Sunday, November 4, 2018

Growth Diary of a Free Spirit in New Orleans

A personal development and personal growth of a free spirit living in New Orleans. The picture takes places in New Orleans French Quarters.

If you meet Chioma Gathoga-Ogbuike, you'll quickly see that she is a person who is unapologetically herself and doesn't care about what other people think. But, she wasn't always that way. She's grown from a people pleaser to someone who only cares about her own opinion. This inspiring interview with an old high school friend the Growth Diary of a Free Spirit in New Orleans offers a different but wise perspective of Chioma, a person who knows how to stay present and fills the world with love and positive vibes.

Her Story

Growing up, despite being talkative, Chioma was a shy, awkward child that always sought out other people's approval and acceptance. In a household where academics were extremely important, she got good grades and was always in honors and advanced placement classes in high school. She always had a passion for the arts, particularly music and singing, and was active in our high school's concert choir. She cared about what was right and fair; she openly advocated for social justice issues that she felt strongly about. And, she still does.

Her growth had its kickstart at the cusp of her freshman year of college. Her father - her sole parent - passed away and Chioma found herself on her own. She had to put herself through college and pay for bills on her own. She didn't have much of a consistent support system except for her best friend since middle school - Adesuwa. Throughout her college years, she's experienced many trials and tribulations. From finding herself to finding her way in the world, she has endured a lot.
"I've been to rock bottom many a time and in many different ways in my life and I've only had myself to rely on. So, I've learned a lot from just having myself to get through things."
- Chioma Gathoga-Ogbuike 
Despite this, she has never lost a few core things about herself. One is her love for adventure. To exemplify, for a semester of school, she went to New Mexico and was mesmerized by its nature. She traveled throughout her college years and went to several states for workshops, to strengthen her existing connections, or just for fun. She also had and still has a strong belief in herself. Once she set her mind on it, she made it happen. She made no excuses as to why she couldn't do anything. Another one is her kindness. You'll see her constantly sending positive vibes and cheering for people.

This shows the unwavering strength that she has to be able to believe in herself and be kind even in hard times. She came out the other side of her hardships more independent, stronger, and she's learned so much about herself and how to love herself. And, she has learned to only seek acceptance within.
"Yeah, I don't give a damn about other people's approval anymore. It doesn't mean anything to me anymore. And, it's more fulfilling to seek my own validation than to be worried about other people's."
- Chioma Gathoga-Ogbuike
After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies and in Afro-American Studies with a certificate in Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice, she's uprooted herself south to New Orleans for a new adventure. She's currently working as a sexual assault and domestic violence advocate. She's currently working on implementing discipline and routine in her life, better long-term decision-making, and being more intentional with her time.

Her goals for the future include attending law school, having a family, establishing a lucrative side hustle that feeds her soul, to get back with her first love - music - by singing again and learning how to play the guitar, painting again, and maintaining her physical and mental health.

In Her Own Words

What are the life lessons you've learned?

"Gratitude is extremely important because life is shorter than we know and gratitude grounds us...Also, independence is up there and learning how to not be judgmental and learning about self-love."

What is your advice to other people?

"Everyone should know that trusting themselves and their intuition is a secret superpower that all of us have that a lot of the systems that govern our lives don't want us to know that we have. And, I think to live and doing as if love is the bottom line. If you navigate life that way, sometimes it can avoid a lot unnecessary hurt that we cause people because hurting people is natural, but isn't always necessary. And, you know, we only have one life so make sure you're living for yourself and no one else."

Visualize your ideal self.

"I am my ideal self right now because I believe I am who and where I'm meant to be. I don't believe in coincidences. I believe that the universe is very strategic in the placements in our lives. and even with all my flaws and the things about myself that I might not like right now, they're necessary to be who I'm supposed to be. They're part of me as much as the parts that I love. So, yeah, I think I am already my ideal self right now."

What do you love the most about yourself?

"Few things come into mind. My heart for adventure is one of my favorite things about myself because I tend to make things happen when I say I wanna do things and I don't really believe in limiting myself. I believe in fluidity and how it's supposed to be the natural order of things. I love that I'm kind but it's also one of the things that I have a hard time with about myself. There's a fine line between being kind and being a doormat. I love myself as the art that I am and I'm very aware of the fact that my superpower is that I am me; I am myself. That's not something someone can take from me. I'm extremely intuitive and I'm also a survivor. That's something that I love about myself."

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