Growing pains in South Africa – Big girls cry too

Hey yo, hey yo! Whaddup my peeps? How‘s it going? Been a long minute, yeah? ( hope the inner Amerciana I am trying to channel is coming through? Lol)

As an upcoming Americana, lol  – face cap – check, attitude – check, pose – check!

It’s always a pleasure to be able to come hang with you guys here and share my musings, lessons and adventures. Can you believe it’s been a whole year since I started the blog??? It’s just amazing how time flies (especially when you’ve taken a loan, lol).
On a serious note though, I cannot say THANK YOU enough to everyone who has been a part of this journey. It has truly been an amazing journey for me because this is the first time in my adult life that I have deliberately put myself out there. I am usually very discreet and coded with my personal life on social media but the journey so far has been extremely rewarding. (maybe it’s time to start making money from this o). I don’t want to repeat the same shout-out I gave on IG the day after the actual ‘blog-o-versary’ (I was so caught up in work on the actual day that I completely forgot. It was my sister-girl “Adrenaline” who reminded me – thank God for fantastic encouragers 🙂 ) but to everyone who has been involved in this blog matter in one way or another –  THANK YOU! ESE PUPO! DAALU! NAGODE! UWESE! MEDASI! ASANTE SANA! MERCI BEAUCOUP! OBRIGADO! DANKE!

IG blogversary post

p.s. I am writing this post on a super bumpy train ride from New York to Washington D.C  (the story of the adventures on this train ride will come in the next blogpost). The ‘shaky shaky’ vibrations of this train are worse than when driving on 3rd Mainland Bridge after the road has been scraped! I am so tempted to just sleep  instead (I must have told you how I am one of those people who can sleep in/on a moving automobile – including motorcycles, lol) but September must not pass without a post. Amen somebody?

(Editor’s note (yes now, I am an editor, lol)- apologies that this post is coming a few days later than planned – blame it on holiday behavior.)

We blog anywhere the inspiration jams us!

Okay, back to the matter!  As I reflected on what I was going to share this month, one of my personal consultants reminded me of the various ‘growth’ journeys I have been on over the last few months. When it seems like you are on a roll and something comes along to burst your bubble, there are generally 2 ways to react – get defensive and blame everyone/everything else or accept the challenge and grow from it. I am sure you all know what the default response is for most of us.

In May, I got some very tough feedback at work and I was crushed! I mean, I was supposed to be a high-performing manager leading teams to victory on all our projects, coaching and apprenticing my team members and being generally awesome.

Working madam!

Err, not quite 100%! My team members had given some feedback that initially did not make sense to me. The shock I experienced was similar to the shock you get when you’re blowing a balloon and someone sneaks up on you with a needle and boom, your balloon bursts in your face.
I secretly blamed the system, blamed the universe, blamed my village people, blamed everything and everybody ‘blame-able’ and after that, I cried a river or two (with Justin Timberlake singing his hit single in my head, lol). Mehn, the thing pained me o! After my initial denial and attempts to justify, I finally asked myself, “what if they are right? What would it take to turn this around?”  It was then and only then I began one of my growth journeys to becoming a more inspiring leader/manager. It felt like I had to bake and eat my humble pie at the same time.

As if God wanted to even stretch me further, He got me assigned to a new project in South Africa 2 weeks after I got the feedback. I had not done any work in South Africa before that and I remember thinking ‘this is surely a setup for failure’. It was difficult enough that I had to work on the feedback, then I got transferred to work with a team of people I had never worked with, on a topic I had never worked on, in a country I had never worked in, and to make it even ‘more worst’, right in the middle of the South African winter!

Why me Lord???

I had such a rocky start on that project. Jesus! I definitely contemplated giving up a few times. But I stuck to it and opened my heart to receive the feedback and make the adjustments that were required. It was HARD!!!! There were times I thought (and knew) I was right and folks were just being unnecessarily difficult but I would still pipe low and ask them ‘so what can I do differently to improve this situation?’ and then call on Jesus to take the wheel while I tried to listen as calmly as possible, lol. In the wise words of MI Abaga, ‘me sef I be human being too!’

Over the months we spent together as a team, I grew, oh I grew! I learnt how to listen without preempting. I learnt how to really dig deep and understand the underlying beliefs/values of each person on my team. I learnt how to engage with each person as an individual and adapt to their styles (I wonder how people with plenty children do this successfully!) I learnt how to be super observant and perceptive to the mood/temperature in the team room. I learnt how to accept when I am wrong and resist the temptation to explain it away. I learnt how to facilitate difficult conversations. I learnt just how big the room for improvement is and how we must never stop growing and seeking improvement, even in our personalities and behaviors. I met a new me – a better me.

