Photostory, Travel

I love road trips, probably because I am always in the passenger seat as I don’t know how to drive. Road trips remind me of childhood memories; crossing the border between the U.S. and Canada every summer to visit relatives in Montréal. Road trips were the only time when it was acceptable to eavesdrops on grown-ups conversations; I would listen to my parents and my uncles recount tales and stories from back home. I never missed a beat. I loved hearing stories about people I had never met, learning about places that I have never been to but which at the present moment provided me with so much joy and entertainment.

It was a familiar feeling of excitement which took over me when we were loading our bags in the car one cool morning of August 2017 in Accra. Myself, my friend Nicole and her family set off for 5 days driving along the Eastern Coast of Ghana. It was my first road trip in an African country and did not know how different it would be from my experience in North America, Europe and East Asia.

Here’s a photodiary of this memorable trip.


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Happy new year beautiful people/新年快乐,

This is my first post written from Beijing,

I spent the last 5 months of 2017 getting used to my new life here in China. It has been an intense rollercoaster and each day brings surprises (some better than others). I have decided to take this time to settle into a new rhythm and take time off from writing on my blog. I wanted to make sure that whatever I posted here, would be genuine and not written for the sake of it. There is a great deal of things that I have learnt in the last few months that I hope to share with you in due time.

Today though, I thought I would just let pictures speak for themselves as they express quite well my current mood: grateful, powerful and ready to make a remarked entrance into this new year.


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2017 was a just trailer, 2018 will be a movie.

From Beijing with Love,


In 2014, I became interested in personal development: that includes self-help and productivity. I was reading all these articles (such as this one) on influential people earning their success to self-help and productivity methods. I read books on how to improve everything and anything about my life. I watched more inspirational videos than I would like to admit. Within a few months, I had a morning routine, a bedtime routine, five different to-do-lists, a vision board, daily positive affirmations, and took yoga classes. Long story short, I was hooked. I became a productivity and personal development junkie.  This went on for several months and gradually took on a life of its own… to the point that it became burdensome. I grew insanely frustrated at the slow pace of my personal development. I would read all these articles about successful people, whom all had in common “doing yoga 5 times a day” or “writing in their journal at 4am”. Meanwhile, I had a morning routine AND a bedtime routine: why wasn’t I on Forbes 30 Under 30 list yet?! (Or on any such list really). Hence, I decided to add more steps to my routines and write longer to-do-lists. Surely, success would not hide from me much longer.

And then one day, my to-do-list almost killed me.

Fast forward to an afternoon of November 2014. It was the height of essay season at my university. My beloved to-do-list was guiding my steps through the ocean of papers I had to write. As I am running around the library, carrying a dozen books, I received a notification from my WunderList App. I started panicking because I realized that I was severely behind on my to-do-list of the day and my productivity would suffer if I did not increase my pace. So here I am in the library, (literally) running after productivity. When suddenly, I missed a step when walking down a staircase and fell down 20 flights and saw my eyes flash in front of my eyes.

“A fractured ankle. A couple of bruised ribs. 3 weeks in bed and she’ll be okay” the doctor at the hospital said a few hours after my fall.

It was a bit dramatic of me to say that I ‘almost died’, and I don’t think I saw my life flash in front of my eyes either. But I was definitely not okay.  I was hysterical because I had things to do in order to become successful, and not being able to walk was not helping my plans. Once I was able to walk again, I went back to the to-do-lists even more aggressively, trying to make up for time wasted… but I had burned out of positivity. My vision board was no longer a source of motivation but rather an aesthetically-pleasing reminder of everything I was yet to achieve.The positive affirmations, the books, the inspirational talks felt useless. I was not prepared for this. There was no ‘how to keep living when personal development does not work anymore’ blog posts. There was no ‘7 steps recovery program for failing productivity addicts’ either. I soon realized that I was putting too much energy in doing the routines right, but left out the most important thing about productivity (and personal development): YOU DON’T HAVE TO FINISH THE TO-DO-LIST.

