It’s (NOT) Okay

Before you crucify me, hear me out. No it’s not okay. I think we need to put a quota on how many times we get to say that because it’s getting out of hand.  It’s not always okay. ‘Okay’ is not the answer. It’s going to be okay is not the answer to the problem. It’s a construct for when you don’t know what to say and now it has become the norm. It’s no longer okay. Think about it, how has saying that helped anything. It’s just a quick fix. Let me explain myself to you.

When someone is hurting, you hear people say ‘It’s okay to feel hurt’ and then after the hurt what next? Nobody comes back to say “here’s how you can work through this” or “this is how you can feel better”. You know what happens in such cases? They absorb the idea that it’s okay to continuously feel okay and nothing more. Before we fought through situations and circumstances, we always got up, we always fought through everything but now, we just want to be ‘understood’. We want to receive applause for being human beings. Oh! You don’t know what I’ve been through, I was [insert a struggle here] but guess what? Clap for yourself. Now get up and move on. Life happens. Sob stories never paid off unless of course you’re a writer.

Today, I watched a short clip on the life of J.K Rowling. How she started, lost a parent, had a miscarriage, got divorced and then decided to put all her effort into the one thing she knew the most, writing. Today, she is worth almost $1 billion dollars. Imagine if all she was told was ‘It’s okay to feel sad, don’t worry it’ll be alright’. In her case, she may or may have not had people say that to her. I’m worried that this generation will be full of people who are just absolutely content with whatever life throws at them. I was born this way, It’s not my fault, I married the wrong guy, If I had gone to better schools. We should stop patronizing these behaviors.pexels-photo-320007.jpeg

The only thing that’s okay is that you have realized where you are and the drawbacks you may or may not have. Once you do, start working through them. Fight! Don’t just sit there and throw a pity party. Did you know that some doctors don’t recommend telling a child with any kind of say behavioral disorder what the name of the disorder is. Yes, the child realizes he/she is not like any other child around them but their parents are told to avoid as much as possible, labeling them with one difficult-to-pronounce medical term. This prevents the child from dwelling within a box that can be broken down.

We need to start picking people up, not building houses in the pits they’ve fallen into. Sometimes, what your friend needs from you is not ‘support’. There will always be time to grieve, break down and cry and weep but once that time is over, it’s time to give life a try again. Tell people hard truths. Not rudely but politely, with love, not with an air of contempt or pity. When people can sense love in your word, even if they may be hostile at first, they will eventually process your words logically. They’ll be grateful for the tough love in the end. Trust me.

While You’re Still Young

Youth flies faster than the speed of light. One minute you’re crawling, the next minute you’re telling your mom you’re now grown up. Truth is you’re 15. I get it, most of us we’re pleasantly misconstrued about life. Now you’re all grown up finally and responsibilities got you owing a lot of debt. You’ve lost that inner child you used to have bubbling inside you and causing you to find new adventure in your life. You have to do what you have to do because you’re mature now.

Okay. Take a deep breath and look around you. Life happens whether you stop or not. Take it all in. Some days I forget I’m only in my early twenties, I’m not even close to twenty five and yet all you hear from me is what I have to, what I have to do. Yesterday, someone asked me, Is it what you have to do? what you want to do? Or what you should do? The saddest part was that hardly any of the answers were intersecting. Sigh. Wouldn’t it be awesome to have all those things be the same? I mean, yes that would only exist in an ideal world but then we can try to get as close as possible because things like doing dishes exist and I do NOT love doing the dishes. Some things never change. Take for example, I’ve noticed a lot of young married couples on Instagram of late and it’s really beautiful to watch. The thing I admire the most is how cool and chill they are or at least they seem to be and some of them have up to three kids. Yet, some of my friends can’t relax.

