Written by Bibi Gnagno
Earlier this week, I held a workshop at the US Embassy in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. My presentation opened the month of March celebrating Women around the globe. I was really excited because I had crafted a presentation that would involve not only natural hair but also empowerment and impressing upon young minds the importance of education especially for young African girls.
Now let me back track. To be honest, it wasn’t all peaches and roses to get to this point. I say this because I hate it when people write and give advice as if everything is perfect and they are easily living their dreams. I want to show the entire picture and keep it balanced because life can get intense especially when you’re pushing towards the life that you’ve imagined for yourself.
In anticipation of the workshop, I had brainstormed ideas to get the audience involved which would be made up of primarily high school girls with some boys included as well. The week before the workshop my computer (with ALL of my information) crashed, my apartment flooded, and my salary was delayed. I thought I was going to die.
However, one of my motto’s is “Never Give Up” and coincidentally it fit right in with the International Women’s Day theme this year : Make It Happen.
Point blank. No excuses. No long winded explanation. Just Make It Happen.
That’s exactly what I did. The workshop was a hit. The audience participated and talked about taboo issues such as skin bleaching and natural hair.
I did an exercise with the audience where they had to answer questions about whether or not a woman had natural or permed hair based on what kind of career or position of power she was in. The answers were interesting. Most of the young girls and boys thought that if a woman had reached a certain level of success then automatically she had straight, processed or permed hair.
We navigated their beliefs and I made them question why they thought the way that they did.
One of the male participants admitted to liking artificial beauty because that’s what he saw the most even if he admitted that it was in fact “artificial”.
All in all, the workshop was a success and it taught me some powerful lessons to retain as we celebrate Women’s Month but also as we continue the rest of the year:
- Never give up. Victory is right around the corner.
- Take a break, maybe a day or half-day to get yourself together when life throws you gut punches.
- Find a support network that will carry you and encourage you when the journey gets really hard.
- Remember your “why”. Think back to the reason you started.
- Get creative. Problems come up to test your resolve and see how creative you can be in finding a solution.
- Do something nice to reward or congratulate yourself for making it happen by any means necessary.
Share with us, what motivational tips have helped you achieve your dreams and goals in the face of obstacles?