Standing Still vs Pushing Through

Thoughts on when to pause vs push — why & how.

All of my life, I’ve been a pusher.

As a little girl, I wrote letters to city councilmen and at age 16 joined a Black Nationalist group in Memphis called the Ajanakus, because I wanted to create change. I even pushed past my parents who thought I was nuts for doing the latter and changing my name to Ayoola Sadio Ajanaku (Swahili for Ambitious, Pure & Free People).

For the past 47 years, I co-created a life with God that exceeded any expectations I had for myself living in Chicago, NYC, Newark & New Orleans pioneering paths for myself and the next generation of Black women in media and recreationally traveling to Brazil, Cuba, Panama, Greece, Ghana, India, UK, Paris and beyond.

Yet, at a certain point, the good life I’d both worked tirelessly for and been blessed with in NYC had grown exhausting. I needed a reprieve, a refuge to reset. So, I moved to New Orleans. When I got here, I was both grateful and unsure. Grateful to have found a place to live outside of NYC (which seemed unfathomable living there for 19 years), and unsure about what was next and if this is home.

Unsure how I got here, and why I got here. I pushed through. Like us all, COVID came out of nowhere, and we had to push through. When COVID-19 hit for me three months in to the NOLA-leg of my life journey, I found myself with an incredible amount of time to myself in a strange city which resulted in me questioning everything. Two of my four NOLA-based friends relocated within a few months of my arrival, presenting the opportunity to make new friends. But, I. didn’t. want. to.

I quite enjoyed the getting-to-know-me period.

The person I’d left Memphis as at 17 and left NYC at 46 were vastly different with 2 immediately family deaths, 1 divorce, 1 domestic partnership dissolution and nine moves in between. So, the alone time was at times haunting yet all the while an extraordinary blessing to reestablish who I wanted to become based on where I had been, and still wanted to go.

Yet, life came to a standstill recently.

About seven months into living in New Orleans, I began looking for a home. I got outbid 3x, and two other times not even get a showing due to buyer’s signing at their 1st showing, which was reminiscent of getting an apartment to live in NYC. But being the pusher that I am, I pushed through. I didn’t listen to my inner voice.

Instead of pausing to tap into and listen to my inner voice, I purchased a lot of land in NOLA. I contacted the City Councilwoman about the plans for development of the neighborhood. I contacted the City 311 about clearing vacant, yet overgrown lots nearby. I found a startup construction company and vetted the process of building with them. I engaged yet another builder. Then yet and still an architect specializing in modern-style homes whom I traveled pretty far down the line in developing the home, yet could not secure a builder to build the designed blueprint within my budget. Upon returning to the construction company, I experienced 3.5 months of stalled processes which yielded no home building initiation for me and the threat of no deposit return, leaving me no other choice than to stand still. Much like the song by the famed Gospel Singer Donnie McClurkin,”after you’ve done all you can, you just stand.”

So, after pushing and pushing towards what I thought was best for me. I’m learning what it looks like to stand…still. As a 5’1” woman, standing tall from within may be my only shot at having a mighty vs diminutive presence. Yet, doing so is proving challenging for this self-professed pusher. After pushing and pushing, and hitting a brick wall and running into few takers along the way, my inclination is to crouch or hide.

You see, these postures may be necessary for a while as doing so will allow me to determine where my spirit is best suited to fly free and be a blessing to others. I choose to believe that we all have divine birthright location and purpose. So, it is my responsibility to my self to invite my soul, body & mind to rest as my spirit guides me to a landing place.

If your spirit wants you to take a pause, we invite you to take it up on the invitation. The essence of who you are, a pusher, an achiever, a doctor, an educator, a lawyer — it doesn’t matter. That will not change. But your soul evolves with more life experience, and sometimes standing still vs pushing through is what is needed to get you to where you ultimately need to be.




The O Blog | Marketing POV by Olivia F. Scott

Olivia is a C-Suite Marketing Exec & Founder. An NYU & Loyola Professor, she has led mktg at Carol's Daughter, VIBE, Live Nation, Ogilvy & more for 25+ years.