The day that I resigned from my job, November 4, 2011, coincidentally was the same day my niece, Eliza Olushoga, was born. After years of working a routine 9 to 5 job, I suddenly felt empowered and determined to create my own reality. I set out to do something different, exciting, and out of the ordinary. What I wanted to do, I did not know. Weeks after my resignation, I did the following: applied for a PhD program at UC Berkeley, applied for the YouWin Nigeria grant, and the Echoing Green fellowship. All of my applications were rejected.
After these setbacks, I pondered on what to do next. Here I was with all of the time in the world and I was not going to misuse it. I drew up a plan and set out to accomplish my goals. With a sense of direction and purpose, I did the following: meditated, prayed, and wrote down everything I dreamt of doing but had not had the opportunity to do due to work or school commitments.
January 1, 2012, I took action. I was determined to do something out of the ordinary; I was determined to make a difference. I wanted a meaningful life not defined by or limited to a 9 to 5 paycheck. With a renewed sense of clarity and the combination of luck, timing, and prayers, I launched the AWP Network -- an innovative online platform powering small business success for African entrepreneurs through business resources, educational tools, and community support. After I went live with the idea, I was invited to speak on the BBC program 'World Have Your Say'. This experience was a realization of one of my dreams and I could not believe it happened. During this period of elation, I received a phone call to present my work on African women entrepreneurs at the Columbia University Africa Economic Forum alongside ambassadors and longtime bureaucrats.
What next? I thought to myself, then I became the first-ever Oxfam America/Good Maker International Women's Day Challenge winner. My work with the AWP Network also featured on BET.com, Black Enterprise, Oxfam America, the Make Every Women Count blog, and in San-Francisco based magazine, GOOD. I was also recognized at the World Summit Youth Award as one of the young people using the power of the Internet and mobile phones to put the United Nations Millennium Development Goals into action. One by one, I checked off most of my goals and wrote down new ones.
Creating your own reality is no easy task but doing so is worth every step. There is nothing more powerful and liberating than taking ownership of your life and working hard to attain your goals. To make an impact you have to be connected to your purpose, obtain some sense of clarity, and be determined to create your own reality. I truly believe that within us lie so much power, hope, and ability to live the kind of life that we truly want. More often we should take the time to dream and trust that the universe will give us the reality that we desire. Many of us have forgotten what it's like to live, love, dream, and take risks.
2012 remains a defining moment for me. I leave you with these words of encouragement. The first is to remind you that dreams come true. Secondly, believe in your abilities and take that leap of faith. Lastly, keep going. Realize that the journey to gaining a sense of purpose and clarity will not be easy, smooth, or perfect but this year, I urge you to write down your goals, set a plan, dream a little, and choose to create your own reality.