I was reading a book by Myles Monroe (May his soul rest in peace), and he was discussing how showing genuine interest and asking questions is one of the greatest ways to build relationships and in turn influence people. It is a powerful thing to be vulnerable and open with your life, especially if the lessons you have learned can aid someone. I have vowed to do just that, but I have not been through it all and I want you all to understand I am interested in YOU; I decided to start this series “A Tears to Laughter Story” so I get ask you questions and you hear from others, that indeed the storm does not last forever. You might not see the light at the end of the tunnel because you are the light, THE LIGHT IS IN YOU.
I am so delighted that the first person I get to do this series on is one of my dearest friends. I am so proud of her and all she has overcome. I remember feeling so down and forcing myself to meet up with her and my other princess (Audrey), and when Tomilola spoke about her journey I was SO inspired, I hope you will be too.
I am confident that she is in the process of becoming even greater, but I asked her a few questions so you can understand her journey so far.
- Tell us a little about yourself
Hi, my name is Tomilola Awosika but also known as Tlow (by no choice of my own) I am 23 years of age. I believe the people closest to me would describe me as Clumsy, Dramatic, Sociable and stubborn. However, I would describe myself as uniquely coordinated, Creative, Selectively social and Determined. I have a degree in psychology but I currently work as a financial resource consultant and I am also the executive director of a production company called Eternal Ages.
- Tell us about a challenging time in your life.
- This question is one I have come across a few times, typically in an interview setting. I find it difficult to answer a lot of the time not because I am afraid of being open but more so because 2015 – 2016 was one of the most trying times of life and there were a plethora of experiences that really challenged me, physically, mentally and spiritually. So, I never really know what experience I should single out and talk about. Anyways, I call this period ‘MY SEASON OF LOSS’.
- So where do I start? So for as long as I can remember my mother has suffered from an incurable disorder called retinitis pigmentosa which is a rare genetic disorder that involves the disintegration of eyesight & hearing. The sufferer rapidly loses cells majority of the tiny cells within the retina. Now, my mother is an extremely hard working and defiant woman, so she did not ever let this condition stop her from doing what she needed to. However in 2015 that changed and her RP had become so bad that she was registered as partially blind and unfit to work, it also began to affect her ability to complete mundane tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and shopping. As a single mother who has always upheld her household and children, she became dependant on her two daughters. As an away university student I quickly felt responsible and equally helpless, I now had the juggle my degree along with the physical, emotional and financial support of my mother.
- Following from that in January 2016 (During my final year of university) I was admitted into the hospital where I found out that I had developed Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). I was told that if I had come to the hospital 48 hours later the blood clots may have traveled to heart and could have resulted in me losing my life completely. Later on, in March 2016, I traveled to Nigeria to visit my dad after developing DVT in order to see him during this period. Whilst there I got into a serious car crash on the Third Mainland bridge, so bad that the car was completely written off. Because I was the front seat passenger I went head-on into the windscreen, whilst being on blood thinners (which is extremely dangerous).
- My flight back from Nigeria was also delayed and I missed the physical submission for my dissertation and this resulted in me being told I could not graduate that summer.
- Following on from all this as many girls have experienced, In November 2016 I went through a very disheartening and difficult break up which at the time I was not sure I would recover from.
- How did this affect you / make you feel?
This is where I talk about my feelings right? Wow okay so…..
One of the best things my mother ever introduced to me was Jesus, and although I was born into a great church and I have a relationship with God, I am not perfect and I do not know it all. From a very young age, I was taught that in the Midst of a trial- you ‘send Judah up’ in other words you give praise to God.
So when my mum stopped working although it devastated me I immersed myself in prayer and worship. I became so dependant on God and I honestly did not doubt that he would just sustain my family through it all. So I did not feel defeated for very long ( or so I thought). However, developing DVT was a near-death experience and the side effects of the medication I was put on afterward really took a toll on my physical appearance: my weight and skin changed drastically and I was constantly physically weak. I began to really question God and I began to feel like my time on earth was limited. I know it may sound dramatic, but I honestly just felt like I was disintegrating, I lost my personality, lost my desire to be around people or really do any of the things I loved.
The car crash I think was the turning point for me; at that point, I convinced myself that everything was working against me and I was supposed to die. Instead of being thankful that I survived I instead I became very down. For someone who was/is very bubbly, never ever cried or was down; I found myself crying at least once a day. I was experiencing frequent panic attacks, I became anxious around large amounts of people (at church, in lectures etc). I just became someone I had never once been. I was very much depressed at the time, although, I was not aware at the time, nor did I understand what really depression was.
After being told I could not graduate and as result having Graduate role offers retracted from me I began to feel like anything good in my life would be and should be taken from me. I resented anyone or anything positive in my life and began to jeopardize opportunities and relationships because I had convinced myself I would lose it eventually anyway.
