Embracing this one thought will strengthen you. It will transform you. It will free you.

One of the most poignant lessons I’ve learned is that the more you dare to walk your path, the more you dream bigger, to step outside of the norm, to use your gifts and thrive; the more you are vulnerable… the more you become exposed to other people’s criticisms and opinions.

We have a saying in the Yoruba culture — “Anjuwon ose wi lejo ija ilara o tan boro”. What this basically translates to is that if you have a person that continuously puts down another, constantly states or shows their dislike for another and when you ask them why they don’t like this person, they give some ambiguous answer like “I just don’t like him/her…”, if you dig deep enough, a lot of times, what you’ll find is envy.

It’s very difficult for a person to say that they don’t like you because they are envious or jealous of you. I don’t want to diminish those words into the pettiness that’s usually associated with them. The jealousy that I’m talking about requires compassion in response. It means that something in you has sparked a question in the other person, you have made them uncomfortable. It doesn’t even necessarily mean that they want to be doing exactly what you’re doing. It’s more of a recognition of opportunity and potential that they have ignored in themselves.

“I have never met a hater doing better than me…”

What I find interesting about those who criticize is that they’re usually not doing much. If you envy someone and react accordingly, it’s like “drinking poison and wishing the other person will die”. The only person you’re hurting is yourself. You have no clue what it takes to be that person and to be frank, you don’t have the capacity to walk in their shoes. If you were meant to walk their journey, then you’d be doing it. Life gives each of us the path we have the strength to tread.

I overheard a conversation the other day, someone was complimenting another person for doing great work on an assignment. A third person close to the conversation chimed in and said “well, she had a lot of help so technically you should also be congratulating the others”. What was the point of that comment? Even if this person had all the help in the world, what was the benefit of cutting them down enough to take that moment away from them?

Ultimately, it’s not really about the injured party here. I don’t believe that anyone can make you feel small unless you let them. I actually feel sorry for the aggressor in this scenario. I can guarantee that behind all that bravado lies insecurity and right behind that, FEAR. Have you ever seen a tiny dog start yapping and growling the moment it sees a bigger dog? What’s interesting is that the bigger dog usually doesn’t react. It doesn’t engage the commotion because it knows its power and there’s no need to prove it. It knows that empty barrels make the most noise.

Vulnerability takes strength. Living your dream out loud at any stage requires focus, resilience and a strong belief in yourself in spite of what others may think. For every piece of praise, there’s a piece of criticism somewhere around the corner. I find that it’s better not to get tied to either. This way, your happiness or peace is not dependent on things outside of the self. We all want acknowledgment that we are making a mark on this world. This is perfectly normal but may I tell you something radical? Whether or not the world acknowledges you, Life already recognizes you. The sun doesn’t wait for you to say good morning before it starts to shine. It doesn’t cower at our criticisms that it is too hot or that it’s not shining brightly enough. It is the sun and it will rise and set in spite of our trivial opinions.


  • Wemi Opakunle

    Author, Speaker + Coach

    Wemi Opakunle is the author of the recently released Inspirational book, Thank God It’s Monday. She is a motivational speaker and writer dedicated to the encouragement and empowerment of the human spirit. She spends her time spreading the message of hope, finding spiritual balance, and encouraging others to live their lives to their fullest potential.