Are You Ready to Fly?

I saw myself standing on a cliff looking across a great expanse of nothingness and I wanted to get to the top of the other mountain. I prayed for God to build a bridge. He did not. I asked for the expanse to be removed. It was not. When I asked God how I was supposed to get to the other mountain, He told me “Ekene, I already gave you wings…stop being afraid to fly”.

This was once the story of my life. Before today.

Perhaps you know that song that goes…”Birds in the sky, you know how I feel…It’s a new day, it’s a new dawn and I am feeling good”, well combine that with the Ibo proverb that says, whenever a man wakes up, is his own morning. Well I would like to tell you the story of my own awakening to my new dawn.

I had a relatively good life, on paper, everything was as it should have been. I was working as a pharmacist, I had a husband, a daughter, a home…Life was pretty good. However, the reality was that I was terribly unfulfilled in my work and there were other voids in my life that I filled with stuff. And as I filled myself with stuff,  became even more disconnected from myself and my true purpose and true power.

You see, the thing of it is that we don’t plan to become disconnected from ourselves and our true power, but it just happens that as we grow from children into adulthood; Life begins to pull you away. You start to believe that who you are is not who you should be and then you begin to take on a different persona. Sometimes it starts really early, with parents who insist that you must study a course that they prefer and not the one of your choice, or perhaps you succumb to the pressure of consumerism, which is easy because it seems like almost everything around you in today’s society is designed to reinforce the notion that you are not good enough. If you drive a toyota, then you should be driving a benz. If you are not carrying a designer handbag, then please go and sit down, because you have not started. Meanwhile inside, your life is crumbling around you.

Just yesterday, I ran into a woman who recalled my story for me…she remembered everyone of the characters in my book the Mrs club and the story really resonated with her. Even as she found the novel hilarious, she connected with many of the truths there. We are more than what people say and we are even more than what we think we are and through great adversity, we can become refined enough to shine.

If we answer that calling within, we will be called to move towards our greatness. To go to the other mountaintop.

All of us were called for some greatness or another. Called to make a difference, (the term may be cliched, the act is not) Called to be relevant, to some person, some people, some nation, some world.

No of course, fear goes with the territory.

I was afraid. Afraid to rock the boat. Afraid to leave the status quo. Afraid to live a life other than the one I had come to know. “The devil you know….” I decided that I would rather not know any devils, thank you very much.

My life has changed. The change started with great pain. Something happened that knocked me back into myself, though I couldn’t comprehend it till much later. And when I met myself, I finally took ownership for my life and responsibility for the space I took up in the world and I started to climb to the top of the mountain I was on.

I started to reinvent myself into myself and that process is ongoing. I had to recognize that as the wise quote said “I was not serving the world by playing small”! I had to step up and take my place.

Today I want to ask you, “Have you been playing small?” Have you been hiding behind red bottomed shoes and high priced handbags? Have you been stuffing yourself with everything from cakes to Chanel? Have you searched for love and approval from men or women, when what you really need is to love and approve yourself. Are you chasing women and yet with each new conquest you feel more and more like a mess…way down deep that is…the part of us that speaks up when our ego is done roaring. The part of us that is the voice of our spirit…The part of us that tells the truth.

Because the truth is no matter how many Range rovers you own, it won’t make you relevant. No matter what circles you move in, your name won’t matter in the grand scheme of things if you have never impacted anyone’s life.

I am not suggesting you give away your finery. I am saying step into it.

Lagos is filled with talented, amazing people. Talented and amazing women in particular. But so many of us hide. So many of us have been told to shut up and look pretty for so long that we have forgotten how to stand up and take our place.
I recently spoke at a women’s christian conference in Lagos, the theme was “I am not my hair!” and it was filled a lot of young vibrant women. I wanted to take off my wig and show them my cornrows…but that would have been when keeping it real goes wrong. I got on the stage and faced those 150 plus women and every word that came out of my mouth was filled with passion, because in the just 2 days I had been in Lagos, I had already seen enough to feel the need in the society as a burden.  I had something I had planned to say, but I found myself sounding a clarion call. “Lagos needs you!” “You don’t need a ring to become relevant” “We can’t keep spending our capital on our heads and shoulders” “We were born to make a difference!”

As I said it to them. I said it to myself. This year I had to make a decision. Fly or die. Simple. I was either going to fade away into a life of certain obscurity and die a little every day, or choose a very uncertain path of purpose and live in the space where faith and audacity coexist with fear. You can have fears but choose not to be afraid.