I repeat: you do not have to finish the to-do-list. I know this is the opposite of what all these self-help articles say, but then again these same articles write that Steve Jobs, Oprah and Bill Gates all own their success to doing yoga at 5am *roll eyes*. The advices given by these articles can be misleading as they tend to attribute all the success to a set of routines, without acknowledging the hard work behind. The trap of productivity and personal development is making us believe that being productive alone, will get us where we want to be. Productivity is only 10% of the job: 90% is resilience and unwavering belief in the hard work you provide. Even if you ‘fail’ at sustaining routines and finishing to-do-lists everyday, it’s okay because your talents will not go away. Your insights are still valid. Your intelligence is here to stay.

I wanted to share my story (as ridiculous as it is) in the hope that it can help someone in a similar situation. Focusing on personal development is important but it can lead us to fall into certain traps that I think we should all actively avoid:

The ‘death by to-do-list’ trap
For others, self-help has led us to always do the most, to the point where it is counter productive. That’s what I call ‘death by to-do-lists’ which is a trap that many fall into. This was my case and I am still striving for BALANCE every single day. So far, I have not ended up on a hospital because of a list again, so I think I am doing all right. The best advice that I can give you though, is to take it one day at a time and then be done with the day: don’t torture yourself on what more you could’ve done. Tomorrow is another day, that you can look forward to in time. But tonight, we give thanks & we rest.

The ‘Forbes 30 under 30’ trap
I have always dreamt of appearing on ‘Forbes 30 under 30’ list: to me it’s one of the highest public acknowledgment of success. I became obsessed with the idea, to the point where I thought what project could get me on this list one day, which was unsustainable. Because what happens once you make it on the list? Or if you don’t make it? Life does not end once you have achieved an intended outcome or reached a goal. That’s where I feel personal development can be a trap, because it’s always by goals ticking and bucket lists etc. which makes us forget how to enjoy the process on the daily. Whether it’s the Forbes 30 under 30 list, or anything else, we should not be attached to the outcome more than we enjoy the process.

The #GOALS trap
We spend a lot of time talking about our dreams and goals, instead of actively working on them. We make it all pretty on vision boards, and tweet so much about it, that it gives us a false sense of completion. However, there is no substitute for hard work. Positive affirmations is here to keep you going mentally or spiritual, but it does not replace the actual sweat, tears and blood that come from putting in the work.

The dependence trap
One of the scariest thing about self-help, is that we can become dependent on seeking help and motivation from books, podcasts, talks, seminars etc. To the point that our own voice is no longer first. It’s good to ask for help, but the whole point of SELF-help, is to be of assistance to oneself, and not completely rely on a personal development guru to guide you. The books, the workshops, the podcasts, the TedTalks etc… these are great resources, but only you have the answer to what is right for you. So don’t kill yourself trying every routines out there or following a million of tips and advices. You can do great just without. 

As I am still trying to find balance in my personal development journey, I cannot tell you what to do, but I can share what I have learnt so far in the hope that we can help each other! 

Thank you for reading and riding with me, 




This summer, I challenge you to live your best life. 

I challenge you to use all the potential that you have in order to create a life you love. Most importantly, I want to encourage you to never let your situation dictate your happiness. Your ‘worst life’ is one that is dictated by your circumstances. It is a life where you are just a passenger. It’s basically the sunken place. With that being said, I want to share with you tips and advice to encourage you to LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE!

Learn to enjoy your own company.
There are two things you cannot run away from: death and yourself. Hence, I hope you are a person you would want to spend the rest of your days with. And if not, I hope you become one. How? TAKE YOURSELF ON A DATE! Go to the park by yourself with a book, some snacks and a good playlist for at least two hours. Go watch a movie or attend a concert alone. Scared to go to diner on your own? Feel the fear and do it anyway! While it might seem intimidating at first, it is rewarding. For instance, you never depend on anyone to do something fun like traveling! If I want to book a holiday, I don’t have to go through the stress of organizing a group vacation. I’d be damned if I missed out on the opportunity of sipping a cocktail on a beach, just because I am not comfortable being by myself out in public. So if you have been thinking of booking a trip this summer, but your friends are literally trippin’; this is a sign that you should go at it alone and have the time of your life! Living your best life starts with YOU. 


