Unlearning & The Myth of Strong People

unlearn to become

At age 4 I started setting goals for the New Year and have been consistently doing so since...until the end of 2015.

2016 was the first year I did not set any goals for myself. Part if it was because I did not know what kind of goals I would set that would top 2015 - the year where I graduated from law school, took the bar exam, passed the bar exam, gained the confidence to call myself a yoga instructor, and started working as a lawyer at a law firm (all before I turned 21). The other part of it was that achievement is exhausting and all the stress of being a high achiever had finally caught up with me and I had no energy left to dream. 

And so December came and turned into January, and my goal sheet was left completely blank. If I  could be completely honest with you, there was one word that came to mind when I thought about 2016 but I was too ashamed to write it down as a goal.

That word was survive...

Obviously if you know how my 2016 is ending you know that I did not just survive. I THRIVED!! 2016 definitely topped 2015 in my achievement meter - starting a law firm, traveling to my favorite continent in the world and hosting a mega successful conference with African women, going deeper in my self care/yoga/meditation practices and sharing that with other women through my yoga classes, making enough money to do the things I care about doing and bless the people I've been led to bless.

While all of that is fun to share about - I want to share about the in-between space. I would rather share about the process because we all know that the hard work happens in the process. 

The process of 2016 for me has been all about unlearning! If I had to sum it all up in a nice pretty word package, I would say: You have to un-learn to become.
  • We have to unlearn patterns in our thought life that don't serve us well [the not-good-enoughs, cannot's, and fear based thoughts].
  • We have to unlearn the shame and fear feelings that come with being vulnerable.
  • We have to unlearn our perception of disappointment and unmet expectations.
  • We have to unlearn our relationship with ourselves, food, sex, money, pleasure, addiction, God, and achievement.
  • We have to unlearn the expectation of fulfillment at all times.

And all of that is hard work.
And all of it is worthy work.


Have I said that is hard work? Because looking at yourself and seeing all the things you would rather not see, but choosing to call yourself good in the presence and revelation of all of unpleasant things is simultaneously the Most Divine and the most nerve wracking thing you can do.

BUT here is why its worth it, you don't 'become' if you don't do the work.
And unlearning + becoming is what makes people appear strong. 

While this is worthy work, I would like to caution you against thinking you are not strong unless you do all of this! You are already so strong. Always remember that. Knowing and owning the strength you already possess is what will give you the courage to go inward and do the work on yourself. Others may not recognize your intrinsic strength, but always know that you are strong enough! 

As I have evolved from insecure, shy, and unsure to confident, highly educated, and leader I try to remind myself that I didn't become strong overnight. I did not become strong the day I graduated law school, the day I started a law firm, or my first night in a country 8000 miles away from home. The truth is that I have always been strong, and you have always been strong!!

That is one of the most significant things I have reconciled within myself in this process of unlearning. There are more and I would gladly share them over a cup of tea with you sometime but I think this is the most freeing thing and I could not help but share it because New Years brings with it a certain kind of pressure to achieve and be more. While I do believe in dreaming and visioneering, I think sometimes the best things we can do for ourselves and our life plan is surrender to the process of unlearning and just see where it takes you?

2016 has shocked me in every way and again not one vision was cast for the year. I wonder what your year would look like if you just let things unfold naturally at their own pace and let the year teach you what it wills?

 

BIRTHDAY WEEK FREEBIE - TRAVEL HACKS FOR THE NEWBIE NOMAD

It's Birthday Week around here!! 

And just as promised, here is a new freebie for today.

Today is all about travel. Friends you know that I've been in & out of home so much the past 6 months. It's been crazy! Last week I totaled all my miles and realized that I've been on the road over 24,000 miles in just the past 6 months.

What you may not know is that it was all very strategic. About this time last year I set some travel goals and dubbed 2016 my travel year! Would you say I've been pretty successful on that goal?

 I decided to create this travel guide for people who like me have some travel goals and want some fun hacks to save you time, money, and energy. 

22 Things I know for sure + Week Long Birthday Freebies

Does your birthday month tend to make you as introspective as mine makes me?

It feels so odd to me that by the first day of November every year, I automatically start re-evaluating my life and my year. I get really introspective about lessons learnt and go through the process of forgiving myself for mistakes made.

This year the lovely ladies of BGIO were using their birthdays as an opportunity to reflect and share things they know for sure. Obviously I decided that it would be a great idea to share these reflections.

If you would rather skip over the lovely & quite humorous list of 22 straight down to the end of the post where I talk about all the lovely gifts YOU will be getting because it's my birthday week, I promise you won't hurt my feelings but I also promise that the list of 22 has some nuggets of wisdom that could potentially change your life!!  

Now onto the list of 22 things I know for sure in no particular order of importance.

