Meet Yienajye, a licensed esthetician and nail tech student! When she’s not socializing, she’s either reading, shopping, fine-dining, or hitting up a local museum.

1. How will you love yourself unapologetically in 2019?

My inner dialogue and attitude about my hair is the gateway to unapologetically loving myself in 2019! I have a real problem with self sabotage, judgment, and not being completely honest in my self-talk! I go in circles around not truly telling myself the right things and always having to combat those thoughts with the right ones. I want to start out with the greatest way of seeing things rather than having to walk myself back into the positive thought. I now want to create value in my inner dialogue. I’m going to be my own best friend and fan, so that I can love myself to the fullest! I’m shaping how I view myself so, how can I not say the most pleasant and endearing things!

2. What do you love most about yourself?

My attitude about my hair stems from white supremacy and trying to suppress everything black. I have struggled with my own natural hair since I was bombarded and force fed these depictions of what beautiful hair is. Having to alter the natural state in which your hair grows to be able to be seen as beautiful, worthy or the more practical things like to be able to get a job or seem less threatening, are all ways in which this system of oppression works. The internalized thinking and ideas one creates as a byproduct of the training is detrimental to one’s freedom and self-acceptance. I have locs, which I believe are the highest form of black beauty and emote strength and a big sign of rejection to the socially formed norms of how ones hair should be kept. I promise to keep my attitude charged with affirmations and to have an evolved perspective on what my hair really means to me! Being unapologetic and truly respecting my own beauty in my own traditions is what I’m here for in 2019! 

What I love most about myself is my fighting spirit! I was diagnosed Bipolar with psychotic features at 16. I had had a nervous breakdown after suffering through a lot of racism at a school I attended. I started taking medicine and began to retreat from life and thought I’d live it being totally checked out but still breathing. I have worked in the outdoors at Outward Bound doing every imaginable activity from hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, and canoeing with youth. They really make you wake up and realize how important your leadership is and that you are honing the future leaders and thinkers so you must care and bring excellence!

3. How have you taken ownership of your qualities? How have you developed them?

I love my ability to encourage others. I’m Buddhist and our organization (Soka Gakkai International or SGI) fosters capable people who go out into the world and change society! You must give people the power to see themselves as wonderful and completely integral to the advancement of world peace. How do you do that? You speak in a manner in that which a person feels validated and valuable. This Buddhism teaches that a person has within them the courage, compassion and wisdom to surmount any of life’s challenges. There is no other place that actually puts this kind of action into practice than the SGI. I learned to develop this quality through my Buddhist practice and by always speaking with my mentor named Shirley McGill. She is like a mother to me and is the best at speaking the correct language to empower each and every individual she comes into contact with! I must continue to be great to make her proud! Thank you so much for this opportunity to share my story. I hope even one person can learn to love themselves or at least begin that journey through sharing my resolutions!