Take a digital break
I temporarily deactivated most of my social media accounts. Lately, social media made me lose a lot of confidence which I tried to compensate by showcasing a perfect image online. I was living ‘my best life’ in tweet, but not in truth. Spending a few hours each day scrolling down your timeline, looking at pictures of friends and strangers who seem to live their best life 24/7, will demolish you. Social media is 99.1% highlight reel. We all want to share only happy and beautiful moments online, and it’s understandable. But it’s important to look at it with enough distance to understand that these pictures are just moments. They are not a reflection of people’s entire lives. If you compare your situation to someone else’s highlight reel, it’s time you give your digital life a break. Do you spend a lot time online in the hope of making others think that your life is amazing? Imagine how amazing your real life could be, if you dedicated just as much energy to actually living it. Look up from your screen. If you are triggered by certain people, unfollow them, simple. Become intentional about having a timeline which overflows with positivity. Social media is not bad in itself but we have to be mindful of how we use it, and learn to give it a rest regularly.

Invest in your health
Health is wealth. You can’t live your best life without it. There are one million of benefits from leading a healthy lifestyle. For me, they’re all linked to self-confidence. Working out early in the morning, going to the office afterwards, eating my healthy packed lunch honestly make me feel like I have my life together. And that feeling of ‘having my life together’ is priceless! But being healthy does not have to be an expensive or difficult change to your lifestyle either. I hate the gym so instead of paying a membership, I would suggest investing in a fitness mat, some resistance bands, a dumbbell, a skipping rope and a good pair of sneakers. I use an app called 8 Fit and let me tell you, I have tried about a dozen of fitness apps before, but nothing comes close to this one! They offer a variety of personalized exercises for free. When I am not using this app, to get exercises routine, I usually check out my favorite fitness instagram accounts; @annavictoria, @massy.arias and @trainthehardest. I will soon upload a full article on health & fitness loaded with tips and links, so make sure you watch out for this!


Remain curious
Food has always been a first step towards sparking my interest for foreign cultures. Food is a gateway to civilizations (quote me on this lol). When I don’t have holidays, I make it a priority to discover food from countries I know nothing about. For instance, I pretty much became obsessed with China when I was 14 years old, after trying my first 餃子 (dumpling). Fast forward a few years later, I decided to learn Chinese, visit China and eventually move there. At least once a month, I try to go on a culinary discovery. When I am in Paris, I check out Le Grumeau or Paris Zig Zag ; these two websites specialize in finding the most unexpected restaurants in the city and they cover a wide range of cuisine. When in London, London Cheap Eats is the plug. And last but not least for my New York people, TimeOut New York is always my go to! An important part of living your best life is to remain curious about the world that surrounds you. Food is just one of the many ways that help me out in doing this.

Plan time for your loved ones
An important part of living your best life is to never let your schedule dictate your life, but rather to make time work for yourself. If you are working full-time, I understand how difficult it can be, but will and efforts go a long way! Your schedule cannot be the reason why you do not get to spend quality time with your loved ones. Seek balance between work and those who matter to you. That’s why planning quality time with friends and family is so key. We’ve all been guilty of bumping into a friend, vowing to meet up for a coffee but never actually making it happen. Next time someone asks you to meet up, please do not answer “OMG yesss girl” or “Definitely bro, let’s arrange something”. Instead, pull up your calendar and select a couple of dates+time, so you can give that person options to which you can both agree. Make sure you precise a TIME and a starting location as well. Most importantly, stick to it. Being a flake will prevent you from living your best life. Execute it with as much as purpose as you would for a very important business meeting. Basically, PLAN IT LIKE YOU MEAN IT!


Give back.
“You have never really lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”  John Bunyan
Give some of your time away this summer! Volunteer at a local association. Help a friend to write a cover letter. Tutor a kid for free. Giving back has a positive effect on your own self-esteem, but also on your happiness. Not only do I feel super useful whenever I can help people, but it is a constant reminder that at the end of the day, no man is an island. It also reminds me that living my best life, can also mean helping others to live their best lives. Sharing tips and encourage others to be the best version of themselves, makes me insanely happy. That’s why I decided to start this blog in the first place. I believe that we can all gain from giving back, whether it’s your time or your knowledge. We live in really awful times, where tragedies like Grenfell Tower fire happen too often. Trust me, we all have something to give because there will always be someone in need.

