A Naija activist’s guide on how to be more confident and own the room

A Naija activist’s guide on how to be more confident and own the room

Nigeria’s Ngunan Ioron Aloho just popped this question on her Instagram page, do you celebrate the ‘small’ wins? Come to think of it, that’s a small but mighty question you have to answer for yourself. Ngunan works in the development space and definitely understands why it’s important for activists and advocates to have confidence and own their space.

The I’m-not-good-enough bug has bitten her a number of times, causing her to perform poorly in a few events. Do you want to be more confident and command your stage? Ngunan will teach you an important lesson on this and here’s what she has to say:

Do you celebrate the ‘small’ wins?

“Do you celebrate the small wins?

For me, this is important and because I put in 100% into works I do, whenever I reach a milestone, no matter how insignificant it might look to others, I celebrate. 

Celebrating for me includes taking a chilled drink, appreciating myself for minutes on, having a good sleep or just jumping up in excitement. In recent times, I didn’t celebrate much and I was beginning to feel overwhelmed again with the load of work, and deadlines I [was] expect[ed] to meet. 

The real gist is this:

… in earlier times when I began attending trainings and workshops, I remember a learning experience where I was almost invisible. I did contribute but there were a lot of wonderful people doing amazing things that I just got overwhelmed with their presence and didn’t trust myself enough to do well. 

I hid throughout the process. Not hiding in the room of course. I agreed with all contributions even those I wasn’t comfortable with because I didn’t think I was good enough. I didn’t think I was intelligent enough to offer contributions. 

And even at that time, I was selected to represent my group for a presentation. I scored 31/100. I didn’t do wonders, because I wasn’t confident. I didn’t own my space. After that learning experience, I discovered it took a rather short time and I was forgotten. I wasn’t visible enough. People have different processes but it is important to know what we know, and work to be visible in that regard, lest we be forgotten. 

After that experience, I worked to be more visible, to contribute even when it didn’t make sense, and I learned I make a lot of sense — 92% of the time I contribute. Embracing the uniqueness of my thought process has helped me to remain visible whether I contribute little or more. I own my space. 

And again, I won yesterday when during our Orange Corners group deep dive, I was selected to moderate the session. 

I did. 

And afterwards was selected to present. 

I owned that stage! 

And the commendations received after the presentation was amazing. I felt no tension, no push. 

Just calm and peace.

So stay confident and own your stage. You are worth more than you think you are, and you are capable of doing what you set your heart and mind to do. Again, always remember to celebrate your wins, big or small.

Ngunan Ioron Aloho is a gender and human rights activist working to break barriers hindering access to education for girls living in rural communities. Her organisation, Samuel Ioron Foundation is focused on increasing access to education for girls through advocacy and campaigns.

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