Photos shot for Brun et Noir in 2017 by Nimtendo
I am currently working on a yet-to-launch project. It’s one of a few “projects” I have worked on since I was a teenager – some have survived the test of time, and others have expired along with their domain names that I purchased. Trial and error, as they say.
This blog was my one of my first ever (online) projects – it was in a different form and under a different name >10 years ago, but I was online and plugging away at my own platform from the age of 10. Something else I work on currently is my fitness page on Instagram – I started this one in 2019 – I wanted to share fitness content and workouts, but felt that I was annoying people on my “main” account who just didn’t sign up for this sort of content. At the same time, there are the projects that have expired along the way. This goes from selling web designs for 3 years up until university; brainstorming starting a platform for creatives in different industries with my boyfriend in 2016; and in 2017/18, working on a professional fashion label whereby I paid a professional designer to illustrate what I had in my mind, had many meetings with sampling houses across London and I even found myself at a fabric trade show one time.
This difference is, me working on this project now, and me on that project back in 2017/18 – these two “me”s are actually two very different individuals. You don’t realise you are changing whilst it is happening, but one day you look back and realise how much you’ve grown. Compared to 2017, I’m older (of course), way more confident, and a lot more forward looking than I used to be. At the same time, I’m also a lot more organised, diligent and able to think through plans, execute my plans and communicate my plans and ideas in a clearer way. This means that how I will approach a project now, and how I approached that professional clothing label… it’s bound to be different. I’ve learned a lot of these qualities over the past few years at work, and actually, I learned most of them in more recent years from a woman I used to work with.
She might just be one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met, but she was also super organised to the point where she could balance hard work with a good social life, and this is a tipping point that does not come easy in the industry of Investment Banking. Through watching, learning, taking what I liked and imitating – from her I was able to learn how to organise my thoughts more clearly, how to go through what I’m doing with a fine tooth comb to avoid any “sloppy” work, how to literally pour a piece of myself into what I’m working on, and to do all of this so efficiently, and so diligently, that I can still make time for other things. She had a phrase “I’m heads down for the next few hours” – which I now use when I want to go into turbo productivity mode.
This is someone that came into my life, and changed the way I operate.
For International Women’s Day this year – I wanted to talk about other women that have come into my life and changed my life, in major or minimal ways.
- The women that I know in the corporate industry have taught me how to play the “work game” as a woman. Finding your path into/through the corporate world is not the same for both men and women, let alone a woman of colour. Maybe we all have the same stretch of astroturf for the race ahead of us – but on our side, it feels like we have more hurdles to jump over. I was definitely more naïve to this fact when I graduated, but I’ve come to realise it more over time, and I’ve learned how to better approach things. I’ve learned from women I work with, and just other women I’ve met in the corporate world. An organisation that I really love is Black Women in Finance – our boujee brunches have definitely been helpful when it comes to learning how to deal with these frictions
- Michelle Obama made me appreciate representation. When I was a child, I put pillow cases and leggings on my head to try to imitate what it felt like to have long hair. When I was in my tweens, I wrote stories and drew comics about girls that had long hair and fair skin. It took a while for me to start writing about, and drawing people that looked like me. In some ways I really feel that I can relate to Michelle Obama (well, apart from the whole First Lady part :)) – she’s a dark skinned, black woman like me, who quite honestly just did really well in school, went to a top uni and then worked her way into a corporate job, bouncing around and going through life until she settled where she felt she belonged. It’s a simple path (that requires hard work, no doubt), but its also a path that I have been on, and its not a path where women that look like me are often represented. Seeing where life ended up for her, makes me hopeful about where life could one day take me (and I’m working hard to make sure it takes my somewhere great…)
- Friendships along the way have curbed my naivety, but also taught me compassion Friendships really do come and go. There are close friends I’ve drifted apart from because our lives have taken different paths; there are close friends that I’ve purposely decided to distance myself from for one reason or another. No friendship has come without a lesson to take away from it. During one dramatic friendship break up – I grew a lot of confidence and learned to rely more on myself. As stressful as it was at the time, I needed it. Then there are friends, who are still close friends, which are friendships that I cherish. I’ve learned a lot from my friends over the years – I’ve learned about compassion and understanding the different situations of others, I’ve learned about support, I’ve learned how to live in the moment and take each day as it comes. Each friend is able to teach me something different about myself
- My mum has taught me how to look/dress/feel my best, how to walk with confidence, pick a good partner, and stand up for myself. Aside from presenting myself in my best way (when I need to), standing up for ourselves was engraved in myself and my brothers’ foreheads growing up. I went through a disappointing situation early last year which my mum literally coached me through overcoming – it required speaking up for myself to the max, and I can say it paid off. She also taught me about the importance independence, and she is certainly one of the most independent people I know – for example, I almost wanted to move home after university (as per all others around me), but she actually told me that I’d enjoy myself more if I lived out, especially if it wouldn’t hold me back financially, which was a genuinely balanced view point from someone in a bias position. She also advised me through the art of negotiation last year that landed us at our current apartment which I absolutely love. These are just a few recent examples. Both of my parents invested a lot into us as children, and I think when it comes my myself and my brothers, they can sit back now and say that they succeeded. I didn’t come from a world of privilege – my parents immigrated from Nigeria and we started in a council estate like almost every other immigrant, but the outcomes of our lives now, some people I’ve spoken to in the past have thought that I have come from a place of privilege. They invested in our entire lives and quickly patterned the very weird British educational system that will leave you stuck behind if you don’t have support at home (a story for another day), and all that they invested got us to where we are today. I am very grateful and aware of how different things could be if my parents weren’t my parents, and my mum wasn’t my mum. I’ll tell you this, I won’t be sitting here typing this to you right now, because I only got so familiar with computers at a very young age because my dad works in IT, and I only started typing up my writings at a young age because my parents encouraged me to. That’s why this IWD, my mum’s paragraph ends off this post… it’s only right!
And with that – Happy International Women’s day everyone!
Who are some women that have changed your life?