Moral of the story: You are not a tree so you can change –  even trees still grow. Even though it is easy to make excuses and say ‘this is just how I am’ or ‘this is my style – take it or leave it’, how about challenging yourself to find new ways to do things? Even Jesus calls us to be transformed with the renewing of our minds. Embrace your growth challenge, the rewards are outstanding. Switch from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.

I was not the only one that grew, the entire team grew and our performance & team dynamics improved significantly. We had risen above the initial fiction and had truly become an exceptional team. To celebrate the awesomeness of our team, we all decided to take a weekend trip to Durban and instead of staying in separate hotel rooms, we agreed to stay together in holiday homes instead and actually live as a family. Instead of going clubbing, we decided to have a house party where we cooked, played games and just chilled together. It was beautiful! One of our holiday homes had an indoor pond with some exotic looking catfish. If that pond was in Nigeria, it would have been the hottest ‘point-and-kill’ spot ever liveth! Hehehehehe.

Indoor pond = baddest point-and-kill ever liveth

Side note – the holiday homes in Durban (especially in Zimbali resort) are worth fasting/praying/working hard for (not to die for o! If I die, how will I enjoy it?). They are great for large groups, destination celebrations and just unplugging from the hustle and bustle of big cities. I’d love to go back there soon.

Amen???
Still hustling to be ‘fitfam’ even on holiday, lol
This view is EVERYTHING!

 

My bedroom in the holiday home. I love the color!

 

Johannesburg was not only work, work work, work, work, work. Once the weather got warmer, I started going out more. I know I need to work on overcoming my winter blues but that is a growth journey for another year, lol. I hung out with my INSEAD peeps, met/re-met some fabulous people (the incredible Westcliff girls i.e Aissata & Amanda, Madam Dorcas who is one of my travel blogging role models and Modupe from my CU days, just to mention a few), participated in my first charity walk (and got a medal for finishing in good time, yaaaay!), attended some events and shows (Kakadu the Musical, King Kong the Musical, the Voice Nigeria live shows, etc), kicked off my East African invasion to Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda and so much more.

#INSEADLoveForever
Introducing the fabulous Miss Amanda  – resident food and dance partner in Joburg (shout-out to Andie for the hook-up)
You see this girl Dorcas – you are going to be seeing more of her soon 🙂
Mandie, Mo and Moi  (plus those photobombers of Asian origin)
The real ladies of Westcliff

Moral of the story: Don’t pause your life because you are ‘growing’ or going through a challenging period. Live! Enjoy the happy moments – they will give you energy/renewal for the hard work of growth you need to do.

 

Stand up for the 5km walk champion!
They even gave us pure water on this charity walk, lol
Judge Kemo of The Voice Nigeria
With the original owner of the chair – Coach Timi Dakolo
With my uber-talented baby brother, Yimika – one of the top 8 finalists on The Voice Nigeria
Close-up models a.k.a IK Groupies 🙂

During this difficult period, I also ensured that I stayed connected to my core circle of support. I did not completely isolate myself because I was ‘going through’. I remember one late night I could not sleep and decided to watch a movie to pass time. I got to an emotional scene in the movie and started crying along with the lead actress (as per standard procedure, lol). However, when the scene ended, I could not stop crying. In fact, I started sobbing. I knew these tears were not about the movie anymore but about all the things I was going through. After sobbing for almost 2 hours, I took a bathroom break (yeah, bodily functions don’t stop for sadness o, lol) and then looked at my phone and saw a message from a dear friend of mine.

I replied and he could sense something was wrong from my tone. He called me and I just continued my crying. He listened to me as I went on and on and on and just allowed me vent. When I was done, he encouraged me and persuaded me to go to bed. He kept checking up on me and reassuring me that I would be fine. My bestie also caught me during one of my crying conventions and stayed on the phone with me until I had calmed down (opelope* whatsapp calls, lol). It was very comforting to have my close friends be strong for me when I was a hot mess. They also reminded me of all the other challenges I had overcome and that I would get over this period too. It’s amazing how we forget all our previous victories when we are in the heat of the battle.

We all need some home-made love 🙂
King Kong the Musical with my ‘imported’ family

Morals of the story: Find and keep your circle of support- you are going to need them to get through the tough times. You should also be available to them when they need you to be strong for them.

Also, crying can be truly therapeutic. Big boys and girls cry too. No shame in tears – it is part of the recovery process.

After the storm comes the RAINBOW!