  1. We can create the kind of lives we want. It's hard but not impossible.
  2. Knowlegde is freely available but wisdom comes with battle scars. 
  3. Heart beauty > body beauty.  
  4. Shakira was right, hips don't lie.  
  5. I don't cook and clean and nurture because I am woman, but because I am human. 
  6. Vulnerability will break you but it will heal you with a serum that not only puts you back together but also makes you stronger and more resilient.  
  7. Confidence is not a liability. 
  8. God isn't interested in "using" me, He is interested in partnering with me..but I can always say no.  Freewill is a wild ride.
  9. If I had to do it all over again, I would still be a 5'1 woman with thick juicy lips & thighs that touch,  a really complicated last name, and my exact same lovely and sometimes contradictory personality. 
  10. Age is just a number! It doesn't define anything.  
  11. My mom is the exact definition of a superhero and my dad is a real life angel sent to earth to make us question life as we know it [so basically I am the product of a superhero + an angel]. :)
  12. Show up, build things, take up space - that's why I was sent to earth.  
  13. NYC is my spirit animal. 
  14. I reserve the right to change (my mind, tribe, opinions, passions).
  15. Sometimes we just need to stop fighting. 
  16. I am not care free no matter how much I try to be.  
  17. Maktub [go read the Alchemist to get this]. 
  18. The goal is not to be perfect but to become.
  19. Everything has a cost - weigh your costs. 
  20. Time is your slave not your master.  
  21. The more you give, the more you get. 
  22. God absolutely loves the hell out of me [this is actually a  theological statement].

 

NOW for the Birthday freebies:  

Every few years on my birthday I like to add something to the world rather than take something from it. This year is one of those years! Every day this week I will do a special reveal/give a freebie but you have to go to my Facebook page by noon everyday to get access to the freebie or be on my special friends email list.

  • On Tuesday I will be sharing a special travel guide with lots of awesome hacks for people who are looking to travel more in 2017.
  • On Wednesday I will be making a special announcement for THRIVE African Girl and unveiling our new project about storytelling in media.  [hint, it involves stories and podcasts and lots of fun girl time].
  • On Thursday I will be sharing about "The Art of Slow." It's a little book that I may or may not have written and how you can get your hands on it. 
  • On Friday (my actual birthday) I will be sharing all about Afangideh Global - which is the most exciting thing in my life to date because it will literally change people's lives and that's what we are here for right?
  • On Saturday I will be sharing some events I am collaborating with other amazing people on that will be going on in 2017 AND you do not want to miss out on those! 
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ON GRAND GESTURING YOURSELF; NYC 2016 & WELL SUMMIT

Grand gesture Yourself

 

“Grand Gesture Yourself”

I slowly muttered that to myself as I waited in line at JFK to board my plane to NYC because at that exact moment all the doubts hit in my mind:

Is this even worth it?

holy mess! How much did I just spend on hotels again?

Is this some '20 something crisis?'

Going to New York wont teach me anything that I don't already know!

What if I don't fit in with the other people at the WELL Summit?

 

“Grand Gesture Yourself, Salem. This is not about anything other than doing a grand gesture for your heart.”

I've often shared how self care is not the easiest for me! I know its not easy to tell when I talk about it so much and appear to do it so well, but lean in and let me tell you a secret – its tough. My heart crumbles into a million pieces when I consider that people will think I'm lazy or wasteful of my resources, but then again its not about what any one else thinks. Thats the core of grand gesturing yourself.

What counts as a grand gesture to yourself?

Something that is completely irrational to every one else looking in, but to you its something large and extravagant that means the world to you.

I guess at this point I'll tell you a little story pre-grand gesture that gives a little context as to why:

In October I realized that so many big changes were about to happen so fast in my life and it honestly scared the confidence out of me. Was I ready? I had just now gotten into a good 'adulting' routine and now I would be adding more responsibility that could upset homeostatis. What would these changes mean for me financially? Lots of uncertainty started seeping in. Lots of things that I had been keeping as options needed some good closure and a decent burial. And I was honestly terrified at the new doors that were opening up.

Btw, these are all good changes, things I am legitimately excited about (and will be sharing soon in a new post) – but to my heart a change always feels like a death of something familiar, and any opportunity to give more of myself requires more strength in opening myself to be scrutinized and to potentially fail. I knew that I needed to take the time to regain confidence and prove to my heart that I could be faithful to caring for myself in a new season of life with lots more responsibility.

I knew that I needed confidence and to be in a place with people who prioritize wellness – but I had no clue with that would look like.

Within a couple of days I heard about the WELL Summit (a curated event thats all about wellness, empowerment, learning, and luxury).

