There is something instilled in you when you come from an environment that is supposed to break you, I don’t know if its strength, stubbornness, resilience or a mixture of them all, but there’s something. It’s crazy because it took me almost 30 years to reach the point where I could even say that I had this ‘thing’. You see, I was raised in an inner-city area, and as far as I can remember life was good and I was oblivious of all the shit that happens in this world, until I was about 8 or 9 when I was first racially abused. The first person I knew to be killed was just a teenager, I was 12. I witnessed rape. Stepped over a dead body of someone who had been shot. I witnessed drug abuse. All before the age of 16 years old.
This story isn’t unique to me, however it is my story and I’ve learnt to own it. Going through all of this does something to you as a young person, or at least it did to me. It made me very scared of life to begin with, then it made me desensitised to violence, desensitised to fear and made me feel unattached from life. I was an observer of my life, no control whatsoever.
Without being able to articulate that feeling, or even recognise what it was, it followed me into adulthood and showed up in so many ways. I stayed in an unhealthy relationship for years, I hopped from one job to another, moved house so many times, suffered with depression and anxiety and felt stuck in life. It’s weird, but looking back now, I know that I was searching for something. Now I know I was searching for me.
8 years ago, I spoke to the headteacher of the high school that I attended as a teenager. I remember the day clearly, I was sitting in his office and he was walking rocking my new born baby as he asked me what I had been up to over the years. It had been 12 years since I had seen him – it was surreal. I explained that I was working in administration, but I was unhappy. He smiled. He asked whether the job challenged me. I said no. He asked whether it interested me. I said no. He told me that I needed to find something in life that challenged who I was and allowed me to be excited, to grow and to learn. What do you want to do Akeila? He asked. I had no idea at that point. However, that conversation changed my life.
Over the next few years, I delved into the world of personal development, I read tonnes of books and worked with a couple of Life Coaches along the way. I know it’s a cliché but I committed to finding myself. I discovered what I liked to do and what made my fire burn, I identified and understood what my values were, I built healthy boundaries and developed a degree of self-love that I had never experienced before. I connected with me. I’m not going to pretend that I’ve arrived at a finite place of amazingness, I still work on this every day. However, I’m connected with who I am and appreciate the power of conversation, support and the feeling of being heard just like how I was in my headteachers office.
I am now a qualified coach and NLP practitioner. I have a Masters Degree in coaching and have experiences of working with clients from some of the biggest corporations in the UK including BBC, BT, Lloyds banking group and NHS as well as entrepreneurs at different levels of their businesses. I now feel as though it is my job to provide clients, especially women, with a safe space to evolve into who they have the potential to be. I didn’t search for this career, I found myself and then it found me.