants to promote one. Think about it. When was the last time you looked at your front door mat and thought to yourself:

“Wow! So many shoes have been cleaned on this mat, I think it is time to move it to the living room as the center rug” Never? That is exactly how your boss thinks of you when you are cowering.

I know the impostor syndrome can be overwhelming but it is something you must overcome. Firstly, start by believing in yourself. If you have been offered a seat at the table, it is because you deserve that seat. No, it is not affirmative action. It is not for demographics. It is because you are qualified to be there. Own your seat.

Image result for impostor syndrome

Secondly, focus on delivering your best work rather than worrying about what others think of you. You’re new and your colleagues don’t like you? Focus on delivering your best work. You are not in the workplace to be liked. You are there to prove you are worth the contract the company signed with you. And you want to know what the funny thing is? Your colleagues probably don’t even dislike you. You just expect them to because you think you shouldn’t be there in the first place.

Lastly, be assertive. Many people with impostor syndrome find it hard to assert themselves. It is like they have this fear that any assertion on their part will lead to them being exposed and laughed at. Think about it though. If you are qualified to be where you are, what are afraid of? Why do you think anyone will expose you? What exactly will they expose? Possibly nothing.

Stop letting the impostor syndrome ruin your life and your career. Rise above. XOXO

Personal Growth

Starting the Year Off Right

Am I the only one who regards January as a trial month before I get right into the swing of things? Just me? OK then ūüôā

It feels great to be back to two things I love Рblogging and vlogging. I hope to blog as much as I vlog this year and I hope you will join me on this awesome journey. 

So at the end of last year, I took some time to plan for my vlog. Yes, in case you are unaware, I have a YouTube channel (Just search Demilade Faye on YouTube) where I share motivational advice to get you going. My plan for this year is to create themes for each month and speak on topics under that theme for the whole month. Yes, I am not playing around anymore. I really want these two things I love to have a positive impact. 

For the month of February, I have selected the theme: Creating the Life You Desire… because really, who wants to keep living a lie, pretending to enjoy life when their heart yearns for something else?

The first video is up! The topic is: Start with yourself.

It is like doing an assessment, but a really fun one because this time it’s about you. You are the jury and the judge and if you don’t like the results you find, the topic for next week might just help you make a change.

Please check it out below and share with friends. Invite them to join us on the exciting journey.  XOXO

Personal Growth

Don’t Allow These Five People Into Your Life

No one wants to go through life feeling paranoid and assessing people every second. Unfortunately, it is a cross we all must bear. The people you allow into your life can either make you be at peace with yourself, or they can make you question yourself endlessly. Of course, it is difficult to box all of these people into five simple categories, but I believe being able to identify these basic five can save you from  experiencing the advanced stages of the emotional whirlwind they carry with them

Image result for not my fault gif

¬†#1 The Blameless ones: We’ve all met them – those who refuse to take any responsibility whatsoever for friendships or relationships that have gone awry. They sit and tell about what X did and what Y said, but conveniently forget what role they played. These are the people you get into a relationship with and immediately begin to regret it. These are people who never admit they are wrong but will instead insist that their intentions are noble, hence, even though their actions hurt, they cannot accept any kind of blame. I could go on and on about them, but let me rather tell you the impact they could have on you. Depending on the dynamics of your relationship, if in some way they have managed to ingratiate themselves to you, you will find yourself apologising for every single thing. You may one day find yourself apologising for breathing! Save yourself the strain and just run.

Image result for gossip gif

#2 The Loud-mouthed informant: There is usually that one person in every group dynamic who knows something about everyone else. That person who comes over to your crib and tells you what everyone else is dealing with, who the joker of the group is, whose boyfriend has two penises and whose breasts have gone from firm oranges to flaccid cucumbers. This person will often set his/her eyes on you when you are the new person in the group, and trust me when I say a lot of wisdom is required here. The loud-mouthed informant can easily get you into an attitude of gossip where you find yourself taking sides in an imaginary battle, and taking ownership of POVs that have absolutely nothing to do with you. Pause. Breathe. Change the subject every single time. Don’t volunteer any personal information. Don’t offer an opinion on any negative bit of information regarding anyone else. Why? The loud-mouthed informant has two things you may not be able to sustain in the long run – time to go around learning everyone’s business and of course broadcasting them, and the ability to turn the tables on you should hell break loose. My advice? Hear no evil. Make it clear you are not interested. And if you really want to piss off the loud-mouthed informant, sympathize¬†with the negative stories. This shows you are on a different wavelength. Oh! Another name for these people? GOSSIPS

#3 The Deluded ones: I have found over the years that these people are more common than we like to admit. I met one recently and I found myself thinking ‘Do I have a stamp on my forehead that recognizes the crazy in these people and pulls them toward me?’ Fortunately for me, I have learned that the delusion of grandeur is a craft many people have mastered. They attempt to approach every friendship or relationship from an elevated point of view of … wait for it… themselves. They assume that they are better than you are, smarter, more interesting, more successful. They assume in the weirdest way that they are doing you a favor by being a part of your life. They will name-drop as often as they can, and tell you about the important things they do and have. They will pay you compliments you know are not true and will explain anything they perceive as a fault in themselves before you even recognize the fault (I can write a whole book about these people).

