Loveness Nleya is at the top of her game and living her dream as a digital marketing consultant, speaker and coach. She comes from a very loving Christian family unit and is the firstborn of three children, two girls and one boy. She narrated her story of stepping out of her comfort zone to pursue her passion to The Weight She Carries.
Tell us about yourself, background and family life.
My parents sacrificed everything for our education. Both being teachers by profession, they believed, and still do believe, that the greatest inheritance is education. So, they made sure we got the best they could provide. They were supportive and would ask what we wanted to be in life then research to see what it took to make it happen. This was so unlike most households during that time where the parents imposed on their children what they should pursue.
My senior schooling was at boarding schools from Grade 6 to Form 6. That was a challenge for me, being a late bloomer and a bit on the intense, reserved side but also with a streak of crazy and creativity. I had massive stage fright but was made a leader on so many occasions.
It took a lot for me to come out of my shell because when I was growing up, we were not encouraged to be heard in public. What the younger generation does now without a qualm, we were taught the opposite. You had to be prim and proper, and standing out was inappropriate. You had to project yourself as a shy, unassuming, almost unambitious person.
There was a mould of the ideal girl or lady that we were groomed to be – seen but not heard. I was shy to a fault, but my mom would encourage me to try say something at church during Bible study, and yet society was the opposite.
We strive to give our kids a different narrative to ours. Our dreams and goals are for them to discover themselves and have lives full of purpose and clarity. We also believe that our marriage should not be just about our family unit but about making a difference in other people’s lives. True value is in making a positive impact in other people’s lives.
How was it as a child growing up and being in the shadows?
The funny part is I do not recall much. I can’t really remember. I noticed that the kids these days become self-aware at young ages and I went all the way to Grade 6 not really “aware.” My parents did their best, and I remember feeling loved and protected and thought the world of them. It was bliss in a way.
How did you change from being the shy girl to being more open and outgoing?
It wasn’t an intentional process. Despite being shy and reserved, I was a creative plus also a bit intense – I would think deeply about stuff. My mom saw that I would later tell her what I thought was an answer to a Bible study question. It amazed her, so she encouraged me to speak up. It was not easy, but I tried.
As I grew older, I found myself being put in positions of leadership where I had no choice but to be outspoken. In my early twenties, I started being a Master of Ceremony and now I was getting paid to talk. This was great motivation. With time, I signed up for a business model that had personal development ingrained in it, and the rest became history. This has changed me greatly because of the personal development. My role in moving from being shy was to just go for it. As afraid as I was, unsure, jittery, etc., I just went for it.
What is the importance of self-discovery?
Self-discovery! I could write a book! It’s not taught enough or embedded in our education system. Once you know who you are, your strength, your purpose, passion, vision, weaknesses and your gift or talent, you become unstoppable. There won’t be that feeling of inadequacy that we sometimes dish to each other. You become at peace and in touch with who you are.
Example: I do not do much makeup, not that there is anything wrong with loving it, but the first time I came to Harare, I stuck out like a pink cow. I loved the natural look. People looked at me funny, but because I had come to accept who I was, I had no pressure to be something I am not. It’s either you accept me for what I am or you do not. It took a lot of self-searching, agonising moments of trying to fit in and then resolving to just be me.
Now I know that I have no competition, and if everyone takes the same stance, we do not have to try so hard to outshine others but complement each other because we are all unique.
Some people connect with me when I speak with them and others do not. I know that I am not everyone’s cup of tea and it’s okay. Everyone is unique. Self-discovery will protect you from abuse. A man I respect so much says, “When the use or purpose of a thing is not known, then it will be abused.” If a human being does not have clarity in what they are meant to be, they will be used for the wrong things.
Sad example: A young lady who has not discovered her purpose can easily trade her body for some short-lived convenience instead of enduring the momentary discomfort of lack. It’s important to discover yourself because in doing that, you know your real value, the problem you were created to solve, and that comes with focus, resilience, success, fulfilment and all the good stuff.
Self-discovery will enable you to overcome limitations and face the odds to be better versions of ourselves. It goes without saying that where there is no destination in mind, any road will get you there. Self-discovery is critical to living life to the fullest.
How did it get to a point where you were medicated because of being a workaholic?
I am not able to do things I am passionate about in half measure, in terms. I love working for a cause. It gives me indescribable fulfilment. As I worked, I kept my mind on the people I was serving as I did my job, so I gave my all to a demanding job.
I did not realize it would cost me my health until one day my body literally just shut down. I thought it was flu, but I was not responding to antibiotics, even the strongest ones. So, the doctor said we needed to have tests done. The results were life-changing. [I] found myself being put on steroids [and having] a biopsy done that resulted in a permanent yet almost invisible scar on my throat.
I was always tired. I could sleep 48-72 hours and wake up feeling like I had slept for a few hours. In short, the point of being medicated kind of crept up on me as I pushed my body to meet my job demands.
How was your work schedule then and how did all the work make you feel?
My work schedule was busy, from the moment I got to work until I left for home mostly after midnight, only to start by 8 a.m. the next day. I rose to the task. I remember the conviction I had that I was working for the greater good, so I didn’t have any complaints or discomfort about all the work. I was young and enthusiastic until my body started slowly shutting down. I would be typing at my machine only to jerk myself awake just before my forehead hit the keyboard. I was tired. It’s almost like I was watching myself live.
The fatigue actually came at a later stage. But the work invigorated me. The beneficiaries were all I could think of.
What are your key achievements?
Stepping out of my comfort zone to pursue my passion, purpose and what is close to my heart.
Being able to empower other people to pursue their dreams and not settle for anything less than the best.
Exposing people to a world of possibilities in the digital world.
What challenges have you faced being self-employed and how have you managed it?
Being self-employed…in Zimbabwe does come with a truckload of economic challenges such as financing the business, having attractive pricing models (striking a balance between profitability and getting customers), innovative business solutions to support the business and scaling up the business. The biggest coping mechanism has been to self-finance the business and be innovative about how to get exposure and visibility.
Looking at our Zimbabwean economy, if a young lady came to ask you if she should choose a career that pays her well but she isn’t happy in or choose what she is passionate about with less pay, what would your advice be?
To go for what she is passionate about. Some of the highest-paid people are pushing passion and not money. Money is a by-product. What is the point of getting paid to wake up to do what you do not like doing? Life will lose meaning. I never used to understand why a person will leave a well-paying job to pursue something less paying or seemingly less important and be so happy.
It’s the aspect of the fulfillment of purpose and destiny. You can’t buy happiness, but you sure can be happy doing what you love – isn’t that what life is all about? If it was all about money, we would not have unhappy rich people. Not to say money isn’t important, but let’s keep its uses in perspective.
I believe everyone has a unique purpose in life and sometimes until they find it, not even the highest paying job or most lavish life can satisfy. I would rather a person invest time and effort in discovering their passion and then earning from it.
You can connect with Loveness online @lovenessnleya or visit her website (www.lovenessnleya.com).