Thursday, November 18, 2021

Challenging Insecurities

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.


Wednesday, April 7, 2021

The Power of Pivoting (Excerpt from a 2020 Guest Article)

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*

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