Crystal is a therapist, influencer, and the owner of Living on Purpose Brand. She shares her story and the mission behind Living on Purpose with us.
“I was born in Texas but moved to Enugu, Nigeria when I was 13. I completed middle school and high school in Nigeria. However, I was not upset when my parents shared that I would not be returning to America. I was somewhat relieved by this news because I was bullied in the States for my facial features such as having naturally darker eye circles. People at school used to ask me - “were you punched in the face?” It just seemed like that was all people addressed when it came time to pick on me. I really didn’t fit in. In my experience growing up Nigerian, your parents keep you pretty sheltered. After making the sacrifice of migrating to another country with little to no money, their primary goal is to see their child succeed. There are no parties, no outings, and there are definitely no sleepovers. Due to the strict rules, you really don’t get a chance to engage with other people outside of school and become cool.
To be “cool,” you have to go out and hang with the crew. When I was growing up, there was no crew other than sports, academics, and the house. I didn’t wear the clothing that was deemed popular like Hollister, American Eagle, Aeropostle, or Jordans. My parents were not focused on whether or not I was cool, they were just like – “read your books.” At any rate, what I’ve noticed is that when you’re popular in school, the reverse happens when you’re an adult. I’m thankful that I didn’t fit in growing up because that allowed me to think more independently. When you’re tied so strongly into cliques, the groupthink mentality is easily learned and tends to follow one into adulthood.”
Crystal describes her experiences upon moving to Nigeria.
“When I moved to Nigeria, I truly learned my strengths. I had a fresh start and a new opportunity. I always say that Nigeria was a pivotal part of making me who I am today. Nigeria brought out the leader and the influencer in me. Nigeria brought out my voice. Whereas in America, you have to fit in with the popular crowd, and your sense of belonging is kind of forced. But, in Nigeria, you get to come into yourself at school. Due to less pressure and distractions, my confidence flew a thousandfold. I actually had the opportunity to be in leadership positions, and I felt so much more empowered. I became more self-aware, and I started to believe in my capacity. While in school, I was regarded for my speaking and leadership persona, but I had to see it in myself to fully walk in it. People can tell you something positive over and over again, but unless you believe it, it’s not going to go very far. I had to learn who I was, and on that journey, God truly helped me.”
“When I graduated from high school, I moved back to the states. My initial plan was to go to college and embark on the route to medical school. However, during my Sophomore year of college, I had just gotten out of a terrible relationship, and I had a dark season of sadness due to this. At this point, I felt like there was a deep void that I knew only God could fill. I grew up in the church, but I didn’t have a relationship with God. I knew at this moment that I needed to cultivate a relationship with Jesus, and that is what I did. At this point, doors to medical school began to close, and I felt very confused and frustrated. I was shocked at the turn of events because I had been preparing for medical school since middle school. It was a dream that I had held dearly for a long time, and I didn’t understand what was happening.”
“After the rough breakup mentioned earlier, I went through a deep depression. That moment in my life gave me purpose though, and it reminded me of how many of us are walking around daily like that - literally smiling on the outside, but inwardly we’re just living through hell. However, when I eventually established a relationship with God, it changed my whole life and purpose. I realized that the doors to med school started closing because my destiny was to go deeper and to help people with the spiritual and emotional parts of their health.”
“I felt like this was my calling, but I was concerned because I didn’t know if I could make enough money as a therapist. So, I was still very unsure about letting the idea of becoming a doctor go. Plus, when it comes to Nigerian pride, you want to make your family proud, and you want to make sure that you honor your parent’s sacrifices. You just want to do well. I started to major in psychology, and after graduating, the path to becoming a therapist was generally smooth. I had to be redirected towards my purpose. I still could have chosen medical school, but who’s to say that I would have made this much of an impact? I realize now that my obstacles actually worked out in my favor, and that’s how I found my purpose as a therapist. I’m fully aware that people walk around with inner turmoil without anyone to shine into that, and my path is to help with that.”
“After graduating from graduate school, I came up with my Living on Purpose Brand during a 7 month period of being unemployed. I want to encourage people to live with intention and to be reminded of their value as they are loved by God. You have to walk in your purpose because you have a passion and calling behind it, not because it’s what society tells you to do. You have to be grounded in your values, and as someone who’s struggled with a mental disorder, I’ve come to understand that there is character formation and purpose tied to everything that we go through.“
“No one asks to live with a mental disorder, but it’s a real thing. For persons of color, we have such a strong cultural norm of suffering. We’ve had to accept it, but that does not make it normal. Suffering immensely through life is not normal. We have developed different ways of masking anxiety and depression, and it externalizes in behaviors that you would not normally associate with being anxious or depressed. Although we avoid it, trauma is a wound to the brain. You wouldn’t just get a deep cut, ignore it, and call it normal. We have to try and focus on how trauma impacts our brains. When you don’t resolve trauma, it’s just an unprotected brain wound that’s sitting there. We can learn new ways of being, acting, and thinking, but we have to affirm that this is not normal. Let’s find a space where we can do that so we don’t find recourse in unhealthy outlets, and so it doesn’t show up in our physical health because it definitely will.”
“For example, I have stress-prone acne, and it’s not fun as an influencer because most of my content requires my face in the camera. The last time my face broke out, I cried for days because I found myself grieving the skin I had. I was just so sad, but then I asked myself – why am I associating my value with my skin? Like - I still have the dark circles around my eyes, but I’ve learned to embrace them. With my acne though, I am still easing into my comfort level with posting on Instagram. I’ve gotten to a point of acceptance with my eye circles though, and to me, that is growth. I used to dislike my darker eye circles, but now I post pictures of my bare face, and I’m like - this is who I am. When I have a breakout, I’m less emotional because I’ve learned that it will pass. When I had any type of blemish in the past, I would be like…I’m out! I used to go into hiding, but I’ve just started to put myself out there and grow because change doesn’t come from your comfort zone. You have to become uncomfortable for change to occur, to realize your true self, and to find your purpose.”