Lastly, on your way to making your best life happen, do not forget to have fun with it! We are all driven, we are all trying to make it but let us not forget that there is a time for everything. Including turning up, relaxing, putting your feet up and let loose a little.


Thank you for reading and riding with me.

Pictures by my wonderful friend Julien Sarkar (check him out!) and they were all taken in Seoul, South Korea. 


‘She has learned not to let go of the pieces of herself that she needs in order to be what someone else wants. She’s learned not to compromise. She’s learned not to settle. She’s learned, as difficult as it, how to be her own sun’ Shonda Rhimes, Year of the Yes

Did you ever have to make yourself smaller, in order to preserve someone else’s feelings or expectations? Did you ever make yourself less vibrant, present, smart, beautiful, intelligent, curious, weird, opinionated, happy, kind, fierce, BOLD…in order not to threaten someone else’s confidence? Do you ever feel less like yourself around them?
Do you tone down your success in order not to offend them?
Who’s them? that friend, that lover, that family member, whoever.

Do you ever dim your own light for them?


To dim your own light is to cater to someone else’s ego, as well as making sure that your very own existence around them does not represent a threat to theirs. We dim our own light, to please those we love, those whom we wish to be loved by, as well as those we fear. We are scared to hurt the other person’s feelings or ego. Whether dimming your own light comes from a place of fear or love, it will always require you to let go of pieces of yourself that you need. Dimming your own light will always require you to compromise and to settle. To settle by getting less than you deserve and being less than what you can be.

If you are someone who needs other to dim their light so you can shine more, learn to trust the power and uniqueness of your own light. Asking others to switch off their own light won’t make yours shine any brighter. Pushing others to downplay their success or their qualities, won’t make you shine any brighter. The right lover, the right friend will love you for who you are, not who you could be. They will celebrate you, not try to compete with you. They will uplift you, not try to undermine you. Learn to not compromise your complexity in order to be loved/accepted/admired. Learn not to settle, because despite what we can think sometimes, we all deserve to fully shine on our own accord. You have no competition to destroy, only yourself to build up.


I have to be honest and also say that I have been on both side of the situation; dimming my own light for others, and having others dim their own light to cater to my lack of confidence, because misery loves company. Neither side feel good. Both side will leave you empty and miserable.

I hope you never have to find yourself on either side of such a situation. That you never have to look for peace, happiness and love outside of yourself. I hope that you can look for validation in your mirror’s reflection. Most importantly, I hope that you celebrate every single aspect of yourself. Do not leave a single one unattended. Your mind, your intelligence and your qualities are way too complexed to be simplified or asked to be ‘toned down’. Don’t abandon the pieces that make you so special, for anyone. If they don’t want to see you shine; let them go or walk away.

I hope you never have to let go of pieces of yourself, in order to be what someone else wants.

I hope, you learn how to be your own sun.


Make up & photography by the very talented @BienvenueChezMam



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We are half-way through 2017, so now is a good time to reflect on this year and see how we can improve it. If you have been off to a rough start, and January 1st seems far away, you may be hoping that this article will motivate you to kick-start the rest of the year. You are right, there is still 6 months left to make it one to remember. 2016 was a pretty miserable year for me thus, I was determined to turn my 2016 mistakes into my 2017 guidelines for a “better me”. And so I bring to you my lessons learnt from 2017 and how they have helped me (so far). If you’ve lacked motivation in shaking things up, or shooting your shot at a better 2017,  I hope that this will motivate you to kick-start the rest of your year!

1. “Stop trying to support people in the way you would want to be supported. Instead, start supporting them in the way they need to be supported” – Myleik Teele

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I used to get upset if I felt that someone did not appreciate the support I showed towards them. Especially when I thought that I was doing something that could genuinely make them feel appreciated. Through confronting my friends/family on this subject, I realized that the type of support I bring, might not always be the type of support they need at a certain time. Maybe monetary support here is not the way, rather emotional support is more fitted. What I learnt in that instance was that asking someone what they needed, rather than assuming, will always be the best option. Not everyone can support you the way you intend for them to do, and that’s okay too. Everyone has a different way of showing that they care, or that they are there for you.

