Monday, 15 January 2018

“I am a Bobbi Brown in a Ru Paul world”

The first time I thought of this was a few weeks ago and the line kept replaying in my mind; I had been thinking of my year so far, floating between being proud of my growth and breathing through an anxiety attack due to all I know I still had to deal with. And one of the thoughts dominant in my mind was makeup and my journey in that industry. I have been in love with makeup since I was a child, from about 4 years old I knew eye pencils and lipsticks (my mother's); in Primary school I knew Fashion Fair and Estee Lauder and I buried myself in any Ebony Magazine I could find; I was obsessed with ‘Video fashion’ (and any other programme that showed backstage fashion shows).

Through secondary school and University, I stuck with this obsession and it was true love. And other people saw it too – anytime a family member travelled to another country, I was the one they bought a beauty product for. I imagined being a Makeup Artist in the glamorous world of Fashion and Beauty but for reasons I do not remember now I did not voice out my dream until I was much older and the Makeup Industry had become ‘a thing’ in Nigeria and the world. As I gained the freedom to pursue this career, I went to Makeup schools, got certified, watched endless videos, stayed with the trends and spent a fortune on a still growing makeup collection. Yet,  after a few years I wasn’t happy; I was bored and I wasn’t getting as much Joy as I did when I was younger but I couldn’t figure out why.

I did notice certain things – my makeup looks seemed to always be subtle, on either me or others I just could not seem to get the certain looks the ladies preferred or trends demanded; I started getting really lazy to even wear makeup on myself and friends started paying other makeup artists when they had events while I became the designated go-to girl for free services or Consultation. I was disappointed in them and wondered if they were good people for not supporting me. I mean I went for courses and master classes, bought and read books, I knew products like I know my name but I got no satisfaction and definitely no profits because I wasn’t getting clients as frequently as I needed to in order to remain in business. I was also disappointed in myself and I began to question this dream I always had and even believed I wasn’t good enough to be in this industry.

I also noticed that I had become more interested in skin, facial features and how people perceived themselves as beautiful or not. I enjoyed telling people what to buy and selling it to them more than I enjoyed the process of applying makeup. I struggled with this for years, it was painful to deal with and I didn’t know what to do or who to talk to. I believed I had found my path in Makeup but it was killing me. I decided to take a break but it was like being in an abusive relationship, because at the slightest sign or chance of things getting better, I would run back and then something would go off again.

A series of other events took place and I decided to focus on other things mainly self-development related. And that’s when I realised that I had to stop being so defeatist and deal. I needed to know ME- who I was years ago, who I had become and who I desire to be.  I learnt that it is okay if I change my mind about a dream I once had. That I didn’t have to wait for validation from other people who no matter how close they are to me, cannot walk my journey the way I am required to. That their alleged betrayal was a push I needed for a brutally honest self-evaluation.  The most liberating was that it is possible for me to absolutely love Makeup and not be a commercial Makeup Artist; no matter the amount of years and resources spent on this, I have no regrets. My knowledge and passion for Makeup will definitely be to my advantage as I advise and sell products to people.

I still know how to apply makeup when the need or demand requires me to do so but I feel no shame or pressure or anger when someone picks another over me (just respect yourself and do not ask me for free makeup sha). I will wear makeup forever; I will be the cool Grandma in Red lipstick and lashes. And please note this family and friends - I want dark purple lips, winged eyeliner and highlighter (that the Angels can see from a yonder place as they welcome me) on my face as I am being buried. Don’t even play with me else my ghost will come remind you all, Lol!

My point is, it is okay to walk away. There are so many things you will do as you try to find that one thing that brings complete fulfilment however you need to OWN IT! Own the time, the process and even the pain of letting go of what once was. Take charge of who you are and your experiences and do not let anyone use it as a weapon to hurt you. Educate yourself, there isn’t just one or straight way to do something, gain from it or love it! I have learnt to do what I have to do until I can do what I want to do. It doesn’t mean I have lost! This journey of Self-discovery and reclaiming my confidence has even opened my eyes to other enjoyable and profitable opportunities in the same Makeup and Beauty industry. So while I genuinely enjoy the endless colors, the drag and extraness of Ru Paul, in my heart maybe I am the calm- love yourself first- soft makeup wearing Bobbi Brown and to be truly happy, I just needed to stop trying so hard to fit in.

**my use of the characters is not in any way meant to elevate one person over the other. I absolutely love and admire both personalities, so let’s not over think it *smile*. Happy New Year!!!!

