I am brimming with gratitude. 2018 is the year I didn’t know I wanted, and more.
I have had a plethora of amazing things happen to me in 2018 — and I say happen to me because it almost feels effortless, like flowing with the tide.
Your strokes don’t really feel heavy, if everything is working for your good, driving you towards the right direction.
January: I started this website, www.glossywhitepumps.com. So much had happened in the past 3 years. I had grown exponentially, personally and professionally, all the while in my high-speed professional escalator feeling like I received little or no guidance. Wanting someone to tell me, do it like this. Here are my mistakes; learn from me. Turns out, even without a guide I was generally making good decisions. So I decided, I'll write. I'll share. Maybe there’s another me three years ago out there, who needs my experience.
I committed to 12 posts in the year, one per month. One year, 34 posts, and 2000+ views from 594 members in 10 countries later, I am thankful for every single person who clicked and read. I appreciate your time. <3
March - I finally finished ACCA and became a certified Chartered Accountant —after failing several times and picking myself up. This journey is more symbolic than actual for me. This experience taught me discipline, endurance, and tenacity, principles I can now recreate in other areas of my life.
There were days I doubted if I really wanted to continue, then afterwards I’d pick myself up. It took me 6 years, and putting one foot ahead of the other, to complete the 14-exam journey self studying. This was a high point for me this year, even though when it happened I felt numb, instead of excited. I only started feeling it a little later, and then it became real. You did this, Maria. You self studied to become a Chartered Accountant.
Read my journey with ACCA here: It's Okay to Fail
June,- Everything went in turbo mode. My team grew from 5 to 13 people. I was tackling problems as though I was built up for that moment, like everything else — skills, experiences, friendships, network — had been leading up to that moment. This is how I felt. I was defining my team's culture and making deliberate decisions daily on the type of leader I wanted to be. The type of leader I am.
I got invited to several panels, spoke at these sessions sharing both professional and personal insights. I got featured on TV, newspapers, the radio. It all was a blur through the year but when I counted, I spoke at seven panels in 2 countries. I appeared on TV, radio, and in several newspapers. I've now lost count.
September - Every Christmas since 2015 I’ve volunteer with The Bloom Story. This organization hosts a luxury party for underprivileged kids every Christmas, but this was a different project. This was a 3-month project to teach children from motherless homes the basics of programming using a game called The Robot Turtles. Teaching the children was so invigorating, exciting and rewarding for me. I formed bonds with them, kids who didn’t know they were learning the basics of coding through a fun game. It was beautiful to watch them learn.
This was also the month I burned out. I realized I had been running on turbo since the beginning of the year and my body and mind were no longer having it. So, I took a break to focus on my mental health. It took me to the beautiful city of Barcelona. Paris and I finally had an authentic Spanish paella. Barcelona is a beautiful city! <3
Read my post on Self Care - Don't Burn Out
October - It dawned on me that I had built a relationship with a mentor. My darling husband and life partner, during an entrepreneurship event, pitched me to one of the most accomplished and professional women leaders in Africa, who has served with governments and international organizations. I wasn't present at that event, but my husband saw the opportunity and took it for me. He introduced himself and literally told her my story. Since I connected with her, every quarter we have one whole hour of in-person talk time. In these sessions I share dilemmas, get feedback, and learn from her experiences.
It dawned on me recently, that one year after, we are building a relationship and this is what I've wanted for a very long time. An older, more experienced woman professional I could learn from.
November: I started taking count of my professional successes this year and boy has it been a ride. I built a team of 21 people, from just 5 people a year ago. I built a sustainable culture, air tight processes, and strong structures that ensured the company didn’t rely on me to survive day to day. The company grew x10 with operations and risk stable, and nothing broke amidst the supercharged growth. In one year my team grew, not just in numbers but in skill. I see an incredible difference in their capabilities and I feel so proud and glad that I was a part of that.
I represented the company on local and international stages. The company won an award. I spoke to crowds of hundreds of people. I raised local debt in millions of dollars. When I think about it, all I feel is an immense sense of gratitude for the opportunity to put my skills to use unlocking so much value.
Oh! I also visited 3 new countries this year: Spain, France and Mexico.
I had authentic Mexican enchiladas, and I swear it tasted like a little piece of heaven.
December: I attended a goal setting coach-driven exercise. My friend Margaret invited me to this event. I honestly was going to cancel, but I am glad I didn’t. In that session, with eight other amazing driven women, I was forced to take stock of everything this year to date. To decide what was important to me in the coming years. To be grateful for what I had experienced so far, and face the future with clarity and hope.
2018 came with difficulties too so this isn't all peaches. I had a medical scare, but thank goodness, everything is okay. I keep fighting against impostor syndrome and winning. I fought a defining battle with fear and felt lows I had never felt. I’m learning to own my voice and story, and wear my strengths confidently. I found areas in my personality that needed to develop and grow, areas that needed a lot of work.
As I write this, I’m not quite certain what 2019 brings, but I am hopeful that I will be yet again, pleasantly surprised beyond this year. I am going in with clear goals, knowing that life is fluid, and goals are only clear in the context of existing information. The path may change, and that’s also okay.
Thinking about this all, I realize that I am also deeply grateful for the little things. Good health in mind and body. Means. Healthy family. No death. Most of all, peace. Absolutely nothing competes with peace.
I am immensely grateful for friends turned family that came my way and stayed in 2018. I’m ever grateful for my husband, Obajide Rotilu, who remains my #1 cheerleader. He constantly tells me never to dim my voice, sees far beyond what I can see for myself at the moment, and reminds me, especially when I feel inadequate, that I am not just enough;
I am more than enough.