Category Archives: Life

6 Reflections for Graduates In Limbo

It’s graduation season and while some of you out there are heading out to your first day at your new job, some of us are tightening the drawstrings on our sweatpants to prepare for a day of job hunting on LinkedIn. It’s okay to be in that last group. If you’re having a pity party right now, stop right now and read my post “Living at Home Doesn’t Make You a Loser.” I’ve been in your shoes before and I want to share some of the reflections I have from that time of uncertainty.

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#1: Let Your Freak Flag Fly

There was a time when I tried to act normal and act like I was interested in the same things as everyone else. That didn’t last very long. The truth is that I love singing but I’m notoriously bad with lyrics, avocados make me gag and I am constantly shopping for the perfect planner (it has to have 30 minute increments and a spot for a to-do list). Don’t be afraid to like what you like. There are too many people trying to go with the flow and like what everyone else likes. Once you’re open about what you like, you’ll be surprised at the kind of people that gravitate towards you. I once had a 10 minute conversation with someone about the best pen for journal writing. This conversation included a hands-on demo of all the pens in her collection. As weird as it was that she had all those pens in her bag, it was a mutually enjoyable experience that would not have happened if I hadn’t mistakenly stolen her pen. Let’s all agree to free ourselves to be enthusiastic about life again!

Lesson 2: Failure Can Hurt but It Won’t Kill You
#2: Failure Can Hurt but It Won’t Kill You

I have heard “no” more times than I would like to admit. In fact, I heard it so many times that I became desensitized to it. I no longer heard it as a criticism of me as a person. Instead, I take “no” to mean “not now”, “not here”,”not like this”, and “not with them.” Getting over the fear of “no” is a challenge that I face head-on every day. Every time I cold-email a complete stranger that I admire from the industry, I hold my breath and send up a prayer before pressing send. It’s a ritual for me, but that little action helps me overcome my fear. I’ve found that the people on the other end, more times than not, actually reply back. Most of the time, they’re impressed someone had the guts randomly email them for advice. I’ve had some surprisingly pleasant interactions with random strangers. Just remember that they are humans and were once in your shoes, trying to find their place in the world.

Quick tip: Be brief and to the point (who you are and what you do). Make sure your email has an ask (what do you want from them).
Lesson #3: Hustle Outside of the Box
#3: Hustle Outside of the Box

If you want to know what you have a reputation for, take a peek at your LinkedIn endorsements. I have a few for “Public Speaking”, likely because of my TEDx talk and other speaking engagements but what kind of threw me off were the “Event Planning” endorsements. I noticed they were from people who had attended my Style Lottery closet swap events over the years. For some reason, I hadn’t thought of putting together swaps as event planning. But it was! Every year, I was planning 3-4 swaps with and for different groups in different cities and people were starting to take notice. Sometimes, people can see greatness in us and that is enough to plant a seed. About a year ago, I took my event planning hobby and turned it into my fashion startup called Style Lottery. Ever since, we’ve been teaching people to restyle, reuse, and reward with fashion. With a little creativity, your passions and talents can be transformed into a side-hustle.

Lesson #4: Become a True Learner
#4: Become a True Learner

When I first became interested in sustainability, I wanted to read everything I could get my hands on. I read up on the circular and sharing economy. I nerded out on statistics about the psychology behind the need to shop. I designed workshops about sustainable fashion. I subscribed to blogs and YouTube channels dedicated to minimalism and a more waste-conscious lifestyle. I researched natural substitutes for my every day products. In order to really know a subject, you have to become a true learner. Read books, attend talks, and link up with likeminded people who can teach you a thing or two. It’s important to never stop learning and seeking to know more.

Lesson #5: Know Thyself
#5: Know Thyself

I came to the realization that I am not the type of employee who can sit behind a desk from 9 to 5, staring at a computer. I am an idea person who thrives when I can bounce ideas off others. Just as it’s important to know what kind of job functions you enjoy and what kind of work environments you do your best work in. You should also be aware of your strengths and areas that need improvements.

Here’s an interesting thought about strengths and weaknesses: I was having a conversation with one of my “mentors-in-my-head” (borrowed this phrase from Chasity Cooper) and she said that we don’t always have to be so obsessed with working on our weaknesses. Our weaknesses may be a clue that we need someone on our team who excels in areas where we struggle. I think they’re a great reminder that we can’t do our best work in isolation.

Lesson #5: What is For You is For You
#6: What is For You is For You

My life has been an interesting ride, full of surprise turns and blessings in disguise. I’m not really the type to plan out every detail of my life very far out in advance. I have a vision for who I want to be and what I want to be known for but the road getting there is quite blurry to me. And you know what? I’m actually ok with that. In my experience, it’s been when I least expected it that God put up great roadblocks in my way and dropped amazing opportunities into my lap. When I look at where I am in my life now, I’m not exactly where I thought I would be but looking at the road that brought me here, I see God’s hand in every step I took.

