I’m 28.
I’m single.

I’m attractive (No problem saying that).
… and I used to have a struggle with temptation.

:: Of all kinds ::

As do you, don’t judge me or lie to yourself. This is a space where we can keep it real. Whether it may be food, peer pressure, alcohol or sex, doesn’t matter. Behind closed doors we all deal with personal battles.

My career is a dream.
My life will always be a work in progress.
My past, however, is a battlefield marked with peer pressure, self-loathing, a self-identity crisis and brokenness.

Before the age of 18 I had already been sexually abused, got pregnant (my boyfriend at the time also impregnated 2 other young women in my school so I made the choice to abort it) and I was the victim of a physically abusive relationship.

Bruh, you think you got problems? Try being so emotionally scarred that you still have nightmares of your attacker, wake up sweating, and keep replaying these scenes in your head thinking ‘if only I could’ve done something differently’.

I am not afraid to admit that during my teens, I made many poor choices. To be quite frank, I was a young woman who was hurt and using sex to medicate my pain. The people I encountered along the way were my drug dealers who were aiding my self destruction.

No, I have never actually done drugs.
It’s a metaphor.
Read between the lines.

They key words are ‘self-destruction’. I’m grown enough to take full responsibility for my role.

My turning point came when I was on my way out one night. I must’ve been 25/26 years old and dad stopped, looked at me and said, Where ever you’re going, is it worth it? I kissed his cheek, smiled and walked to the car with that question replaying in my head. Funny enough, I didn’t even end up going to my destination. I drove around the block and parked up at the school and cried for like an hour. Meanwhile my phone was blowing up with texts and calls from my crew whom I was suppose to see. I didn’t even care though. There was something about what dad said that left me so speechless and because I have so much respect for him, I felt paralyzed. My dad has great intuition and he has a very quiet confidence. He’s the type that will hit you with those one liners that will stop you dead in your tracks and reflect on your entire existence.

But it wasn’t only that, I was also thinking about the path I was taking. The constant empty feeling and what would happen if I didn’t stop running with the wrong circles. I was searching for something, but not exactly sure what it was. For each of us, this picture looks very different. At 25 years old, the puzzle pieces of my life were slowly coming together, but very much still a blur.

I had to have a very honest conversation with myself and also ask some really tough questions. Like, when was the last time someone touched a part of you other than your body? What kind of role model or example are you setting for your siblings or the young women who look up to you? Are you using your environment as an excuse why you can’t grow? In that moment, face full of tears, I decided to deal with my past head on.

My recovery process started with 3 necessary steps

1. Gradually, I had to learn how to stop feeling sorry for myself and realize that every day is an opportunity to be a better person. My mantra was: rise again, try again.

2. I stopped playing this blame game on the people in my life and the environment I was in. Yes, some of our poor choices are uninformed, but at some point you have to recognize the role you play in the choices you make.

3. I needed to take full responsibility for my actions. You cannot change what you do not acknowledge.

I’d seen it time and time again. God’s miracles working in other people’s lives. I knew if he could do it for them, he could do the same for me. However, blessings have requirements and prior to that moment I just wasn’t up for the challenge. But when you hit rock bottom, you become desperate and there’s no where else to go but up. So I had to push myself to rise again and try again even if it hurt.

I also grew tired of leading a double life, saying one thing on stage and living a completely different way behind closed doors. Like, bruh that life sucks. Don’t do it. It also feels awful and you don’t want to be one of those people. There are already enough of them out there, pivot and be different.

There’s an amazing quote that I love (I want you to write it down). The author is Erma Bombeck.

When I stand before God, at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and I could say, I used everything you gave me.

I may not have known what direction to take, but I knew to take any step but backwards. Every single day was a challenge and for the next two years of course I struggled. But my mantra was to rise again, try again and during my self discovery here are 5 things I’ve learned.

(…but yo, Pauleanna – are you really celibate or just kinda celibate?)

Wouldn’t you like to know. Yes, I am celibate. I want to make it clear for those of you who may be asking yourselves, so after all that has she changed?

Absolutely. Before making this decision I had to get my mind first right so I could equip myself with the tools necessary to fight the challenges and battles that come along with this lifestyle change. Honestly, this is not easy. It has taken me a few years to develop the mental and emotional maturity and stability to pursue this path.

So before you judge or throw stones, assess your own temptations and think about how hard it is to swerve on ‘em. Because this is not a popular choice but believe me I am fully committed and optimistic about the future. You don’t just wake up one day and decide to be celibate. There are levels to this. It takes a lot of self-work to become disciplined and not easily swayed if a man smiles at you or spits lyrics.

