An unwelcome guest seeking permanent residence in your home.

You’ve always treated your body as a temple, yet this guest has defiled your temple with ease.

He interrupts your life.

He steals your independence.

He drains your bank account.

If you’re one of the lucky ones, he makes his presence scarcely known after a while. Or if you’re among the rare few, he exits, never to return again.

Who is “he”? Chronic illness and he is (literally) a major pain.

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

Life with a chronic illness is a constant and lonely battle. Every day, you fight to manage your symptoms. Every…

Image of a woman with afro hair taken from behind with hands up against the wall.
Image of a woman with afro hair taken from behind with hands up against the wall.
Photo by Jacob Prose from Pexels

I am not my hair.

A profound statement, isn’t it?

A statement of liberation. A reminder that you’re not defined by your hair or by any feature of your physical appearance.

Yet, we tend to forget as we live each day, falling in step with someone else’s standard of beauty. I know I do.

Or at least, I did. Especially when it came to my hair.

For centuries, society has perceived a woman’s hair to be her “crowning glory”. Many have judged her overall appearance by the state of her hair.

This presents a dilemma for the black woman. Many…


The number of teeth in a cat’s mouth.

The atomic number for zinc.

The age at which Jesus began his ministry.

The number of days in my birth month.

The number of years I have graced this earth. Well, in a few weeks it will be.

Photo by Johannes W on Unsplash

Evidently, 30 is a big deal. At least, I’m making a big deal of it.

As this milestone birthday approaches, I’ve found myself reflecting on the last 10 years of my life. The good old 20s. What have I done? Where have I gone? What have I learned?

There’s something about beginning a…

“How did you get your hair like that?”

Maybe you’ve asked this question before. Or maybe you’ve been on the receiving end of this question and many others that you’ve become all too familiar with.

I see my African sisters nodding. The struggle is real.

On top of living our lives just like the next person, we’re endlessly inundated with questions about our hair, skin and all the things that are normal to us but unfamiliar to the world that surrounds us.

Some days, it’s like sitting in a darkened interrogation room with an unforgiving fluorescent light in your face…

Making a shift in your career isn’t easy.

It’s especially difficult to move on from a job you’ve had for many years. Over the years, you grow comfortable and familiar. Breaking up with “comfortable” and “familiar” is a tough task.

Kudos to the people who know exactly what they want from their career and make it happen. They move on from one job to another with minimal hiccups and little time in between.

That wasn’t me. After leaving my secure job of 7.5 years, I needed some space and time. Maybe you can relate.

The benefit of having no backup…

Photo by NORTHFOLK on Unsplash

Dear 2020,

How are you doing?

Not so well, I presume.

I’ve been hearing about you in the news, social media and through conversations with friends.

I see evidence of your most unfortunate experiences everywhere I look. Hand sanitisers galore, people’s faces half-covered and minimal public displays of affection. I can’t say I’m complaining about that last one.

Come to think of it — if, God-forbid, I were to witness a crime, how would I pick the perpetrator’s face in a line-up? Every person has their most distinguishing features covered by a cloth held with elastic! …

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Whoops! You managed to put your foot in your mouth with yet another inappropriate comment.

There was no malicious intent behind it, you didn’t mean to offend. But you did. That’s another one to add to your list of awkward interactions with a friend, co-worker or stranger of a different race.

As signs of perspiration become visible along your brow line, you struggle to find the words to save yourself. Anything you say now will either soften the blow or dig you further into the hole. So, why is everything that comes to mind more likely to achieve the latter?

Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

For many years, I circled around the issue of the colour of my skin being a point of difference in the workplace. Growing up, it wasn’t something we talked about much at home. It was simply an unspoken truth that I saw evidence of in everyday life.

I watched my parents fight to be where they are today, overcoming the barriers that came with their skin colour, migrant status and visible accents. I watched them carry themselves with dignity everywhere they went, maintain their integrity and prove others wrong time after time. Needless to say, it made me proud. …

Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

Times are hard. That’s right, I said it. There’s no denying that the world we’re currently living in looks like a right mess. From the global Covid-19 pandemic to the racial injustice that has been brought to the forefront, these are challenging times.

My heart breaks for those who have been affected by the Coronavirus and its deathly consequences. Those who have been through the anguish of its symptoms as well as those who have lost loved ones. On another level, I see the innocent lives that have been lost not to a virus that is no respecter of persons…

Oyelola Oyetunji

Freelance Writer — Phrased with Purpose I write to share my story, your story, our stories, with the world. Website:

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