Speaking up in the world has always been a problem when I was a kid. I Physically could not use my own mouth to express what I felt, I would stay shut as if my mouth was sewn shut but deep down inside I had so much I wanted to say. so many thoughts going through my mind but not one single word coming out. I never seemed to understand why I did not have the strength mentally to get it out and physically to stand up for myself no matter how much I wanted no matter how hurt, angry, or sad I was in a situation I just could not. My confidence level was at a minimum which played a big role in why I wasn’t confident enough to speak up. speaking up in this world is scary because you don’t know what reaction you might receive from people. Are they gonna agree with me? Are they gonna hate me? I just want to fit in with the crowd. Many things would go running through my mind when I would try to speak up, what if I say the wrong thing, should I even speak up, may I be overreacting? is this the right place and time to do it?. In moments like this, to anyway it would feel like I was about to be sucked in by a dark sinkhole. I would just to anyway I could to escape the situation whether it was me just sitting there and smiling knowing deep down I did not agree with what was happening or just finding any lame excuse to run away to avoid any chance of conversation. As overwhelming as this all could be I knew the right way to go about it was by staying true to myself. I finally found the confidence in myself and found my voice, I found me. I know my worth and I know who I am.
Now my next challenge is showing myself and others through my clothing brand. When I first encountered the business world and the people I was so scared that I could not think straight but the more I spoke to people about my brand and what it meant to me they seem to have clicked with me and believed in my goal and they love It! You don’t have to verbally speak up you can speak up with music, painting, sports and more. I chose to speak up through clothing because I feel as though I can tell my story a bit through clothing designs. Someone once told me that the clothing you wear speaks a lot for you and I believed what he said was true. People can choose to listen to you or hear you but a lot of people can’t ignore what you are wearing.
The more I see and hear and how many people stand beside me as I try to find my voice in this world and in the business world gives me the strength and confidence I need to continue growing. As my journey still continues I know it won’t be easy and I know I may have times where I may feel that I don’t have the courage to use my voice but with the love and support from those who believe in me i know I will be able to get through it all.
Growing up, I wasn’t sure of much, but one thing I was certain of was that I was going to grow up to tell stories that touched people. I spent a lot of my childhood reading, writing poems and short stories, and watching movies, thinking that one day I’d be an author, maybe a screenwriter or songwriter.
In high school I was encouraged to apply to Journalism and Communications programs and ended up completing my undergrad in Communications Studies at Carleton University. I struggled interning for a bit after I graduated, took on dead-end jobs after that and eventually went back to school for Marketing. Ironically, after going back to school I landed a Communications internship with a major Canadian telecommunications company which led to my promotion as a Senior Communications Specialist on the team. To me, I had made it! I’d achieved the one thing I wanted so badly – to get a full-time, salaried job that paid well and allowed me to tell stories.
Now don’t get me wrong – I love my job, but after years in the role, I started to question my purpose. What am I doing here? I’m writing every day, and I love it, but how much impact is this making? Am I touching lives like I always dreamt I would? I had stopped dreaming and felt disconnected from anything really meaningful. I was telling stories but not really helping people like I wanted to.
Naturally, I love helping people. I’m very giving, almost to a fault. This has caused me to be selfless in my relationships not just with friends and family, but with boyfriends too. Around the same time that I was questioning my purpose, I was months into dating this guy that was a long time friend of mine. But I never in a million years could have predicted what was to come and the events following that set in motion.
One night on my way home from work, I received a phone call from him. This was after I had already found out he was seeing other women, contrary to our previously agreed upon rules and boundaries. I was not excited to hear from him. He informed me on that call that he was expecting a baby with his ex-girlfriend in a couple of months – that I should know this since I had found out about everything else. This crushed me. I never saw any of it coming. I resolved to cut all ties but I was still down and out for weeks. Then as I was sleeping one night God spoke to me in my dreams. I dreamt that I was using my relationship experiences and self love journey to inspire a crowd of women and girls. It was in my dream that night that I began to manifest my purpose. I woke up with tears streaming down my face because I couldn’t believe what I had just experienced – it felt so real and I was invigorated. I immediately wrote it down and started asking myself, “well, what does this mean?”
