Strangers Add Value Too

Happy Sunday!!! I will be honest enough to tell you that there was almost no memoir for you today. Not because my heart was not in it but because I was out late spending some time with like-minded individuals that I just met yesterday. It was truly amazing. We talked about any & everything under the sun from relationships, finances, marriage, friendship, goals, aspirations, etc. However, I need you to see the important part in all this–

I just met these people yesterday!

Sometimes we spend so much time being anti-social or reserved that we do not realize that strangers can add something of value to our lives- a lesson, confirmation to what we know or to be a living example of something we believe or aspire to have happen for our own lives. If we stay secluded, avoid events where people we know are not attending or limit our circle to our immediate circle of friends we lose out on the opportunity of encounter. We gain something new from every interaction & yesterday further confirmed that for me. In talking, laughing & interacting with these individuals yesterday I am elated because not only was it a great time, it was further revelation that my friends & I are not crazy for the goals that we aspire to have. There were married couples, parents, students, career professionals all sitting in one place sharing point of views, dropping gems, being ourselves & giving me, a single career woman, who wants to one day be married, a glimpse into what my social life with my future spouse can very well look-like.

So today, I encourage you to socialize more with strangers. At events sit next to people you do not know & start talking to them. Do not limit your interactions to solely the people in your circle. Network, meet new people, encourage someone, be encouraged, have an unexpected time with unexpected good people -you will be surprised what you will get out of it. Some new encounters can evolve to forever bonds, guarantee a great time every time you link up or be an encounter that will stitch a lesson into your memory you will never forget.

Give it a try. It is worth it.

You Are Valid, As IS.

Too often we allow people (other than ourselves) & things to validate who we are, what we have to offer & what we are worth. Despite how much I do not want to admit it, the truth is, I am guilty of this too. We have allowed letter grades, yearly salaries, hourly wages, romantic & non-romantic relationships, negative interactions, employment, & material things to have too much weight on how we view ourselves & what we believe we can offer to the world. For forever, the world has told us what success looks like & that is one of the main reasons we are too hard on ourselves.

Success is what we define it as. It has nothing to do with monetary gain, the romantic or non-romantic relationships we maintained or how we advance professionally, because we all know– despite how well we appear to be doing in life– these things do not add true value to it. We can be doing well & still be disappointed in the person we see in the mirror. The more we allow the perspective of others to hold weight on our lives, the less value we see in ourselves & the worse we feel.

As someone who recently felt unworthy, I am here to tell you that you are more than worthy– YOU ARE PRICELESS. Your accomplishments or your possessions do not make who you are. Instead, it is the content of your character. If you are kind, how you make people feel when you have encounters with them, your positive perspective on life, how you treat people, etc. Because the truth is, when you are gone, these are the things that people will remember; not how much money you had in the bank or the nice car or home you had. So make a conscious effort- everyday- to ensure that you do not give so much rank to these things in your life. Instead just love yourself the way you are. YOU as you are, is the only thing that deserves any validation in your life.

Durable Rejection

Rejection…

We have all been there before. Regardless of how well we live our lives, how well we may or may not treat people; we are not exempt. We have all experienced rejection from people we love, employers, strangers & associates. However, it is important that we understand that it is inevitable & one ‘no’ is another ‘yes’ down the line. Unfortunately, rejection hurts & could have crippling consequences that we can carry around with us forever. In the face of rejection, the greatest indicator of our character is how we stand up after we are forced to look it in the face.

I, myself, struggle with rejection. I am typically a very confident person. I know what I am worth & I know how hard I worked to get to where I am now. But I would be a liar if I said rejection did not sting when it has happened; some times more than others. But please believe me when I say that rejection does not say anything about who you are. In fact, it is just a reminder that a better opportunity will present itself. Do not let the these moments make you feel like less than what you truly are. In fact, these are the exact moments that will be a testament to your strength.

To encourage you further, please take a few minutes to watch the two videos below. I believe they could do for you, what they did for me.

In the meantime, never forget this- rejection’s only strength is in building you up. All the other side effects are obsolete.

Growth in Discomfort

Throughout our lives we have been through different situations that have caused us discomfort. Regardless of how long it took, we can all reflect back on that time & recall how we felt & the specific circumstances that surrounded that discomfort. However, as the time passes on we can acknowledge that we are not in the same place we were then & can be proud that we are past that point of our lives that we likely thought was going to take us out.

