Where do I start my story? When I was approached by the author of this blog who requested I put something about my life journey down for the world to share, I was tempted to say “go read my book; Bamboo & Fern”. However, it dawned on me that an inspiring story should be told on as many platforms as possible. This is to neither feed the ego nor fan the vanity of the main character in such true-life story, but rather, to inspire others. It serves to inspire those coming along this journey of life. It enables them understand that there is greatness in every one of us and that we are all champions. Hence, I will start from the very beginning, to make it clear that if I could survive, so can any one else. The word Impossible says I’m Possible; therefore we are all possibilities and promises.
I was born in an old post office, in a poor district near Georges Valley, Jamaica. To the world, we Jamaicans are runners, singers, and a few not so nice things under the sun. My mother, who was only fifteen or sixteen at the time, was far too young to be a mummy. Just to help make her plight of motherhood ‘lighter’, the young man who was supposed to be my dad absconded. So, it was only natural, for my poor mum to quickly find herself a new boyfriend who could help her with the burden of starting a family.
It was painfully clear to me, even as a young child, that our family was poor. I used to go to school hungry. I was very skinny from hunger. So skinny, I looked like I had kwashiorkor. Most times in school, I used to hang around the Food and Nutrition Room at school because there was always food. One day, my old teacher Mrs. Taylor, caught me stealing. You sure do not need an oracle to tell you what I was caught stealing – food. Sometimes, it takes certain actions or events, in our life journeys to unleash that determination that propels one to greatness. For me, this event was one of such. The hunger in my belly and the fact that I had been caught just trying to stay alive plus the squalor of my environs had ignited the flame that was to propel me out of our one room house.
I saw school and my education, as my passport out of poverty. The best legacy we can leave our children is not pearls and diamonds, or all the jewelries in Dubai, but their education. I used to sell mangoes to help the finances of the family as much as I could in my early years, hoping against all hope that I could raise some money for my school. There is something about sales, that helps you develop certain skills that come back to help you. While I was selling those mangoes, I developed perseverance. While the other kids were mocking me, my perseverance and determination increased. So in my quest for education, I went to the Honorable Ambassador Burchell Whiteman’s office. I sat outside his door from 8 am in the morning to 5pm in the evening, persevering in my determination to see him. So much so, that I did not even go to the toilet. I kept saying to myself, ‘if my father will not help me, somebody has to’. I was very determined since the day I was born and my mango selling skills came in useful. I was not going to go back to the village without a decision about my education. I had no money and my mother could not afford it, but I needed a breakthrough – somebody had to help me. If it was not my father, it had to be the Minister of Education. When he saw my determination, he relented at 5:15 pm. He invited me into his office. This experience was for me like ‘Charlie and the chocolate factory’ I went into the office and went “waooohh oh my God”. Having lived in one room where a sheet was used to separate the room and the kids are on one side, one can understand my fascination with the splendor that was the Minister’s office.
He said to me, ‘you only have 5 minutes’. It was in that meeting that I learnt to take an opportunity. I was bold. I was determined. I told him how I wanted to go to school and become a lawyer. He said to me, “I am the education minister, you have only one choice, if you want to be a barrister, I cannot help you. However, if you want to be a teacher, I can help you.” I do not want to be no teacher! However, one has to know when to take an opportunity! I eventually grabbed it – I took the only opportunity he presented me with and said ‘thank you’. He did not give me anything on paper but he gave me his words. Sometimes, you just have to just believe in what somebody tells you. It was his words that got me into college. He said, ‘when you get your result, you go and tell them that I sent you’. That was when at 16, I knew that I had faith. I am a Christian by the way, and my faith is very important to me. The Lord is my strength I fear nothing. Nothing can toss me any more.
I am not going to bore you with the finite details; just suffice it to say that I have seen it all! I have seen a gun in my face, I have been spat on, raped, been passed over at work for promotions and dumped by my husband, what else can go wrong? Nothing. I am fearless. I fear nothing.
Fast forward to now. I came to London, I faced racism, I struggled with the different colour, accent and culture. I was determined to survive. So adapt I did to my new environment without losing my dignity as an African woman. I unapologetically dream big daily. I visualize things. I have done this since I was a child, propelled to break out of poverty by my dreams. If you cannot visualize it, it will not happen – you have got to write them down. Some of my visions make me tremble. If you are not dreaming so big that it makes you shiver, then you are not dreaming. Do not worry about how you are going to get there or how it is going to happen. You have to share your vision with those whose vision aligns with yours. Do not share your vision with those who do not want you to do well and you have to become unapologetic about your success. You need to ask your self, where do you want to be? You have to be determined! You can no more scratch the ground to find your food but rather, you must soar like an eagle to get what you want. Mingle with more eagles and the sky becomes your stepping-stone. Move with the right company and work hard at what you believe in. Know that our breakdowns will become our break through. If I could do it, so can you. That little girl who sold mangoes is now the same girl in the financial times. I am living proof that you can dream big unapologetically, keep focus and never worry about how it is going to happen. All you have to do is believe in yourself and do not let any one or any thing, steal your focus. Every thing you desire is within you. Our yesterday is pale compared to our today and tomorrow. It is not about the money but it is about attaining ones greatest potential. Irrespective of how much bad luck one has, no matter how high the mountain looks, or how dark your corner is, there sure is greatness in all of us that enables us to triumph.
Ask yourself these questions and then you find the answers within:
Do you believe your destiny is in your hands?
Do you believe you deserve to live the life of your dreams?
What will it take to stop just living, but dominate your life?
Do you know that the word impossible say I”mposisble ? So what stops your just getting up and doing it?