Mid-life crises percentages are increasing because kids are not allowed to be kids anymore. Rushed curricula, so much pressure from school. Matter of fact, I run a program that has three semesters in a year, four months per semester which is pretty accelerated. No worries, I picked it so I know what I signed up for but then most of these programs are made to save time. A little extra stress to save time. You basically spend your late teens and a good part of your twenties trying to get there. Good grades, volunteering and good recommendation, you just spend your time piling loads of paper to make a good first impression.pexels-photo-261895

Just breathe. While you’re doing all you can to make your life better and to secure a better future, remember you can only be this age once. Personally, I’m scared of those articles that say drink alcohol, have a one night stand etc I’m always wide-eyed wondering why anyone would give that kind of advice but I guess each man to his own. Embracing your youth doesn’t have to mean doing things you could regret. It just means trying to do the things that make you happy and learning how to grow. Trying not to lose your individuality, finding more ways to do the things you love and finding new ways to love the same person over and over again if you’re into that stuff ( which is really cool).

Remember, you’re only young once and you’re only as young as you feel. Never lose your child-like wonder.

What Kind of Influence are You?

Monkey see, monkey do. Thank God we’re not monkeys because if we had to learn everything we know by just shadowing the actions we see around us, Lord knows the disaster that would surface. At some point, which was when we were babies, it was a usual thing to imitate what we saw because our eyes were the most important form of communication after the mouth ( the oral stage). As we grew, we realized, things were not as black and white as they should be and everything that was done was not based on a set of hard and fast rules. Basically, different situation, different actions. Which brings me to this, what kind of influence are you?

Influence. The word itself has power. It is the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself. People spend millions of dollars buying books and instructional videos to teach them how to gain influence. With influence comes power and with power comes the keys to the kingdom. I personally couldn’t care less about how much influence you have, a thousand or ten thousand, what do you with it. This question is what causes the general public to place so much pressure on the celebrities of nowadays that causes them to crack. Parents saying “my daughter looks up to you” and “my son adores you”, makes you want to always stay in line to always remain a good influence.

I am writing this because we need more and more good influences in our lives. While I feel like we should not put the burden of shaping our children and youths into the hands of those who have achieved fame for anything but being a good influence, I also feel like if you happen to be in such a position, it wouldn’t hurt to use your new-found voice to raise awareness on something. I am really grateful for people who from their little homes try everything in their power to make a change. I also happen to believe strongly in the butterfly effect, that the phenomenon whereby a minute localized change in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere, in reference to the chaos theory. A little goes a long way, and even if it doesn’t, you may have affected the one life that is required to create the explosive one you desire. We all know how a single tweet, no more than 140 characters can cause massive effects, how much more your actions.

Today is kind of #motivationmonday from me to you. Think about it. What kind of influence can you create. Is it speaking up about bullying, rape or just maybe raising awareness for that little cause nearby. Recommendation letters for the students nearby trying to get into one school or the other. They’re already on the right path and your influence could help them get there. I saw a blogger recommending blogs she liked for an affiliate program on a Facebook group and I couldn’t be more pleased,. All for free.

Even the simplest things matter, like your actions. Recently,a video of a guy separating a fight went viral, later he was honored for what he did. His action, turning the fight around and his very witty words raised public awareness and someone else used their influence to thank him publicly. Hopefully more and more youths will find fighting in neighborhoods with high number of fight outbreaks not cool and those who are scared of breaking fights, because it’s not their business will have a change of heart. Whatever and whoever, wherever you are, just please be a good influence.

To close, here’s this simply put by Ann Voskamp

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Service: A Form of Gratitude

Did you know you could show appreciation in other ways than saying thank you and giving gifts. Sincere appreciation is hard to come by nowadays, people don’t even say ‘Thank you’ anymore. To summarize, people now say Chivalry is dead. I disagree. It’s scarce but not dead. I mean endangered species are still species right? I was taking the 5 languages of Apology test by Gary Chapman because I was arguing with someone that for me, saying sorry doesn’t just fly with me and there are many ways to apologize. I read emotions, facial expressions and body language but what I hate the most is when someone never actually acknowledges that they’re wrong or doesn’t think they are especially when they couldn’t be more wrong. You can take the test here. Anyways I digress.