I can’t look to my left or right and try to compare my life trajectories to anyone else’s. It wouldn’t be fair. I know that even now, the wheels are turning in my life, although I cannot see the outcomes just yet. In the meantime, I will continue chatting with awesome strangers on planes and having lunch dates with friends of friends who are doing exciting things. I’m enjoying hearing people’s life journeys. It’s refreshing to hear that none of them were exactly sure of where they’d end up when they started and no one’s career path was a straight shot. I’m not sure what God has in store for me, but I know He will continue on in the trend of surprising me beyond what I could ever dream. I don’t have to beg him for a job or plead with him for the success of my nonprofit. What is for me is for me. It will be mine as long as I have faith and work toward it. I pray the same peace and optimism for you in the period of waiting.

Pictures taken by Gesiye Komonibo, Washington, DC.

Millennial on a Mission: Timi Komonibo

CHASITY S. COOPER

Happy Friday!

Today’s Millennial on a Mission is not only a (future) fellow Syracuse University graduate, (congrats to the class of 2015!) but she’s also a entrepreneur with heart for giving back to her community. Her nonprofit organization, Style Lottery, is a sustainable fashion  philanthropy nonprofit that hosts “pop-up swaps” where guests can swap their lightly used clothing items with each other and donate what is un-swapped to organizations that serve women in need throughout the community. Now that she’s on the cusp of entering the job market, she hopes to launch a career within corporate social responsibility and/or philanthropy.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Timi Komonibo.

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A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Timi went into college as an undeclared major, convinced (in her words) “that all Nigerian kids were supposed to excel at science and math”, but she struggled to fit into that cultural…

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How To Engage in Anti-Racism as an African Immigrant

In the midst of the Baltimore Uprising, I have been hearing some concerning statements from Black people criticizing Baltimore residents for their participation in the protests. At this point, I have grown weary of warning my friends against the danger of respectability politics and propagating the myth of the “good Blacks.”

So instead of me going on a rant to break down the issue for you, I will let my younger self teach you a lesson or two about how to effectively engage in anti-racism. The video you’re about to see is part of a school project for Professor Eric Tang’s course on race. I took the course through the African & African Diaspora Studies department during my senior year at The University of Texas at Austin. The project focused on the problem with the model Black minority myth. This is a simplification of a very complex issue, but I hope you all will use it as an educational tool to build Black solidarity and teach effective anti-racism.

Enjoy:

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Another great post:

How Nigerians & Africans Should Deal With The Baltimore Riots For Freddie Gray

When Amber Met DC

On a whim, my friend Amber decided to come down to DC to escape the brick winter of Syracuse, New York. She happens to be a talented photographer who owns her own company, A Joy Photography. I don’t know why God has such visually talented friends but I won’t complain at all. Amber was my first official DC guest, so I was excited to play the part of host.

We showed her the Capitol…

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We brushed up our jumping skills…DCAmber-3I call this jump “The Peter Pan”…DCAmber-5

We discovered Jennifer is ridiculously photogenic…
DCAmber-12DCAmber-6Alright, we get it! You’re cute. Now, stop lol. 

DCAmber-18…And we re-discovered that I’m a very unserious person.
DCAmber-22I’m basically a 6 year old at heart.DCAmber-26 We took pictures worthy of postcards.DCAmber-31

Giving you Jimmy Neutron vibesDCAmber-34 This one was my favorite!DCAmber-35

I was so glad to have Amber come visit. Turned out I needed a little break just as much as she did. To see more of Amber Drury’s photography or book her for a shoot, visit http://www.ajoyphoto.com/. She does great wedding and family photos or even just a fun weekend with the girls.

DCAmber-21Until next time!

Quick Guide to Seeing South Africa Like A Local

O N E  D R O P (3)

After coming back from my Spring Break trip with my friend Jennifer to Johannesburg and Cape Town, I was excited to share my adventures with friends and family. It wasn’t until I started comparing notes that I realized we had packed an insane amount of activities into the 3 days we spent in Johannesburg and 2 in Cape Town. I’ve pulled together some tips to help you see South Africa like a local. May they serve you well on your journey!

Disclaimer: This is not a paid review. I just believe in giving credit where credit is due.

