I was a mom to be and the breadwinner but suddenly had no job. Life is full of days you do not remember but for me, this day is a day I will always remember. It was a crucial turning point in my life.
It was a cold winter morning in Denmark. I went to work pregnant and happy; excited to be a mom and thankful for everything in my life. Later that same day, I was called to the office of my chairman. He presented me a letter and a short notice to leave the company. I was not allowed to talk to anyone or to say goodbye to my staff. I had no idea why. No reason was given. Details of the rest of my day are faint; I only remember speaking to my lawyer to plan the lawsuit as my exit from the company felt prejudice. My path became clear in 2007. I was pregnant, fired, and had to make a living. I was on a burning platform.
There will always be consequences to everything you pursue in life. My consequence was the loss of trust I had in being employed.
Since I was 15 I have been working. I developed a great work ethic and felt that I was great at my current job. Yet my termination came unexpectedly with zero warnings. As you can imagine, this was truly a low-point in my life. I was a highly paid and rewarded young leader, but now, I was unemployed and pregnant with no leads. I was overwhelmed with anger, confusion, and shame.
This termination turned out to be a blessing.
My priorities changed to implementing my values and staying true to them. I wanted to have time for my 5 F’s: family, fitness, financial independence, freedom and flexibility. This was the beginning of my new life-design as a global keynote-speaker, writer, advisor, and board member. I designed my life to be on my terms, instead of working for a company and allowing them to fire me at will. Those days were long gone.
I used my trauma as an engine and drove towards my life as a solopreneur. My first repairs were on my self-esteem and my network. I needed both to move on and to be successful. I got stronger in this transition and was forced to acknowledge my core talent. When I decided to own my own company, I had no idea what to do.
The only thing I knew was sales: sales training, strategic sales and partnerships, supply chain management and networking. Those are my core talents and I knew it would be easy for me to teach this to others. This was the beginning of my consulting firm.
Was it easy? No, it was very hard to build a new company while pregnant and figuring out the kinks and twists. The combination of drive, anger, willpower and an amazing network of people with whom I could seek advice, forced me out of my comfort zone. I was determined to grow my wealth from day one. After being fired, I realized that I was capable of making it on my own. I learned everything I needed to learn about global sales, all I needed was motivation.
Looking back on this experience, I can now say that it very refreshing and liberating. I have had many struggles that I turned into 14 books (written and co-written) on all the mistakes, failures and obstacles I have had to face as a solopreneur. Writing somehow became my therapy. I was fired in 2007 and my first bestseller came out in 2009. It was hugely satisfying to teach others my life lessons and how to overcome these hurdles.
“I decided never to be in a position where anyone could fire me again”.
It is impossible to avoid adversity, but what is important is how you tackle adversity.
To give up or not to give up? It really is a mental decision.
Adversity made me stronger. Throughout my upbringing, I developed certain qualities and survival techniques that continue to play an important part in my success. My days of hardship have been transformed into something very positive. My personal leadership, values, and my sense of responsibility can all be tracked to my challenging childhood where I struggled to fit in being the only student with an exotic name and of a darker skin complexion. I was constantly told by my teachers that I wouldn’t achieve much in life because of being a woman and a person of color (from Morocco). At the age of 13, I decided to move out of my parents' house and dropped out of the 7th grade.
My determination derived from my childhood and now I was faced to rise to the occasion again. This time my unborn child was my burning platform to make sure I succeed. I did not rebrand myself as a mom but more so as an expert. I began to ask my network to recommend me for opportunities that would contribute to helping me build my business. It was not a big deal that I was becoming a mom. I was focused on utilizing my skills and networking in a way I never had to do so before.
This termination is just one of many setbacks I’ve experienced. Setbacks are how you grow wiser, stronger, humbler and more confident. My setback allowed me to be my own boss, and you can be too. I have freedom, and I work well without a boss bossing me around, however, I have no one to blame for lack of results or if I feel I lack a work-life balance. Being 100% responsible for my own success is no easy feat, but I take on the challenge voluntarily.
You have to reach the point in your heart where you finally feel that you cannot afford to not be successful. Stand up, speak out and move on to a better position if you have to. By nature, I am not an optimist so I had to work really hard with on my own mindset, mental limitations, ego, and anger to make it happen. Once you can train your mind, it will become second nature and you’ll lead with positivity in everything you do.
I now dedicated my own life to improving the lives of others. My second job is to help people become brave and bold. I also help them to unleash their enormous potential and find their true talents and passions. My passion is to serve people – to serve the world. This is done as an author, speaker, investor, mentor, and CEO. I simply took all platforms available to me and made them my “stage”. I like to impact and scale good stuff. I see how I can impact laws; implement change in companies, countries, and in people’s lives. More importantly, I am welcomed to speak in settings that I could only have dreamed of.