I know it sounds like a luxury for a chosen few. Step out on faith. Live in purpose. But what if it isn’t a luxury but a necessity for your survival. What if it was what you were born to do?

Everything that happens in your life, is for you. To pull or push you closer to yourself. Sometimes that happens by celebrating, as you walk a path closer to your purpose, sometimes that happens by pain being created in your life, because you need to stop, feel and examine your life again and maybe change direction.

I changed direction. Now I teach courses that help people find their direction, courses like refresh yourself and passion spark – turning your passion (your purpose) into profits. Or like create your own silver lining, which is about recognizing the fact that pain can be a tool of transformation. I hold conferences and retreats and I tell you, I have never felt more fulfilled! Of course it’s scary. I am not going to lie. Stepping into a unchartered territories…well, of course it is…but I know that this is the only path worth taking. A path of authenticity. A path of purpose. A path of passion.

I want to invite you to start down this path yourself and return to yourself. Become who you were created to be. The fabulous, amazing, wonderful person you are inside. To look past all the stuff and all the fluff and move confidently in the direction of your greatness.

You can so do this!

As always. Be well. Be happy. Be love.

Ekene Onu, an author and lifestyle strategist is currently hosting a series of workshops in Lagos, Nigeria. Please visit her at www.ekeneonline.com.

59 Comments on Are You Ready to Fly?
  • OmogeNaija September 27, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Ekene, this is inspiring, the journey to finding who you are is a very delicate journey, I am on that journey, I hope I begin the me journey soon.
    Where it is important to note that our purpose is not defined by the expensive stuff we wear and use, we should also know that God wants us to live in abundance. May God help us all to live fulfilled lives, when I get to heaven I want God to say welcome my dear, you did a good job.
    To everyone who is on the ‘discover me’ trip, I wish us good luck, cheers!!!

  • Aibee September 27, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Hmmmmm! Had to read this twice for the message to hit me. Why?

  • Uchechi September 27, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Inspiring…

  • Natoday? September 27, 2011 at 10:26 am

    in tears. Ekene Thanks a million. my change has come!

  • Nomy September 27, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Am very ready to fly! To step out of my comfort zone adn make a difference, i need pointers too. When is Ekene Onu coming to Abuja please?!

  • Mademoiselle September 27, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Very very inspiring write up. Thank you very much.

  • Damsel September 27, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Very inspiring.

  • Tope September 27, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Very good mesaage for women EVERYWHERE and not just Lagos….love the line “We can’t keep spending our capital on our heads and shoulders”…classic!!!

  • Ekene Onu September 27, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Thanks everyone! We are all on a journey…If you are in Lagos, come to one of my workshops! And I will be in Abuja very soon as well!
    Be well and God bless.

  • knipheceemee September 27, 2011 at 10:55 am

    My word for today, am so glad I read this today, May God bless and strengthen you.

  • Africhic September 27, 2011 at 11:06 am

    The words that resonated from this piece is not wearing your capital on your head and shoulders. I have spent foolishly this year, i need to make amends

  • jd September 27, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Ekene, im so inspire..God bless u
    http://j-memoir.blogspot.com/

  • Chloeze September 27, 2011 at 11:26 am

    very thought provoking. I know the path I ought to take but fear, doubt and uncertainty prevents me from taking the first step.

    • Ekene Onu October 6, 2011 at 2:26 am

      Every journey always starts with a step. I know how crippling fear can be, but if you can just push past it to take just that one step…it will build your confidence to take the next and the next and before you know it, you will be walking on an entirely different road towards your destiny.
      You can so do this!

  • Oma September 27, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Yes. I have used pain,anger and rejection as tools to transformation and improvement.

  • DAT September 27, 2011 at 11:46 am

    I am Really touched and blessed by this I have been going throughsome pain and hurt that made me withdraw back into myself I did not believe in my abilities any more,I felt nothing good could come out me again but reading this I know I am ready to FLY the sky is just the starting point for me
    Thanks… Ekene Onu

  • Lue September 27, 2011 at 11:53 am
  • cathy September 27, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    You definitely are blessed and gifted all in one. you inspire my dear.

  • sofy September 27, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    wow! wow! wow!this is so inspiring…..ges i should follow my journey

  • Olawale O. O. September 27, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Nice work Ekene, am really inspired.