That dream and subsequent brainstorming led to me picking myself up, refocusing my energy, enrolling in the New Girl On The Block mentorship program, and coming up with the idea to start a YouTube channel centered on self love and relationships. I am now working on launching the channel and website, and exploring the possibility of becoming an inspirational speaker. I stopped limiting myself and started thinking big. I used my passion for helping people and telling stories to guide me and I took one of the most painful experiences in my life and turned it into purpose. Sometimes it takes going through some major downfalls to get you to the place that you need to be.
Where did you see yourself at 24-year-old? I’ll tell you where I didn’t expect to be at 23, pregnant, planning a wedding and living across the world from the closest people to me; my mom and brother. Like all things we plan and hope for, life did not go accordingly, but before I get ahead of myself let me tell you more about my story.
I was born in Luanda, Angola, for those unsure where that is, its a country in the south of Africa just above Namibia. Due to some life occurrences, too complicated to discuss here, at 8 years old my mom decided to move us (my brother and I) to Canada. The next 16 years in Canada were a bit of a blur, I had to learn a new language, new culture, make new friends, and mature in a society that later on I would consider my own. The goals and dreams I created for my life professionally, romantically and personally, were ones based on what I was exposed to, living in a developed country with access to just about everything. It was a great privilege, which I discovered much later on. I finished University at 21.5 years old, yes the .5 is necessary because I am a December baby, with a degree in Environmental Science, with great prospects for starting my career. I had planned in my mind that I would work, organize myself, date and get married by 27 and a year later start a family, meanwhile traveling as much an I could. What a great dream, right? Once I graduated, we (mom and I) decided it would be best for me to move back home to gain some work experience to then later return to Canada and work some more. Things didn’t go quite as planned, once I arrived in Luanda, it was a definite culture shock, the lack of social conditions, infrastructure, and overall the way of life and thinking of the local people took a while to get used to. After 3 months in Luanda, I was blessed with a job in HR, as a fromTraining and Development Coordinator. Goal number one not achieved, or so I thought. Working is where I met my now husband, he began to show me around the city, teaching me more about the culture, and patiently correcting my then terrible Portuguese (official local language). After a year a half of dating, I found out I was pregnant, goal number two not achieved, or so I thought. Something you should know is that here in Angola, once you become pregnant, culturally you must marry the man. So here I was 23, pregnant, planning a wedding and living miles away from my core family. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed by the amount of responsibility that I knew I was about to face. I got married at 7 months pregnant, and a month after I went to Canada to give birth to my son. So, to resume, I am a newlywed, a new mother, and was about to return to my new home living in an environment I was still trying to adapt to, which was goal number three not achieved, or so I thought. About 3 months after having my son, I reunited with my husband in Luanda, where the largest dose of reality was waiting for me. In a few months time, I would have to juggle being a wife, a mother and working full time, essentially, it was not easy. Let me disclaim firstly that my husband is wonderful and helps out as much as he can, but he was also raised in a culture where men don’t usually do much to help in the home or with the daily duties with their kids. According to my dream, I had managed to go off track and not follow any of the ideas I had set for myself. Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that it created a lot of internal conflict, where on one hand I was feeling blessed for my healthy beautiful baby and my caring dedicated husband, but on the other hand I felt sad because of all the pressure I had put on myself based on my plans and ideas of success which made me feel like a failure.
Until this day I struggle sometimes with what my current reality is, maybe because of my feelings of not being as achieved as I had planned, or maybe because I am sleep deprived of breastfeeding during the night, most likely its a combination, but it is a daily conscious decision to not look back. The best part of how my life is right now is that I noticed that, as much as I like to think I should have been more accomplished and I would have done much more living in Canada, single and without a baby, that’s not actually the truth. Now, I feel a certain motivation, drive, strength, empowerment, than I ever did living in the wonderfully developed, opportunity-filled country as a young University graduate. I am filled with ideas, new hopes, new dreams and new goals, all of this because my life took a turn I never planned on.
So, what’s the takeaway, my dear millennial graduates? Its good to have hopes and dreams and goals and you should strive to achieve them all, but what’s even more important is to be flexible. Accept that not everything will go accordingly, and that is okay because they can go even better. Be kind to yourself as you chase your happiness, be kind to yourself, and most importantly, be open to new situations and challenges, because you never know where it might take you.
This is for all of the millennials like myself who have found themselves wandering in search of a purpose and meaningful direction.
About five years ago, while going through the darkest and most difficult time of my life, I awoke to an unpleasant truth. I had no idea who I really was. I was unable to articulate my values, my boundaries, or my dreams, completely disconnected and directionless. It was some deep sh*t.