- Are you in a better space now? How did you overcome your challenges?
I mean talking about this is crazy because I am nowhere near the person I was then.
I am in a much better space. After my breakup, I was just so devastated and I could not recognise myself. I felt so empty and I also was struggling to understand what I was living for. Although, I was never really suicidal I was not really sure of my purpose anymore and what the point of me living was, the best way to describe it is I was really just fed up.
NYE was my turning point, I went to the crossover service at Worship Tabernacle and I can’t really explain what it was about the atmosphere but I remember leaving feeling restored. Pastor Tai spoke on ‘returning to your natural habitat and thriving’, in summary saying we could only inherit the promises and blessings of God if we remained in his presence. At that point, I realised how much I had run from God and I was so desperate for joy again that I promised myself I would return home (To God).
I decided from that day I would throw myself into the things of God, I decided to start attending bible study at my church, attending my church youth outreach more, I would start my mornings with Gospel and just read my bible more. I also decided that I would honor God with my finances so when I was at church I would always give offering or tithe.
I had also secluded myself from some of my closest friends especially those who would speak wisdom and life into me. Particularly my best friend Samantha Jayne. So I made a conscious effort to speak to and spend more time with my friends who were strong in Christ and or had gone through similar situations to me. In spending time in positive environments and around positive people I learned to focus on what was still good which motivated me to make things better for myself.
The last thing I decided to do was be completely single for a year and not date, in order to really understand myself and become the best version of me before I give of my time energy or spirit to someone else. Especially because my relationship with God became a priority, and I did not want to jeopardise that.
- What good came from your challenging period?
What I had forgotten is, God is a God of restoration and his time is always best. For the first time, I learned how to study my bible and not just read it. I found that there are a lot of events that happened in the bible with good tangible tools on how to really cope and overcome circumstances. So yes a lot of good came from that period:
So firstly, My mum has always been amazing at planning parties and events. So she found herself an assistant to help with mundane tasks and at the end of 2016, she established herself as an Event Planner.
Although I lost graduate offers in July I was offered a role as a Credit Management Consultant although the salary was not what I had wanted the job itself was still great. In Jan after committing myself back to God, I was given a pay rise. This salary exceeded the offer of the initial role that I was devastated about losing.
In December, I was told I could graduate and did not have to retake the year on a part-time basis.
Finally, and most importantly, in January 2017 I went to dinner with my friend Stephanie and really spoke about what I had been through and where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do. It was almost like a 5-hour therapy session. In that dinner we came up with the concept of Eternal Ages since myself and my sister had written a few scripts for fun it just all made sense. I then decided to use a few of the bible stories that were helping me overcome my mental state as the basis of a storyline for the play about Mental Health. Low and behold 9 months later we sold out an entire musical production to an audience of 500+ a cast of 30 and a team of 21. All self-funded. I found my purpose and I also witnessed team and cast members give their life to Christ. This has been my biggest achievement to date and I was resilient enough to see it through due to the things I had experienced the year before and the inspiration for the script and storyline came from my misfortune.
So yes it is true “All things do work together for Good for those who love God”
- What advice would you give to someone currently going through a difficult time?
- Be honest and open about what you are going through the first step to healing is speaking about it.
- Look at your surroundings, are there any contributing factors? Control what you can, distance yourself from things and people that are counterproductive or threaten your wellbeing.
- READ READ READ (or listen to audio-books) Christian or not the bible honestly has some great tools and coping mechanism for trauma and pain. Read the scripture listen to sermons, praise worship and pray.
- Stay with people who love you and are wiser than or have experienced more than you have. Do not seclude yourself it’s okay to have alone time but humans were made for companionship.
- LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE
Pastors sermons I would recommend watching:
- TD Jakes
- Sarah Jakes Roberts
- Toure Roberts
- Joyce Meyer
- Andrew Wommack
- John Gray
- Heather Lindsey
- Derwin Gray
- Michael Todd
Churches in London I’d recommend attending:
- Praise Christian Centre
- Jesus House
- Worship Tabernacle
Books I’d recommend reading:
- Lost and Found
- Hollywood Commandments
- Dusty Crowns
- The Power of a Woman
- The Purpose room
Things I’d recommend doing:
- Go on regular walks
- Work out regularly with another person
- Eat out once a quarter at the minimum
- Go to the cinema /Theatre do not always watch things at home
- Go to networking events
- Attend seminars and lectures around your respective field
END OF INTERVIEW
This message is to also teach you, not to look at others in envy, because you were not there to endure the pain and fight the battles they fought to get their victory. It is important that we understand that, joy, success and laughter; it is all a process that varies vastly for each one of us. Your life may not turn around in just a year like Tomilola’s did, but trust and believe, you will look back at the moments you can’t seem to see past right now.
Your tears WILL become laughter!
Sis & Tlow x