A few months before my 16th birthday I watched an episode on the Oprah Show that would plant a seed so deep in the ground of my soul, that it’s taken over a decade to see any sign of its significance above the ground.
In the episode they covered the reality of North African girls who were being forced into child marriage, their husbands would impregnate them; but because of their developing frames, many of them lost their babies and even their lives during labor. If they survived the birth a great percentage of the girls developed a condition that caused their bladders to constantly release urine. Due to the limited medical infrastructure in those villages, many of the girls were forced to live with this treatable condition for the rest of their lives. What paled me the most is once this happened, the husband’s family abandoned their prized bride to a tiny dark hut far away from the rest of the family, and there, the young girl lived out the rest of her days soaking in her urine.
I remember tears flooding down my cheeks as I witnessed this non-fiction story transpire before my eyes. When the episode ended, I ran to my mom's room in tears “Mama, we have to do something about the major issues affecting women and kids on our continent, you won’t believe what I just watched.” To which she responded "Sure, what do you suggest we do?" I then went to my own room (now, with an awakened appreciation for it) to write down my rescue plan for the girls of Africa and shared it with mom. We promised each other that we’d join forces to make a change for African women and children once I graduate from University in a few years, which was good enough for me. Sadly mom passed away at the end of my first year in University. Now what?
Sometimes the people we love die; our part is not to bury ourselves with them.
I’m writing this blog post in an effort to retrace my steps to the things that have inspired my attempts in living a purpose-driven life. Social entrepreneurship or any form of entrepreneurship is no child’s play! Here’s a look at how it’s gone down up to this point, I’ll try to make it brief…
Image Captured by Tim Hulme
Bricks of Failure
I have started and failed at #business #solopreneurship #socialenterprising whatever the term is these days (I can’t keep up) countless times! So much so that when a new venture sees me coming it says: “Are you seriously back for more!” Which beckons the question “Am I just addicted to failure?” In which case, could somebody PLEEZ accompany me to start-up rehab, because this is an expensive habit!
Before I launch or try to endure yet another venture for the millionth time, I’ve done some serious soul searching; here’s what surfaced…
1. Fuel matters
Yes, mom exiting the planet kinda messed with my essence a little more than I was willing to publicly admit before this moment. Of course, I wanted to succeed and make sure that I do my best to accomplish the mandate mom and I co-founded, with the hope of honoring her life. When I graduated from University, I dived headfirst into “doing this for mom mode”. I was determined to live a life that was purposeful, however, the fuel I was using to drive my pursuits was fear based. I was just a young woman afraid of failing her mom, afraid of setting a poor example for my younger siblings, afraid of dying with my dreams, afraid of failure, and all that did was create exactly what I feared. I’ve learned the hard way that being fueled by fear is lethal, that what fuels me is just as important as what I'm aiming for.
2. Slow down
It took me a while to learn the difference between being busy and being productive. For a long time if I was just busy, I thought I was doing well, only to realise I was busy running around in circles, not having moved or progressed an inch. Since then I've discovered the value of getting out of my head, the power of reflecting and pacing myself in a way that leads to having more energy and clarity of mind, as opposed to constantly feeling like a rat racing against an invisible the clock.
3. Life is a puzzle
It took a long time to get to a place of true healing, not just about losing my mom but forgiving myself for being human, and also embracing that it’s okay to dream new dreams. What I have unearthed is that the bricks I’m currently using to build towards the things I hope to accomplish, are made from every failure as well as the victories that have brought me this far; that the dream I dreamt with my mom was only a piece of this unfolding puzzle we call life.
I dedicate this write up to remembering why I carry on, in hope that you too would do the same.