Have you ever considered being of service to anyone? No matter who you are and how materialistic you might be, our innate selves love the idea that someone would go out of their way to ‘do’ something for us. Not pay someone to do it or but something that does it, but actually do something for us with their time and their whole hearts. It’s funny but service differs from scenario to scenario. For example, if a very strict superior tells you to take a break after working very hard, that they’ll finish it up, it would make you feel very happy because you’ve been appreciated as opposed to your busy friend who you’d want to just give you five minutes of their time so you can hang out together. It’s a very common phenomenon. Children of rich kids want their parent’s attention so they can play ball or watch a movie together, wives of busy spouses just want their husbands to have a candlelit or fireplace dinner with them. It all boils down to service. Volunteering to do something out of your normal schedule which may or may not be convenient for you.

Why do we all want this? Because humans love to feel important and it is only for an important person you would stop everything. I’m sure by now someone must have popped up in your mind. This applies to not only your spouse, friend or family but your community. Sometimes you see people in charge of community affairs saying that even though monetary donations are great, hands on service is often needed as well. It builds a bond among the members of the community. So? how can you be of help? There are many ways you could be of service to anyone or any group. The trick is to ‘See a need, fill a need’

Hence, in honor of the upcoming  Mother’s Day, here’s a thought. Instead of the usual ‘Mother’s Day Gift Ideas’ which a lot of you might be considering, in addition, spend time with your mama. Some mothers would kill just to cook with you or have a family dinner or have an outing with her, just mother to child. I also realize that some of you may have lost your mommies. You know what? Find a mama with no children or a child with no mama. Remember see a need, fill a need. As much as you ca, be of service to someone. The material things may get lost and stolen or even out of date but the memories now and the smile across their face is what you should live for. They are priceless.

Happy Mother’s Day in advance. To all the moms out there, we love and appreciate you.

Habits For Personal Growth

We’re almost through the first quarter of the year. By now the new year resolutions are either working out really well or are now completely forgotten. Either way, a lot has changed since we stepped into the new year and you’re probably making new plans everyday and adjusting to the period.It’s already spring.  Flowers, lighter clothes and finally, the sun. Perfect time to relax and reflect on yourself and how far you’ve come. If you’re not one for resolutions, then good, these habits will help you grow everyday of each year as long as you consistently practice them. Soon, they become second nature and it no longer becomes a conscious process. Here they are:

1 BE FLEXIBLE

Change is constant and hence you should be constantly changing. You are not the person you once were. The foods you eat, the things you do, the things you like and even the friends you keep. As a human. you’re constantly evolving and hence it is only wise to be flexible in every area of life. Yes, everyone has principles and routines that are the center which your life pivots around but in a dynamic world as the one we live in, you can only keep moving forward. If you’re stubborn enough to stand still the world will leave you and pass you by. Nokia 3310 phone had a really good battery but no one uses it anymore, smartphones are now in.

2 BE OPEN MINDED

He that listens to the experiences and the thoughts of a thousand men has lived a thousand lives. In a society that wants to spoon feed you with it’s unstable versions of right and wrong, good and evil and what is acceptable, a natural defense would be to close the mind to every external force or idea in order to protect it. However, you’d learn so much more from others. Learn to open your mind, listen to other points of view even if they go completely against yours. You may find it easier to convince someone else when you listen to them with an intent to hear them out not to argue or prove them wrong.

3 REFLECT

This should be a daily habit itself. Everyday, 30 minutes before bed, think back and reflect on all that was done during the day, how the tie was spent and all you said. It’s a good way to correct errors in our speech and actions. If you had a fight, a relaxed thought of the things that happened before,during and after the fight might be a good way to clear up your point of view of the events. Weekly and monthly, reflecting puts you in perspective of your goals and how close or far you are from achieving them. It’s easy to see whether the strategies you have are in  place and  they are working. It helps you re-strategize for better and quicker success.