Monday, 14 August 2017

I got my heart broken…again

The image above is a quote I created August 2016 and put up on my Instagram page the morning I quit my job; it seemed random because I woke up that morning NOT knowing I would quit even though I had seen it coming for weeks. I was existing daily with a broken heart and I just felt led to share that message even though I wasn’t following my own advice.
In a few days, I would celebrate 1 year anniversary of being self-employed. To be honest, I cringed a little when I typed that because a part of me remembered my mum’s voice telling me a while ago to try to get a job and I am almost faithless enough to also believe that’s what I need. Do not get it wrong, I am NOT against being an employee, in fact I have friends who are working for other people, presently wealthier and more fulfilled than me. But maybe that has not always been my ‘luck’.
I have been out of job before but this one feels different; maybe because I am more aware or I am tired of being ‘romanced’ by insincere business owners who make me believe my aspirations fit into their organizations but end up being abusive, or I am done with making bad choices and would rather just focus on growing what I can call my own and truly offer my best to people; at least the mistakes and victories will be all mine. Whatever it is though, I do know that a few months ago, I made up my mind to be more assertive, decisive and intentional; which for me included making decisions and sticking through until the end even if I found myself alone on that train. I have succeeded in a few (which sadly I haven’t appreciated enough). 
Of all the items on my list I made, I chased and prayed for 2 the most but it felt like they both eluded me with each passing day. I didn’t give up though; I kept telling myself that these were things I wanted with genuinely good intentions and which will make life better for even other people around me. I even told myself that I would follow these through to prove a point to myself that I was strong willed, hardworking and faithful. But as time passed, I knew in a way that I could not deny that they wouldn’t happen when I wanted and how I wanted them.
I was disappointed! That is putting it mildly; and just like my life a year before, I was heartbroken!
But God has a sense of humour (that’s how I choose to see it) because for the past few days, several Bible passages I have stumbled on and even random social media posts have somewhat been designed to comfort me or help me see clearly. Hearing an actor talk about “the best thing that never happened” for him which ended up being a blessing or a successful cosmetic line owner talking about how she couldn’t get an education she truly needed a few years ago because she couldn’t afford it. And then people I didn’t share anything with but who just had honest things to say to me and even someone I once considered an ‘enemy’ showing up with help.
What truly baffles me is how I am so exhausted and hurt, yet a part of me I can’t explain brought out a notebook and began to write out the next best plan and how to shift my focus to work with and build what I have left. My faith is shattered but hope stands determined to place the pieces together. Like my heart is aching but my mind is working out a plan to heal the pain! Feels like a big rock is sitting in my chest but my body can carry it as if it weighs a feather. Maybe another being is living the days while my body stays in bed.
So that is what I have chosen to celebrate, that I have grown enough to still be functional and progressive even in the midst of this. The Anu of before would have died in heart and mind (while waiting for body to follow) and completely missed out on seeing the chance to get up quickly and get on with it! I won’t have seen that I can push through whatever opposes me. I won’t have seen that those 2 things can still come for me, they just haven’t happened on my own terms and timing and that has to be okay.
I recognize now more than ever that disappointments do not mean the end or that you did something wrong, or that you didn’t do enough, sometimes it means you need to re-route or it’s not yet time.

“With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.” - Max Ehrmann, Desiderata

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Are you really clueless?

