Categories
Advice Human Character Inspiration Me and Life.

where to start (1/3)…

Wow. I felt amazing after writing those 200+ words the other day – like really amazing. I also started to overthink about when I run for public office will they find my confessions or grammatically incorrect pieces and drag it into some sort of campaign slander.

Yeah that is how I think. I go from 0 to 100 real fast. Some call it anxiety I call it proper planning.

Anyway you may or may not be here because of my decision to overshare. I’m not sure where to start. I promised three things: my love life, how I reclaimed my personal power and what I am continuing to learn. So I guess I’ll start with how I reclaimed my personal power…


Do you know what its like to achieve your biggest GOAL at 24? I mean something you’ve said you will do in the future and plan and plan and structure your everyday to meet? I’ll tell you what it feels like…it is devastating. My biggest goal at one point was to live, work, and give back to Ethiopia. At 24, I was fresh out of graduate school and just landed a fellowship that would give me, little ole ME, just that the opportunity to serve my beloved Ethiopia but little did I know it would take so much more from me.

Ok I’m being a little dramatic but when I say this trip changed my life IT CHANGED MY LIFE. I’ll start with the good. I met brilliant people, I was finally doing it (whatever “it” was at the time) and working in a space that I thought was meant for me and of course the ego boost whew those “I’m proud” of you messages hit different when you about to leave the country. But the 6 months were difficult. During those months, I experienced imposter syndrome, I struggled with the idea of being the eldest in my family returning to my parents country with empty hands, partying in a city with some of the most privileged people merely because my passport said American, and I struggled with the language – oh the LANGUAGE – that left me mute and sometimes isolated. Some parts of me shrunk and I didn’t even know it. I even let others communicate for me…bish whet?! This fellowship put me face to face with some of my insecurities around identity and I had no idea.

It wasn’t just identity like cultural identity BUT identity as it related to my field of study and work. Up until fairly recently I associated my identity with employment and truth be told I am still processing my detachment from that mindset (because friend you are not your job…OKURTT). I landed an incredible opportunity with some of the most brightest people in Addis and I learned so much from them. I, also, came face to face with blurred boundaries, burn-out from late hours and quick turn arounds, and immature coping mechanisms. No one could have prepared me for this and I’m not blaming anyone I’m just pointing it out for what it is an experience that accelerated my personal growth.

Reading this may seem like I figured out God was testing me pretty quickly, or that I pivoted or that the road to personal development was immediate but the gag is sis I am just now facing the impact of the trip in year of our Lord 2020. For the three years after I romanticized the experience when in actuality my confidence took a blow partly from my own doing AND partly because I was unable to address the experience.

Anyway, now on to the part about reclaiming my personal power part because no one likes a pity party. Here are three things that I believe have played a role in me getting back right post fellowship:

  1. Journaling – My journal is that b****. Actually I meant to say my journals are* because I have three large journals that have every crush, achievement, moment of weakness recorded. Them pages know the real me. I say this to say it is where I truly unload. If you think this post is a bit much whew you don’t want to see what my pages have. My journals give me a safe space to truly reflect and that was how I began to notice patterns, behaviors, things that didn’t make sense and I needed to get a grip.
  2. Plan – Part of my freakout with Ethiopia was due to the fact that I had achieved a goal and didn’t have the next thing lined up. It wasn’t that I didn’t have a job lined up because obviously I did. I came back to the US and landed a position at one of the top firms in the world BUT I didn’t get real about my passions and plan for them until I was already working 60 + hrs doing something I didn’t intend to do. My career counselor once told me if you don’t decide/plan someone will decide/plan for you and it won’t always align to what you want for your future. That was the realist shit I ever heard. I mean I am just now letting that sink in BUT hey it is sinking in.
  3. Don’t give up your power, its yours!Whew child. The number of times I willingly let this happen. BISH I should be arrested. I’m trying not to sound like a self help book but everything I type sounds like a page out of 7 Effective Habits of Successful People or something lol. In all seriousness be mindful of your energy, who has access to you, how they transfer on to you and what you take from them. Stay true to you BUT stand your ground. I say this because everyone has this image of someone telling another person to back off when they feel disrespected but that’s not my personality so stay true to you but stand your ground gently and in a way that is YOU.

All in all I do not regret my fellowship experience but I do want folks especially children of immigrants who return to their parents home countries to really have a soul searching moment to understand how this experience will transform and impact a person. These moments and experiences are invaluable and I can honestly say I thank God for his grace and for his roadmap on my life because he has been patient with me and it is truly up to Him in the end. Now go out there friend and reclaim that power because it is already yours…God said so.

Part 2/3 to be continued…

#StayDown

Categories
Entrepreneur Events Human Character Inspiration Me and Life.

Hello, September

Hey there lovely readers,

I know. I know. Shame on me . . .

I’ve been away for some time, so let me explain. My last year of graduate school is here, I have a demanding internship during the week, I work weekends, and I am the Vice President of my Graduate Association – cut me some slack :). I almost forgot – I am working on applications for projects as well. But, people these aren’t excuses, this is just to let you know “I’ve been working, I’ve been working.” Okay!

I, also, want to let you know I haven’t forgotten about you all. I really haven’t! Some major things are happening and I am struggling to keep quiet – I’ll be sharing soon. Awesome events are in the pipeline and of course, SDBUP will be at every event giving you the insider. So, that is how I plan on making up for lost time by giving you all the goodies. Bear with me people, I promise I haven’t gone AWOL.

One last thing: I love September. It always brings me much-needed clarity. Also, Happy New Year to all my Habesha folks!

