Yes We Can!

You can achieve anything you want if you believe you can.

I remember back in 2008 when U.S Presidential elect, Barack Obama won the elections and became the first black president of the United States. As celebrations ensued, he delivered his speech with so much eloquence, and the famous phrase, “Yes We Can” emerged. Just like the legendary Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech, I Have a Dream; it was a message of hope, encouragement and a call to action. Both heroes called everyone to take their place and make America great again. Today, I’m inviting you to do the same for your life.

I was a brilliant child growing up; I was always among the top three in my class. My future was auspicious, and the sky was the limit. By the time I got to high school, things had changed. I was not as interested in education anymore, challenges arose, and I wanted to quit. Growing up in Africa, a poor academic performance resulted in shaming. Parents and society made failure loud and clear. Thankfully, I managed to get through high school, and eventually got into college. University was horrible, and at some point, I considered changing my major. I was sick of engineering and was at a shallow spot in my life. I remember shedding many tears while in college.

I did not know what I was going to make out of myself. With each passing semester, I felt increasingly hopeless. Most of my peers secured jobs before graduation, and some had great internships while still in school. I had none of the above. I knew I had the gift of writing, but did not know where to direct it.

Some of my friends looked down on me, although they never came outright with it. I could tell from little snide comments here and there, and at the time I agreed since I had no prospects after college.

I would often cry myself to sleep. Sometimes, though, I dreamt about success or turning the hands of time to get a second chance to get things right. Deep down I knew I had a gift. It was safe within me; waiting for discovery. I realized I had opinions about specific topics or situations, and I would pen down my thoughts. The more I wrote down what was on my heart, the more I discovered I loved writing and it came naturally for me.

My confidence started to grow as a result of my self-discovery; I was no longer that shy girl who had nothing to contribute to conversations.

I could now speak my mind confidently, knowing my voice mattered. I took the next step of faith and started a blog where I talked about different topics and situations, and began to share the articles on my social media platforms. I thought no one would read them, as I often felt I didn’t have much to say. After all, many people out there are more qualified than me. When asked what I did for a living, I usually said I was a teaching assistant. It didn’t even cross my mind to say I was a writer. I slipped back into the insecurities I had in the past, which told me that I couldn’t achieve anything.

Then one day, a friend of mine answered the question for me: “She is a writer, and she writes very well.” I started getting positive responses from people who read my blog posts. I was surprised by the feedback. I knew I could write, but I didn’t think people would love it. Those who felt I was less than smart started sending me their work to proofread and edit. Then a light bulb went off. I had found my calling. I was put on this planet to use my voice through writing to bring about change. All this while I wanted to do what everyone else was doing (working a regular 9-5 job in the engineering or business field, with a fantastic title). I always wanted to offer one of these titles with pride and have a fancy LinkedIn page. That was not the pathway that was carved out for me.

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Everyone has a different journey in life. We were all gifted uniquely. If you don’t know what your pathway is, you will tend to fit yourself into a box that isn’t for you. When that doesn’t work out, you will start to feel less than, and like a failure. What is that one thing you know how to do well? Where is your passion? What are your unique abilities? You have to do some soul searching to find out why you’re on this planet.

When you do, you will also find that your confidence grows. You are now in the sphere of influence you were supposed to be in all this time. Don’t listen to anyone or circumstances that tell you that you can’t. Your life can be great, and it begins with you. I never thought that at 30, I would step out and do the things I am doing now. I never thought that at 30, I would have fresh ideas and new dreams. I wanted to have it all figured out in my 20s, but I have realized that we are all on different pathways.

It is okay to start again after you have failed. Just as President Barack Obama said in 2008, “Yes, We Can!”

There are still days when I don’t feel qualified; when I feel like the journey I’m on is too difficult. I have to talk myself out of that mindset. I remember that yes, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I believe in myself again and go ahead to conquer what is in front of me. When those nagging thoughts of doubts come to your mind, or your fears of inadequacy spring up saying “no,” know that yes you can. You will become the person you set your mind to, and whom you’re meant to be.

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