by RiRi Okoye
How I Got Here
I was born in London, attended secondary school in Nigeria, returned to London and then relocated to Nigeria with my family in 2008.
My husband was itching to return to Nigeria and after much persuasion, I took that bold step. I watched Nollywood movies so I felt I knew what to expect. It was a soft landing when we arrived. My husband got a senior role in a bank. Lagos was booming. There were lots of parties. The city was vibrant and energetic. I didn’t even have time to miss the UK because we were having such a good time. We attended parties, events, award shows, and headed to the beach. Life was good. I was hopeful that things would get better in Lagos. I loved the determination and resilience of the people. I was surrounded by high achievers. However, adjusting to the traffic, the noise, and power interruptions took some time to get used to.
I think I got more than I bargained for.
The Last Decade
When I arrived, I worked for a training company, and then later a megachurch as Head of Events. It was a period of adjustment. I was polite and open but soon I had to unlearn some of those British norms like being too trusting and taking people for their word. I had to shine my eyes.
On the positive side, I belonged to an empowerment women’s group and was planning high society events on their behalf, charity events such as breast cancer awareness, autism awareness, zumbathons, and award nights. My experience as Head of Events also involved planning large concerts, seminars, dinners, and groundbreaking events.
A few years into living in Lagos, my husband left the bank for self-employment, and all the perks of being a senior banker disappeared. My time as Head of Events also came to an abrupt end. Life changed. Things got tough. We had to go through a refinement, especially with our expenses. Travelling abroad was now a luxury. By this time I was in my early 40s. I started to feel insecure. Starting a business was a challenge yet I was surrounded by my peers who looked like that had it all. In addition I was living in a materialistic society. I felt the pressure to belong, to look the part. Finding solid friendships was also difficult. I felt I didn’t fit in. I was happily married but had no real friends.
When my confidence was at rock bottom, I founded a movement called Raising Confident Girls, and it became an NGO not too long afterward. I threw myself into it along with a few other sister-friends from around the world. The NGO was able to sponsor school fees for girls in deprived communities. We also hosted Mother and Daughter events. Before you knew it, Raising Confident Girls was giving me purpose. I regained my confidence and started to meet new friends who were aligned with my values. And I haven’t looked back.
There are so many lessons that I learned from the last decade that has shaped the woman I am today. You can’t expect others to be confident in you if you are not confident in yourself. If someone has a strong negative feeling towards you, it’s usually to do with an internal struggle they are going through. My advice to my younger audience is not to dull your shine for anyone else’s insecurities. Don’t own it or take it personally.
You don’t need to be so hard on yourself because nobody is perfect. It’s important to surround yourself with people that truly love and care about you. A lot of times we focus on external things, but it’s so important to believe that you are valuable because you exist, and not because of what you have. Another lesson I learned is to know your values and live by them. Never compromise on your values, otherwise you will be miserable. I am appreciative of my journey and all that I have been through because it has strengthened me as a person.
Last year I launched The Confidence Revolution Events for adults, which focuses on building inner confidence. The events take place in London and Lagos. Last year I held four of such events. I had planned to deliver more live events this year, but COVID-19 happened.
Under normal circumstances, I run an events business called Majestically Rare and I’m a business trainer. I typically host milestones and corporate parties. I also deliver talks on behalf of corporate clients. But it got shut down because of the coronavirus. Like everyone else in my industry, I went into panic mode, but I didn’t stay there for long. I got qualified as an international life coach. I’ve hosted several virtual events.
I launched 4 ebooks on confidence and created a business online course for female entrepreneurs called The Ultimate Formula to Mastering Super Confidence. This package also includes coaching. I’ve spoken on numerous platforms both locally and internationally since this lockdown. I just have not stopped. I’m living my purpose and that’s what moving to Lagos has done for me. I doubt I would have had this much abundance and opportunities if I had remained in London.
If I’m honest with you, I don’t know how you are supposed to feel at 50, but I am grateful to God. I know I don’t look 50 and I certainly don’t feel it. I am super confident and happy with myself.
The next chapter of my life is all about impact and building a legacy, and that’s why I am a life coach. My mission is to help female entrepreneurs grow their businesses by equipping them with essential business and confidence skills. I will continue producing unique events through Majestically Rare Events, especially virtual ones in this season.
I’m grateful for life and the blessing of aging gracefully. I am confident in myself and my abilities. I’m still growing but I am more content then I have ever been. I remember Michelle Obama once said that she likes herself. I know that feeling. I like myself too. It is a beautiful place to be when you accept all of who you are. I worry less and take life as it comes.
If I can succeed in helping other females achieve inner confidence and develop strong resilience to life challenges, then I would have lived my purpose.
I am truly grateful to God for good health and for arriving at the 5th floor of life.