We sometimes enjoy moments of clarity in our lives; a few things tickle our fancy and may get us excited for a while but in the midst of it, we stop and ask “why is all this happening?” or “who am I?” Sometimes, we are not able to stop and ask so we keep the train going believing it’s a random feeling and then we pile these ‘feelings’ up until there is this stone, strong and heavy in our heart and we are not sure how it got there or what to do about it.
A few weeks ago, I was asked in a public gathering, “What do you want?” It brought  mixed feelings because it’s a question I have been asking myself for years and even though I did not have the answers, I now have an idea as compared to a while ago when I was clueless or when every time I answered that question, the answers didn’t seem quite right or true, even to me.
I said 1) I want to be in control of my thoughts- to pay attention to, to be aware of and to be able to handle my own thoughts. 2) To be able to add value and feel like whatever it is I am giving out, in any content or form, will add value or make someone better even if momentarily and 3) to be genuinely happy- I know people will have an opinion about this point but this is a topic all by itself so until I have the ‘heart’ to talk about it.
I had never rehearsed these 3 points before that day; in fact when they left my heart through my mouth, I was slightly surprised but on my way home from that meeting, I thought about what had happened and I was glad for this woman who was vulnerable enough to tell a room of strangers what she wants. I realised that though saying these things may suggest that I didn’t have them presently but speaking them out loud gave me courage to actually go for what I do want. That I even had the ability to form my heart’s desires into words was a blessing and I wasn’t going to let the little negative committee in my head take away my victory.
There are still days I question my desires because I know that each point has several sub-points and daily steps that need to be taken consistently to reach a certain height; truth it, these things I mentioned have to be a part of who I am hence it’s a ‘never ending situation’ and this scares me; because there will be bad days, ooh very bad, bad days and I will question everything and doubt any ability that I possess but I also know now not to amplify those bad moments. I have no reference point, director or teacher, sadly experience is what has taught me a lot of what I know and I still have scars from those times but I have no regrets. I believe in God and I know He leads me when I ask Him to but because patience is not my strength and for years I lived my life based on fear and external validation, it’s a long and slow road to recovery and trust.
So I ask, “WHY AM I HERE?”
God didn’t create me just to fill space; there are enough rocks and mountains for that and even they have their purpose. So while I may not have a clearly defined list of ‘My Purpose’ I know one thing; I will not cause pain for another. I will take all I have per time, all I have been through and all the talents I have been blessed with and make life easier, for whatever period of time, for the next person. It is not an easy task and I have failed so often especially when I let darkness overwhelm me or I am uncertain of my channel. But anyone who also struggles with having a clearly defined ‘purpose statement’ can testify to this; all we truly want is just to stop being so confused all the time! I am so tired of reading books or going for meetings and seminars and they talk about purpose like it’s something that was written on our chests and sent down with us from heaven. Like we really just want to stop feeling guilty for not being a 100% sure of the exact thing we ought to be doing for the world!!!
But now I think, how about those in our little circle of influence; can we be allowed to just cater to those easily within our reach and then we can grow from there? Even if we have to do one million things for them and then over time, we learn to narrow down our options until we are sure. I know it’s good to be focused, to be intentional, to be absolutely sure but to the person who is not there yet “you are NOT crazy for being able to do so many things and not sure which one to call your purpose!” And though youth is an asset and a viable weapon to fight in this thing called life, inevitably, age and time will even help us with our choices; to strategize in ways that’s almost second nature to us so we habitually know what to do per time.
I may rethink these words; but I am open to learning and unlearning and this is all part of my process. In one of the Kemi Adetiba’s Kingwomen interviews I watched, the lady said “You’re like a book on table of contents so why are you acting like you’re in conclusion?” I choose to interpret that as there is time for me to be refined and redirected on to ‘my path’ (and that is if I am not already on it!) so while my pages are flipped daily, I choose to live what I want and that’s to “please my Maker, mend myself daily and add value to others!”

Thursday, 8 June 2017

what is the Right age?

Two mornings ago, I had a near panic attack because for some silly reason I suddenly felt like I was too old to do something I had desired for a long time and was finally taking steps to acquire. I started thinking about “all my mates” and how they had gone ahead to do certain things earlier. I felt regret and questioned why I had wasted my time in jobs or relationships that did nothing positive for me and also why I had remained afraid for so many years! It didn’t take me long to realise I was about to completely stumbled into a dark place I had been before and I knew once I got there, coming out would be hard.
At that moment, I heard it clearly in my mind “You are at the Right age!”
I laughed; it was both shocking and comforting! But I believed it without a doubt.
Recently I have been practicing fixing every warped mind set and being more in control of my thoughts; it is such an amazing thing to realize and I am beginning to feel like Dr Strange or Jean Grey or something……err okay but you get my drift!
A few days ago I spoke to a Life Coach who asked me to write down what I felt was my greatest belief that was holding me back from being all I can be. I did that and then he asked “who told you this? What happened that made you believe this? Then please prove it to me that this is true!” After a few minutes, it dawned on me that there was no concrete cause; I mean there were events and experiences and maybe even someone constantly said negative things to me but I genuinely had no proof that this destructive belief was absolutely true and at that moment, I was reminded that over the years I had believed different lies and convinced myself of what wasn’t true and unfortunately my reality often caught up with my mind.  
I wanted to share this revelation/lesson and while I started typing this post, I found something I had written a few months ago. They are questions I was randomly asking a character who felt dejected and desired death.  
Who told you their sin was your fault?
Who told you this experience is peculiar to only you?
Why do you believe your present situation or status will last forever and not get better?
What made you accept that dysfunction as a norm?
Who defined what is cool or acceptable?
Who said you had run out of time?
When did imperfection become a weakness?
Who told you, your solution lies in belittling yourself? Or your expectations will be accomplished quicker if they are smaller.
Who came up with the conclusion that no one can love you genuinely and unconditionally?
Who decided that this is all you are or ever will be?
When was it decided you are a failure? And by whom?
And how dare you believe their lies?

