Four years ago, I was blessed enough to represent Kenya, in an international beauty pageant that focuses on our oceans.
I travelled across the globe to South East Asia, Malaysia, and was introduced to the world of scuba diving, my gateway to marine conservation.
Last month, I had the pleasure of exploring marine conservation on the African continent, myself, for the first time, and of course, in Kenya.
During my time there, I put together a short mobile journalism piece, sharing some of the amazing work being done by Local Ocean Trust to preserve the tropical marine ecosystem.
I hope you enjoy the video below, feel free to like, share and retweet it if you like it.
Full article can be found here.
This chapter of life for me is all about self discovery and steep progression. Understanding who I am and what I'm here to do. Making strides towards reaching my goals, failing fast and fulfilling my purpose.
As a millennial, I feel like my generation is made up of many go-getters, all discovering and pursuing our dreams in various life arenas, making an impact on society and it's a beautiful thing to be a part of. We're all striving for a brighter tomorrow and hope to leave a legacy of some sort, right? But do we even understand what a legacy is?
A legacy is anything passed down as from an ancestor or predecessor. For me the key words in there are 'passed down', meaning there has to be a link between generations.
We're all preoccupied with the idea of uncovering the future, fulfilling the vision but let's not forget to look retrospectively because to understand where we're going, we need to understand where we've come from. A bit cliché I know, but stay with me.
Listen! There is wisdom in learning from other people's mistakes. Surely it only makes sense to save ourselves the trouble of repeating previous shortfalls and benefitting from the knowledge gained by people who have walked this path already. By understanding both the good and bad we can hasten our own journeys and fulfil our destiny quicker.
In my opinion, understanding our history and heritage also contributes to a greater understanding of our personal identity. What contributed to the complex, multifaceted people we are today which brings us to an understanding of what makes us unique and what differentiates you from person x and y.
The danger of not having this understanding is we end up behaving like crabs in a barrel. Individually the crabs can all escape from this barrel but instead they grab one another in a useless 'king of the hill' competition which prevents any from escaping and ensures their collective demise.
I see this especially when a large group of people pursue a similar career path, typically creative. Your visions and destiny are all unique, the routes in which they may manifest themselves however, aren't always. In fact, there is nothing (or very little) new under the sun.
Take this website for example, it seems everyone has a blog these days but because I know what drove me to create this in the first place, I'm not in competition with everyone else, in fact I'm rooting for other bloggers out there.
One of the things I value most in life is family. Over the past few years I've made a concerted effort to strengthen my own relationships within mine, both immediate and extended and I've come to a better understanding of my own history through it.
If you're blessed to be surrounded by some of your own family and relatives, older and younger take advantage of those bonds, learn from one another, it seems negligible but can do so much for you and learning about yourself through others
Let's be a generation that builds on the firm foundations that have been established before us. Personal success is good but the true beauty of success to me is leaving a legacy, knowledge passed down because legacy outlives a single generation.
Have you ever been pulled up by a friend, colleague, or family member for apparent distance and lack of communication? I know I have, in fact recently quite a few times.
Personally, I'm the kind of person that operates happily in my own little bubble, loves people from a distance as I get on with life and I think subconsciously I expect others to do the exact same.
My initial response on a number of occasions tends to be somewhere along the lines of
"I was gonna call you, then... *inserts excuse here*".
In a world where everyone uploads snippets of their lives on social media, it's easy to get caught up in the idea that we're 'in touch' with peoples latest life updates. Responding to a snapchat video, sending a tweet, liking a status, they're all practical but impersonal ways of communicating. If you're like me and tend to keep the tough nitty gritty bits of day to day reality off the internet, why would we then take someones 'status' as a true reflection of their current life state?
I get it. We're all busy doing something, but the fact of the matter is, no one receives pending phone calls, messages or visits because we're human beings and not mind readers.
Sometimes meeting up with the people you love the most is a challenge, but it's important to make sure they know you love them in whatever way possible.
A simple text, call, voice note or FaceTime can make all the difference because although our hearts may be in the right place, no one receives pending...
Who are you? This is one of those simply complex questions life asks and when everything is smooth sailing, it tends to be easier to answer. "I'm *inserts job role here*, *recent achievement here* “ because these achievements are a reflection of yourself right? That's what I thought and they are to an extent.