4 USE YOUR IMAGINATION AND CREATIVITY

The difference between one person doing something and the other person is the unique creativity that comes with every individual. IF you want to grow in any area of your life,, your imagination and creativity is required. For every problem you encounter and you have to solve, it may depend on your ability to think outside the box. In whatever situation you find yourself, learn to think independently, irrespective of what you’ve been taught is right and wrong.

5 LEARN TO TAKE RISKS

Taking calculated risks leads to great results which may be in the form of success or experience. In my other post, I talk about the value of gaining experience. Risk taking opens you up to bigger possibilities. You may learn more about yourself while taking risks than when you’re in your comfort zone. It may be as little as trying new foods, finding a new hobby, doing something you’ve never tried. Risks begin little by little and eventually lead to great results. Set goals that stretch you and let you break out of the shell that is your comfort zone.

6  BE UNDERSTANDING

Understanding others, the reason why they do what they do and who they really are is a great way to grow yourself. Be sympathetic. Learn to sympathize with others. Have compassion. Love. Give freely. Be slow to anger and quick to forgive. It enables you to connect with others deeply and while it comes naturally for some, you may need to actively learn to do so. Identify barriers that might exist while interacting with others and break them.  You should want better things for others than you do for yourself.

7 PRAY

I’m a Christian, so I believe in God. Praying helps you deal wiht the spiritual aspect of your life. It is said that the spiritual dictates the physical, what some people call karma. Meditate as much as you can and pray without ceasing. It helps cleanse the the mind, body and soul. Once your mind is clear, you can function at optimum levels and hence grow.

What tips do you do that help you grow personally? Leave them in the comment section. Don’t forget to share with your friends.

Time To Re-Focus

I may be talking to you. I may be talking to me. You’ll never know.

ANGER TRIGGER

Today is Monday, the first day of the week, and it’s the perfect time to do things right to make the week go smoothly. Yesterday, I got angry. Instagram changed its algorithm again and engagement on my page came crashing down to the floor. I have about 1.2K followers with an average engagement of 80-100 likes and 10 comments per post. It’s not much but I was proud of it. Now, it dropped to 20 likes per post, the comment section too embarrassing to speak of. To make matters worse, I was reading blogs on a group thread and I saw a blogger complaining of being locked out of her Facebook account; her stats dropped to about 75 per day, from 250-450 per day. She has had her blog for approx 42 days, just over a month. I was awed by her success, and curious. My quick guess was that she had put in a lot of work on social media promotions, and she attested to that. The best part was that her friends and family had no part in her success. It was all her.

RASH DECISIONS

Just after I finished praising her, and also sympathizing with her for her account loss, I became mad. Why didn’t I do as well? My blog is twice as old as hers with half the success; maybe one-third. I was sad and broken. Why did I have to fail so much? Everyone else seemed to be doing just fine. But was this true? I put in a lot of work into blogging and I have to juggle it with school and all, but that’s just life for you. Guess what I did? Since the anger started from Instagram, I went over to my unfollowers app and unfollowed everybody who didn’t follow me back. I saved some people because I really like their feeds but the rest, all gone. I also discovered that you could remove followers – that is people who follow you, that you don’t want anymore; you could remove them from being your followers. My reason was that I could not have over 1000 people who don’t care following me. I didn’t want my page to look like it was unreal, or that I bought followers. I was wrong.

I was simultaneously complaining to my friend about the drop and how I was just tired of trying to be appeal to people. He told me to take deep breaths. Then he asked me: “Why do you blog?”. “Because I love it”, I replied. “Then why did you remove your followers?”, he asked. I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know what to say. He continued: “You started the blog to be an inspiration to people. If you want to inspire people, why take away the opportunity for them to be inspired. Now, they can’t see what you post, or hear what you have to say. Is that what you want?”

