We look up to and compare ourselves with our favourite influencers in the blogging sphere, conveniently forgetting that it took time, hard work, patience & dedication to get where they are now. The rosy portrayal of this life and work in social media definitely doesn’t make it easier for newbies. Be patient and work on your craft, even when you think no one’s watching.
Just like every other person watching from the sidelines, I equally thought blogging was a breeze. I figured all I had to do was own a laptop, take a few good photos, put a few sentences together and voila! I’ll become famous overnight. Or at least in 6 months. LOL.
This is the last post in the “Own your blog” series and I figured I’d share a few things I wish I knew before I decided to become a blogger. If you missed the first 4 posts, you can catch up here, here, here& here
I was featured in an article on Bella Naija (here), where I talked about my initial struggles with blogging, all the somewhat “silly” things bloggers obsess over and how I finally realized the book wasn’t as enticing as the cover page.
For the past 2 years, I’ve worked tirelessly to grow this platform and my personal brand into something I’ve become proud of; but here are some things I wish I knew before jumping on this bandwagon.
Not everyone will get it & that’s fine.
The initial stages of blogging where you have to convince your friends, family & sometimes yourself that you’re not just a narcissist, obsessed with perfectly curated flat lays, photos, and angles, will probably be the hardest. In my experience, I’ve found myself avoiding social gatherings with my “professional” group of friends, for the simple fact that I’m not a fan of explaining what I do over and over again. Also, there’s only so many times I can answer the puzzling question “You have 2 degrees in Engineering, why are you a blogger then?” before getting to the bottom of my cocktail glass.
On countless occasions, I’ve had to verbally remove myself from the inconsequential box that society tends to fit all bloggers in. You know the one with the notion that all a blogger has to do is look photogenic and the $ will start rolling in. If wishes were horses, I’d have taken this one for a million rides.
Life becomes as “Instagrammable” as you make it
I knew I was lost in the sauce when I captioned a photo on Instagram “I have a thing for Instagrammable coffee shops”. Who even made up the word Instagrammable?
The filters through which you view your daily life and the world automatically changes. Your favourite restaurant on the corner suddenly becomes unappealing because the food isn’t plated in an aesthetically pleasing way, a relaxing afternoon with friends turns into a struggle of trying to capture the “perfect unrehearsed” photo, etc….You’re constantly thinking of fresh ways to update your follower-ship about your life with just the right amount of pose, timing & perfection. It can get exhausting, even for those with passion.
It’s okay to take some time off to enjoy the moment & pleasures of life without the pressure of capturing it for the internet. Not every new buy has to be featured on a flat lay & not every sunset has to be shared. At the end of the day, the internet will still be fine without that extra photo.
Budget what? Your finances will be in a constant state of higi-haga
Say bye to perfectly balanced accounts and excel budget sheets. The business of blogging requires spending money to make money. Just like any other field, it involves investing in equipment, your website, random coffee meetings, props, travel/event tickets, clothes, shoes, makeup, the list is endless.
In the case that you’re a finance guru with templates on how your every $ or N is made and disbursed, skip over to the next point (also, drop your templates in my mailbox, merci) but for those of us crippled by the idea of money management, sadly, it might not get easier.
Blogging requires Patience
Bad photoshoot days? Growing an audience? Hours of researching a topic so you don’t look stupid to your audience? Chasing invoices? Collaboration rejections? You name it. Most people dive into the world of content creation thinking success and fame are attained overnight.
We look up to and compare ourselves with our most loved and popular bloggers, forgetting that it took time, hard work, patience & dedication to get where they are now. The rosy portrayal of this life and work in social media definitely doesn’t make it easier for newbies. Be patient and work on your craft, even when you think no one’s watching.
You’ll be grateful for it
After all,learnt is said and done, blogging will teach you skills that you never thought you could learn. I recently landed a high paying job at a prestigious firm because of a sklearnedsolely to develop my blog. I’ve also been opportune to meet with so many amazing people along the way and work on projects I would never have dreamt was possible.
The road might be filled with boxes of tissue and an insane dose of Advil on some days, but it’s not a journey I’ll ever regret taking.
Have you ever done something for the first time? What was your biggest fear and how did you overcome it?
Till next time,
*Originally posted on The Alma Chronicle
In the past few years, the dating world has shifted significantly with the evolution of technology and society. People often meet and get to know one another online, making the progression of relationships is more fluid than ever. No two relationships have the same storyline, but most modern couples, i see, tend to be embracing individuality to strengthen trust and the bond with their partners. Self-empowerment is important for the wellbeing of modern relationships because knowing yourself better than anyone else, allows you to identify what you do and do not want out of a relationship. Taking the time to know yourself and what you are looking for will make you feel confident and ready to build a meaningful relationship with someone else. To celebrate this new wave of relationship styles, we’ve compiled a few ways that showcase how crucial self-empowerment is in modern relationships.
1. Embrace Being Single
- One thing that modern individuals are celebrating these days is self-love and embracing the single life. While older generations held the notion that marriage was the ultimate goal, young people nowadays have other accomplishments they’re focusing on in their twenties and thirties. From professional to personal goals, people of newer generations realize there is great power in making themselves happy and fulfilling whatever goals drive them. Some individuals are now utilizing their time as singles to set a list of “deal breakers” in preparation for prospective relationships down the line. These deal breakers serve as a list of core values that must exist in a partner in order to make the relationship worth it. These individuals argue that loving themselves first and fulfilling their personal goals will allow them to be better partners once they do enter a relationship.
2. Share Roles & Responsibilities in Relationships
- There’s no denying that this is the generation of distance. While it’s great that everyone prioritizes their independence, it does make open communication more important than ever before. Make your relationship stronger by starting an open dialogue about your expectations for your partner and what roles you plan to share. Directly resulting from the practice of fulfilling personal goals first, it is more common than ever for partners to contribute financially, emotionally and physically around the house. While past generations typically functioned with a wife cooking and cleaning with her husband off at work, there is now a trend of both partners contributing to housework and breadwinning equally. Following this same idea, modern couples are also making big financial decisions and purchases together at all stages of the relationship. From moving in together and splitting rent, to buying a home or starting a family, contemporary couples seem to enjoy the freedom that comes along with taking relationship steps at their own pace. The lack of societal expectations to do things in a certain order allows these couples to talk openly about their financial goals, and prioritize accordingly. But as always, communication is key and talking openly about your wants and goals can help alleviate disagreements down the line.
3. Make Big Decisions Together
- Not only are modern couples talking about financial decisions together, but they also tend to discuss their futures more openly than past generations ever have. Every relationship and every individual is a little different, and discussing the order of events in which you want your relationship to take is crucial for your future together. There is less societal pressure directing the order of events for couples, and no order is right or wrong as long as it is what feels best to both for your relationship. Modern couples also are contributing equally to these decisions, from browsing online for engagement rings together to fully understand one another styles, to planning the wedding together to ensure it encompasses both of your personalities.
It is important to have self-empowerment in a relationship because it allows you to get in touch with your inner self and have the confidence to grow as an individual. This is not to say that you shouldn’t share the many aspects of your life with your significant other, but do keep in mind that your personal well-being is a top priority.
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.