So while I would never encourage anyone to play the blame game, I want us to shut out the lies we are told daily and to KNOW, ACCEPT and APPLY the power we have to control our minds, protect our heart and take charge to create the life we truly desire. Sometimes we hold a meeting within our own mind and decide to forge ahead on a van of lies; no external influence, just a self-conviction that we are no good. But that needs to end; we need to stop standing in our own way. You are not too old or too young, or too uneducated or too ANYTHING!!! You are YOU and you will do what you need to when it is time to do it!  

Thursday, 11 May 2017

When the script is familiar

I listened to an interview on Oprah’s network about 2 years ago and the person being interviewed talked about how we can sometimes hold on to falsehood so long that it becomes our reality; a reality that's blurred and no matter how long we seem to thrive in this space, we are eventually left disillusioned or frustrated.
I have found this to be true; because the mind is so powerful that once it creates and focuses on an image, it is only a matter of time before it becomes real (at least to the bearer of the thoughts). Most of us have gone through the same particular experience more times than shame will allow us admit; the catalyst may come in different packages but it's usually the same story. To be fair, we may be clueless about the pattern at first and blame it on bad luck or bad environment or lack of guidance but as we mature or go through it repeatedly, there are things we begin to recognize or just know without trying too hard to decipher.
The unfortunate thing is we often misunderstand so we take what should have been lessons that would keep us strong for our journey and turn them to tents to permanently reside; trying to force what is not and cannot be our eternal reality. It’s not rocket science to know that this can break any individual, especially messing with your self-esteem and state of mind.
Whenever we reach this level of knowledge, we intuitively recognize the things and people who trigger these experiences and that the effects are bad for us but we convince ourselves to stick to what is familiar; to give in to the lies of accepting that we can’t do better; we feel like we will lose some benefits; or we are just too afraid, too lazy or weak to take a stand and fight against what we have grown to know is not right. Sadly, abuse is inevitable when we do not realize our self-worth; it's just human nature, it serves others when you are available for them to treat in ways that benefit them.
Yet I have learnt that we are all able to break free from what doesn't serve us right and whatever makes us feel less than we are. Because even though I may genuinely not have control over some of life’s happenings and painful emotions are real, I refuse to continually be a victim of someone else’s selfishness, insecurity or inability to respect me enough to do the right thing at all times. It is up to me to not be quiet, to say NO and not accommodate it.
But I have been my own ‘enemy’ because the ability to remain consistently strong and sure of myself has to come from me being void of any form of self-deceit or blurred reality. To be able to tell myself hard truths, accept my shortcomings, warped mind set and to be determined to fix me as often as is required; to love myself with no condemnation or conditions; to not be afraid of being alone; to accept that I am enough and can only get better; to be okay with the truth that not everyone will be open to me and to believe that I have amazingness to offer those who will and to make friends with the word ‘NO’ when what I should not give is required of me. So whenever internal or external beings present a familiar ‘negative’ script, I will smell the ‘horse manure’ and not question my ability to function excellently without it!

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Keep it simple

I thought ‘deep’ or ‘complicated’ was better so I often desired to be perceived that way. I have been described as ‘intelligent’, ‘wise’ or having ‘more to me than what I revealed’ yet that wasn’t sufficient; hence there was constant turmoil between who I thought I should be and who I truly am.
I like simple; simple is stress-free, at least eventually because life may not always be easy but we can function in simplicity. I like straightforward honest expression of thoughts; easy conversation; no games or guessing in friendships or romantic relationships; simple personal style; simple work so even though I can be a workaholic once I find something I enjoy, I do not need anyone to stress or micro manage me into delivering my responsibilities.  I even like simple ‘beauty’ and makeup application which turned out to be a bit of a problem considering I am a makeup artist in Nigeria where the industry and most of its stakeholders do not accept simple.
So for years I craved more because I felt simple wasn’t enough; it affected my writing style, my conversations, my business dealings or pursuit,  the knowledge I searched for and the relationships I tried to establish and keep which ended because I felt they were false or forced.
Thankfully, through a long process of self-discovery and acceptance which is still on going, I decided that I would stick with ‘simple’ because that is me. I stopped to think that where did my pursuit of complicated get me? Seriously where were my rewards for being so ‘deep’? I could be my person and there will still be room- and acceptance- for what I have to offer in and through every aspect of my life.
And I also learnt that people actually do like simple too; they think they like deep and unearthly or grandiose but they like simple just like I do. Or maybe they feel their accomplishments and results can only be validated by complex efforts. I mean the occasional drama and mountain shaking moments do not hurt because they may be fun or scary or can’t be controlled but that’s what makes life, life! So they like simple but they think it is not enough.
I have followed a particular French blogger for years and after a while I stopped keeping tabs; I got distracted or I got bored with her but recently I stumbled upon her twitter handle and decided to go to her blog and after a few reads I knew she too had gone through a process of growth. So I renewed my vow to her; she had gone through her process of wanting more or perhaps thinking she was enough and then completely losing herself. But she was back and better and reading a few of her posts that gave me this insight, kind of gave me clarity to be able to explain my own experience too.
I have come to accept that it is a never ending journey; I am learning to be bold again (I say again because I once was) because that’s part of simplicity; like ask questions if I don’t know; say no when I have to; say yes when I want it; learn from others; to be consistent and focus on the main goal rather than on complex methods that leave me frustrated.