During those years, I exhausted many of the people and things around me. With nowhere else to hide and no one else to tell my woes to, I reluctantly turned inward. Funny enough, I learned that this is exactly where I was supposed to be because no one else could give me the answers or do the work for me.
For me, “doing the work” involved any activity that allowed my mind to be still and my heart to open. I would fill my days with yoga, meditation, running, cooking, watching documentaries etc. I started to write in my journal. I also leaned into the world of Personal Development, Nutrition, Psychology, Sociology, and Spirituality, by consuming a variety of content from the top thought leaders in each field. Together these activities worked out to be pretty inexpensive yet, effective therapy.
After a few years of practicing self-care and intentional living, I began to see the fruits of my labor. I started to love myself, accept myself and understand myself. And best of all, I have clarity about who I am and what my purpose is.
Based on my experiences thus far, I truly believe that we all must go to the darkest parts of ourselves in order to heal and uncover the truth. As you take this journey,I encourage you to be brave and know that you are not alone.
Here are 10 tips that I’ve uncovered from my own journey and study. I have no doubt that at least one of them will help!
TIP #1 – GET CLEAR ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT
This tip comes in two parts. Part one: get clear about what you want from life. If you could experience or become anything what would it be? Sometimes it helps if you dig deep into your childhood memories and think about the things you loved doing or dreams you used to have. Write it down. Part two: ask yourself empowering questions about your current reality. For example, “What thoughts hold me back from creating the life of my dreams?” or “What beliefs do I need to accept in order to create the best possible experiences in my life?” Contemplate these questions often and write down the answers when they come. Sometimes they will show themselves in ways you don’t expect but they will always be clear.
Check out this lesson on “Questions to Ask The Universe To Help Unfold Your Biggest Gifts”by Michael B. Beckwidth
TIP #2 – FEED YOUR SOUL ON THE REGULAR
Develop a spiritual practice aka ritual in order to connect to your innermost parts. Ps. this is where you set your intentions, replenish your energy, receive intuitive insights and build endurance for the journey. Unplug, Pray, ask for what you need, meditate, read, journal, express gratitude. A commitment to whichever one of those resonate with you will help you connect to yourself and feed ya soul. Consistency is key.
TIP #3 – SET INTENTIONAL GOALS
As you build your spiritual practice, the answers will start flowing in. Use the vision that is being revealed to you and set some goals in order to give it life. Break the big ones up into small bite size pieces of all the necessary steps you’d have to take in order to make the big one come true. Set realistic time frames for their achievement. Do you really need to give this dream 5 years, 3 years, 1 year, or 3-6 months to come together? Spread them out over a realistic period of time. Plan your weeks and your days with small tasks.
TIP #4 – KEEP INSPIRATION INSIGHT
Being able to see visual cues and details of the life we want to create helps us to expand our imagination by keeping positive stimulation around us for when we need a reminder. If your life vision entails you being in a loving, lasting, and healthy romantic partnership, maybe you want to create a vision board that has photos of lovers sharing a romantic moment. Look at it and imagine what your life will feel like when you have that.
TIP #5 – KNOW YOUR WEAK SPOTS AND GET HELP TO STRENGTHEN THEM
The ability to identify your weaknesses as opportunities to grow is an important part of the journey. Accept them for what they are and act to improve them by enlisting the help of people and resources around you. Study up on the area you want to improve in. You may not be able to master it all but at least gain enough understanding of it to recognize the triggers and learn a few tips for managing it.
TIP #6 – GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO BE CREATIVE
This is where you give life to the vision. You’re going to have to sit down and do the work, but trust me, it can be fun and feel good once you get in the groove of it. First, re-evaluate how you spend your time and energy because time is your most valuable asset. Be intentional when you are planning. Ask yourself how the things you do align with the bigger vision. Create boundaries and learn to say no so that you can say yes to Saturday morning work sessions for you and your craft. The more time and energy you can give to the creative process, the better chance you have of birthing your dream.
Check out my favorite read on how to unleash your creativity HERE.
TIP #7 – HAVE PATIENCE LOVE
It is said that good things take time. Every time that you find yourself discouraged by the process, remember that. And more importantly, remember the reason why you embarked on this journey in the first place. When I find myself discouraged and impatient with the results I tap into my gratitude practice. I write down all the things that I am grateful for and why. It’s really simple but powerful. This allows me to ground myself in the present moment and to cultivate an energy of appreciation for the opportunities and things that I do have. Patience is like a muscle and it can be strengthened.