Image result for delusional gif

But when reality hits that you have more going for you than they have going for themselves, they try to ingratiate themselves towards you. They start to offer you things that can help you ‘be better’ and ‘do better’. ISSA TRAP! Don’t even fall for it. You need to shatter their illusion by assertively declining. You should, however, be prepared for some backlash. When a deluded person finds it hard to crack you, they will pull down your image if they can. They will rather have people believe you are not good enough for them than admit that you saw straight through their BS and stopped them in their tracks. The delusion of grandeur runs deep guys. Just don’t get entangled in it.

Image result for standing out gif

#4 The ‘All-eyes-on-me’ buddies: Now these people are really something. Have you ever had a friend who wanted you to be successful…. but not so successful that you end up better off than they are? I can them the contraceptive buddies. These are people who stick around in your life and appear to encourage you. However, the moment you share a vision or a dream with them, they abort it with their very glossy presentation about how many things could go wrong. If that does not work, they tell you not to get your hopes up too much. Afterall, life is unpredictable. They will support your dreams if they are smaller than theirs, but will never support a dream that will catapult you to a height they perceive they cannot reach. These buddies are not out to harm you, but they will never let anything grow in you. I don’t even need to go into details here. JUST RUN.

#5 The Frozen: I have learned recently that no matter how great you are at something, or how well you are doing, there are people who will not clap for you out loud, nor will they ever pay you a compliment out loud. They will rather burst into tiny feathers than say “Hey! You are doing so well”. It is as though they are frozen. They will rather point out everything you are doing wrong (no matter how insignificant they are)¬†than tell you everything you are doing right. And if they cannot find anything you are doing wrong, they will manufacture something (It does not take long; the factories are in their heads). They will look for something that dims your shine and makes you feel insignificant. Avoid these people, especially when you are feeling down and out. Avoid them when you are on top of your game, or on your way uphill. They will never see anything good in any step you take. Don’t waste your energy. Preserve it for pursuing your success whether they clap or not.

Do check out my YouTube channel. Search Demi Fayemiwo on YouTube

XOXO

Personal Growth

How much are you worth?

I never really thought about this question until a recent discussion with a  couple of male friends got me wondering. Truth be told, when the question was directed at me, all I could manage was a smile and that smile haunted me for many nights because I figured I could have been more loquacious.

How much are you worth? 

Pause. Think about it. This is not the time to spring from your seat like ‘Jack in the box’; it is not the time to talk about your degrees, your job, or even your possessions. It is not the time to talk to about how people treat you or how amazing your personality is.

Image result for self-worth
Source: theodysseyonline.com

It is not a question you can answer with words. It is not a question you can answer by quoting Maya Angelou’s phenomenal woman. It is not a question you can answer by feeling insulted that someone would even dare ask you that. It is not a question you can answer by defending yourself.

I started writing this post four years ago, and I could not finish it because I realized indeed that the many ways I listed above could not effectively answer the question. Sure, I might have been able to sell myself as an assertive woman who believed in herself; but all the words in the world could not aptly describe what I was worth.

Four years, later, it hit me as I drove down the busy highways of Johannesburg on a traffic-free day. The answer to that question is not in words; it is in actions. How much you are worth is deeply ingrained in how you treat yourself. It is deeply entrenched in what you believe about yourself, and most importantly, it is found in the core of who and what you accept into your life.

I have seen many women recite phenomenal woman over and over, and right afterward, went ahead to do and accept un-phenomenal things. I have heard people write quotes on Facebook about how they are worth the world, yet could not stop their partners from treating them like doormats. I have been that person so many times. I have been the quoter and not the doer.

Image result for self-worth

But that day, when the question was thrown at me, it seemed as though the heavens opened and whispered in my ear “your words will not suffice. Your words cannot describe your worth enough”. So I smiled. Yes, I wished I’d spoken but I realize now that my heart was saying to me “Shhh. Pull back a bit and explore the deepest recesses of yourself. Pull back a bit and hear me speak.”

So if you are wondering how much you are worth, or if the question has been thrown at you before and you feel your verbal response did not do the trick, stop and listen to the silent whispers in your heart. Stop and ask yourself if you present yourself as worthy or worthless. Stop and ask yourself if you treat yourself with tender loving care. Do you treat yourself like you matter? Stand in front of the mirror¬†and ask yourself “do I place as much worth on myself as God places on me?”

Therein lies the answer to that question.

And when you answer with all the sincerity you can muster, you will find the strength to treat yourself like the gem that you are. And no one will ever feel the need to ask you how much you are worth. They will simply see you are a priceless offspring of the King of Heaven.

XOXO.