That is all for now and I will be back, very soon, I promise. Kisses.

XO,

your favorite estranged blogger Astu

Categories
Advice Entrepreneur Events Human Character Inspiration Politic me.

#Bringbackourgirls

Dear readers,

Hello! It’s me Astu. I am writing you today to bring about attention to a topic that has not only confirmed that women are still second class citizens but that Africa has a long way to go. Over three weeks ago, 234 Nigerian school girls were kidnapped by the Islamist group Boko Haram. If you are still unsure of what is going on please read this article.

As much as I want to rant and throw shade at the Nigerian government, US government, the United Nations, and the UNwomen, I will not. Let’s remember nothing happens over night. This blog was launched in efforts to highlight what our generation is doing to bring about change, what we are doing with our start-up inventions, and how we are leaving a legacy behind with whatever we create. With that said, I want to encourage everyone to overcome this relatively new phenomenon of “lazy activism” and figure out a way you can solve an issue in your community or in your life.

And I can proudly say I will be taking my own advice, starting this afternoon. I am launching a photo campaign called the 234 project. With this project I will randomly stop people in the streets of DC and VA, on my campus, in the lady’s restroom and at Chipotle…literally where ever I am and ask to take a picture of them holding up a sign with one of the following phrases “this could be me” or “this could be my sister.” You may not think much of this but spreading awareness and starting a dialogue IS THE FIRST STEP to any major movement. Ha ha I’m not saying I will be taking over the streets of DC with a protest but everything big, starts small.

The question I pose to you, the reader, what will you do today to make a difference in your community, environment, or in your family? I really want to know, please leave comments below! I want to learn what matters to you and if it is the 234 girls that were abducted please tell me! Don’t be shy, and talk to you soon. Much love.

 

Sincerely,

Astu Mengesha

 

Categories
Entrepreneur Events Inspiration Interview

“Am I too African to be American, too American to be African?”

As a child, children would blatantly ask me “what are you?” As a teenager, my peers would joke and say you are my African queen or Nubian princess. As an adult, I find myself tangled up in conversations about whether I am truly African-American, Black enough to be Black, or if I am too American to be African. Growing up in a city where there was a population of 6 Africans, which was my entire family, I never took the time to discuss my identity with anyone but my father. Thankfully my parents were always there to reinforce my Ethiopian-American identity. Being in the DC metropolitan area now, a place full of culture, I now know every first & second generation immigrant experiences this at some point in their life and Nadia Sasso is attacking identity head on.

photo (7)Beautiful, outspoken, and goal-orientated are all words that come to mind when describing, my new friend, Nadia Marie Sasso. This past week, in the midst of a random snow storm, I was able to sit down with Nadia at one of my favorite spots, Bus Boy and Poets in Arlington. She is the daughter of Sierra Leonean immigrants, a Maryland native, and currently resides in Pennsylvania. Pursuing a master’s degree and completing her thesis at Le High University, Nadia is the definition of versatile. Not only she is student but she is a brand curator, social entrepreneur, and digital storyteller. During our meet-up we laughed, we joked, and bonded over the similarities of our experiences of growing up in America. But for Nadia the topic of identity is not just for laughs but rather for research. As mentioned before Nadia is taking identity development by the horns, in producing a documentary, alongside cinematographer Corey Packer , on the ever so popular question “Am I too African to be American, too American to be African?”

She traces her interest in this topic back to a panel discussion at Bucknell University, where she attended undergrad. The panel consisted of generational immigrants that openly discussed their experiences in the United States. Not only did this panel steer her in the right direction but it gave her insight on a topic that has not been translated into film just yet. Nadia has found a way for her passion to be her thesis project. Her film, which includes in-depth interviews with women from different African backgrounds, will be the first of its kind that can be appreciated by all: academia, cultural enthusiasts, and the general public.

The film will debut this spring and to find out more about her projects or this particular film please visit: http://www.iamnadiamarie.com/. Make sure you subscribe to #SDBUP to find out when screenings in the DC area will occur!

 

 

Connect with Nadia Marie

Twitter: @iamnadiamarie| IG:iamnadiamarie| Website: http://www.iamnadiamarie.com/#portfolio

Astu Mengesha – Stay Down Blaze Up

Categories
Advice Entrepreneur Inspiration

To live by . . .

Lately, I have been thinking I haven’t been living my life to its fullest potential and this post came just in time. #goodhabitsshortie

Courtesy of onlinecounselingcollege:

1. Set yourself some daily goals. Keep them realistic and achievable. That will give direction – so you don’t fritter your time.

2. Read inspirational books and blogs; hang around people who are positive.

3. Stay in touch with what’s happening in the world. We’re not just islands – we are part of one another.

4. Make the effort to stay in touch. Just a “like” on facebook, or a brief text message, conveys to that person that they matter to you.

5. Invest some time in your appearance and health. We’re more confident when we look and feel our best.

6. Pay attention to your priorities. Do what’s most important, and not most urgent, first. (Note: If you never learn to prioritise then everything seems urgent – and that’s what runs your life!)

7.  Smile. It makes people feel more positive towards you – and it tends to lift our mood, and enhance our feelings, too.

8. Tidy as you go. It’s easier to work, and you’ll feel a lot less stressed, if you’re working somewhere that’s devoid of clutter. Also, if you tidy as you go then it feels less overwhelming.

9. Include some margin in your life so you don’t feel so stressed, as unexpected things always eat away our time. Expect that to happen – and leave some extra time.

10. Take time for yourself as you need to relax, unwind, recover, and recharge your batteries.

– –

Astu Mengesha – Stay Down Blaze Up