The Misconception About Being Strong

Most of my life, I have been told that I am strong. It started when I was 12, after my Dad died, and extended family repeatedly told me that I had to be strong for my mom and my sisters. I proudly assumed the role. It came naturally. As I got older, I was strong for my friends, my coworkers, and people I mentored. I have always prided myself on being the person people could lean on: putting my own worries and fears aside. I began to wear my strength as a badge, a brand, a trait that had to shine through no matter what. My strength overcame all other emotions.

But, over the past few months—while dealing with the stress of working from home with a toddler, pregnancy, a global pandemic, insensitive and hurtful comments about racial inequality, and the unexpected death of a family member—I’ve realized that strength is not about ignoring emotions or hardships.

Strength is about being resilient.

Strength is not about forcing yourself to push through. It’s about recognizing that you may feel sad or defeated today but, not allowing yourself to stay in that place forever. Strength doesn’t mean you ignore all other emotions, it means that you feel all of the emotions, give yourself time to heal, then pick yourself up. It means that you learn from tough experiences instead of letting them destroy you. Finding the lesson after failure, finding your smile after months of grieving, and getting up after being knocked down are examples of true strength.

“Strength doesn’t always roar loud like a lion, sometimes strength is a tiny voice in the back of your head that whispers that you will try again tomorrow.” – Tunde Oyeneyin

The Secret Life of an Overachiever

From the outside looking in, overachievers appear to have it all. They are goal oriented, motivated, and on their way to success. It can be hard watching them in action because they always seem to have their sh*t together. But the harsh downside of being an overachiever is that they are never satisfied. As soon as they hit one milestone or accomplish a goal, they move on to the next item on their check list. While one would think they are basking in their seemingly frequent successes, overachievers are constantly stressed and burdened with figuring out how to climb to the next level: instead of enjoying the level they just reached.

If you’re an overachiever, you have to take a moment to enjoy what you just accomplished. This doesn’t mean simply post about it on LinkedIn, it means that you should really take a week or two and just chill. Treat yourself to a fancy dinner, celebrate by buying that Balenciaga scarf, or book a stay-cation and do nothing but binge watch Netflix. Then, as you’re planning your next move, write down at least three things that you have today that you wished of having before. Taking a moment to stop and realize how far you’ve come is a way to make sure that you aren’t speeding through life and missing it. Accomplishing goals and leveling up is great but, closing your eyes to the incredible view on the way up the mountain is not. Open your eyes and take it in, you’ve earned it.

How to Become a Better Speaker

Have you ever been to a conference or presentation and a speaker is so good that you envy her ability to stand in front of a room and effortlessly speak? You think she is just a natural or chalk it up to her being an extrovert. But what if I told you that she practiced several times in front of a mirror. Or, that she had to give herself a pep talk in the bathroom right before she went on stage. Or, that she couldn’t eat breakfast because her stomach would have betrayed her.

Of course there are people that are naturally talented but, even the most talented people practice. They aren’t winging it. And, you shouldn’t either. Before your annual review, go over points that you want to make and practice those points until you aren’t stumbling over your words. If you have to give an update at a meeting, jot down a few talking points and say them out loud once or twice beforehand. And, if you have to give a speech or presentation, practice. This doesn’t mean you should memorize every single word but, you should have an outline that functions as your road map. Just like a dress rehearsal in theater, set yourself up for success with your own dress rehearsal: even if the rehearsal is in the car, the bathroom, or the elevator. Just stop winging it.


The One Career Mistake You’re Making and Don’t Even Know it

As women, we are mistakenly told to put our heads down, work hard, and be nice. But one of the biggest career mistakes you can make is not advocating for yourself. Yes, you work 10 hours a day and get along with everyone in the office; but, if you aren’t actively seeking out opportunities because you’re waiting for people to approach you then you’re going to be disappointed.

We’ve all heard the saying “squeaky wheel gets the oil.” Be the squeaky wheel. Speak up. If you want to be included on a new project, ask. If you want to be considered for a promotion, ask. And don’t just ask, be prepared to discuss why you’re qualified for the project or position. Stop sitting back and thinking your hard work will speak for itself, because it won’t. You will end up sitting at your desk wondering why no one has approached you. Take your career and future into your own hands and ask for opportunities, even if you have to ask more than once.


How to Stick to Your 2020 Resolutions

With all the chatter about resolutions and goals for 2020, many of us went full speed ahead on January 1st. But now that we are almost two weeks into the year, are you still going as hard? Probably not. With crazy work schedules and unexpected setbacks, it is easy to get overwhelmed and simply give up. I don’t blame you.

But if there is one thing 2019 taught me, it’s that in order to accomplish your goals, you have to give yourself leeway to adjust and reset as life comes at you: because life will undoubtedly come at you. It’s so easy to get caught up in the “push through” and “work harder” mentality because every article we read suggests that scaling back is for people who are mentally weak. But just like driving, in life you have to slow down and reroute your GPS when there is an unexpected road closure.

In 2019, after a month of crushing my 2019 resolutions, my cousin Jesse died unexpectedly. We were extremely close and it knocked the wind out of me. While I did not let his death completely derail my goals, I did allow myself time to ignore those goals for a few weeks and simply be ok with taking one breath at a time. Then, I was able to adjust my planned path to accomplish those goals given the circumstances.

As you embark on your journey to greatness in 2020 remember that life happens, be gentle with yourself, and don’t be afraid to adjust those goals along the way. Setbacks are unavoidable so, be ready. Whether you need to take a week off from the gym to focus on a stressful project at work or you need to recognize that reading one book a week for all of 2020 was too ambitious; do it. Either way, don’t abandon your goals, just adjust them to fit into the unknown of life. Take that week off and then set a goal to hit the gym twice the following week and then three the next. Instead of giving up on reading completely, adjust your goal to read one book a month. And, if that’s still too much, aim for one book every other month. The point of a resolution or goal is to make us better than before. Better can mean 300% better or 3% better. Yes, we all want to shoot for the stars and conquer the world but, we can’t do that if exhaustion or poor mental health gets the best of us. Never give up on your goals just be prepared to adjust the path to those goals along the way.