Joy Ubani

You don’t need permission. 

You need radical and resounding confidence in your ability to discern and choose what is good for you in this very moment and every moment after. Lean closely into the part of your inner voice that speaks from a place of courage & take ownership of your ability (and wisdom) to choose for you. 

So often and from so early have we have been taught to wait for someone’s yes; encouraged to gain validation from a friend; or asked to pause until something ELSE is aligned. This disarms us of the responsibility to live for ourselves and attain what we want. So, encouraging you today to take ownership, stop waiting for permission, and audaciously assume the responsibility of choosing well. Get rid of the incorrect assumption that your ability to move or do is dependent on someone else’s signature. You have the wisdom you’re looking for. 

So before you send that screenshot to your friend, forward the email to your cousin, affirm that you are well within your wisdom to make the RIGHT choice. You don’t need my permission or anyone else’s to live a life that’s congruent with the truest version of you. 

You're not in transition. Where you are right here, right now, is exactly where you need to be and, where minuscule moments have brought you.

We spend so much of our time waiting.

Queuing at the check out point in the grocery store.

Waiting for traffic to flow so we can get to work.

Filling our time with mundane activities until what we really want to do comes to us.

It makes some of us anxious. For others it's just uncomfortable. But, we're accustomed to it. So we sit passively in transition, waiting for something...else.

Just a few days ago, a friend asked me how I was handling a particular period in my life, I replied with "Oh, I've done _____(this a that) in preparation and expectation for what's next. Now, I'm just waiting." I had resolved to sit passively after I had done said work, and deem this period as one of transition. I was prepared to just wait until a new door opened.

But, soon as those words left my mouth, I was jolted. "This is just a season of transition", were the words I would constantly use to reassure myself. "What I want will come." "I just need to wait it out." This was my default thought. It occurred to me that those thoughts weakened me more than it served to empower.

Consider for a moment that where you are right now is not a period of transition. Rather, it's a well-intended destination. It's just as much a part of the journey and considerably a sure result of a very intentional moment.

Where you are isn't a matter of you passing through to get to the next point in your life, and you're not just stuck in a queue waiting for God to move. He already has. Your current position and season is a result of his meticulous movement. It's meant to disrupt. It's meant to inspire. It's meant to cause radical shift and ignite something inside of you. Ask yourself, "Why am I here right now?"

If we give so much attention to the story that we must wait for our current "transitional" season to end because it's unfamiliar (and quite possibly not where we wanted to be), we put ourselves in danger of missing the moment in the miracle that is happening right now. I invite you to ask yourself how you can make the most of this place. Then, get comfortable with and embrace, hell, even welcome what is gravely unfamiliar, long, or uncomfortable. Do what you need here. It's just as crucial as the place you're "waiting" to go. Train yourself to experience profound opportunity where you would initially experience angst; and become an active participant in this very moment. Transition is an active place. So, let's recognize this part of the journey, and continue to flow here.

Don't disrupt the movement God has allowed by waiting passively when you should be flowing.

 Your life is not a group decision.

If we hold on to the false belief that we (or our circumstance) can only succeed if someone else cosigns our idea, we rob ourselves of living fully and taking agency over our lives.

We end up placing ourselves on a rollercoaster of emotions...constantly waiting for someone or something to decide for us. When in reality, our lives are not group decisions. So my beloved, let’s no longer wait until all conditions are perfect. And we definitely should stop waiting for permission.

You get to decide.

The decision comes from being radically honest with ourselves. What do you want? Is this thing congruent with your values? 

We are so used to the reassurance of others that it's almost difficult to fully trust and rely our own voice or intuition. Instead, we give into the belief that we have to ask for permission to pursue our passions, to post the photo, to wear the outfit, to accept the date.

Truthfully, sometimes we don't actually want an alternative opinion though. We simply want to be told that, yes, our position is perfectly acceptable and, no, it wouldn't be a bad idea.

I'm confident that you have [good] transformative ideas, 
that don't need to be signed off by a committee of friends or family before you actualize them.

And no one has the right answers because we’re all just winging it. 

I recently had a conversation with my life coach who asked me why I thought it was difficult to let go of a project I had started about 6 years ago. Of course, I offered her a profound answer saying “Oh, I’m not done with it yet.” But can I be honest? Deep down I knew that if I announced that I was letting it go, I’d feel like a failure and that I was disassociating myself with the thing that [I felt] strongly defined me. 

I’m learning that the act of release does not diminish the core of who you are, nor should it point to the fallacy of failure.

But rather the alchemy of release highlights your ability and acceptance of new, profound space for the person you are, opportunities you attract, and love you permit yourself to embrace…right here..right now.

So, practice release as often and as radically as your growth permits. Release creates room for abundance. Let abundance be your norm.

I distinctly remember a phone conversation with my mentor this summer. After I told her of a decision I made, she questioned me and asked "But Joy...why are you hiding...?" I was stumped. As if I was found out! I didn't feel anyone had noticed, and worse yet, I didn't really notice this either. I had been hiding myself and playing small in the way I'd show up (or rather, not show up). 

My playing small (or hiding myself) started in 2013 when I first launched my blog. I'd send each published link to one person, my best friend at the time, who kindly said "great job!" each time I wrote a post. Then a year after when I created a secret Instagram account (I wish I remembered the password for @epitomeofjoy 😂😂). 

I have more memories of playing small and shrinking back, but this question stung from the realization that my playing small over all these years was hurting me more than it was helping me.