  • AYO September 27, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    MS EKENE,I AM A YOUNG LADY,21 TO BE PRECISE AND I HAVE BEEN ALLOWING MY FEARS TO GET THE BETTER PART OF ME,I KNOW I HAVE THE GIFT TO BE A MENTOR AND I ALWAYS LET EXCUSES TAKE THE DAY.AFTER READING THIS,I REALISE THAT I HAVE TO BECOME THAT PEER MENTOR IN MY COMMUNITY COLLEGE,I CAN DO IT,I HAVE TO BE A BLESSING TO OTHERS.GOD BLESS YOU FOR THIS WRITEUP AND MORE GREASE,PLS DON’T STOP SO MANY MORE LIKE MYSELF CAN GET THE REINFORCEMENT NEEDED TO FLY.

    • Purpleicious Babe September 27, 2011 at 2:32 pm

      Go on AYO… U can do it….

  • Tobechi_Daniel September 27, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    Inspirational Ekene.Well done.

  • CC September 27, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Fly or Die! I love that, goes up on my vision board today.

  • Aisha September 27, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Hi Ekene, what about us in Houston? Please, don’t forget us! I have a poem that resonates this write up. I’d like to send it your way. What is your e-mail, if you don’t mind? Cheers!

  • Chioma Umunna September 27, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Powerful!

  • Sassy Diva September 27, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Thank you Ekene

  • Me September 27, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Just two days ago, I was wailing to my husband, just before I went off to a job that I hate, that I was dying. I wake up each day and I die a little bit, as I live the ‘normal’ and ‘do what I have to do’, and today I have another interview for a job I don’t want. I wished I had your courage, but to be the real you is fearful, and fear is real. Still deciding if to go for the interview or not.

  • Dee Mist September 27, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    ”Everything that happens in your life, is for
    you. To pull or push you closer to yourself.
    Sometimes that happens by celebrating, as
    you walk a path closer to your purpose,
    sometimes that happens by pain being
    created in your life, because you need to
    stop, feel and examine your life again and
    maybe change direction.

    hmm…so true.
    Tanx Ekene 4 dis wonderful n inspiring article.
    May God continue 2 bless u as u help others find their path in life. Amen.

  • Purpleicious Babe September 27, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Yep, I feel this write up. Very encouraging.

  • Adia September 27, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    This was very inspiring! My fave line – “The devil you know….” I decided that I would rather not know any devils, thank you very much.” Thank you Ekene!

  • pynk September 27, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    thanks for the encouragement. I have found myself going back to dig deep into what makes me as a woman. And i am slowly but surely finding it all over again.

  • seriouslyspeaking September 27, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Thank you Ekene for this inspiring article. This made my day. I was feeling down but not anymore. God Bless and keep doing what you do.

  • the intricacies of life……. September 27, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    good write up but all you have done is outlined and stated the diagnosis, what about treatment? yes, you advice women to pick themselves up, look to the brighter side, we agree with you but HOW? thats what people REALLY need to know! most people will come, read this article and not make any meaningful use of it after the few moments of exhilaration. they need to know HOW!

  • Iphie September 27, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    As always! Thanks for this piece! Pick up the ‘Mrs Club’ by Ekene Onu, Its one book i read and laughed all the way! Madam, We will be waiting for you at Interra!

  • Ada September 27, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    God bless u Ekene for this powerful Inspiration, I have to print it out so that I can go over and over it again.

  • Onyx September 27, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    I’ve just gone on Amazon to buy your book. Speak to your sisters, Ekene, your amazingly beautiful, passionate, crazy-smart, talented, hardworking and yet SCARED sisters. They/We need to fly.

  • Tiki September 27, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    I felt like you were speaking to me…and i want more. Anyway i can get some more life lessons please? website, webinars, CDs, books etc?

  • jazmyne September 27, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    im turnin 18 in two days…dis ws a wakeup call..thank you ma’am.

  • Nneka September 27, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    Phewww, Ekene please please please, don’t do that again!
    DON’T disappear for so long! I’ve missed your write-ups.lol. Funny how I thoughtabout you a couple of weeks ago.
    Thanks for a much needed reminder.

  • tatafo September 27, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    God has really blessed you with so much wisdom and the ability to articulate it. thanks for sharing.

  • Ekene Onu September 28, 2011 at 1:22 am

    Thanks everyone for your kind words of encouragement. We will all soar by God’s grace. The road to purpose is not easy or even certain but it is fulfilling. And for everyone feeling frustrated, you are not alone. For the lady that asked “how”, that question is exactly why I created the passion spark workshop. I am holding this workshop during the month of oct in Ikoyi. Contact me for more info. I wish you all the best and I look forward to reading your stories of greatness.