..ah, it’s the lyrics that will get you if you ain’t ready to #swerve. Stay two steps ahead boo. Don’t let ’em woo you too.

So now that the big question is out of the way, I want to quickly touch on my top 5 lessons I learned during my self discovery process and how I currently manage to fight temptation. Because don’t get it twisted, you’d be surprised how much more attention I get now that I am just chillin’

1. Something that was extremely important to me before making the decision to be celibate was to rededicate my life to God. I truly believe that peace gives you power. Although I turned my back on Him time and time again, God is the one person who remained consistent in my life. He is faithful and He forgives. And that is more than I can say for a lot of people who are closest to me. I’m at a point in my life where I am excited to have my morning conversation with God. I ask Him my questions and he keeps it real. We have a good relationship. I go to church every Sunday and never ever pursue anything without putting Him in it first. When I pray I ask for strength and for Him to guide my steps. When I face my daily battles, I ask Him for protection. When I pursue a new business venture, I ask Him for wisdom. My faith is important to me now more than ever because when I look back and see what he’s brought me through, I have no words. I just want to show Him how thankful I am with my actions and I want to honor him.

2. Secondly, I learned how to shift my focus. What you focus on grows. So I took assessment of the music I listened to, the shows I watched, the people I hung out with. Following my old desires once made me feel validated. It made me feel wanted. So I needed to replace those cravings with things that made me feel empowered in a different way. This was actually one of the hardest struggles. The switch. Because when you are so used to living one way, the pivot or the switch up is never easy. But I had to take inventory of what was important to me like my health, my peace of mind, my career. If you are personally going through a struggle of your own and you are trying to pivot, my advice to you is to do it before you feel fully ready because guess what, you will never be ready. The right time is always now. The best way I know how to move on and move up is gradually. It is not a race.

3. Once you shift your focus, it’s important that you set firm boundaries and if people don’t get it, that’s their issue. Sometimes it may seem like the highest walls you have to build are to protect you from the people closest to you. Do you gotta do boo. In order to make a difference, you gotta be different. So for example, I am still swerving on my exes. Like I mentioned before, when someone can’t have something then suddenly they want more of it. One of the reasons I often speak of this topic on my social media is because I am held accountable for my actions by my peers and to make it clear, to anyone who tries to step to me, what I am about. Like @justmike_ always says, just because he is interested doesn’t make him eligible to be with you. When you set clear boundaries, girl, these guys will eliminate themselves. You won’t have to do the work. Now that I have a clear frame of mind, I don’t play. There is no playing house. There is no test driving the car before I choose to buy it. It’s totally not worth it to me to backslide. I have come too far to only make it this far. So that means taking off my phone at night, being very upfront with my expectations if and when I choose to date someone, learning to say no without explaining myself and undoing a lot of my old thinking. I don’t go to the club, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, and I hang around people who share my same values. It’s about putting yourself in a position to win. In short, (write this down) if he doesn’t align with your purpose then he doesn’t need to be on your calendar.

You liked that one eh? Bloop!

4. Next up, I became celibate to gain peace of mind. I’m going to put my business hat on for a second. Whenever you approach a situation, you’ve gotta ask yourself what is the return on my investment? I am 28 years old. At this point in my life, I cannot afford to be making poor investments. Let me explain what I mean. There’s no peace of mind wondering if I am pregnant. There’s no peace of mind going to the clinic. There’s no peace of mind hoping this guy will commit or praying he won’t break my heart. Bruh, I want to sleep at night. I don’t want drama. For the first time, I actually like me and right now that’s who I’m focused on. It’s important that you know you’re important. Be selective in every way about everything. Don’t expect a man to respect you more than you respect yourself.

5. The last and final piece is that I want to remind you that absolutely nothing can block your light. What’s for you will be yours even when shade is thrown. A reminder I learned from @alex_elle. So continue to walk in your purpose and love yourself more than they ever could. And when I say “they” I mean anyone who tries to use your past against you. Remember that one mistake does not have to rule your life and it can’t unless you let it. I am a good example of someone who has made herself look desperate, has made herself look like a fool. I have made plenty of mistakes in my teens and early 20s that I am not very proud of – but celebrate me or not, here I am. Self-love always wins and when you make that your centre focus, you will always find the strength to rise again and try again.

…even when it hurts.

Peace & Love,