1. Stay with Curiocity Backpackers

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The Curiocity guys (l to r: Bheki, Tshepo, and Bonnie)

When I told my good friend that I was traveling to Johannesburg, he told me that there was no better place to stay than at`1` the Curiocity Backpackers hostel located in the Maboneng Precinct. Their website and Facebook page highlighted game nights, clean bunk beds, an in-house bar, and a prime location in an eclectic neighborhood. We were sold. The Curiocity team were extremely helpful at all points of our trip: they arranged for a driver to come pick us up from the airport (Ask for Arnold, he’s our favorite!), Dudu (sweetest girl ever) was at the front desk to greet us with a warm welcome and show us our room. First thing that struck me about the hostel was that it was the kind of place I would see in a cool urban magazine. From the graffiti wall with “Curiocity” scrawled across it to the upper deck attached to the kitchen, there wasn’t a design element the guys hadn’t thought of. The second thing that surprised me was how young the guys are (pictured above). Bheki Dube brought together a group of entrepreneurial friends and merged their ventures into one awesome experience for young travelers.

#2. Explore local neighborhoods

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Sign language sculpture spelling out “Vilakazi”

In my opinion, the best way to see South Africa is through a guided tour with someone who will show you the historical sites as well as the quirky spots in the area. I will admit that upon arrival at Jo’Burg, my main objective was to soak up the sun and eat South African food. So when I signed up for the Inner City walking tour with Bonnie from Curiocity, I had no real expectations other than to have fun.  I’m pretty sure Bonnie took us EVERYWHERE in the city and I’m equally sure he knew EVERYONE in the area. We were always greeted warmly because we were with Bonnie. Most of the pictures from my South Africa photo gallery post were taken during Bonnie’s tour. His extensive knowledge of South Africa’s history and connection to the city of Johannesburg helped us understand the significance of the sites we were seeing. We ended the day on a somber note at the Apartheid Museum (which has a student discount if you present your ID). Our town to Soweto the next day was led by Tshepo. His tour “Sowe2 With Love” took us through historical area of Soweto. We walked on Vilakazi Street, the only street in the world to have housed two Nobel Prize winners (Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu). We also visited the Hector Pieterson museum while we were there. If you’re interested in taking the tours, click on the links above to get more information.

#3. Do something you’re afraid of

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Tshepo just happened to know a woman who tamed snakes

As we were wandering through the streets with Tshepo, my friend Jennifer had the insane idea to stop at a place where you could hold a snake. As you can see in the picture above, I had no chill about the entire situation. I did manage to touch the snake and then warm up to the idea of letting it drape over me. This speaks to how comfortable I was on the tour and how confident I was that Tshepo wouldn’t let me die in Soweto. Because Tshepo is very familiar with the area, we were able to see some great spots in area. Just as was the case with Bonnie’s tour, everyone greeted us warmly and invited us into their stores and their home.

#4. Enjoy the scenic routes

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Street view of the Orlando tours

After our Soweto tour, we headed over to the Orlando Towers. In between the two towers, you can see there is a small red platform for bungee jumping. I really wanted to do it, but after the snake incident I figured I’d had enough excitement for the day. Behind the wall was a great hangout spot called Chaf Pozi where people were eating braai and jamming along with the music. Braai is South Africa’s version of barbeque meat and it is delicious! I was so busy savoring the flavor and enjoying the atmosphere that I don’t remember to take a picture of the inside. But that’s a good problem to have. This was a great people-watching spot where we could see the young and old dancing, eating, and laughing together.

#5. Ride public transportation

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Jennifer and I on our way to Soweto

When we were on Bonnie’s tour, he showed us different hand signs you could use to hail a city van in Jo’Burg. Most of the time, when the van pulled up to you it was typically jam-packed with people. It was a cool way to see local people and feel like you were part of the hustle and bustle of the city. Jennifer and I always went around together and we had the help of our new friends to tell us where we were going and . I do not recommend going on the bus alone. It was a little overwhelming and easy to lose your way. The van pictured above taken during our Sowe2 tour where it was just us, Tshepo and our driver friend. We lucked out and just happened to be the only ones on the tour that day so we had to whole van to ourselves that day. Special thanks to Ayo for letting us borrow his GoPro and selfie stick!

#6. Sample the local cuisine

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Trying “bunny chow” for the first time

We were given a some good food recommendations of things to eat while in South Africa. The top three things were braai, bunny chow, and an ostrich burger. We got to try all three and they were all delicious. It wasn’t hard to find braai, but we had a little difficulty tracking down bunny chow. We finally found it at the Eastern Food Bazaar when we visited Cape Town. Bunny chow is a hollowed out loaf of bread and filled with a stewed/curried meat (chicken or lamb). The little Nigerian girl in me was taken back to the days of dipping agege bread in stew. This meal was genius and I’m going to find a way to have it again in the States.