As I sat on my bed listening to one of my favorite podcasters [shout out to Lauren Ash of Black Girl In Om] share about this fabulous event she was speaking at for the weekend in New York City, my heart knew that a weekend to NYC was exactly the kind of grand gesture it needed.

 

NYC has always been the place I feel most confident. Every time I visit there, the city has always has a gift to give to me and I always leave feeling like I can take on the world. It heals me. It connects me to people who are so similar to me. It fills me in so many rich ways. And honestly after a day spent navigating the subway system and the streets, I feel different and sufficient.

As soon as the thought of NYC got into my head I could not shake it off – no matter how much I wanted to. And after lots of talking about it, analyzing it, asking God for signs, trying not to get too excited so I don't get disappointed, analyzing the pro's and con's, I was sitting standing in line about to board my plane to NYC!

A couple of more “grand gesture yourself” pep talks later and I was actually in the air on my way to my favorite city in North America. And a few hours later as my plane was getting ready to land – I looked out into the city and the tears just started pouring. These were proud tears from my heart because I had actually taken the time to do something big for me.

Let me tell you, true to form my heart knew exactly what I needed because my days in NYC left me feeling full, expectant, and competent for the new challenges ahead. The time to clear my head, to eat halal food, to be close to the water, to be around thousands of other people in Time Square, to worship at Hillsong NYC, to attend the WELL SUMMIT!

Well summit

 

WELL SUMMIT was everything I could have hoped for and more:

I met fabulous people!!

Got lots of yummy treats!

Drank so much cactus water that I forgot what real water tasted like...jk, but seriously!

Healed from a lot of things I didn't even realize I needed healing from [thank you Cyndie]

Created a new mantra that encapsulates a new vision of where I see myself headed

Had so many opportunities for gratitude.

As I step back into my new roles and a new season back in Alabama, I hope I will always remember that sometimes I just need to get out of my head a bit and check in with my heart. I know little acts of self care will always be entrenched into my routine, but I hope I practice grand gesturing myself a bit more because when I love myself large I have more capacity in me to serve and love other people without expecting anything from them.

 

grand gesture yourself

 

 

Confidence in your craft for Young Professionals

20-SOMETHING

 

Every few months I experience an episode of the dreaded quarter-life crisis where I wonder if my life has any meaning, where all my idealism went, why I decided to be an adult, and long for simpler days. (It's normal - the Internet said so)

My last quarter-life crisis episode was mostly centered around my career and how little I felt like an 'expert lawyer.' Luckily I was able to process this to my father who has been a lawyer longer than I have been alive and he assured me that there was nothing like an expert lawyer. He explained to me that confidence in my craft will be gained over time and experience but that no amount of intellectualism prepares young professionals to be more confident in their craft.

I just wanted to share a few tips with you over the past few months that have helped me own my identity as a lawyer and question myself less.

As a 20-something who has been in school almost as many years as I have been alive (I started school at age 2 #OverAchievingNigerians) having an actual full time job in a field that I chose to invest lots of time, heart and energy that does switch itself up every semester has been an adjustment from going to school and that adjustment takes time and patience.

  1. Recognizing that the uncomfortable feelings associated with being in a new profession is growing pains and not an indication that you need to run to the next thing that catches your eye is a huge step of growth towards growing confident in craft.

  2. Find the specific things you get to do in your profession that bring you joy and do more of those specific things. For example if you are in the hospitality industry and you really love creating luxury spaces for people to be in, take note of that feeling & replicate it often. If you are in the legal profession like I am, and you really enjoy problem solving and finding complex answers for people, do more of that.

  3. Read more about things within your industry. Reading has a way of giving your more confidence because you find little nuggets of wisdom that help you sound like more knowledgeable and you can always credit the author if it's not accurate advice.

  4. Hang out with positive and more knowledgable people within your industry. Friends it has to be a sweet spot of positive and knowledgable! They can be mentors or just people you go out to lunch with every couple of months. The only requirement is that they actually somewhat enjoy their jobs and know more than you do.

  5. Figure out some alternative streams of income that intersects with your profession. We all know that millenials tend to be overworked and underpaid. The pressure for one job to meet all your financial and emotional needs while providing mentoring, professional development, and good work/life balance might be a tad bit too idealistic for an entry level job. So, go something else that you can do that meets some of the other needs you have but benefits your profession in some way. If you have an office job that doesn't let you meet a lot of people outside your cubicle, you might consider getting a waitressing gig on the weekends to help you meet some new people. If you are around people all day in a sales job, you may consider working at a library during after hours to be alone and around lots of free books. I teach yoga and practice law and run an African-centric organization with my best friend– they all meet different needs and intersect together at a sweet spot that helps me hone skills to be a better professional.

Alright, I hope those tips were insightful & helpful. Leave a comment on which tip you will be trying or something you are already doing to get more confident in honing your skills.