So yeah, it has been an incredible past couple of months learning and growing and trying to become a better version of myself. It has not been the most comfortable ride but growing pains are not supposed to be comfortable. I am thankful that I got the feedback and the chance to grow – imagine thinking you are superstar and then finding out too late in the game that you did not quite make the cut. Feedback is painful but it is the only way we can truly be challenged to make changes and grow.

As I gradually approach the last days of my 20s, I look back with truckloads of gratitude for everything – failures, successes, the challenges, the tough times, the sweet times, the happy and not-so-happy moments and I am most thankful to be alive to even be able to reflect. My life has not all been a song and a dance but I love my journey and where God has brought me to. If it had not been for the Lord, chai!!! That said, I think I am arriving at my next decade stronger, wiser and better.

What is the most difficult piece of feedback you have ever gotten? How did you react? Is there some work you need to be doing to become a better version of yourself? Feel free to share with me and the rest of this fabulous community (working on making this a reality o!) in the comments section below.

Hugs,

Kemi

p.s – I know I said my next trip was supposed to be to a place with lots of water. I got my visa to Zimbabwe to see the magnificent Victoria Falls but the weekend I planned to go ended up being the same weekend my team and I went to Durban. But I still have my Zimbabwe visa and will definitely make my way there soon. For now, it’s wedding season and I have a couple lined up across the world over the next few weeks. There is also my New York JJC experience currently happening as well! Exciting times are here! Hehehehehehe.

p.p.s – should I even bother releasing a birthday wish list? Will you people allow God use you to bless me? Lol.

p.p.p.s – Opelope means ‘courtesy of’.

Published by

Kemi O

Explorer. Happy Woman.

51 thoughts on “Growing pains in South Africa – Big girls cry too”

    1. Thanks Pastor Fumz! And happy belated birthday to you!!! More grace, more growth, more anointing in Jesus name.

      Can I just assume that since you dropped a comment, its like you laid hands on the blog??? Amen!!!

      Thanks again for stopping by 🙂

    1. Thanks Senior Nike, hahahaha. I know you want to beat me but let the Holy Spirit touch your heart, hahaha.

      I gat no choice but to enjoy the Amorika o!

      Hugs.

  1. Loved reading this! Had to comment (first time) Very refreshing and relatable too. I have had a similar experience as an IC and boy it was difficult accepting so I can imagine how much more difficult it’ll have been getting tough feedback as a leader.

    This is a good reminder for me, that we can always be better. We should encourage feedback because people generally will refrain from giving constructive feedback to their manager. When they do we should take it very seriously reading between the lines too, else we don’t know better and can’t do better.

    So, thanks a lot for the reminder (we continuously need to be reminded of this really hard lesson) and you handled this with so much grace like a true leader! Learning instead of letting ego win. #Respect

    Sending e-hugs and positive vibes your way!

    1. Madam is here!!!! Whooooop!!! Thanks for commenting, Maria (I know the inertia I have to overcome to drop comments, so I don’t take it lightly)

      I completely agree with you that we need to encourage feedback in both directions (upwards and downwards) and work on parking our egos while we focus on improving ourselves.

      Receiving your e-hugs and positive vibes here in NY. Thanks a lot hun! (p.s I see you poaching my people, lol)

  2. Tight hug Kem Kem. Growing pains are always worth it in the end. You come up wiser and stronger. Remember, no matter what, God’s got you.

    I love your fabulous travel life and I’m constantly living vicariously through you.

    1. Tight hugging you right back babygirl. Thanks for the reminder – God’s got us ALL!

      Fabulous? Okay o! I receive it! We need to travel together soon, boo!

  3. Hehehehehehe. Okay. Maybe I should stop laughing.. But Mehnn that u r picture, top left of the collage of four, made me laugh.. It looked like u had cried well well Then u still managed to take the picture..

    Anywhoos, you see ehn, this life surprises us but God has a way of leveling and grounding us, even if it’s through colleagues. Thankful u have a better version of yourself brewing..

    Moving on, galllll… U can jaiye ur Ori gannn.. So u were at the voice with Ope?.. Una weydoneeee o, taking Friendships across borders, we see y’all.. Kem kem, beautiful, smart Kem, see as my comment almost done become blogost .. Enjoy NY.. eyor eyor..

    1. Hahahaha! Laugh o – the JOY of the Lord is upon you. Hehehehe. That picture was take after a workout, I might have kuku been crying then too, lol.