Here’s a list of the restaurants we ate at while we were in South Africa:

  • Little Addis (Ethiopian food in South Africa. Seemed pretty authentic and spicy…very spicy lol)
  • Cadillac Jack’s Roadhouse (The caramelized onions & sauce with the cheeseburger were perfect)
  • Soul Souvlaki (I recommend the “mixed grill” with chicken, lamb, and bisteki)
  • Fabulous Burger Boys (Try a tasty ostrich burger)
  • Chaf Pozi (Enjoy some great braai and great music)
  • Truth Coffee Roasting (We didn’t even eat here. We just wandered in and sat down. By the time we left, we’d had a deep conversation about race with an American PhD student we randomly met.)
  • Eastern Food Bazaar (Get the bunny chow. Make sure you have a lot of room in your stomach!)
  • Little restaurant attached to Curiocity (I forget the name of the place, but we had breakfast there twice and dinner once. The meals are simple and low-cost. The staff is always friendly and willing to feed you early or late. Great place to eat if you’re in a pinch for time or money.)

Word of advice: If you’re trying to sample as many dishes as possible, I suggest that you and a friend order different things and share with each other. This is Jennifer’s style and since she’s been to more than 20 countries already, I think we can trust her advice.

So now you’ve seen all of my trip to South Africa. I already miss my Curiocity brothers and am scheming to return soon. If I didn’t have the travel bug I definitely got it after this trip. I hope this post helps you see the real South Africa, rather than the packaged tourist version. Cheers to more trips in the future!

In case you missed it, check out Part I: Naturale Chronicles Goes to South Africa.

Naturale Chronicles Goes To South Africa

O N E  D R O P

My favorite purchases from last year were my red Hershel dupe knapsack and my secondhand cafe-brown Levi jeans. Naturally, I brought them with me on my week-long vacation to South Africa last week. The cafe pants a great staple piece in my closet and were very comfy to walk around in through the city. My knapsack held all my essentials (passport, money, IDs, water bottle, sunscreen, etc) and allowed me to explore the city hands-free. I will let these two items tell the story of my trip to South Africa.

JOHANNESBURG (JO’BURG)

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When we first landed in Jo’Burg, the first thing I felt was how much I had missed the African sun kissing my skin.
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There was art and beauty around every corner.
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There was so much to do and see but most of the time, I was content to just sit still and be present.
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Every inch of the city paid homage to history’s greats.
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Each neighborhood reflected the interests of its eclectic residents.
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Depending on where you stood, and from who’s perspective you were looking from, the city looked completely different.
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Despite years of adversity, the African pride could not be smoldered. It was prominent in every space we entered.

 

CAPE TOWN

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A greeting is enough to spark a friendship
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The weather in Cape Town does as it pleases– sun one minute, wind the next.
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The streets were marked so that no one could erase their history.
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I could never take for granted the kindness of strangers (especially the ones letting me take pictures in front of their houses)
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I allowed myself to relax in my new surroundings
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I witnessed the nostalgic blend of the old and the new.
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I experienced the adage that “it’s not the destination, but the journey that changes us.”

Special thanks to Bonnie, our tour guide in Johannesburg from Curiocity Backpackers. Stay tuned for my part II of this post, giving more details about the places I went, things I did, and people I met in South Africa.

Have any of you traveled to South Africa? Leave me a link to your blog post below. I’d love to see what you saw!

(Photo cred: Jennifer Osias)

What’s In My Bag TAG: Long Weekend Trip

I’m taking a long roadtrip via bus from DC to NYC to SYR. It’s a mixture of business and pleasure. Since I’m learning to be more minimal, I thought I’d show you what’s in my bag. I’m only packing a backpack and a purse.

In my backpack:

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1. Medium travel cube– it was part of a set of 3 in different sizes. It’s my favorite travel accessory. In there, I have a pair of pants and leggings, 4 tops, pjs, 4 days worth of underwear, and a pair of black booties. They all fit!

2. My glass water bottle– I can use water fountains to fill up

3. Book– reading up for Style Lottery

4. Umbrella

5. Small travel cube– full of snacks

6. Makeup bag

7. Toiletries 

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In my purse:

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset1. Organizer– for business meetings

2. Cash envelope– I do the cash envelope system. I designate a specific amount of money to different categories (food, fun, apparel, etc.) When the cash is finished, I can’t spend on that category anymore.

3. Wristlet wallet

4. Idea journal

I love traveling lighter. It makes life so much easier. This is my travel backpack. It’s a Hershel dupe but a lot of people mistake it for the real thing! I got it a few months ago and I have used it for all my trips. Great accessory to have.

Click picture to find a similar backpack.
Click picture to find a similar backpack.

Do you travel light? What’s your favorite travel bag? Leave me a comment below!