    • Knight September 28, 2011 at 1:28 pm

      Hi Ekene, lovely piece!
      I hope the passion spark workshop aint strictly a ladies affair..

  • faith September 28, 2011 at 9:06 am

    Am 27 years old…n I still ask ♍γ̲̣̣̥ self who I want τ̅☺ be…am married n I tik am happy…but I still ask myself evryday I wake …how do I help ppl…I know I don’t av d call τ̅☺ be a motivational speaker like U̶̲̥̅̊ n dis your article ȋ̊§ vry inspiring but …i still ask ♍γ̲̣̣̥ self…wat I want τ̅☺ be!!!

  • Twix September 28, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    Time to FLY or DIE…………..

  • deedee September 28, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    FLY OR DIE!!!

  • pretty September 28, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Ekene, I had fun on sunday and I learnt a lot . I will definately attend your other programmes. Titi

    • Ekene Onu October 6, 2011 at 2:28 am

      @ Titi, It was great sharing with you as well. Looking forward to seeing you in class. Fly or die!

  • Miss D September 28, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    Really proud of you, my “sister friend!” Continue to fly! This is your time!!!

  • Isi September 29, 2011 at 4:05 am

    Ekene,
    congratulations on your successful launch in Lagos! I wish you all the very best and much success with uplifting and encouraging young women in Lagos, Abuja and beyond. I am very proud of you and wish you more grease to your elbows. Big Hugs, Isi

  • Enwongo cleopas September 29, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    This is motivating. Plan your events to come south soon. Uyo particularly. Thanks…we really need this.

  • didi September 29, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    at the moment, i am struggling with self discovery. I am a 21 year old graduate, though I have not done my NYSC, I work in a job I despise. ppl say im very lucky to have gotten this job, and i like to think i am lucky too, but deep down i know i am sufforcating myself. Im young, what other time if not now do i need to take charge of my life. this piece is indeed inspiring, and i find myself filled with this sudden zeal to step out of my comfort zone and do what i have always dreamt of doing.

  • identicaltwice September 30, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Thank u vry much for inspirin us wth dis words.Dis is realy d problem we men, women, boy, and girls needs to luk into cos fuling ur purpose in life is d most important tin, even if we ve billions and millions of naira without fulfilin Purpose 4 ur life, we wil alwaz be empty.Fulfilng purpose gives dis SATISFACTION and JOY that money cant buy.THINK ABOT IT.

  • Obi October 2, 2011 at 12:44 am

    First step is honesty. Be brutally honest with yourself !!
    I realized that working 7p – 7:30a was killing me. I was depressed, so much negative thinking, irritated … no, disgusted by my hubby on a daily basis, didn’t want to talk to anyone on the phone including my parents & siblings, irritable, sleeping 7hrs without feeling rested, the list goes on. I identified the problem. Night shift. It paid more (a few coins above the chicken change salary) but stressed more as well. I considered quitting the job & finding something elsewhere for day time but on second thought (actually, after having an unsuccessful interview) I asked my manager to transfer to day. In a week, I will be starting day shift and though it may not be the end of my problems, it’s a step away from my current.
    I encourage everyone to search him or herself & be honest as you do so. Take it one at a time. Identify the problems you can fix & start one at a time. You can start with the smallest and build up. The success in the little ones will encourage you to persevere when the bigger problems seem too big.

    • Ekene Onu October 6, 2011 at 2:30 am

      I love it. Get real with yourself! “Can I be real!!?” Obi, you got it down pat! That’s why I called the last book, “Can I be real?” because until you are ready to get real with yourself, you are not ready for change and you will continually be stuck in a life that doesn’t really work. Fly or die!

  • Ekene Onu October 6, 2011 at 2:19 am

    @Knight…The passion spark workshop…which is about turning your passions into profits…is for all…

  • Oluwatoni October 13, 2011 at 12:35 am

    This is one article that rekindled the fire in me to stay on the narrow path of purpose. Not many article stir me this deeply.

  • funke November 2, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    I have been feeling fustrated lately, i feel the world is resting on my shoulders… i feel like going somewhere nobody knows me but reading this article has really inspired me. Fly or Die.

  • ‘Mo November 5, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    I know where my passion lies. It’s in music. Music is my life. I know i can sing so well n people (not relatives) av told me d same too. The problem is dat i’m usually shy to sing to a crowd n d fear creeps in. To make matters worse, my family doesn’t approve of it. I feel so unfulfilled and sometimes, i feel like damning d consequences to chase my dream. Can i conquer dis fear and how?

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