We have all been there. We have all felt first hand the effects discomfort inflicted on us from school, work & interpersonal relationships we encounter along the way; all of which, has molded us into the women we are today. Our experiences have made us wise, empathetic, strong, fierce, relatable & resilient. All these qualities make us better suited for our own situations & geared for the situations of others who may call on us. Therefore, if you are currently in a state of discomfort, such as myself, remain positive. All of what you are experiencing has come before you with the betterment of YOU as the the result.

Sometimes it is difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But you have to KNOW it is there. As you go through it, reflect on the lessons & take note of your evolution. If that proves to be a little harder than intended, just reflect on the more difficult times of your life that you got through. Because what you thought was going to take you out has had no longevity in comparison to you. It was difficult but short lived & in no way has rank over all that you are destined to be. Every situation that restricts you, that makes it increasingly more difficult for you & causes you to stumble is just that. They are not permanent. They are simply the water used to water you into full bloom. Embrace it.

Just Breathe

For as long as I could remember, I have always had unreasonable expectations on how to maneuver through life. In doing this, I failed to keep track of what was important. I would get so caught up in what had to be perfect that I never prepared myself for the possibility that things may not go as planned & if I keep trying to fit it in a box; I will miss out on how truly amazing it is to just live. As I get older & get more comfortable talking about this with my peers; I have learned that the sentiment that I once thought was mine, is a sentiment shared amongst all of them, as well. Because the truth is, so many of us are asymptomatic for depression & anxiety because we have all imposed these crappy expectations on ourselves that make it impossible to just relish in the moment & allow life to present to us what it may.

This must stop. We have to accept that this life thing does not come easy. In fact, sometimes it is extremely difficult to get through & when we think we have it all figured out, whoop, we don’t. That is totally ok. No one told us we had to have the solutions to all the conflicts that are presented to us; we did. When the truth of the matter is, all we really need to do is survive & enjoy ourselves while we do so. In fact, we just need to make sure that at the end of the day, we are decent human beings that leave some type of positive imprint on the world. We need to keep in mind that there are no specifics in how we do it; we just really need to do it our way; the way we choose how to.

I believe many of us cannot enjoy life the way we were meant to because we allow the pressures of our lives to make us automatic & responsive. But sometimes, if we sit still, in peace, in quiet & focus on the soothing noises around us, we will find more opportunities that allow us to just breathe. Opportunities that allow us to just sit back & recognize that we are not doing so bad, after all & we just need a little moment away.- to get our thoughts together; to get our minds right. Life does not come with a manual & quite frankly, it would not be any fun if it did. So take from life what you can- experiences, moments, joy, happiness, sadness- & make of it what you can. Life is more than short, it’s worth it.

Beautifully Broken

As you may have saw last week, I have had to take a minute away to recharge. Initially, I believed in only giving you content when I have made it through a storm. However, I am currently in an emotional battle & I recognize that life must still go on. Life stops for no one & the best way to get over & past things is to attempt to bring your life back to some type of normalcy. I have advocated for self care on a public platform for well over a year now & somehow forgot that in advocating for self care, that there will be instances when I will need to acknowledge that my own journey needs a moment or two for a little tender, love & care.

It has been a little over a week that I have not felt like myself. I have been struggling to be productive & struggling to see the bright side of things (which is really not like me). As someone who has sat side by side with depression, I can recognize that I am not there but that something will need to change before I get caught up sitting with my “old friend” again. So today, I decided to live up to my promise to always remain transparent & tell you all that I am struggling. Nonetheless, I will also follow up with this statement by telling you, that it is ok to be totally honest with ourselves when we are. Sometimes we get so use to looking like we have it all together that we are hard on ourselves when we don’t. Sometimes things just don’t make sense and it effects us. Sometimes things sting more than we anticipated & sometimes life just does not seem fair. But if there is anything I learned in the three decades I have walked this earth– the difficult times do not last forever.

Sadness will eventually be turned to joy, tears will turn to laughter & anger will turn to peace because our lives were not meant to be a relay race of obstacles we cannot overcome. In fact, our lives are about the victories. A bunch of small & large wins that enable us to reflect back on those trophy moments & be proud. So if you are like me & having a more difficult time than normal, remain encouraged. Remain positive that this too shall pass. After all, we do not have to be everyone’s superhero, we just have to be our own.

A Word on Gossip

I am excited to announce that we have another Guest Inspiration, Susan (Susie) Wood, who is with us today to share with us her thoughts on gossip & what impact it can have in the various facets of our lives. I personally have watched Susie evolve in her pursuit of self-reflection & it has been such a beautiful journey. She has mastered the art of reflection & has done an amazing job at sharing what she’s learned about herself & the actions of others in a way that helps us understand our own individual circumstances. Therefore, today, I am honored to have her here on Nickkie&Co. to share with us her thought out analysis on Gossip.

