Liz Yemoja: Live Your Best Life And Own It! (30 Days, 30 Voices)

by Liz Yemoja

Liz Yemoja7

“Something deep in the human heart breaks at the thought of a life of mediocrity.”   C.S Lewis

“So, welcome to Liz’s pity party.” *Sigh. There was a phase in my life where people related to me in this fashion. I had managed to live life in a “Woe is me” manner; there was always something wrong, one reason or another to be sad. Deep soul searching got me out of that phase and to where I am now.

Sometime back in the 1990’s my father shipped us all to England; ‘us’ being younger brother, my sister and I. On arrival, my dad took us all on open days to various boarding schools and in September at the beginning of the new school year, I arrived on a Sunday to my new school. Hanford School for Girls is a horse riding boarding school in the South-West of England. I was nine years old. My step-mum had cut off our hair saying we wouldn’t be able to manage long hair well, and ‘low cut’ would be easier.

I’ll never forget my first night at school. Because of my short hair, one of the other girls asked me if I was the ‘kitchen boy’. While we were having a shower a few weeks into the term, another girl asked to see my ‘tail’, as she thought black people had tails. There were just over one 100 girls in the school; I was the only black person the entire three years there. I didn’t see any reflection of myself in any of the people I was coming into contact with everyday.

I struggled to fit in; I stuck out like a sore thumb. I looked different, I spoke different, and I had been raised differently.

Fast-forward three years, as I went into secondary school, I had made friends by then, I had become a young British girl, but there was something missing.

Six years passed by in secondary school, and by the time I reached university (University of Birmingham) I kind of denounced my ‘Britishness’. I so wanted to belong; I joined every black/Nigerian society going. I soon found myself contesting to be the president of the Nigerian society. I won. But I still didn’t get that acceptance I so craved, “The heart of man is desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). I learnt about jealousy, envy, and that it’s every man for his or herself in this world.

By the time I graduated and started working, I was used to being ‘The only one’. Being black in the white working world was no easy task.  At first I put on a bit of a front; I’d go home at times exhausted from the efforts. I sometimes felt cheated out of being who I really was. Some days I was relieved just to make it to my car where I could finally breathe and play my Naija jams.

At work, there was a ‘game face’ to put on; however with time, I learnt to integrate, without compromising beliefs or myself and still retaining my culture.

Fast forward… eight years of working in the corporate world, while still doing my TV presenting on the side, which was my passion, I decided I had had enough.

“Something deep in the human heart breaks at the thought of a life of mediocrity.”   C.S Lewis

 

In 2012, I relocated to Nigeria. Yes! Finally I’m home. But did my people embrace me and shower me with love?

Yes, many did, but a large amount are still negative, and we live in a world that judges and criticizes irrespective of race, colour or creed.

The first few months back in Lagos, it seemed that everybody was getting married except for me. The pressure was on, but I learnt not to sweat it. There should be a manual for young Nigerians ‘Dealing with The Nigerian family pressure to marry’. There are all sorts of reasons parents urge their daughters to marry; they want to see their grand children, fear of mockery etc. But I have learnt through others that marriage is a journey and you must be totally ready for it. I have seen that a lot of marriages here in Lagos are played out with gross ignorance. I have learnt that God’s time really is the best time.

Many people, who don’t really know you, will form an opinion from the bits they think they have pieced together. Are you still trying to please the world?

You shouldn’t be. You should be too busy living your best life.

I’m certain some will read this piece and say, “Please come of it.” (It’s our way to trivialize other people’s experiences). They’ll say “This girl lived a privileged life, why the lecture? What is she complaining for?”  Yes, I did live a privileged life, which I’m extremely grateful for. However, along the way, I face my own set of challenges and battle my own dreams and I thank God for endurance, and the ability to keep it going. You cannot please the world, and trying to do that is a sure way to fail.

My experiences have moulded me to become a person who thrives in any environment. Irrespective of where you’re coming from, trials or tribulations, we all deserve to live the life we are meant for. We should all step up and take responsibility for our own life; most especially free ourselves from the judgement of anyone.

I’m Liz, a corporate dropout; living my best life.

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Liz Yemoja currently works as an Online Manager at Genevieve magazine. An events compere, she also presents shows on Ben Tv Uk and on DSTV’s  Channel O.

30 Days, 30 Voices series is an opportunity for young Nigerians from across the world to share their stories and experiences – creating a meeting point where our common humanity is explored.

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

 

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