Love. Family. Loyalty

Ideas that transcend the idea of blood.  There is no limit of what family can be, of who family can be.  I’ve had friends do things for me that family sometimes hasn’t been able to.  It was no fault of their own, different circumstances call for different people to enter your life at different points.

I lived on the outskirts of the “Chicago” everyone sees on the news, but I was neither knee deep nor fully separated from that life.  I could see what was happening and knew people in those situations, yet couldn’t visualize how my life would’ve been shaped had I been in their shoes.  One of the best things I gained growing up in my unique Nigerian household was perspective; we mirrored many characteristics within the cultural home structure, but the intimacy between us was unlike most.  I developed this genuine love for people.  It sounds weird, but it was this insatiable curiosity of the people around me.  How did they live their lives? What were they struggling with? What were they proud of, or happy about, today?  It spurred me to reinvent these emotionally driven narratives through photography and film.

I laugh about it now, because the me of 4 years ago is so different from now.  This new me is more open-minded, embracive, and more adventurous.  Once I realized that my creative possibilities were endless, I let the free-flowing spirit weave its way through my art.  It’s taken me around the world and reintroduced me to my own city.  It’s been a beautiful journey thus far.

I was asked what success looked like and to be honest, I thought I knew.  One thing you should know about me is that my relationship with God means a lot to me; being Nigerian, Christianity has played a large role in how I was raised.  Over time though, developing my own spiritual walk has been the compass that guides my decisions.  I had this idea of what success for me was, and that was to create a digital agency for non-profits through social entrepreneurship.  I was able to infuse my love for creativity and desire to give back to the community. 

My idea was spot on, my approach was not.  I was divinely humbled and reminded that I needed more internal development. I had to check the true intentions of my heart.  I started putting the cart before the horse and I had to tell myself, Tobi, wherever you’re going is where success will be, but it must manifest itself on God’s timing. I know that I want to impact lives, but if it isn’t in alignment with how He wants to me impact lives, then I have to follow His way.

Walking in purpose has become not my finish line, but the daily mission for which my life must be lead. Success is simply the by-product, one that I cannot solely fix my energy and focus on. As I continue to pay attention to what God is cultivating in me along this journey, I can confidently run the race knowing that it ends in victory.