Teni Adebayo Reminds us to Live Boldly
Sometimes we spend so much time trying to be someone for everyone, looking for others’ approval and hoping to find validation through our loved ones’ compliments and smiles. Often times we only end up losing our own identity and feeling discontent. Teni can certainly attest to that, she spent the majority of her childhood trying to please everyone else but herself. But fortunately, her relationship with God restored her self-impression and helped her to become the woman she is today.
Teni is an amazing poet who is still checking goals off of her list, including recently launching her very own website. Read her interview to learn more about how she overcame her insecurities, how poetry became an outlet for her and how she remains focused on her goals.
What experiences, negative or positive, shaped you into the woman you are today?
Honestly, I can’t pinpoint any specific story but one of them would be my insecurity. I always felt like I wasn’t enough. I always needed someone to rely on, and at a very young age in my life I was striving so hard to please everyone and forgot who I really was. It grew worse overtime because in high school I couldn’t recognize myself anymore. I had changed from the loving and Godly child my parents taught me to be, to this ugly beast sculpting an image I wanted my friends to see. Now when I look back, I’m so grateful for everything because Jesus turned the gravity of my shame to a greater weight in His light. He gave me a whole life in Him because I had lost all of it. This increased my longing for Him because I had nothing to take pride in. Generally, there was positivity in this negativity and it was all God’s doing.
When did you know you had a passion for poetry? Tell us about that experience.
This was in my secondary school. I used to write stories and draw horrible diagrams since I was about 6 or 7 but I never knew I could write poetry. In 2013, my high school was electing people for a writing competition in honor of Wole Soyinka, who was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, the first African to be honored in that category. This competition was done yearly on his birthday and it had both state and national levels. I heard about it and thought I could do it but my high school English teacher had already chosen people he felt were capable of doing it, and I wasn’t chosen. This was quite discouraging for me but I gathered courage to request if I could join in the training, and I had to write two pages of a story I tried modifying to a poem. He agreed and I joined the rest of them, there were about 10 but in the end I was chosen. I was surprised at how easily I could write the poem and the imaginations I could bring out of my head. Till now, I believe it was one of the best poems I have written. By God’s grace, I won at the state level and although I didn’t win the national level, it was life changing for me. I found myself. I have to say poetry is one of the major factors of my life right now.
What are some obstacles you've faced while trying to accomplish your goals?
Sometimes I belittle myself and I degrade my goals or I forsake them. Other times, I’m blinded by searching for earthly support that I don’t appreciate God’s unfailing support because He’s the only one that can establish my plans.
What are your current and future goals as far as your art? What are your current and future goals in general?
I recently accomplished one! Yay! I launched my poetry/story, etc. website earlier this month and this has been one of my highlights this year: www.sevensixtyam.com. I’m really grateful to God, please check it out! However, I plan on really investing my time and following God’s steps concerning it. My main goal generally is trusting God in everything and doing His will, and the others are secondary because if they are not found in His will then I’m letting go.
What are some words of encouragement you'd like to give our readers?
No matter how stale the road looks ahead, if it’s God’s will, then dive in. You are seeing now but He has seen forever.
To learn more about Teni visit her on Instagram, @sevensixtyam, and check out her new website, www.sevensixtyam.com.