TOP 40 UNDER 40: MY SPEECH
There are moments in life that come along and make you feel like all the hard work, the doubts, the blood, sweat and tears have all been worth it. Moments of validation that allow you, even if for a brief moment, to appreciate who you are and where you have come from. I had that moment during the Business Daily Top 40 under 40 dinner the other night. The experience has been surreal because I didn't expect to make it on the list, at least not this year. You know the way you think there's one more 'big thing' you need to do to qualify being an award recipient? That was me.
As the year started I began to focus more on my personal life, given that I was going through various transitions. I somehow managed to keep my projects going, although not with the same gusto, and planned my personal life – wedding and baby. But it seems as though my being able to embrace all these great things happening at the same time allowed others to take stock of the work I've been doing over the years, thus the nomination I received for Top 40 Under 40. The Judges and the Chief that night told us to allow ourselves, as women, to give ourselves a pat on the back for our achievements, something they know all too well that we struggle to do. That's what I'm doing here. Allowing myself to say, 'you still have a long way to go, but you haven't done too badly!
The evening allowed us, as recipients, to celebrate each other without feeling shy or unworthy, and that was an eye-opener for me. After dinner and some entertainment the awards we're given out, and each recipient was welcomed on stage as her profile was read out. My turn came, and I waddled, with pride, towards the stage, my husband graciously helping me out of my seat given how heavily pregnant I am. I stepped onto the stage and received my beautiful bronze statue. Had we been allowed to give a thank you speech, I think this is what mine would have sounded like:
'Wow, thank you Business Daily! I thank God for showing me that when you make yourself more vulnerable and honest before Him, He hears you, He guides you, He blesses you. I'm no perfect Christian, far from it, but the work I've seen Him do in my life has given me more Faith than I've ever had. I'd like to thank my husband, Eddie. Dude, you're such a rock and support system. A lot of what I've managed to achieve this year is because of you, constantly pushing me to reach beyond my comfort zone, there for me when I doubt myself and hard on me when you need to be. I love you dearly, and I hope I inspire you as much as you inspire me. I'd like to thank our unborn child, who reminds me each day that building a legacy is important in order to inspire future generations. To my family; my parents who have always allowed me to be me, my siblings whose support has been a huge blessing. To those who continue to believe in me, even when I don't, I never thought that would fuel my drive to do more and be more. I've struggled with self-doubt over the last few years, never quite feeling like I fit in and never quite knowing where I'm going. I've been jaded and nervous, nonchalant and anxious.
About a year ago, I began to speak positively into my life. I'd been telling myself all the wrong things for so long that I'd come to accept them as a part of who I am. And then I began to think differently; I figured, why not try another way of thinking? Since my previous way of thinking hadn't inspired any change in me. Lately, I've chosen to think positively, be driven by passion, daring to dream, daring to soar. I know I have miles to go but the positive thinking has boosted my confidence in a way that I've never experienced before. I want to tell people, especially young people, that going through a rough patch can build your character if you believe that you'll come out on the other side. You were born to be more so don't settle for less. I hope I will continue to change the lives of young girls through my Inua Dada Foundation and inspire others to hope and dream through the projects that I do. I know that there's a lot expected of us all in this room after receiving these awards, but we have to believe that this is a stepping stone to something more powerful.
Thank you all. Thank you!'