A great career and personal life are all about having the courage and the ability to seize the opportunities that you run into. I believe that people can decide to become successful and reach essential goals by means of hard work.
In 2016, I finally found my voice. I always thought I had one, especially as a business owner and mother of two vocal toddlers, but I had been wrong.
For more than 30 years, I had been struggling with the fear of being my true self and speaking my truth. Then the repressed memories of my childhood sexual abuse unraveled before me while raising my 3-year-old daughter, and my life has not been the same since.
Believe it or not, I am happy about that.
The journey for a survivor like me to feel even slightly comfortable sharing these words, without fear of being shamed or looked down upon, is a long and often lonely one. For all of the people out there in the shadows who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I dedicate this to you. You might never come out to talk about it and that's okay, but I am going to do so here and I hope that in doing so, I will open people's eyes to the long-term effects of abuse. As a survivor who is now fully conscious of her abuse, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, quite frankly, it may never go away.
It took me some time to accept that and I refuse to let it stop me from thriving in life; therefore, I strive to manage it (as do many others with PTSD) through various strategies I've learned and continue to learn through personal and group therapy. Over the years, various things have triggered my repressed memories and emotions of my abuse--from going to birthday parties and attending preschool tours to the Kavanaugh hearing and most recently, the"Leaving Neverland" documentary (I did not watch the latter, but read commentary about it).
These triggers often cause panic attacks. I was angry when I read Barbara Streisand's comments about the men who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them, as detailed in the documentary. She was quoted as saying, "They both married and they both have children, so it didn't kill them." She later apologized for her comments. I was frustrated when one of the senators questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (during the Kavanaugh hearing) responded snidely that Dr. Ford was still able to get her Ph.D. after her alleged assault--as if to imply she must be lying because she gained success in life.We survivors are screaming to the world, "You just don't get it!" So let me explain: It takes a great amount of resilience and fortitude to walk out into society every day knowing that at any moment an image, a sound, a color, a smell, or a child crying could ignite fear in us that brings us back to that moment of abuse, causing a chemical reaction that results in a panic attack.
So yes, despite enduring and repressing those awful moments in my early life during which I didn't understand what was happening to me or why, decades later I did get married; I did become a parent; I did start a business that I continue to run today; and I am still learning to navigate this "new normal." These milestones do not erase the trauma that I experienced. Society needs to open their eyes and realize that any triumph after something as ghastly as childhood abuse should be celebrated, not looked upon as evidence that perhaps the trauma "never happened" or "wasn't that bad. "When a survivor is speaking out about what happened to them, they are asking the world to join them on their journey to heal. We need love, we need to feel safe and we need society to learn the signs of abuse and how to prevent it so that we can protect the 1 out of 10 children who are being abused by the age of 18. When I state this statistic at events or in large groups, I often have at least one person come up to me after and confide that they too are a survivor and have kept it a secret. My vehicle for speaking out was through the novella The Survivors Club, which is the inspiration behind a TV pilot that my co-creator and I are pitching as a supernatural, mind-bending TV series. Acknowledging my abuse has empowered me to speak up on behalf of innocent children who do not have a voice and the adult survivors who are silent.
Remembering has helped me further understand my young adult challenges,past risky relationships, anger issues, buried fears, and my anxieties. I am determined to thrive and not hide behind these negative things as they have molded me into the strong person I am today.Here is my advice to those who wonder how to best support survivors of sexual abuse:Ask how we need support: Many survivors have a tough exterior, which means the people around them assume they never need help--we tend to be the caregivers for our friends and families. Learning to be vulnerable was new for me, so I realized I needed a check-off list of what loved ones should ask me afterI had a panic attack.
The list had questions like: "Do you need a hug," "How are you feeling," "Do you need time alone."Be patient with our PTSD". Family and close ones tend to ask when will the PTSD go away. It isn't a cold or a disease that requires a finite amount of drugs or treatment. There's no pill to make it miraculously disappear, but therapy helps manage it and some therapies have been known to help it go away. Mental Health America has a wealth of information on PTSD that can help you and survivors understand it better. Have compassion: When I was with friends at a preschool tour to learn more about its summer camp, I almost fainted because I couldn't stop worrying about my kids being around new teenagers and staff that might watch them go the bathroom or put on their bathing suit. After the tour, my friends said,"Nubia, you don't have to put your kids in this camp. They will be happy doing other things this summer."
In that moment, I realized how lucky I was to have friends who understood what I was going through and supported me. They showed me love and compassion, which made me feel safe and not judged.