“Most people, they don’t reflect on their actions. They don’t reflect on things that are happening in today’s society. So for me to have that ability to do that and continue growing in my system of reflection, it makes me even more grateful that I have that growth mindset as people put it.”

Ozioma

Bright Lights/Young Lives is a special project within our Grateful Voices video series which aims to uplift the personal stories and reflections of young people, aged 16 – 30 years old. The series is made up of short-form documentaries featuring young adults from a variety of backgrounds talking about what it means for them to live gratefully, how they embody this commitment, how gratefulness was awakened in them, and why they believe it matters and can make a difference in our world. The intention of these stories is to demonstrate the reality and relevance of Grateful Living across a diverse, inclusive continuum, and to share the insights, grateful perspectives, and rich sense of possibility that so many young people hold. In this short video, we hear from Ozioma Okeke.

Video Transcript

I am grateful. I am grateful. I am grateful.

Hello, my name is Ozioma Okeke. I’m 18 years old. I am currently a senior at the Academy of Palumbo High School, going off to college at Cabrini University, and I’m a writer and a poet.

I currently have a superpower. I don’t have one word to describe it though, but it’s my ability to walk into a specific area or a situation and my presence automatically be known. I don’t have to open my mouth before you know I’m in the room.

To me, gratefulness is basically an understanding. An understanding with your surroundings, with things that are happening currently in your life, and just being aware that things happen for a reason.

The triumphs that made me more grateful are doing my first performance in front of the entire school. It happened last Friday. It was our diversity day, and if not for my coach, Ms. Kay, and my co-coach/partner Sharif, I wouldn’t have performed on that stage.

To get into that spirit of gratefulness, I spend a lot of time reflecting whether it’s going to a quiet space on my own, turning off the lights, just closing my eyes and just reflecting on that day, situation, or what’s going on in the world because most people, they don’t reflect on their actions. They don’t reflect on things that are happening in today’s society. So for me to have that ability to do that and continue growing in my system of reflection, it makes me even more grateful that I have that growth mindset as people put it.

Me personally, my hope is to help people. I’ve always seen myself helping people. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, where I’m at, as long as I have the ability to put some input, make a positive impact, that is my hope for the world to continue doing that and to leave a legacy, one that is worthy of being remembered.

I’d wake up every day, look in the mirror and be disgusted by what I saw,
thinking that my Black wasn’t beautiful,
thinking that God made a mistake creating me,
but as I got older I realized that I am different,
and that being different isn’t a bad thing.

Here I am, an 18 year old girl cruising through the world
trying to adjust to all the hate coming her way.
Here I am.

I finally understand why my legs couldn’t fit underneath the desk.
God was giving those students a signal that I wasn’t done growing yet.
He was giving them a sign that the hair resting on this girl’s face was her shield,
protecting her from all the madness roaming around the earth.

And I finally understand why I have a deep voice.
God knew that as long as my persistent persistence was still ringing,
then my voice will make people listen.
And He knew that a lionesss could not be tamed because she had a kingdom to run.

Throughout this journey, I realized that people are gonna hate,
but it’s in you to wait
and realize that no one could change what God creates.

Bright Lights/Young Lives has been executed in honor/memory of the extraordinary life of Julia Burke, who lived her passion for life out loud.  Funding for the series came from The Julia Burke Foundation. The videos were produced by Greg Corbin and edited by Brandon Holiday. The Grateful Living Team oversaw the project with grateful hearts.

Visit Grateful Voices to see more stories about living gratefully.


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