Have you ever been the target of unkind gossip at work or other communities? Have you ever been the source of it? Chances are you’ve experienced both sides to some degree. I usually don’t care what people say about me and prefer not to waste my energy on self-defense. Usually it’s best to let people draw conclusions from their own observations because my behavior speaks for itself and my conscience is clean. What others say usually only reflects poorly on the gossiper in those cases. However, I did recently become targeted by someone at work that I considered a friend, and it felt particularly vicious and public. It led me to explore a lot of questions beyond just our personal relationship, but about the broader topic of gossip in general and why people do it. Entire industries are built on this guilty pleasure. We all know how painful and damaging it can be, so why do we persist? Why do we even lend a sympathetic ear?


There are different kinds of gossip and it isn’t all bad. I’ve learned a lot of valuable work-related information over the years through a game of whisper-down-the-lane as a result of poor, spotty communication on the part of management. But it’s also valid and useful in preparation for interviews, for salary negotiations, or for keeping your guard up around a known sexual predator. Women may tear each other down with gossip, but we also protect each other from the Harvey Weinsteins of the world. We just need to consider carefully the information and its source, and discern which kind we are hearing.

This recent work experience was of the malicious, personal variety, and it was painful. It led me to read about some of the neuroscience research by Naomi I. Eisenberger on Social Pain (e.g., resultant of public criticism, rejection, exclusion, being shamed, etc.) She found that social pain will trigger a response in some of the same neural pathways in the brain as physical pain. This has been proven on fMRI scans in many different studies over the last decade of research. Certain drugs that are prescribed for physical pain, like opioids, have comparable outcomes on relief of social pain. Similarly, antidepressants which are prescribed for anxiety and depression, have also been shown to reduce physical pain. There is an undeniable overlap. Social rejection is arguably worse than physical pain because it can be experienced repeatedly each time an event is recalled in your mind. You can relive the pain ongoingly if you don’t have a healthy outlet for your stress and learn to move on. Ann Betz, CPCC and international executive coach, also wrote an article on the neurological effects of too much stress. It leads to functional impairment of the pre-frontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for high-level thinking. She wrote that acute, chronic stress leads to foggy thinking, poor impulse control, poor memory and decision-making, and lack of empathy. It’s not difficult to understand why, then, the biggest gossipers tend to be the most high-anxiety individuals.

When faced with any problem, it’s good practice to have enough self-awareness to be willing to ask yourself how you may have contributed to the situation you find yourself in. Even if it’s only 5% your own doing and 95% theirs, you can learn and grow a lot from that 5% that you owned and make better choices next time – especially if any part of that mean gossip was true. I concluded that this work friend was in pain and that I compounded it by saying something hurtful during an argument. This was her way of hurting me back, creating alliances, and protecting herself from potential professional consequences.

The next time you are tempted to share something mean, personal or private about someone, ask yourself why: What need am I trying to fulfill by sharing this information with this person? What might be the consequences? Is there a healthier way I can meet this need without hurting anyone? There almost always is.
Susie

What am I trying to fulfill with sharing this information with this person…Is there a healthier way I can meet this need without hurting anyone?

Inspire

To INSPIRE is to fill someone with the urge or ability to do or feel something.

Every morning I wake up with the deliberate intent to inspire someone. I understand that every encounter I may have with someone (stranger, friend or foe) is an opportunity for me to do so. I recognize that many of us are walking around aimlessly, uninspired & without purpose. So the greatest blessing I feel I can offer anyone is to inspire them. Because in inspiring them, they come into realization of their abilities & the potential to pursue all the dreams they never imagined they could make a reality.

As women going places, it is imperative that we keep this same mindset, at all times. Unfortunately, with all that is going on, people feel incapable to make their gifts & talents work for them. They need to be inspired, to have something to strive for, something to give them purpose. Life is too beautiful to just be in it living aimlessly. We need to make it work for us. We need to inspire & be inspired. Once we realize the way this can impact the lives of others we MUST share it with the world.

So wake up. Take on the task to inspire the world.