This is not permission to be lazy; being weak-willed and lazy would not help us to learn, to grow, to cut off what doesn’t serve us and to be courageous enough to stand for our ‘simple’ whether it is popular or not. For ‘simple’ is beautiful and peace of mind is crucial.

Friday, 10 March 2017

I Fight for My Mind

One statement I make often in the place of prayer is “God, Thank You that I have not lost my mind!” because I know that is quite easy to do. Everything we go through is a form of contention for the peace that is so pertinent for progress to take place. The mind is a blessing and a curse; I have died a thousand deaths in my lifetime because I genuinely felt like that would be a solution to its tumult. In recent times, I have learnt not to desire this ‘death’ for I see now the calm I seek is not in death but in ‘control’. I also think that is the difference; the thin line between mental wellness and illness. This has made me more sensitive to those suffering mental illnesses (which note are not only those roaming the streets naked).
I think it is the minds natural disposition to be unsettled; it also does not help that there are forces that are by default designed to oppose the harmonious working of our mental faculties and space. Google says our mind includes “our consciousness, perception, thinking, judgement, and memory”. And it “holds the power of imagination, recognition, and appreciation, and is responsible for processing feelings and emotions, resulting in attitudes and actions.”
I have experienced countless times, my memory working against my better judgement therefore I lose a good thing because I convinced myself that a past hurtful event will repeat itself in my present or future. I have experienced someone else’s perverted perception of affection and now I have to live through almost a lifetime of self-loath, blame, shame and regret which has made my appreciation or acceptance of love queer. And do not even get me started on my imagination; often diverse, colourful and limitless but I have been told I am unrealistic and weird which initiates lasting negative emotion so there is so much ‘FULL’ in me but I cannot express so what am I to do with all that? And then the attainment of what we conceive success to be; where did that come from? And why does anxiety or fear take no permission before they sit there and ruin my life’s every action?
My life has not gone as planned and I do not know what to do so I pretend that I am fine. I mean how does one confess to being clueless about everything? Religion teaches us to be content but even God knows and promises that there is more so why the disparity? I was told I have to struggle but for what? The work and causes I have taken up in the past, left me more disappointed and faithless; discouraged to involve myself in another but I am tired of being stagnant. And it is hard to admit that I get jealous when I see other people work at something and seem to impart and succeed so where did I get it wrong?
I am afraid to be completely unashamedly honest; I am at the risk of being mocked or taken for granted or labelled. People often misunderstand my genuineness and intentions no matter the mode of dissemination or how I arrange my words. I see honesty is now the well painted picture a person replays often enough until it becomes their reality yet that is not me.
If I cry, they will call me weak. If I want to be alone, they will say I am a snob or socially awkward or I have changed and if I just decide to stay in my mind, I fear the demons I have to fight there so where really is there peace? Sometimes I wonder what the peace that comes with dying feels like but I am not courageous enough to take my own life. And I also believe murder is a sin that guarantees an eternity in hell.
I am yet to fully attain the ‘control’ I mentioned but I know I am on that journey; I get the feeling it will be long and my only recommendation for those who seek same is to get in there and FIGHT!; Fight because your life does depend on it; don’t let ‘them’ win. Fighting can include facing the demons, the memories and the thoughts; praying your heart out to God daily; speaking to a professional who can help; crying and venting then getting over it. But I know that the flip side of the mind which I called a blessing is its amazing ability to heal itself; to open itself up to the light that can dispel the darkness of the curse. Only the mind can heal the mind! Those who have mastered the control are those who are tuned in more to the Light than the darkness; who recognise when the darkness comes knocking and no matter the threats, can subdue it by simply staying in the light.
And so I pray that EVERY moment of your life, no matter what you are experiencing, you remember that you already have the power; you can and you will reach for and dwell in the Light, for that is where peace resides, not perfection but peace! And that is enough for now