Against the Odds: Debra Oludare on Telling Stories of Struggle

Originally published on White Noise

September 2018

YouTuber, writer and podcast host Debra Oludare is a woman on a mission. After hitting rock bottom two years ago, she decided to turn her pain into a passion project.

Oludare created Trusting the Process, a podcast show that celebrates successful black women by providing an insight into their journey. Listeners can expect laid-back and inspiring conversation where Debra effortlessly directs her curiosity, with a touch of Nigerian flavour.

You were born in Nigeria, before moving to Birmingham via Northern Ireland, Scotland and Cumbria. Now you work just over the West Cross Route at the Monsoon Accessorize HQ as social media executive. How did you get into that?

After being made redundant from a role six months in, I was in a very difficult place. I decided to use the unfavourable circumstances to propel myself into the career in London I had always wanted. The journey wasn’t easy. I was looking for work for a year. Numerous interviews, over 100 applications, and a lot of ‘no’s. My current role originally sent me an email saying I had been unsuccessful in my application, but I have this belief that no is not always the final answer, and so I looked for a back door to knock on. Two years later and here I am.

What was the pivotal point where you thought: this 9 to 5 isn’t enough, I want to write, be on YouTube, and motivate people?

I’ve always been the kind of person who loves to create. Over the years, what that looks like is all that has changed. As a child, I was never without a book. I wrote short stories and diaries and believed one day I would be a published author. For me, I believe life is lived to its fullest when we walk in alignment with our gifts. Our gifts are there for a purpose bigger than us. When you create, it inspires someone else to create and, likewise, when you are open and honest about a topic, it comforts someone else to know that they are not alone. That’s what motivates me.

Tell me more about your writing?

Once upon a time, I found it bizarre to call myself a writer. It seemed pompous and misplaced, but over the years I have learnt to wear the title proudly. The truth is, throughout my career, education and passion projects, writing is a thread that flows throughout. I find expressing myself through words incredibly therapeutic.

The first three recordings of your podcast Trusting the Process were recorded at White City Place. What was the catalyst behind it?

During the year 2015, I was in a very dark place. I had been unemployed for a year, was dealing with mental health attacks in my family, and experienced the weight of heartbreak – all at the same time. I began to research other black women who had navigated difficulties and risen to success against the odds. I needed to trust the process, and their stories gave me the strength to do so. A lot of the women I followed were over the pond, such as Ngozi Opara, the founder of Heat Free Hair, and Zim Ogochukwu, the founder of Travel Noire. I could see so many great stories, but I knew they needed to be more easily accessible here in the UK. And thus, the idea to create Trusting the Process – the show that celebrates black women doing big things – was born.

You recently spoke at an event called Coffee & Prayer. Tell me more about that, and the role of faith within your life.

Coffee & Prayer is a monthly forum that is set to equip and empower women from different walks of life, founded by my friend and amazing author Susan Deborahs. I had so much fun hosting the panel and Q&A, where we spoke about relationships, comparison and identity – topics we as women all navigate in our daily walks.

As a young women who gave my life to Christ aged 16, faith for me is everything. I wholeheartedly don’t know where I would be if not for the influence and presence of God in my life. My faith is my strength, my hope, my direction for today and tomorrow. There’s truly nothing like experiencing the love of Christ and I consider it a great privilege that we as humans get to walk and live in that daily.

What’s the ultimate goal for you?

First and foremost, it’s to be happy, fulfilled, and live my purpose by giving all of my gifts to others. It’s to boldly be myself and push towards the best version of me, to live life, intentionally. If I could say one thing about trusting the process, it would be that it is entirely worthwhile. We will all face situations and seasons that challenge our trust. When I hit rock bottom, I didn’t understand the purpose at the time, but I can now see the fruit that came from it. Trusting the process is about trusting the direction of your life. Believing that everything, from the little details to the bigger picture, are working together for your good. It’s not always easy, but it is entirely worthwhile.