Most of the time people don't realise that there is a thin line between leadership and mental health, they always just assume because we are leaders we automatically have to have a thick skin to all the insults, to all the criticism ( and most of the time they term them as constructive criticism) and just insensitivity. I mean if someone would have told me 5 years ago that there would come a time where social media ( Instagram & Twitter ) would compromise my mental health and I would quit I would have not believed them at all. But here I am today as I write this blog post I can proudly tell you I am very happy for removing myself out of social media ( Instagram & Twitter ) because in all honestly I will not compromise my mental health just because I am a leader and I have to subject myself to the toxicity that surrounds it. Hence why I say there is a thin line, it really is a border line between sanity and people inflicting so much toxicity and prompt you to drive yourself to insanity and all for what? Satisfying those who believe they have a right to bring you down? All for likes and comments? Or all for those who would see you as weak and say, 'Oh hey we knew she/he isn't a strong leader, look she/he left the socials!'
If anyone today measures your strength and capacity as a leader by the strength in which you can take in the toxicity and ignore it then that person my friend is just someone who is trying to justify how mentally cripple they are and just want to feel good about themselves by breaking you down. I believe Leadership is spiritual and if you find yourself at a place where your spirituality is being compromised or your peace is taken away from you then it is time to take yourself away from that particular place and find a place where you would still continue with your purpose and do onto people what you would want to be done onto yourself. I hope I am very loud and clear, because I believe gone are the days where as leaders we have to keep quiet, suffer in silence and just take in everything we go through and still stay at the same place. Times have changed, people have to change, we need to be kinder to one another and learn how to speak and be spoken at.
We each have just one mind that helps us function and deliver so if today we are unable to do that then how are we to progress? Our culture specifically doesn't allow leaders to show vulnerability and to speak up when we are not okay because as leaders we have to be strong, because we are the ones leading the people. But it really struct me and made me rethink, how are we to lead if we ourselves are afraid to tell those who want to be lead to be kinder, to be sensitive and to understand even with all the hate and negativity things won't still get solved just like that. I mean think about it, how are you to pour from an empty cup? How are you to make someone else feel good and be hopeful if you aren't there or have been stripped away of all that and have no sense of direction or logic towards anything said or done to you.
I actually haven't been okay for the past month and if I didn't watch out I would have lost myself, I would have pushed myself and put myself out there just to satisfy the mass all because I am a leader. I acknowledge I am a leader, I am a young leader, I am a young female leader, I am a young African female leader. I do understand what all these titles mean to those inside and those outside, I understand the expectations that come about with all this, I understand all the push and pressure that surrounds it but I also do understand as a leader I need to be weary of my mental health, about my emotions and about my actions. But how many leaders think like me, how many leaders feel so pressured and are faced with so much toxicity online that it can sometimes drive them insane yet they are afraid of pulling themselves out of it and just being. I think it is time we view leaders as human beings, as people who actually have a mass of responsibility towards those they lead and towards themselves as well. I still strongly believe and feel that there are so many ways in which we can speak to one another, ways in which we can express dissatisfaction without wishing death on someone and also there is a way in which we can respect leaders when they say they are not okay and need to take themselves out of a situation before coming back to face it.
We need to normalise Mental Health awareness among leaders because truthfully you only have one life and one brain and if that brain is affected then you are unable to function or even deliver. We need to learn to also respect those who are public figures and put their work and themselves out in the public, they actually have a lot that they deal with. They deal with themselves, they deal with those they lead, they deal with expectations, they deal with mainstream media, they deal with social media and any other external and internal issues as well. So before you troll, or bully, criticise or make fun of a public figure think about how you are doing it, why you are doing it and ask yourself how it would make you feel if it was you. Hiding behind 'constructive criticism.' Just because you are intentionally bringing someone down doesn't make you a hero infact it is a reflection of how you feel about yourself. Most of us are carrying traumas, hurt, disappointments, frustrations and so much more, most times we just want to project that to other people rather than dealing with it ourselves face front. We need to do a lot of soul searching, a lot of healing and a lot of gratitude practice because am looking at a situation where more young public figures are coming out and saying no to being trolled and being brought down and being laughed at because they refuse to subject themselves to a lifestyle that has been normalised all because of fear of disappointing people who barely even know who most of us are and react based on the entitlement they have because of a certain position we occupy or a certain role we play in the public space.
And here is something to think about if all leaders and public figures leave the internet and refuse to be on mainstream media just so as they can protect their mental health, how then are we going to be empowered? How then are we going to get inspiration from those we look upto? How then are we going to build a tribe that vibrates positivity and growth. As a leader, as a young leader, as a young female leader, as a young African female leader my personal decision is to bid good bye to my personal social media spaces ( Instagram & Twitter ) because my mental health is far more important and greater than anything. I shall continue my work and my pages shall continue sharing the engagements we are doing to reach out to those who want to be reached, but as a leader I had taken the step to also share the other side of me to teach people how to be you and still vibrate as a leader towards the people, but because of the toxicity encapsulating these spaces it is safe to say formal approach is the best approach, only those within my circle have the privilege and access to my informal space BECAUSE MY MENTAL HEALTH MATTER AND IS EVERYTHING!
To my fellow leaders and public figures don't let these spaces drive you to a point of no return, it is OKAY NOT TO BE OKAY! Speak up, embrace you and work on you if need be seek help because our mental healths are important and these spaces they are being challenged left right and centre.