So... very few people actually know this and if you already do, you're a real MVP *clears throat*. I was made redundant in June 2016.
It was the day of the EU referendum, undoubtedly one of THE most dramatic days of the year for me thus far. I was given a letter and basically told today is your last day (with a nice pay package of course, it wasn't all doom and gloom, I've been enjoying life).
I remember waking up on the 25th June, news of the Brexit results just in and I was at home on a Friday morning. Jobless.
If I'm honest I was initially a bit shaken by the news (the redundancy) but I had a calm feeling about this. As soon as I got home, I told my sister and she didn't believe me for a whooooole week. She kept saying "Umu, you're too calm about it, you must have just taken the day off" bless her cotton socks! I told my mum, she too had a similar reaction "Umu, that's not even a bad joke, redundant at 23?!” she exclaimed as she dismissed my news and continued our conversation without missing a beat. Gotta love the two most important women in my life and their faith in my abilities.
So the weekend came, which was ok as I just went on with my existing plans. Monday morning however; I woke up in my flat, staring out the window overlooking Primrose Hill in the distance and the gravity of what being jobless was fell on me like a ton of bricks, all at once. I had to quickly step out of what could have been a very negative thought path caused by the 'loss' of something that had previously taken up a huge part of my day to day life.
I remember I spent the day reminding myself who I was. I read articles that had been written about me recently, went through a few e-mails, messages etc all with kind words from my friends, family and business related acquaintances. As I went on my little ego boost journey, I came to the realisation, all this affirmation of why people were proud of me, what I contributed etc and not a single one of them was about my job role! Not one!
It's easy to just go with the flow of life and get carried away with our busy schedules but the danger in that is if you are not secure in your own identity, one whim can blow you off course unnecessarily. Take time to define this for yourself cos Lord knows that you need to tell the world exactly who you are before the world defines it for you. Both good and bad times in life are inevitable so be secure in you, your purpose and your identity because it is unique.
What the experience taught me is, I am not my job title or current circumstance. I am an intelligent young woman with the makings of excellence simply finding my place in the world, discovering my power and blessed to help others. I have a rich heritage that is far beyond myself and I'll continue to build on the legacy and hard work of my ancestors for many years to come.
Ultimately I look at the past two months as a blessing in the BIGGEST disguise because I had the opportunity to remind myself of what's important in life, realign myself with my goals and take action. Part of the reason I finally published this website you're on is because of my redundancy and for that, I am truly grateful.
It's graduation season so to all 2016 graduates, congratulations you made it to the finish and you should be proud!
It's been 2 years since I graduated from the lovely university bubble and into 'The real world' and for the first time in years I was out of the safe haven called 'higher education'.
I was blessed enough to secure my first role in September 2014 as an IT consultant; excited as I was to embark on this new journey, I couldn't help but be slightly overwhelmed by a sense of disorientation.
First of all, I knew very little about IT, my work wardrobe was well... non-existent and everyone looked so sure of themselves in the office, I on the other hand felt the complete opposite but I was there nonetheless.
I remember about two months in, as I started to get the hang of it all, one particular encounter threw me off my game completely. It was a comment made about my LinkedIn profile pic... I know you're probably wondering what it is right? haha
Well indirectly the comment insinuated it didn't look like an IT picture and for a short while this really bothered me.
But then again what does an IT profile picture look like?! And according to who?!
I came to the conclusion that life will try and put you in a box in some way, shape or form, whether it's based on your career, your gender, social status, the list is endless really. To be honest it's not always done with bad intentions, (well not all the time!) it just makes things easier, in terms of association. I'm constantly defying the boxes life tries to put me in because like most young people my age, I'm still learning new things about myself and the woman I was created to be.
My words of advice are; create the person you want to be and don't be limited by other people's perception or even the realities that may hold themselves true in your life today.
We're all multi faceted human beings, at different stages in our lives, allow your presence, personality, talents and uniqueness, permeate any room you walk into and any situation you face.Don't be confined to a single paradigm.
Hi, I'm Umutoni a twenty-something year old Londoner embarking on a journey to find a new meaning to beauty in everyday life and affirming the identity of beauty with substance.