      Yes and amen to a better Kemi breweing. The bride price is only going in one direction – UPWARDS! Lol

      Just trying to live my best life o – connecting across borders. There is something special about seeing your friends outside Ogba, lol. So when am I seeing you in the abroad? Ordinary Lagos, we never see you! *sigh*

      We love the ‘blogposty’ comments – keep them coming. Thanks my Executive Producer 🙂

  4. My LORD!
    I remember when I got my performance feedback in the middle of the year…Oh I was sooooo upset Jesu!! I thought I was a high performer o. I really wasn’t happy. It was about my report writing but then I decided to work on it. It was tough oooo cos In my head this person hated me lol!
    Thank you for sharing Aunty K!! Indeed it’s important to find new ways of doing things…Growth is important.

    1. Cheddy boo! Please can I bring my reports to you to help me write, since you are now a world-class report writer? Hehehehe

      I am happy that you know that growth is important and I pray that the grace and humility you need is released to you in Jesus name.

      hugs!

    1. Joy-yo-yo! Thanks dear..

      I still have a few more days before entering that your world, let me enjoy my 20s in peace abeg, lol.

      God’s got you too girl! Bless you!

  5. Awww read it to the last.. Loved every bit.
    Mehn.. You just described me in a way.
    – Defensive during negative feedback
    – Preemptive
    -Tough outlook
    I remember that time my boyfriend told me point blank that I wasn’t disciplined…
    Lol I vexed, cried, did the ‘how dare you’, played the victim…. Took a while to sit down and realize that was the origin of most of my challenges..it hurt so bad but I think the only reason it hurts is because it’s the truth…
    But in the end, feedbacks only make you better..

    1. Your boyfriend get mind o! Lol..But I am glad that you finally realized it was the truth he was serving you.

      And yes, feedback taken the right way always makes us better!

      Glad you loved the post, and thanks so much for your comment.

      xoxo

  6. I had to stop all i was doing to concentrate on reading this as i sensed i needed to pay attention to your story and yes i can really relate and i almost cried too when i got to the moral lessons pointed out which whispered to me saying ‘ I told you child’

    1. Switch from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset

    2. Don’t pause your life because you are going through a challenging period:( i do this all of the time and recently came out!)

    3. Enjoy the happy moments, they will give you the energy /renewal for the hard work of growth you need to do

    4. It’s amazing how we forget all our previous victories when we are in the heat of battle.
    Thank you Sis K, especially for this mid opening morals you shared.

    To your question #phew
    What is the most difficult piece of feedback you have ever gotten? How did you react? Is there some work you need to be doing to become a better version of yourself:

    I recently got a feedback from work on how i seem slacking for like a year now and not on top of my work as i use to be , i seem lost and uninterested in the job was the round of the whole feedback.
    My reaction: i was vexed, i felt unappreciated, i felt i should at least be spoken to to see what the issue was, i felt they should that something is wrong, i felt i had never let my personal life issues affect my job in any way, i show up, i do my job and give my life for it.

    i was going through something but that to me was no excuse to slack at the job, i never mix job with whatever the challenge is. I was vexed that at least i should be asked, at least they should see that i am not what they seemed to have noticed and deep inside me i want something new too but all i got was the feedback and all what i was before then did not matter.

    I took the feedback like a chap, took it to my coach and mentor and we had a conversation on it after i had said all i needed to say ( no tears, i tied up the tears muscle cause i did not want to break down at all, i break down all by myself with my head of Jesus laps #coversface)

    Yes, i need to work on myself ( workwise) my emotions were in check. Needed to understand what the new boss wants and what is expected, got to study, got to be ahead, got to leave my issues at the door ( as if i bring them to work in the first place. But i got to listen)
    Stakeholders perceptive was key, i got to be more strategic………………………. Got to be Rachael Coker of old, but i want to be Rachael Coker of new

    You are a blessing Sis K… Loads of love

    1. Wow!!! Aunty Rachael, WOW!! You make me feel like this blog is a pulpit through which God speaks to you. Thank you so much! I am glad that you heard the Lord’s whispers to your heart and I am certain that the grace required to make all the changes you need to make has been released as well.

      Here’s to the BETTER and EMPOWERED Rachael Coker! Out with the old, in with the better!

      God bless you sis! And see you soon *wink wink*

  7. Sis!

    Your honesty in this post is amazing and refreshing. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Enjoy the Americas and please share your wishlist! Lol

  8. Hey girl,
    I really enjoyed reading this. Your honesty is refreshing and I am sure everyone can learn from your experience.

    Plus I love SA because I met you there! : )

  9. I just need a list of names of these team members #Dazall *rolls sleeves* Lol.

    Thanks for sharing, Kemz. Onwards and upwards. Always.

  10. Always a pleasure reading your post. They humorous and insightful and most importantly, they are loaded with Wisdom. Wishing you a fabulous birthday dear.

