"Life will never be void of struggle, it is our decisions with what we do with it that truly matters. What will you decide?
Sasha Gay Smith
Founder & Chief Executive Director
Aged 11, I remember feeling restrained and burdened about not being able to go out and play as much as the other children – due to caring for my disabled grandmother, with tears in my eyes, I said to one of my cousin’s. “I wish I wasn’t born”. Aged 10, her reply to me was, “the world would be incomplete without you”. I somehow always wanted to find out the true meaning of those words, that has been in-printed in my mind ever since, ‘consciously or unconsciously my search began’.
Born and raised in the Caribbean, I always felt different from those around me. Different, as though I didn’t quite fit in with my surroundings, as though there was always More! More to me, More to what I was used to. MORE to what I saw, More to what I knew. I craved MORE. I distinctively remember at 11 years of age, standing in the school yard, looking up at the older kids thinking, oh how I can’t wait to be grown, to know everything. My under developed cognitive abilities, and experiences, thought that with age comes automatic knowledge, life later taught me over and over, just how wrong that concept is.
Aged 14, I migrated to London to reside with my mother. New school and country came with its own set of challenges, isolated by my reluctance to conform to the masses ‘norm’ of how I should look, sound and act. I found solace in writing and opted to become my own best friend instead of conforming to what I believed was not for me. My ability to dream and believe for better kept me going. I could be in the worst of places but in the best of places. My belief of how and what I wanted MY life to BE- pulled me up. I believed that if I could see it, then I could achieve it. I often allowed myself to be carried away, imagining every single detail of my ideal life. I thought, surely, if I can imagine it, if it is so real in my mind, surely it can BECOME. Not so much confidence in my theory then but more refusing to give in to the alternative – FAILURE! LACK! LESS!
I dreamt of one day attending university and to this day, I believe that my belief in it happening has had a lot to do with me achieving that goal.
Aged 23, last year of university I got pregnant, I remember thinking, HOW! am I going to do this! How am I going to graduate! The thought of not completing, of being LESS! of diminishing my chances of becoming my best self-pulled me up! And with that growth mindset in tow. I graduated with honours the same year I had my son.
Aged 30, my dad died and it changed my world, traumatised, I suffered a bout of depression and sought solace in God which changed my life. I must clarify here though, that although I believe and know that my faith saved me – it was ME who had to do the physical work! – I realised that be it your faith, or any other support. I still had to get up out the bed, I had to attend the interview, I had to do the exercise, I had to eat right, I had to continue learning, I had to become intentional, I had to do the work to discover my gifts, my purpose, my calling.
I realised then that – It is not so much what others around us do or say that determines how we navigate through life but what we tell ourselves. What we choose to listen to, the choices we make, what we BELIEVE, WHAT WE DO! What we accept or not accept. That determines our SUCCESS or FAILURE. Ultimately, I discovered that throughout every struggle, it was ME who had to dig deep, ME who had to make those choices, ME who had to determine whether I was going to MANAGE LIFE or let LIFE MANAGE ME.
Ultimately, I found that whatever I needed, my strength! my know how! my capacity! my KNOWING, BEING AND DOING is IN ME and so I AM IN ME was born!
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