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How did you become inspired to start iLiveja?
“iLiveja is my heart project. I started it back in 2019 because I realized that self-confidence was a big issue I’ve struggled with since I started high school. I was never truly happy with myself, nor my friendships. I was always trying not to be hated by the people I surrounded myself with and I trusted no one.
My mother and I also struggled a lot through life. My father didn’t help to provide for me and my mom became responsible for my sick grandmother with little to no financial support. As a result, being involved in what most teenagers at the time were doing – for example, purchasing the most fashionable clothing, going to fancy restaurants, squandering my money on Saturdays on the town with friends – were not a priority. All these factors and other realities caused me to start comparing myself to others. Eventually, when I was able to be a part of some things, I would refrain because I would have already told myself that I am not good enough, I’ll be ridiculed, I’m going to get hurt or worse, I may fail if I take this risk. That was the mindset I cruised through life with…it caused me to build very thick walls and celebrate my mediocre attitude.
After completing my Journalism degree at The UWI Mona, I realized that I was not where I wanted to be in life and I had missed many opportunities, especially at the university level, where people find themselves and evolve (I believe five (5) years have passed and I still have not stepped foot into a media house to apply for a job because my self-confidence won’t let me). Coming to that realization, I decided that I needed to share my story and journey as I grow and develop into the confident woman I foresee. I also started iLiveja with the hope that others will share their story and it will be a self-awakening experience for many, especially teenagers and adolescents. I want to help get others to a place where they are able to identify their strengths and weaknesses so they can create a mind-blowing future, exceeding most if not all of their expectations.”
What would you describe as a successful project?
“A successful project for me involves sharing someone’s story on my platform, through live videos, features or quote/s, bible verse, mission statements, etc. When I decided that fear would not continue to cripple me, I started planning a seminar/workshop, geared towards helping to improve self-confidence in Jamaican teenagers and adolescents. Unfortunately, the pandemic happened as I was preparing my sponsorship proposal. It was a hard blow but I recovered and found other ways to get my message across, with the hope that the stories I would share would be impactful. To date those have been very successful projects. I have aired three (3) lives on iLiveja’s instagram page, and two (2) features where persons shared their self-confidence journies. I have also shared a few videos where I speak on the same issues that I faced or am still facing. The feedback has been amazing! Thinking I would only have maximum five (5) persons show up for my lives and exceeding that expectation is a big success for me. Just knowing that persons are being positively impacted is considered a great success. One day when I finally host my first conference/seminar/workshop that will be a successful project.”
Is low self-esteem a major problem in Jamaica?
“Low self-esteem is definitely a major problem in Jamaica. There are so many broken families resulting in broken children who grow up and continue the cycle. I remember different professionals visiting my high school, sharing about their careers and all the nice perks, but I can’t recall any of them sharing the importance of having a strong sense of self and overcoming low-esteem.
I truly believe that if we curve the mindset of individuals from an early age, teaching them about self-love, self-confidence and the importance of having a positive outlook on life, no matter the circumstances they are currently in…we would have a better society. Many Jamaicans who tear down others, verbally or physically, through crime and violence, are individuals I believe struggle with low self-esteem. If they had the right support to help them identify their gifts and talents, guiding them as they develop confidence in themselves, they would have become better individuals. The positive ripple that can be caused if self-esteem and mental health are prioritized can be mind-blowing because almost everyone would benefit directly or indirectly. Just imagine living on this beautiful island where self-esteem is a priority; we would all be better off, happy and much, much safer.
If I can help in changing one life through the stories that are shared on my platform, iLiveja, then Jamaica would be one step closer to becoming a better country.”
On your regular vlogs, you collaborate often with your husband and other close friends/family. How important is it to have your support system around you?
“Having my support system is very important. It helps with my confidence, and it helps with my mental health. It is important having the people who matter loving and supporting me, and giving me constructive criticism. On the days when I don’t feel like I’m good enough or when I want to give up…it is their support that helps to push me because I know I can’t let them down. Trust me – I’ve learnt that when you decide to do YouTube your mental needs to be strong…if it isn’t then a strong support system is important.”
Who do you find to be an inspiration for your work?
“Inspiration for my work doesn’t come from a person. I get inspired by two things: time and death. It sounds dark but it is actually a beautiful concept... I’ll explain.
Time – while I wasn’t given the same opportunities as many, whether it be my family background, inheritance, or knowing the right people to network with to make life a little easier…I am given the same time daily. How well I utilize my 1440 minutes/ 24 hours per day, will determine my future. I’ve recently realized that time is a precious commodity that should not be wasted. So while I wish I was in a better position, instead of hating and envying individuals who are ‘better-off’, I’ve decided to use 1440 minutes per day, doing something constructive and becoming a better version of myself.
Death is so final, and unpredictable, it has no respect for age, dreams, nor uncompleted tasks. I don’t know when I am going to die so, I really want to stop existing and start living…living for what and who matters. This pushes me to find inspiration from others who are trying to be a better version of themselves and use my platform to inspire many. The plan is to die with memories not dreams. You never know how the way you lived can alter the way someone lives.”
Please feel free to contact Opal at:
Blessings in abundance!