Growing up, my parents (particularly my mom) expected greatness. This helped me do well in school but it also had a negative side effect: I became a perfectionist. I think perfectionism is tied to pleasing others and trying to make sure people like us. If we are perfect, you have to love us right? We feel like we aren't good enough as is, so if we are perfect, it will make up for it.
For as long as I can remember, I've always wanted to be a makeup artist — and because of that, traditional school never interested me. All I wanted to do was go to cosmetic school, but for my parents, a makeup artist wasn't a "real job" so they wouldn't support me financially to pursue that dream.
Since I can remember, I have always had anxiety, and travel brought it out in full force when it came to packing for a trip. Until recently, my control freak process always involved pulling out my suitcase a week in advance, building a check off list with quantities, and planning out two times the number of outfits that I actually needed on the trip. This process made me feel safe.
Growing up in Benac, a small village in the South of France, my parents instilled the importance of natural and healthy living in me from a young age. My father is a white French man and my mother is an African-American, so as the only mixed family in the village, I always felt... different. I was an average, tall, skinny, curly-haired girl, who watched the Miss France competition every year, dreaming of the gorgeous gowns, the pretty girls and the luxurious destiny that awaited them.
From my childhood through the early days of my career, one carrot always loomed clearly in the distance: money. Growing up, my family earned a modest income, so we always had to be extremely financially conscious with every decision. So after graduating college, I thrilled my grandmother when I snapped up a position as project manager for IBM Global Services and plunged myself into the "security" of a corporate job. I gave it all the dedication and passion I could, but every day I felt myself becoming more and more unfulfilled. Why? What did I have to complain about?
Sometimes the person you have to stand up to is you! There I was, rewatching the Miss Universe 2019 competition. Which I do for inspiration from time to time. (No, seriously!) There is something about seeing women on stage, in full-on glam mode, and speaking with confident assuredness that really lights my fire! I have seen this Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa win this crown so many times before, but something about this particular viewing, her delivery or her words, touched something inside me a little differently. At that moment, I truly believed, with complete conviction, that she lives what she speaks.
Let's take a page or two from Serena Williams' playbook, shall we? As the only female c-suite executive in a male-dominated industry, I am often asked by other women, in rather hushed tones, "How do I deal with the double standard?!" Invariably the phrase "I feel damned if I do, damned if I don't…" had a starring role in their inquiries.
Aji Oliyide is a Senior Program Manager at Google who has worked on a number of projects related to product launches, and mergers and acquisitions. Aji sits on the board of directors for San Francisco CASA, a San Francisco non-profit devoted to supporting youth in the foster care system. In addition to board service, she enjoys volunteering and travelling. In 2011, she traveled to Nepal to participate in a charity trek to Mt. Everest Base Camp resulting in over $5,000 personally raised for a local Nepalese non-profit. In her spare time, Aji explores her creative side through her blog (Pivot Points) and her podcast Eat.Plank.Live. Her blog is focused on sharing insights from the decisions and events in people's lives that have influenced their path and how they interact with the world. Her podcast focuses on the role that food and fitness plays in our lives and is now live on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher. Aji holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) and an MBA from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.
TaChelle Lawson is a hospitality veteran with over 20 years in marketing, branding and events and has worked with brands such as Nike, Louis Vuitton, Coca-Cola, M&M Mars, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz. As an entrepreneur, TaChelle focuses on bringing understanding to the corporate world about what it's like to be a black woman in corporate America by shifting the mindset of diversity. It's about more than ethnicity; it's about mindset.
TaChelle started sassmouth to acknowledge the natural beauty of black women that is rarely acknowledged outside of the black community. As little black girls are raised to believe everything about us is "too" something and that we need to adjust to fit in and be accepted. So, we do, and our adjustments become our norm. Although the average black woman is born with fuller lips, dark skin, and a big butt, her features are not considered "beautiful." Today, there is an unusually high number of non-black women undergoing surgery to adopt average "black" features. Yet, the black woman has still not made it to the "beautiful" category.
She remembers watching a video of a young black man being forced to cut his dreadlocks off to participate in his high school wrestling match. While the video was appalling, she found herself staring at the anchor woman's lips who was covering the story. They were so fake and unnatural, yet this young man was forced to cut something natural because it didn't fit the "norm." She decided she wasn't ok with that, so she created a brand to give a voice to the audience whose natural beauty is overlooked, borrowed, and stolen, but rarely acknowledged: black women.
I am the host of the Style Your Life Podcast, where we inspire women to make positive changes in their lives through building confidence, embracing challenges and practicing mindfulness. I have a passion for helping people take back control and design a life they love. With a background in Human Resources, I have always cared about helping people. I offer individual and group coaching sessions focused on helping you achieve career success, whatever that looks like for you.
Visit www.styleyourlifepodcast.com to listen to the Podcast.