REMORSE

I became sad all over again. I had become so engrossed in the thought of getting to 10K followers with at least 5% engagement so that some big company can sponsor me and I can make a little change out of something I love doing. I forgot the main reason I started this and had become completely sidetracked. I felt really remorseful. I don’t know the usernames of the people I removed but I’m so sorry, wherever you are. My pride got the best of me and I let numbers define me. I was so concerned about statistics that I forgot that these were real people, with real stories, real joys, real problems, and real hopes. Yes, I want success but I don’t want it if it means selling my soul or losing my morals. The deals, sponsorship, and endorsements will come when they will and I’ll be right here when they do. I’m here to inspire and I never want to forget that.

FINAL WORDS

To you reading this, whatever you do, don’t forget why you started. Don’t sell yourself short. Like the song “I Hope You Dance” the lyrics say “When you come close to selling out, reconsider”. I hope you do reconsider. At school, work and your personal endeavors, never ever forget what your initial vision was . Only change for the better, not because of what you could get or what people say. Don’t ever forget it.

Lessons Learned: Hidden Figures

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

Two hours and eight minutes of screen time on a Friday afternoon, absent from school because exams were cancelled. What a way to start the week. I’m quite late to this train, this movie has been release for quite a while and I’d heard it was quite one, being a top grossing movie for two weeks in a row, if my sources are correct. Even though, I don’t like general public recommendations when it comes to movies, i always watch just to clear the doubt and I am proud to say it was a job well done.

I mean, a story of three black women in NASA trying to find a way to achieve their dreams despite obvious obstacles in their path. What’s not to learn from them. Aside the emotions that come with watching this movie, there are lessons you can take home and apply to your life once the excitement of theatre wears off. Here are a few:

LEADERSHIP: As a leader, you’re to bring out the best in the people you lead and direct, no matter who they are and irrespective of their background, you should respect each individual as they come to you and only try to make them better persons/followers than they were. As the saying goes, A group is only as strong as its weakest link.

FRIENDSHIP: Katherine, Dorothy and Mary were good friends to each other and when Katherine and Mary needed a little push to get to where they should be, Dorothy was there to do just that. I really admired Dorothy for the role she played both in the workplace and at home.

PERSEVERANCE: The determination Mary possessed in her heart is one to be admired. I have to say from the start she was a feisty one but some tough people crack under pressure. Even when her husband, doubted her at first because he didn’t want her to get hurt, she knew what she wanted and went after it even though the odds were not in her favour. At her court case, she demonstrated wisdom. She did her homework right and used an excellent strategy to get what she wanted.

BOLDNESS: At some pint, you have to fight for what is right and what you want. Katherine was patient and quiet, despite all that went on in the office. Going to a faraway bathroom and providing solutions to problems that she was not given variables for. When she had proven her worth in the office and still wasn’t being heard, she had to speak up and thank God she did. Else, she would probably have been fired for incompetence.

TEAMWORK: Dorothy took out the time to gain knowledge concerning the IBM and wasted no time teaching the program to her fellow computers which in the end saved them all their jobs. She could have easily learnt it and the rest of the team would have been laid off but she foughT for them even when she wasn’t paid for the role of  a supervisor that she assumed. You should always look out for your colleagues.

SECOND CHANCES: Jim, the guy who Katherine married, made a very bad first impression on Katherine when they first met. Even though he apologised on the spot, it seemed insincere and she walked away but he didn’t give up and kept trying. She saw his sincerity and gave him a second chance which resulted in their marriage. If someone is genuine and sincere, it never hurts to give a second chance.

CHANGE: Change is the only thing that is constant. Things, people and time is constantly changing. The mindset of the period the movie was one with a lot of close mindedness and it paved way for the change that was to come. It’s always good to keep an open mind and look out for faults or weaknesses in already existing systems to facilitate change that helps us become a better  individuals.

I hope you liked readiing. Please share and if you haven’t watched the movie, I’d definitely recommend it. No article can spoil this movie. It’s one to be seen.

Disclaimer: Featured image source here. Property of FOX