It’s likely we all started off confident — showing off every skill we profoundly believed we possessed (whether we really did or not was not the question LOL). But something taught us to shrink back…yet we never audaciously challenged those limiting voices, beliefs, or experiences. So naturally, we developed insercurities that beckon us to play small whenever we have the opportunity to show up fully.

Challenging our insecurities involves being lovingly and radically honest with ourselves and asking:

Where does this insecurity stem from?

And what potential outcome am I truly afraid to face?

Sometimes we fear rejection.

Sometimes we are afraid that we might not be good enough (according to whose standards?)

Other times we are afraid of the truth of our strength and being called to a greater accountability that we think we cannot uphold. 

Running from our insecurities leads to emotional and mental exhaustion. We enter cyclic thinking of what if, worst case scenarios, and I wish — that may never be resolved because we craftily leap over ever thinking of a positive case scenario. 

So I challenge us all today into a mindset of radical honesty that incites us to challenge our insecurities head on….so that we no longer feel the need to play small. Your gifts are beautiful and we are waiting to see just big you are. Your playing small serves no one and frankly an insult to the One who strategically created the masterpiece that is you. 

Take up space friend. We’re ready for you.

March 20, 2020. That’s when I received the email from the corporate office informing me that I should not be returning to the office the following Monday. We were in “unprecedented times”. Everything was shut. I thought “Okay, sis. It’s fine…this is temporary.” Well, because the email said “for this week.” I thought wrong.

As we all know (because we’re living it), the one week turned into five, then ten, and frankly, we’ve probably all lost count of how many weeks were within these “unprecedented times”. Collectively, we paused. And forcedly, we pivoted.

Like you, at the start of this year, I sat hopefully attuned to each goal I inscribed in my prayer journal on January 1st. From the relaxing trips I’d planned to Lagos, Tanzania, and Athens… to the transformative events I expected to produce in London, Amsterdam, and Los Angeles. I entered the start of this year with flair, captivated by the unlimited potential my “2020 Vision” would bring.

But, forcedly, I pivoted.

If I learned anything from being a corporate employee, entrepreneur, then consultant, it is that change happens constantly, quickly, and our least favorite: unexpectedly. The latter tends to raise fear.  The thought of change tends, at times, to be frightening (and other times, paralyzing) because we’d much rather focus on ideas or experiences that we’ve held on to closely (lived or dreamed), than embrace something as foreign as the unknown. So in that fear, we’d rather sit. 

Sit on ideas, dreams, goals (probably smothering them by this point)…well because, the unknown is frightening. And we’re much better off saving our dreams for another time... that is less “unprecedented”. 

But, what if instead, we took ownership of change, no matter how unexpected? 

In April, I had the mental capacity to focus on the consulting work I did with other brands (in the absence of my 9-5). I researched to further my knowledge of brand marketing. I sharpened my networking prowess and connected with leaders in the beauty industry. The brands exceeded their sales targets, in the midst of unprecedented economic times. In May, I continued to record episodes for my podcast, then was invited to speak to the audiences of several brands across Los Angeles, Lagos, and London.

I was forced to pivot. But I willingly chose to embrace something as “dangerous” as the unknown: change.

I have to be admit, that although I pivoted, I wasn’t necessarily changing course confidently. But I committed to doing small actions that had some semblance of movement. And that’s all pivoting is: a commitment to moving forward, even when it does not feel safe of familiar.

So with that, I’d love for you to cherish this verse I ascribed in my prayer journal, beside the page titled “2020 Vision”:

Isaiah 43:18-19 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!....I am making a way in the wilderness...”

If you’re in a place of pivot, grab hold of this unique (and uncertain) opportunity to refine your talents. In this unique place, your frustration of your situation can pivot into surrender, and God will have more room to make a way in this unfamiliar territory and “unprecedented times”.

*The above was written as a contribution to a 2020 Coffee & Prayer newsletter*

I remember having a conversation with a friend, who in full accountability, called me to see if I’d made a decision to move forward on a project I’d been so cleverly dragging along. In that conversation, I very boldly told her “Well, if this happens, I’ll do it.” I could feel her side-eyeing me through the phone, but I ignored it.

I began noticing I made this statement repeatedly. “If that happens, then I’ll do this.” I was living life based on external conditions. I realized my conditional living had manifested itself in small things -- like how I chose to eat (I'll eat ice cream if I workout), then more grand circumstances like career progression (I'll leave my job if I get a new offer). I was placing conditions on making decisions and worse yet, taking action. 

Doing deep work and a bit of research (self-help junkie & psych nerd here!), I realized that our conditional living is rooted in self-expectations, societal expectations, or fear of failure. Conditional living often manifests or masks itself as:

  • Procrastination or perfectionism

  • Validation seeking (constantly asking for reassurance from more trusted sources, because we’ve stopped trusting ourselves)

  • Delayed decision making

But if we hold on to the false belief that we (or our circumstance) can only succeed if something else (usually outside of our control) happens, we rob ourselves of:

  • Living fully

  • Taking agency

  • Having ownership of our lives.

We end up placing ourselves on a rollercoaster of emotions...constantly waiting for someone or something to decide for us. When in reality, our lives are not group decisions. So my beloved, let’s not wait until we get a groundbreaking sign. Let’s no longer wait until all conditions are perfect. And we definitely should stop waiting for permission.

You get to decide.

The decision comes from being radically honest with ourselves. What do you want? Is this thing congruent with your values? Does it authentically align with who you are?

I’ve discovered that the answer to taking ownership over our life experiences is accepting that you cannot fail. That there are no failures. Only data. And that  data will inform how radically honest you need to be to solely and confidently make your next best decision.

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