2 What’s for you will always be for you.

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I’ll share a personal l story. I am currently on a dual masters at Sciences-Po Paris and Peking University (in Beijing). I was very anxious when applying for this degree, though everyone around me was confident I could get it. However, the reason why I was anxious is that I had applied to both of these schools (Sciences Po and Peking University) on separate occasions and was rejected both times. I applied to SciencesPo 3 years ago for my bachelor’s and completely failed the entrance test. I applied to Beijing University for a masters a few months before applying to my degree, and was also rejected. But somehow, when I applied to a joint degree with both these universities, I was accepted and it felt RIGHT. The moral of this story is that there is no amount of obstacles that will prevent you to getting to where you are destined to be. At other times, something that is for you will simply be delayed but let me tell you something: DELAY IS NOT DENIAL. Whether you believe in God, the Universe; I can assure you that your destiny will not miss you.

3. Everything you have sown in tears, you will reap in joy.

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This is actually inspired from a Bible verse (Psalm 126:5), which basically means that all the hard work and hours of struggle you put in, will pay off in the next season of your life. If you are going through a rough patch and feel that things around are not moving, or not moving as fast as you would like, is because you are in a season where you must plant your seeds before you can reap the profit. This life is made of seasons. Some are made of hustle, sleepless nights, insane workload. Others are meant for you to enjoy the results of your hard work. Let us not rush into the next season, without being done with the current one. Rather, let us honor the process and take it one season at a time. Remember: worrying does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.


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The only thing standing between you and success is the one shot you are willing to take towards it. 2016 for me was characterized by the MANY shots I was too afraid/lazy/scared to take. This was mainly because I had too many people around me which did not make me feel like I was good enough. That is the reason why I started this blog, because I wanted to give my writing a shot and encourage others to try to go after what they want. This is a very obvious advice, but for me it was very important to have that as a reminder. Keep shooting your shot until you can say “you weren’t with me shooting in the gym” to all those who did not believe in you from the beginning (for those who lack in knowledge of urban culture, this is the reference). But most importantly, do it for yourself, be your very first supporter.  There will always be people in the world out to get you, you do not need to become one of them. Shoot your shot; whether it is a hit or miss, cheer for yourself.

5.“The work you do while procrastinating is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life” – via Jessica Hische

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This quote is something I am still debating but which I believe holds a lot of truth. Usually when I procrastinate from my uni work, I do things that I absolutely love such as writing, practicing visual creation or reading. I think for me, the things that I do while procrastinating are things I want to do for the rest of my life as a hobby. But this might be different for some of you. If while procrastinating you do something that you can make an income out of, that is a blessing and you should go after it, if you want to.

6. Practice gratitude until it becomes a daily habit.

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Being grateful is something that has changed my life. Growing up, I was not aware of some of the privileges I had. Thus, being thankful and grateful for the little things was not part of my daily routine. And why should it be? Waking up in the morning, perfectly healthy is a given, right? Well no it is not. It is an undeserved blessing, because some people do not get that chance. In fact, it is a lottery. Same for having a strong support system. Through my first year of masters, I struggled a lot, but not once did I feel like I could not get through it because I was surrounded by very supportive friends and family. I cannot count the number of times where my best friend (who is in a different country, on a different time zone) stayed up with me until 5-6am to make sure that I was not alone through the night, while writing my essays or studying. This is something that money cannot buy but only Grace can provide. Hence, the only thing you can do to show how thankful you are is to adopt an attitude of gratitude. My sister gave me a ‘gratitude/blessing jar’ in order to help me in this exercise of gratitude, and I recommend you do that too. Just take a regular glass jar like this one, and every night write down on a little piece of paper something that you are grateful for today. Do this every single day. And on December 31st 2017 (or any random moment you feel like you need it), you will have a jar full of reminders of what to be grateful for! 

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I hope this helps someone, and please don’t hesitate to share what keeps you motivated in making 2017 an amazing year, even after the initial excitement of the new year!

Photo credits: French Mirror

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Photo Credit: French Mirror

Spring is the season to bloom, and the perfect moment to renew your commitments to pre-existing goals or maybe set some new ones. One of the goal I set myself for this year, is to be consistent in crafting and telling my story.

