Put Yourself First

‘‘You got to put yourself first to become your own brand’’- Amadu

Amadu talks to Fredous about how he was always teased as a kid and how he learned to disregard the negative comments people had to say about him. He talks about how he was always teased for talking a certain way. He shares his experience as to how he’s learned to put himself first and become his own brand.

Fredous [00:00:02] Hi, Amadu. Thank you so much for being here for the break, this cycle. Thank you so much for making time for me to interview you and to learn about your experience and how you have been able to break this cycle of underrepresentation. So, you know, a lot of times people are scared to, like, express themselves and be who they are just because they feel there are going to get judged or because, you know, people are not going to accept them. So they follow the trend of this cycle. A lot of people don't want to leave outside the cycle or break this cycle because they feel they feel they not going to be accepted if they do, take for example, in the media , you know, some plus size females are scared to, like, take pictures just because they believe that if they do,  people are not going to like their pictures. A lot of people are just scared to express their true selves because they believe that if they do, they're not going to be accepted. So thank you so much for sharing more light on how you broke this cycle. Before we get to the interview questions, tell me a little bit about yourself.


Amadu [00:01:25] Thank you for having me on. I guess I would start by saying my name is Amadu Koroma. I'm a senior at Old Dominion University, double majoring in electrical computer engineering.

Amadu [00:01:39] And thank you for having me.

Amadu [00:01:43] I guess I can just say a little story about me. Originally born and raised in Fairfax, Virginia, and.

Amadu [00:01:53] My parents, they're both from Sierra Leone and.

Amadu [00:01:59] You know, it's been an interesting road come in to where I am right now, starting with no good developmental side of life, such as technology, getting into computers, being fascinated by computers, and then deciding I want to make computers. So now I'm an engineer. So I think that's.

Amadu [00:02:23] The most daring moment.

Fredous [00:02:24]  It's really interesting. And my next question is, at what point in your life did you realize there was a cycle, was there  any time in your life where it's like, you felt like you were underrepresented or you felt like, you know, you're being judged?

Amadu [00:02:50] Yeah, I mean, I would say one out is probably going back to high school.

Amadu [00:03:10] When I work, especially in middle school and when I would go out a lot.

Amadu [00:03:15] Recreational sports like basketball or soccer? Basketball. Historically, basketball is a black sport. A lot of black people play. Including myself, of course.

Amadu [00:03:29] And, you know, usually when you play, with the teammates and stuff and you want to talk to teammates in order to have a good game, of course. So, you know, as I'm communicating, I'm communicating in a certain way where it feels like I'm not truly like myself. It becomes an issue because now it's like you talk a certain way or to sit the part and you feel a certain type of way or.

Amadu [00:04:04] Right. I guess I have to change my dialect in order to set the part for me to play a sport that I used to love when I was younger. So that's a small example.

Fredous [00:04:16] That's a very interesting story, and I've definitely heard stories like that, where, you know, some people are scared to do something because they feel like, oh, they need to change who they are or act a certain way just so they can feel among. And, you know, make themselves more comfortable. So which brings me to my next  question. At what point in your life did you feel like you needed to break this cycle? And what motivated you to take this step, were you like? OK. I don't care what anybody says or I don't really care how people perceive and I'm going to be me regardless of what the society has to say about me.

Amadu [00:05:03] Oh, I feel like I would like to attribute this part of my life to like my mom because she always told me to be me I know before middle school.

Amadu [00:05:14] I used to be made fun of for my name. And she was just saying, like, you know, if you want to not be made fun of something, just don't give the people that attention,  Because if you give people the attention or you get upset, they're going to keep doing it because they see every time you do it, they get upset. That's entertainment for people to see. So she just told me, don't care. Once you stop caring about what people think about you, they'll leave you alone. I remember in  school

Amadu [00:05:48]  people were making fun of my name and I didn't say anything to people  So now they dont do it anymore. Just say no. It is what it is. I know what my name is.

Amadu [00:06:03] So I would say no, go ahead.

Amadu [00:06:07] Yeah, but those vows was the turning point for me. Like in middle school going to high school,  is just like this attitude of not caring.

Amadu [00:06:18] don't think about  how you should be perceived. It's what really motivated me to going to  high school, because I know the audience is going to be much bigger.

Amadu [00:06:28] And in order for my life to be better for myself, I had to have the attitude of not caring

Fredous [00:06:35] And it's interesting you talked about the names, though, because that's something I can definitely relate to. I remember back in middle school too a lot of people would make fun of my name.

Fredous [00:06:48] But, you know, later I decided I should be proud of my name and not be ashamed of it because it shows where I'm from and you know who I am. It's a representation of who I am. So it's a good thing. And how, your mom trained you to love yourself and embrace your name. And my next question is, what are some challenges you faced while trying to break the cycle? Did you lose yourself in the process? Did you gain more confidence? Did you lose friends?

Amadu [00:07:26] I also wanted to add something to it. It's always good to have somebody to, you know, tell you or give you a different opinion or open your eyes for a wider perspective. I think it's important to have like a mentor and somebody that you look up to, someone close to you within your circle telling you what's real and what's not. And I think that's something that's very important. You have to further answer the previous question. Now to answer this question.But then there's a point where I find myself not caring because I feel like I've gone to a point where I went all the way to the other end of the spectrum in terms of not caring where it comes.

Amadu [00:08:27] You know, I would just say that I don't care because there's no reason for me to be caring about what's going on internally.

Amadu [00:08:36] And also, like, that's something that can be a danger in life.

Amadu [00:08:49]  I used to be emotionally invested in what people said about me but my emotions develop during that time frame.

Amadu [00:09:17] And I feel like that attitude didn't help me in the sense of learning how to be more considerate of others feelings and myself as well.

Fredous [00:09:27] That's interesting. That's where I was. And I'm glad we've grown to be a better person in that aspect of your life. So what advice would you give to somebody trying to break the cycle? Because I know a lot of people struggling to be who they are but turns out because they're scared, there's no place in this world for them. And so they just have to try to fit in to what feels right to them. So, yeah, it's like, what advice would you give to somebody that's been struggling right now to break the cycle of underrepresentation?

Amadu [00:10:13] You gotta   the first thing you gotta do to be represented is you got to first and foremost represent yourself. You gotta put yourself at the forefront. You your own brand. And with brands comes attractions like Nike did not become Nike because it was worried about what other people think became what it is, because it put themselves in the forefront and they added to it. And you yourself, your brand. You got to put yourself out there so you can become your own brand.

Amadu [00:10:49] So people are attracted to you. You want people to be attracted to you. In a sense, where look at this person's going places, this person is actually being the its presence, trying to do things for themselves. You know, you got to put yourself first before you think about what others think about you. Like, I think one thing that's very important is having that  inner self reflection and really trying to build upon, you know, the weaknesses you might have and only add into your strengths, because that's something that's very.

Amadu [00:11:20] It's something that we tend to miss, because during this day and age, we are always focused on what's negative or what's going on around in the world instead of what's called us. And we have to take the time to look in the mirror, look at ourselves, see what we need to do to better ourselves in order for us to feel more representative represented in this world.

Fredous [00:11:46] Thank you very much. I really appreciate those words and I hope those words will help inspire somebody out there. inspire people to break the cycle, you know, try to be more confident in themselves regardless of what anybody has to say about them.

Fredous [00:12:05] Thank you so much for your time. Thank you for this interview. Thank you. I really appreciate it. And I hope somebody out there can take from the good words you said to them. Thank you very much. Is there any last words you want to say before we end the interview?

Amadu [00:12:21] No. It's a pleasure to be on here. I really appreciate you taking me for this.