So there is something really exciting on youtube at the moment. I have personally been waiting a loooong time for someone of my generation to write about the complexity and multi-dimension of 20 -something women and men of African origin. Samantha Chioma has done just that in ‘Life of Hers’. I watched the 5 episodes yesterday and without being a spoiler, it made me think about the expectations I had and have of and for myself. Many people like me who there parents are first generation African’s who worked hard to build lives for their families, feel they (we) have a lot to live up to. I turned 25 this year and it was a surprise for me that I was actually happy because I had previously set a rigid set of guidelines in terms of how I could quantify my success (or not).
I am happier than I have been for previous birthdays because I have learned to be patient with myself. I am learning to enjoy the growth process and leave my life in God’s hands. I love ‘Life of Hers’ because it shows how we struggle to live up to what we think society and family expect of us when in actual fact, what really matters is what is going on inside…what we think of ourselves.
Watch it here:
For the past week I have been posting my ‘lessons learned after 25′ thoughts. It has been refreshing and great to see the amazing feedback from you all. I believe that when lessons are truly learned, it brings about change. For me that change has been clarity with my vision and goals in life, and taking action to move forward.
Hand in hand with my passion in writing, is my love to sing. I recorded this gem and want to share it with you. Singing is another way for me to express myself and hold onto lessons/ memories. The release of the song marks a new start for me in music.
What action do you take after learning a lesson?
A pic of me on my way to the studio….
My book on beauty and self – esteem is available here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B009TOB9LC
Do you own yourself?
I was once young. I know what it is like to love while young, I want to advise you. I am aware that, in the end, you will do what you want. My advice is that you wait. You can love without making love. It is a beautiful way of showing your feelings but it brings responsibility, great responsibility, and there is no rush. I will advise you to wait until you are at least in the university, wait until you own yourself a little more. Do you understand?
Reading Americanah was so refreshing because it helped bring clarity to some thoughts I had about myself but did not know how to articulate. In the extract above, Obinze’s mum is advising Ifemelu about the responsibility of love. (For those that have not read the book, Ifemelu and Obinze are young lovers). The part that stood out to me the most was, “wait until you own yourself a little more”. I am now 25 and I look back on the passion and impatience I had throughout my teens. I literally could not wait for anything. I would spend hours agonising over issues and things I could not change. I dreamt up every possible scenario that could happen between myself and anybody I was crushing on. I spent hours imagining the life I would lead if I was in my (then – not now) dreamland America; talked through my life as a celebrity singing to people all around the globe. In short, the things I wanted became an obsession. However, because I was so young and had so little experience, a relatively sheltered life and was incredibly naïve, I could not understand why the universe did not fall on its knees to meet my demands.
So what am I getting at? That trap of wanting to do everything and anything when you are in the mental state ‘lost’, is not a great way to tumble through life. Yes we do have to experiment and I believe in calculated risks but I have also experienced and seen what can happen when you force something you are not ready for. Society tells us now, that ‘now’ is the only time that matters. That is not true. To wait, to stand strong, to assess where you have been and where you are going are also very effective and very necessary seasons.
“My advice is that you wait”. Knowing when to stop and when to go is one of the most important lessons we will ever learn in life. In love, business, family, self – all must be lived in balace; a mixture of movement and rest; action and reflection. Do not be a person that does not understand and accept the responsibility that your life holds.
“Do you understand”.
- Connecting with my pain and understanding past hurts, helps drive my hustle
I used to hate getting hurt – I still do…but less so. With every emotional and physical battle I find myself fighting I now know I am learning a little more about myself and taking on a quality in me that causes strife and division. It can be a good or bad trait, either way I am building and developing that increased self-awareness. Self-awareness is incredibly powerful. In fact I believe there is little stronger than knowing who you are. As a Christian I believe that knowing who you are in God sets you up to live an exciting, challenging and fulfilling life. When God reveals Himself to you and in turn you learn more about yourself, something amazing happens. It is almost as if you finally wake up. Because I am sure you know there is a difference between surviving and living.
- Big sacrifices have been made for me to be where I am
My parents brought me up to be aware of my personal history and history of Zambians before me. They also taught me to be mindful of how blessed I am daily by focusing on what I have instead of what I do not have. I have found that as I have grown in awareness and mastered that ever so dangerous habit of comparing what I have to that of others, I am having to unlearn. I don’t know at what point it happened i.e. when I started paying so my attention to others instead of minding my own business but I have decided that going forward, I want to be so focused on the way God is already moving and working in my life, that I do not have the time or capacity to be dreaming up a list of other areas I feel He should be working. You see I am learning that we (humans) are so fickle. One minute we feel one thing and the next it is something completely different. Although it is natural to have fluctuations in emotion and direction, it is not the healthiest or most fulfilling way to live.
- Life is short – every second counts
I remember when my parents used to tell me that as they got older and got married, had kids etc, a lot of their friends and parents of their friends died. It now appears that I am at that age where I am being faced almost weekly with news of deaths. When it first started happening a year ago, it was a big blow. I literally stopped functioning well and got stuck in this dark place where I could not understand why people had to go. Of course I know that everyone does not last forever, but when people you know and love are taken away, it changes you. It has taken me over a year to fully get my head around this and I am sure as I hear of more loss, I will continue to change and each loss will affect me differently emotionally. However one good thing to come from all of this is that I am more determined and focused now to live life according to my gifts and talents.
There are issues in the world, in my life, with people I know, that have a new perspective now. To know that days are numbered can be a great wake up call. For me it has been that push for living beyond mediocre.
I think if we really understood all that we overcome through God’s grace, narrow misses, the things that have happened to us and have made us stronger – we would not simply plod along.
Where do insecurities come from?
Every so often…well very often something happens to me and my reaction (or lack of), makes me think about how far I have come emotionally. I think out how temperamental I was as a teenager compared to how increasingly calm I am now and I am amazed. Ok so I have to be honest in stating I am still a bit of a character and have reactions that are completely out of proportion, but I am working on that. I frequently talk to my younger sister about self -awareness and how I find it changes as we get older. The thought of these conversations led me to think about my other side of being younger i.e. hypersensitivity and insecurity. Where do they come from? And where and how do they go?
Asking myself these questions it took me back and I started remembering how I never used to wear sleeveless tops because I hated my arms. Or how I never really kept my natural hair out because I did not think it was long enough or nice enough. Now – I love my hair and have even cut it, dyed it, relaxed it – all these different things to the point I enjoy having it out. And my arms – I love sleeveless! I love feeling the sun all over me and am really sad that we do not enjoy a good enough summer to allow me to consistently feel the sun on my skin from sunset to sundown, day in day out. I was thinking about how the growth seems to have just happened and realised it is actually a journey. I cannot put my finger on one defining moment when I just snapped out of mind-sets. However I do know that I had to address the fact that the thoughts and views I had about myself were unhealthy. I had to start speaking to myself in a way that encouraged self-love and appreciation. I had to stop comparing myself to others and celebrate the fact that no-one is made like me so obviously I never will and should never want to match up.
One thing that I do believe was crucial is my relationship with God. There is a lot in the Bible about identity and actually because God made me – it makes sense I will go to Him to find out who I am. What is interesting is that I discovered that most (if not all) my insecurities had foundations in the fact that I had looked outside of God to find who I am. I got so caught up in the confusion of looking around and seeing how other (equally confused) people did things and thought about themselves and replicated there same failed methods. It was a mess!
So why did I write this post? To celebrate how far I have come and how far any of you can come too if you feel like insecurities are taking over.