    1. Nsima!!! Thanks a lot dear. Can I send my wishlist to you now? Lol.

      How is Abuja? and our wifey? Trust that all is well. 🙂

  11. I got so emotional with your story. Lol… I’m emotional like that, I cry with people.

    Life is all about learning, unlearning and relearning. Humans are the most difficult but great to learn specie when you deal with them on an individual basis. My mum says “when you have 20 friends, you need to have 20 minds and deal with them individually”.

    Feedbacks are usually good, they only help us to learn how to become better version of who we are. They are mostly hurtful and sometimes make us feel inadequate but one thing is they make us become better.
    I cry when I get some feedbacks, I feel dejected and unappreciated despite all the efforts but I try to open my mind to them and learn from them.
    Just see what you went through as one of the lesson you need to learn or better still a test you need to pass to achieve your purpose.

    I wish you all the best in your life pursuit.
    I will always love and admire your.
    #biggirlsdon’tcry

    1. Awwww Tope! Big girls DO cry and it is totally okay to cry 🙂

      Thank you so much for your comment. I could almost feel you feeling my pain 🙂 And yes, even though the feedback hurts sometimes, I am glad you still open your mind to learn from it all.

      Thanks for the good wishes! I wish you success in pursuit of your purpose too.

      God bless you hun!

  12. Weldone sis Keep doing all you do.thoroughly enjoyed this one.i am inspired remember me in your paradise lol countdown to 21st blessings

    1. Thanks bro!! Paradise sha, lol. We are all going up together so we will be paradise neighbors – Amen?

      I am counting down to your gift o – don’t disappoint a child of Jesus 🙂

    1. Yes Yes Yes! Praise God for victory again and again! And praise that we fight/grow from a place of victory, so everything ends in our favor.

      God bless you too dear.. We could not make magic in time for the blog-o-versary but it will happen, I promise. 2018 will not meet us at this temporary site:-)

  13. I love this write-up, well done. You just reminded me of my birthday blues again lol, I am still wondering what to do….. maybe I’ll try New York city since I am in the capital city.

    1. Thank you Big Sis! You know you love ’em birthday blues, lol. I am still figuring out what to do and I would have loved to do a collabo destination birthday but I would have left NYC by then 🙁

  14. Thank you so much for this Aunty kemi; I have learnt a lot and God bless you for always encouraging me in ways you may never know. You are simply amazing and God will continue to make you stronger.

    1. Amen! Thank you Diusor! This your new site is beautiful – well done! I like it a LOT. I know this my blog needs an upgrade but no time. You have given me #blog goals now!

  15. Well done Kemz!

    Often times if it hurts, If you are uncomfortable , if it takes more out of you, you are mostly likely growing! Praise God for growth and glad you are pausing to smell the roses along the way.

    As for feedback. My most recent one did surprise me, I guess I am aware of my current hang ups and areas I can do better. Once I master those, I will start looking forward to the next area of development! May all these experiences Make us better, rounder, more compassionate individuals at the end of the day.

    Much love!
    Yinks

    1. Yinkus Pepperoni 🙂

      Thanks my darling. Praise God for growth indeed! Surprise feedback is the worst, lol. You’re like “wait, what? Are you mixing me up with someone else?” Lol.. But better to be aware than for people to be writing your evaluation in secret and dinging you in due-diligence conversations. I also like that you are actively seeking your next development area, it feels better to be in charge of this process than to leave it to just official reviews. It helps to catch blind spots early so you can fix them before they become an appraisal issue 🙂

      Amen to being better, rounder (not sure about this rounder o, lol) and more compassionate! Amen!

      1. I actually meant to say my most recent one did not surprise me. I was just highlighting the power of being self aware…
        Being self aware isn’t enough. One has to take intentional steps towards improvement. This is the stage I am now at …
        well done Kemolala! You are going places !

  16. My Ajala #VBH sister…in the middle of all this you still offered great feedback with my course…wow

    Awesome reminder that we are constantly growing and its OK to cry…thank you…beautifully written…was like I was a butterfly on the wall…God bless Kemi

    1. Amen!! Thanks Faari, the beautiful butterfly, lol. \

      God bless you too dear! I am glad that I could still be useful to you during this period 🙂

  17. I laughed so hard reading this post. Kemo!!!. Yet the salient lessons are no less important. Please do monetize the gifts. It is in order. Thanks for sharing babes. Have fun and stay safe😘😘😘

    1. Dammy The Artist! Glad you enjoyed the psot – make sure you share with your friends and aburos too.

      I will soon come to you for monetization lessons *wink wink*

  18. Just so u know that I actually stopped by here again… plenny hugs darling.
    I shall write soon of my growing pains🙈

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