Book Recommendation: The Magic by Rhonda Byrne
TIP #8 – STAY IN YOUR OWN LANE
You know how you can sometimes get caught in the black hole of endless IG and Facebook scrollings? Well, it’s the consumption of everyone else’s highlights and glamour that can add to the funk about where we are and what we are doing. Especially if we’re experiencing a creative block in our work or are having difficulty getting started. Be mindful of the messages and media you consume. Learn about what triggers you. Respond to yourself with compassionate and empowering dialogue. “It’s great that she just published her first book! I am happy for her and I know that I will have my time too.” Know that everyone has their own unique path to follow, so don’t get caught up comparing yourself to others.
TIP #9 – MIND YOUR THOUGHTS, THEY BECOME THINGS
Many thought leaders believe that our inner conversation contributes to the way we experience and perceive the world around us. Start paying attention to the conversation in your head. Without passing judgment, look at how the voice in your head responds to the world around you. Is it speaking from a place of possibility or one of lack and limitation? If it’s of the latter, ask yourself some empowering questions (see tip 1). Figure out what underlying beliefs and emotions are connected to the negative thoughts every time they come up, and challenge them with the truth. Focus on creating positive thoughts and be sure to uproot the negative ones. You’ll have to be more mindful of your thoughts and the way you speak to yourself when you get discouraged. Work on motivating and keeping yourself in check in a loving and compassionate way.
Take a deeper dive on the topic with Dr. Joe Dispenza here.
TIP #10 – TRUST AND LET GO
Trust the process, trust the vision, trust that when you do all that you can from where you are and with what you have, shi*t will just line up! Trust requires belief in the possibility of something existing in reality. I hope you can see that although this might seem like the hardest part, if you keep inspiration in sight and practice mindful thinking, you are already aiding the manifestation your vision. Trust that you will be supported, especially if you’re coming from a deep place of clarity about your dream.
The path to living the life of your dreams and becoming the person you want to be is not linear, it’s not perfect and it’s not a do it once kinda thing. Becoming is a continual process. It’s messy, it’s fun, it brings you closer to the sweet moments of life. Give birth to the sh*t that terrifies you; the pain will be worth it and the creations will be beautiful.
I was asked to participate in a mini play during church service a year ago. That was the day I realized I had social anxiety. We had two weeks to prepare and every time I practiced my heart would beat so hard I was surprised it wasn’t obvious. I would forget my lines even though I knew them. My voice became shaky, it was like I was verbally punishing myself. On the day of I was set to perform, I was trying to come up with every excuse in the book and honestly, the only thing stopping me was that I promised myself I would be more involved in anything church related. I didn’t care that I didn’t have an understudy or that my absence would have thrown everyone off. How could I when comments like “you’re probably going to make a fool out of yourself”, or “make sure you don’t trip because that would be embarrassing. I kept thinking, “girl, what if you salivate too much and end up drooling”. To someone without social anxiety this probably sounds stupid, but to me, to it felt like it could have killed me.
As I went on stage my face went into survival mode… survival from what, I’m not sure but I was tense. Thankfully my role was serious but I was counting down every second. I didn’t know where to look; matching the eyes of the audience terrified me. I forgot a couple lines but nobody could tell even though it felt like everyone knew. There were a couple funny parts in the play but my anxiety was telling me that they were laughing at me. After service, I sped home and for three days I would physically cringe and shutter, along with use self-punishing language that made me feel unworthy of social interaction. I prayed all day everyday for it to go away. I thought I was ill and researched my symptoms to figure out what these feelings were because I was beginning to worry. That’s when I knew. Around that time, God revealed to me my purpose and it terrified me and I just didn’t know why.
Social anxiety is “the fear of social situations that involve interaction with other people. You could say social anxiety is the fear of being negatively judged and evaluated by other people. It is a pervasive disorder and causes anxiety and fear in almost all areas of a person’s life – as documented by socialphobia.org. I always introduced myself as a “severely awkward introvert” to warn a person that’s the reason I’ll most likely say no to hanging out and avoid getting to know them because I hated small talk. In reality, yes I am an introvert, my personality type is INFP, and social interaction is draining to me if it’s not purposeful. I gain energy in solitude. I didn’t understand how to start up a random conversation for the sake of it, or when customers at work engage in small talk I was speechless because I didn’t know how to respond. I also tripped over my words a lot.
