Abiola Babarinde has built a reputation for herself on the writing and speaking circuit in the UK and Nigeria. The crux of her thesis being on the ways through which we can build intentional lives. Her new book, Take What You Need was borne out of this. The work is effectively a collection of short essays and journal entries that seek to result in a roadmap to greater self awareness.
We spoke to her on the journey that led to the book. Find below excerpts;
This journey effectively started with your eponymous blog in 2015. How did that blog come about in the first place. What were the factors that influenced what you describe as “taking your life back”?
This is a great question to start with. In the summer of 2014, a friend invited me for a dinner party at her house, which turned out to be a very casual fellowship… to my disdain. I was NOT up for that. I just came to eat! But my resistance quickly disappeared as I began to discover faith and Christianity on my own terms. I had grown up in a Christian home and had great examples of faith around me, but it was never really ‘my own’ until after I graduated from university.
I was blown away and pleasantly surprised by what I discovered in my faith. I learned that there’s way more to the Bible than meets the eye. So I started my blog, again with a lot of hesitation because talking about faith online isn’t the most glamorous thing to do. But once I started, I rediscovered other talents and passions in content marketing that I had abandoned in exchange for my Law degree and corporate career working in Finance.
This experience showed me that not only was there more to the Bible than I knew, there was also more to my career than I know. I was 100% creative and 100% commercial — an amazing, but difficult thing for other people to understand.
Because I knew myself so well, I didn’t care whether other people understood. I was bent on creating the right career for me, instead of making career decisions based on everybody else’s opinions. Since then, slowly, I’ve been able to fine-tune my vocation, which has led to me launching my book, starting my new online community CULTIVATE, gaining experience in church ministry and advising lifestyle businesses on their content strategy. It’s not an easy ride, and I am still evolving but it’s been worth it.
You’ve been successfully running your blog since 2015 where you share pieces of advice for personal and spiritual growth. What was the catalyst that drove you to put out TWYN?
Over the last 2 or so years, people of all faiths (or none at all) have approached me at parties or even in the office telling me how digestible my work is, and how it’s inspired them to explore their own spirituality further. I have been passionate about writing since I was a child and regularly kept ‘secret diaries’ as a young girl — so the desire to write was almost innate. As I grew into an adult, my aspiration has always been to write books, so TWYN was a no-brainer in principle.
However, I knew that not everyone reads, and I wanted to make my first book as accessible as possible — so opted for short essays and ‘tweet-like’ quotes, making it an accessible read for everyone.
As a first time author, were there ever moments where you felt doubtful and hesitant to put out TWYN? (If yes) How did you get past that phase? (If no) How did you manage to keep it all together?
I never felt doubtful because it genuinely felt so natural to me and I wasn’t doing it for approval from the masses. I did it because I know my purpose, and what my soul currently needs to flourish in this life, and one of those things was to continue to put more work out into the world.
It is my form of expression, and as long as I was doing it with that mindset, and not the mindset of people pleasing or gaining external approval, I was able to keep it together.
What is the one thing you would say makes TWYN special and a must read?
The way TWYN challenges to think differently about situations they face in life makes it a must-read for me. Of the hundreds of people who have bought the book so far, that has consistently been the feedback.
It tackles some of the most difficult topics in our lives right now in a very simple way; from finding purpose to managing relationships and prioritising self-care in a world of burnout, making it a must-read for every person who believes that there is ‘more’ to their lives than what they currently experience.
In the introductory page of TWYN, you mention your personal struggle with finding a purpose in life, would you say you’ve found that yet? And how does anyone on this struggle find answers?
Finding purpose is definitely something I no longer struggle with, thank God. And it’s been a journey — something I mention in the later chapters of the book is that we get so hung up on ‘finding purpose’ as if it’s this discrete thing when actually purpose is found in the journey. It is found in embracing the opportunities that life presents even when the full picture is not yet seen. I strongly believe that life belongs to those who are willing to take the first step. That’s the only way the path is revealed: through action.
TWYN is seasoned with a series of affirmative statements. Which of them resonates with you most on a personal level?
“Vulnerability feels like you are putting your life on the line, when in reality you are saving it. Open up.”
I felt this deep in my soul because opening up to others about my life has never come naturally to me. I’m the ‘slow burn’ friend, the one who seems like a closed book and takes AGES to get to know. Even as a child, I was always the quiet one, a true introvert, happy to observe than be the centre of attention.
And a huge part of my personal development in my 20s has been about learning to share my life with others in more intimate ways. I call it unlocking my (emotional) blue ocean — taking queues from the brilliant business book, Blue Ocean Strategy.
Looking at where you are now and where you were when you published your first blog post, is there anything you would change if given a chance to redo everything?
I wouldn’t really change much, to be honest. The one thing I would change is simply trying to be more consistent throughout the years, which was really difficult when I was also managing a demanding corporate career. Otherwise, it has been so organic and felt like second-nature, I really couldn’t be more satisfied with the journey so far, and I look forward to what is ahead with great expectancy.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned on this journey?
I have learned that if you have an idea, a passion that can’t silent or ignored, embrace it. Follow it. Build on it. Let it develop and flourish before your eyes. This is one of the keys to a full and vibrant life.
To get a copy of the book;
In-store at Lennox Collective, Lennox Mall, Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.
Buy in-store at Laterna Bookstore, 13 Oko Awo Street, off Adetokunbo Ademola street, Victoria Island, Lagos.