2016 was a year of immense and incredible growth for me, and I think one of the key things I learnt was the importance of simply being myself. It sounds & feels so cliché even typing it on a blog, since we so often hear people say ‘be yourself!’, ‘don’t worry about what other people think!’ and  ‘you can’t please everyone!’ – and yet isn’t it ironic that we hear it so often and still find it so hard to live out?

I did it all last year. Tried to be like people around me in order to engage my audience, not realising that God had led that audience to me in the moments and videos where I had simply been being myself. I tried to be funny, to change my appearance, to be sassy and loud and have a cute attitude; I even filmed some videos (which I never uploaded) which conformed to the latest trends and what other girls who looked like me were doing, in order to try and maintain my audience’s interest and fit in better. Honestly, the whole process was exhausting — and futile. I’ll never be good at being anyone else. And what was even scarier about it all was that I had always been that girl who didn’t care to be like anyone else. The trap of comparison, inadequacy and conformity to what we see others doing is an easy one to fall into. So I wanted to encourage anyone today who’s there. It’s not easy, and I know you’re probably exhausted. Chances are you’ll either realise now that what you’re doing is unhealthy and toxic for you, or you’ll tire yourself out and come to the end of yourself in due course, and that’s when it’ll hit home.

As always during the season of growth, I turned to my Maker and His Word to help me out of the rut. And, as always, what I learned was incredible. The truth is, God is never going to help you to be someone else. In my quiet time reading Psalm 139, a beautiful Psalm which I walk through in this video, I read about how our Heavenly Father has wired us all individually and uniquely, and how intimately and intricately and intensely He knows and loves us. And ‘knows’ here shouldn’t be taken lightly. He knows our deepest longings and desires, our fears, what drives us, what moves us, what hurts us, what heals us. I learnt particularly last year that He knows how best to teach us, too, individually – our learner-types, if you like. I tend to learn by going through a process several times, getting exhausted, coming to the end of myself and immersing myself in Jesus — and learning a little more of the overall lesson with each cycle. Some people learn the first time around, others require years for a lesson from God to fully move from their head to their heart. Some people learn simply by reading the Word, others by observing the plight of other people. However you learn, God knows it and teaches you accordingly. He knows you. And He loves you. How tragic to spend our lives overlooking our own beauty in pursuit of someone else’s charm. You are perfectly and precisely made in His image, wired in a unique and beautiful way, with a purpose specifically designed for you. For as long as you’re trying to be someone else, that purpose will be hindered, because it’s designed for you, not the person you’re trying to be. What use would a leg be if it tried to emulate the role of an eyebrow and refused to simply be itself and do its own job?!

1 Thessalonians 4:11 puts it simply:  ‘stay calm; mind your own business; do your own job’ (MSG). And here’s an excerpt from Psalm 139, to remind you how wonderfully and uniquely made you are:

 

Psalm 139 (MSG)

A David Psalm

1-6 God, investigate my life;

    get all the facts firsthand.

I’m an open book to you;

    even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking.

You know when I leave and when I get back;

    I’m never out of your sight.

You know everything I’m going to say

    before I start the first sentence.

I look behind me and you’re there,

    then up ahead and you’re there, too—

    your reassuring presence, coming and going.

This is too much, too wonderful—

    I can’t take it all in!

[…]

13-16 

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;

    you formed me in my mother’s womb.

I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!

    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!

    I worship in adoration—what a creation!

You know me inside and out,

    you know every bone in my body;

You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,

    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.

Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;

    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,

The days of my life all prepared

    before I’d even lived one day.

 

There is such a sense of peace and inner confidence that comes when this message of your unique wiring, and the fact you have nothing to prove to anyone and are not required to impress anyone or force them to like or accept you, sinks in. Many people have noticed that my videos pre-2017 have a distinctly different feel to my videos since January 1st 2017, and that’s exactly why: the struggle I was in last year trying to fit in, to find my place, to be accepted – the desire to prove myself and impress my audience into sticking with me for the long-haul – has gone. I’m not here to force anyone to like me – that’s not my purpose. My purpose on my platform is to love as wholly and as healthily as I can, to be the only Jesus that many people will see, to radiate His love, to resemble the Proverbs 31 woman and to flourish in intimate relationship with my Maker.

In the process of comparing yourself and imitating those you were never designed to be, you lose your edge, your quirks, your confidence, your personality – and that’s when you end up uninteresting, exhausted and in a truly depressing space. But when you meditate on God’s truth about who you are and WHOSE you are, in the process of accepting yourself you get your confidence and your God-given quirks back. It’s an inner confidence no-one can knock, because it’s based on TRUTH and a sure foundation.

God has been teaching me the beauty of my difference, and I pray He does the same for you. Being a gentle spirit, with good intentions, an authentic nature and a pure heart, I’ve learnt that those qualities are strengths, not weaknesses, because it takes God-inspired strength to maintain them in a world this harsh, where it’s often dog-eat-dog, even among peers. Praise God that He’s taught me to embrace who I am! I firmly believe it will be a key foundation for the incredible plans He’s got for me in future.

I hope this helps and blesses anyone who can relate. Here’s a Joyce Meyer sermon (y’all know how much I love her!) in case you need any further encouragement. And remember you can email me any time at enquiries.imanishola@gmail.com. I’m here to love and to listen.

 

Love always,

Imani x

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