After self-reflecting I realized I’m not built like this. I’ve been conditioned by hurtful relationships that belittled me during my childhood. Another definition for social anxiety is giving your power of confidence to the opinion of others. Confidence is a superpower. Another word for social anxiety is insecurity. I couldn’t believe I was insecure! I always prided myself on not caring what people think. Nevertheless, it was clear that I had social anxiety.
I overcame two months ago after having a conversation with my accountability partner. She told me, and I’m telling you, an awkward person doesn’t have friends; they aren’t able to vocalize what they want from life and are typically lonely. I am none of those. She said I just know what I want and don’t waste time interacting in conversations I good and well know will not benefit me or another person. Being an introvert isn’t a downfall it’s another healthy form of expression. She told me I show signs of an insecure woman and if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck it’s a woman who has tricked herself into believing she’s whole and secure. Then, she celebrated me and showed me myself in a different lens. I liked the way I looked in the shade stable. She showed me that this wasn’t something that would hold me back because I was so much more than my social anxiety.
Ever since then my work relationships increased, I stopped tripping on my words as much, I’m more direct with my beliefs, I’m even a mild small talk starter, I raise my hand up and have taken public speaking roles at church! The constant shuttering, self-hate language and escapism has left. Don’t get me wrong, it still tries to steal my joy but now I celebrate myself through affirmations, laughing with myself and simply just not caring if I have bad timing with a hug or spit flies out of my mouth when I speak. I am who I am. I’m not awkward, I’m witty.
My advice is getting an accountability partner, ask your friends their opinions of you, take a trip down memory lane and figure out where it came from. Accept the fact that you have insecurities. Write daily affirmations about how bomb.com you are. Journal the goals you could attain if it wasn’t for your social anxiety. Describe the type of woman you know you’re supposed to be in deliverance and the opportunities you missed out on because you’re not her yet. And take risks! Ask questions even if you think they’re stupid. There’s nothing more beautiful than a confident woman. You can drink all the lemon-cucumber infused water and soak yourself in coconut oil all you want but there’s nothing like confidence!
So, you’re pregnant. Congratulations!! If you’re like most new moms to be: excited, overwhelmed, and counting down the weeks left until you meet your little bundle of joy that you have been carrying for 9 months.
But, if you are also like most new moms to be, you’re also pretty tired from being pregnant and having to work long hours to ensure you are financially secure for your little one or existing family, even if you have a partner. Whether your self-employed, got a 9-5, 5-10, or managing a few side hustles all once, I’ve compiled 5 key points to remember when you’re a work ninja, but also expecting!
My company, Baby Steps Guru provides maternity and parental leave guidance, and saves parents a headache, hassle, and lots of time, knowing how to navigate through the business side of having a baby!
Time better spent on bonding with your newborn baby, instead of handling paperwork!
As someone with extensive knowledge and more than a decade of experience, when dealing with group benefits, human resources, and government agencies such as Service Canada, I know how to make the planning of your little arrival less stressful.
I’ve listed 5 tips no one ever tells you but is important to know when preparing for your little one and can save you a lot of prep time and unnecessary paperwork:
TIP 1: If you are employed, make sure you review and/or update your group benefits prior to your mat leave. It’s way more time consuming and a headache to get it done on your leave. If your self-employed and have an independent plan, notify your agent directly to look into your family options
TIP 2: Speaking of self-employment, did you know that you could qualify for EI maternity benefits if you’re self-employed?? For more details on this, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
TIP 3: If you have a medically complicated pregnancy and need to leave work early, ensure you utilize all your sick time, and vacation time if it can’t be carried forward to when you return. You don’t want to lose those days! FYI, you could also apply for sickness EI prior to starting your mat leave
TIP 4: You only need 600 hours to qualify for EI maternity or sickness benefits, but you need them within a 1-year period from your last day worked. Hours worked prior to 1-year period do not get used.
TIP 5: If your baby needs additional care and needs to stay in the hospital for medical reasons for 1 week or more, your mat leave period could potentially be extended for the duration of the period that your baby remains in the hospital before going home. For more info on this, feel free to send me an email.
Bonus tip: Did you know you could apply for maternity leave up to 8 weeks prior to your due date if you’re no longer working?
If you are expecting and would like to discuss information in this post or other maternity benefit related question or would like to know about the services I provide, send me an email at email@example.com or visit my website, www.babystepsguru.com .