“What’s your story?”
An innocent question, that was asked to me once by someone I had just met. At first surprised, I thought about it but could not come up with a decent answer. An innocent question which stuck with me and convinced me that contrary to what many of us think, we actually get to define the way we are presented to the world. We do not have to wait until death or fame in order to voice the events and purpose of our lives. Now whenever I first meet someone, instead of “what do you do in life?”, I try to ask “what’s your story?” It is a weird question, one that tends to leave people lost for an answer. But I think it is a question you, and we, should all actively think about. 

‘What do you do in life?’
A question which often demands an answer relating to your current status: your job, your education, your location, your age etc. Some answers will arise greater attention than others:
“I am currently the president of the United States”, will surely get you that kind of attention. It’s a status to which is already associated particular ideas of power, awe, inspiration (though not sure how accurate this is with the Orange Devil that’s currently occupying the Oval office). It’s a status which needs no introduction and no story. There are very few statuses which allow for this amount of certainty, and that’s why just saying that you are a “biology student” would tell me very little if I want to know you, not your status. However, if I ask “what’s your story?” and you answer “I am someone who’s passionate about conserving the environment through the use of smart technology”; though I know nothing about trees, you have grabbed my attention. 

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This is my face when you grab my attention

I love real life stories and imagined narratives; I love listening to people talk about their dreams and ambitions.  There is hope that I could relate to your past adventures or current dreams. Most importantly, by telling your story, you are already inserting yourself in history. It sounds a little dramatic, but it is true. You do not have to be dead or famous in order for people to pay attention to what you have to say. Telling your story means that you are aware and in control of who you are, the kind of person you would like to become and the purpose you are set to achieve. Most importantly, telling your story means that you are able to write it and re-write it again, whenever life takes an unexpected turn. In his book ‘Steal Like An Artist’, Austin Kleon writes that “the best advice is not to write what you know, it’s to write what you like. Write the kind of story you like best – write the story you want to read. The same principle applies to life and career: whenever you’re at loss for what to make next, just ask yourself, “what would make a better story?”

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Almost four months into the new year, as I am trying to renew my commitment to crafting my story, I have been facing a wall. This wall is called grad school. It has prevented me from moving forward. It feels as if what I have been doing is not enough, that I am not being ambitious enough in my efforts. I could easily have titled this chapter of my life “why I am doing a masters?”. After weeks of feeling sorry for myself, I came across this quote while reading Shonda Rhimes ‘Year of Yes’: “When you feel the need to apologize and explain who you are, it means the voice in your head is telling you the wrong story. Wipe the slate clean and re-write it. No fairy tales. Be your own narrator. You will make it”. Here the fairy tale would be to love grad school and to go through it smoothly, which has not been the case (one day I will write about my academic experience, one day).

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So I re-titled this chapter of my life “Spring and Afro”. Basically, spending more time enjoying the increasingly warm weather while strolling in the streets of Paris. And at the same time doing something that I love, which is caring for my afro hair or engaging in self-care in general. These are not particularly exceptional activities, but they require me to slow down and allow me to refocus on the beautiful bits of my story, in order to handle the not so lovely ones, better. It is the non-significant, which makes all the difference. Spring and afro is kind of like creating peace in the middle of chaos. It is my afro and spring, that are the reason why the next chapter of my story will be even better. The purpose in me telling you this seemingly insignificant details, is that I hope that it encourages you to accept that the story you share does not always have to be full of highs and full of shining moments in order to matter. It is the little things that will get you by, and that will make your story worth telling in the end. You don’t have to be on top of the mountain to enjoy the view.

Conclusion; write, tell and re-write your story. there will be plots you did not expect. a few undesired characters here and there. but with every unforeseeable twists, learn to re-write the narrative. switch up the location of the tale. kick out the villains. choose the soundtrack. make it dramatic, funny, awe-inspiring, colorful.  surprise yourself, surprise us. copy a few intricate passages in a foreign language that you do not understand . learn that language in the next chapter. give your story a title. appreciate the small moments. learn to love the lows as much as the highs. And most importantly: go for a happy ending.

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PS: if you don’t have an afro, or if where you are is not spring, ‘snow and mohawks’ works too.