Your Money, Your Power

As an adult, I reflect often on the topics we discussed in school. I realize that schools, in some way, do not really equip us for real life. You know, with the stuff that really matters, like- how to invest, the importance of having good credit, the benefits of saving early & budgeting accordingly. It is almost like we weren’t geared to fully live our best lives without debt & excess. We were told to desire to be rich but were not provided the proper resources to teach us how to be. It was ingrained in us that the sure way to live comfortably is to finish school, get a job with a high salary, & to save our money in a standard savings account. We were not told the other options to help us “get rich” or to be financially independent. In fact, the advice given to us initially, in my opinion, was pretty bad advice. College is a large reason why many of us are in debt, high paying jobs are not easily accessible & a standard savings account gives you zilch for interest as your money sits there & does nothing but be the same amount you deposited. That advice made us ill-equipped to thrive comfortably without understanding the struggle first.

Now, we have to force ourselves to figure it out on our own. We have to force ourselves to research the options & not fall into the trap of incurring tons of debt that is impossible to pay off. The days of living above our means & incurring debt we cannot pay is long behind us. Living paycheck to paycheck was not God’s intent when he placed us on this Earth to thrive. Therefore, we must prepare to change our mindset & keep those days behind us. The days of living above our means in order to keep is now over. We must begin to welcome a life that prohibits struggling in retirement & working ourselves to death without being able to experience our loved ones. They deserve to have us there while having access to our legacy after we are gone. We must learn to work this financial system to our advantage so we never have to remember what it is to struggle again. Because the truth is, we all want nice things, but the picture is bigger than that.

We need to obtain & utilize resources that allow us to familiarize ourselves with what is available to us. Learn the importance of investing, monitoring, book keeping, accounting & financial advising. Although they seem out of reach, they are services we can utilize now for our benefit. We cannot continue to have a billionaire mindset with an impoverished lifestyle because at some point the well of desire will run dry & we will begin to make irrational & unhealthy financial choices that we cannot afford to. Please understand that the financial choices you make now do not only effect you, they effect the generations after you. Living a life plagued with debt is a generational curse that we do not need to succumb to. We can break the chain of discomfort & teach our children the same thing. No one wants to end their life paying back debt that could have been avoided. Furthermore, no one wants to leave the burden of suffering on their families so we need to think smart- NOW.

Start doing the research. Start paying off your debt now so you do not have to worry about it later. Start budgeting. Monitor your trends in spending & sacrifice what you need to cut back on. Start investing your money & teaching your children the value of a dollar, teach them the pros & cons to credit scores & explain how interest rates work & do not work in their favor. Teach them to live with as little debt as possible so that after you are gone you can be sure that if you taught them anything, you taught them money. Our lives & their lives are too valuable to miss this knowledge like we did. Share it abundantly. The generation needs it.



Tips: Dave Ramsey’s literature on the Debt Snowball is very helpful. That information you receive coupled with his EveryDollar app can get you well on your way to living debt free & building up your savings.
Also, the most recent episode of the Jesus & Jollof podcast, “Scared Money, Don’t Make Money” is very informative without feeling overwhelming. It defines much of the terminology that was mentioned above & will stimulate you to think of your money differently.

After all, your money is your power.

Bet on Yourself

Every week, I discuss the importance of believing in yourself, advocating for yourself & being inspired enough to make a difference. However, this stuff will be quite difficult to do if you are unable to bet & take risks on yourself. We are in an age where many of us aspire in different ways to provide for ourselves & our loved ones by our own means. The most interesting part about this is that many of us have already evaluated the ways in which we can do so but we lack the confidence to just do it.

Today I tell you to be proud. I encourage you to have the confidence you need to take the big step & pursue the things you have always wanted to do. People think that in order to chase after dreams, to pursue new aspirations or to tread new waters they have to sacrifice everything. That cannot be further than the truth. We are muli-faceted creatures capable of living, doing & focusing on multiple things to fulfill our heart’s desire. Daily, we multitask & work hard fullfilling the dreams & visions of someone else. Therefore, you owe it to yourself to fit your desires in your hectic schedule; by your own means, at your own time. I started Nickkie&Co. knowing that one day it will have a larger mission than empowering people through an empowerment blog. However, this is the foundation & I am totally content with where it is right now. I am on my own timeline & what will come will come. I simply had one job & that was to take the risk. Now that the risk was taken, the rest will surely follow.

Today, I ask you to reflect a little bit. Has there been anything you always wanted to do? Something that can transform your life in a way that will give you a joy you have never felt before? If you woke up tomorrow & had the opportunity to invest in ONE thing that makes you an even better you, without thinking of finances, or comments from nay-sayers, what would you do?

Now I ask you-

What is stopping you now?

Today will be the last day you compromise on you.