Get comfortable with being uncomfortable | Luvvie Ajayi

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable | Luvvie Ajayi

I’m a professional troublemaker. (Laughter) As my job is to critique the world, the shoddy systems and the people
who refuse to do better, as a writer, as a speaker,
as a shady Nigerian — (Laughter) I feel like my purpose is to be this cat. (Laughter) I am the person
who is looking at other people, like, “I need you to fix it.” That is me. I want us to leave this world
better than we found it. And how I choose to effect change is by speaking up, by being the first
and by being the domino. For a line of dominoes to fall, one has to fall first, which then leaves the other
choiceless to do the same. And that domino that falls, we’re hoping that, OK, the next person that sees this
is inspired to be a domino. Being the domino, for me,
looks like speaking up and doing the things
that are really difficult, especially when they are needed, with the hope that others
will follow suit. And here’s the thing:
I’m the person who says what you might be thinking
but dared not to say. A lot of times people think
that we’re fearless, the people who do this, we’re fearless. We’re not fearless. We’re not unafraid of the consequences or the sacrifices that we have to make by speaking truth to power. What happens is, we feel like we have to, because there are too few
people in the world willing to be the domino, too few people willing to take that fall. We’re not doing it without fear. Now, let’s talk about fear. I knew exactly what I wanted
to be when I grew up. I was like, “I’m going to be a doctor!” Doctor Luvvie was the dream. I was Doc McStuffins
before it was a thing. (Laughter) And I remember when I went to college, my freshman year,
I had to take Chemistry 101 for my premed major. I got the first and last D
of my academic career. (Laughter) So I went to my advisor, and I was like, “OK, let’s drop the premed, because this doctor thing
is not going to work, because I don’t even like hospitals. So …” (Laughter) “Let’s just consider that done for.” And that same semester,
I started blogging. That was 2003. So as that one dream was ending,
another was beginning. And then what was a cute hobby
became my full-time job when I lost my marketing job in 2010. But it still took me two more years
to say, “I’m a writer.” Nine years after I had started writing,
before I said, “I’m a writer,” because I was afraid of what happens without 401ks, without, “How am I going
to keep up my shoe habit? That’s important to me.” (Laughter) So it took me that long to own this thing that was what my purpose was. And then I realized, fear has a very concrete power of keeping us from doing and saying
the things that are our purpose. And I was like, “You know what? I’m not going to let fear rule my life. I’m not going to let fear
dictate what I do.” And then all of these
awesome things started happening, and dominoes started to fall. So when I realized that,
I was like, “OK, 2015, I turned 30, it’s going to be my year
of ‘Do it anyway.’ Anything that scares me,
I’m going to actively pursue it.” So, I’m a Capricorn. I like my feel solidly on the ground. I decided to take
my first-ever solo vacation, and it was out of the country
to the Dominican Republic. So on my birthday, what did I do? I went ziplining through
the forests of Punta Cana. And for some odd reason,
I had on business casual. Don’t ask why. (Laughter) And I had an incredible time. Also, I don’t like being
submerged in water. I like to be, again, on solid ground. So I went to Mexico
and swam with dolphins underwater. And then the cool thing
that I did also that year that was my mountain was I wrote my book, “I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual,” And I had to own — (Applause) that whole writing thing now, right? Yes. But the very anti-me thing
that I did that year that scared the crap out of me — I went skydiving. We’re about to fall out of the plane. I was like, “I’ve done some stupid
things in life. This is one of them.” (Laughter) And then we come falling down to Earth, and I literally lose my breath
as I see Earth, and I was like, “I just fell out of a perfectly good
plane on purpose.” (Laughter) “What is wrong with me?!” But then I looked down at the beauty, and I was like, “This is
the best thing I could have done. This was an amazing decision.” And I think about the times
when I have to speak truth. It feels like I am falling
out of that plane. It feels like that moment
when I’m at the edge of the plane, and I’m like, “You shouldn’t do this,” but then I do it anyway,
because I realize I have to. Sitting at the edge of that plane and kind of staying on that plane
is comfort to me. And I feel like every day
that I’m speaking truth against institutions and people
who are bigger than me and just forces that are
more powerful than me, I feel like I’m falling out of that plane. But I realize comfort is overrated. Because being quiet is comfortable. Keeping things the way
they’ve been is comfortable. And all comfort has done
is maintain the status quo. So we’ve got to get comfortable
with being uncomfortable by speaking these hard truths
when they’re necessary. And I — (Applause) And for me, though, I realize
that I have to speak these truths, because honesty is so important to me. My integrity is something I hold dear. Justice — I don’t think justice
should be an option. We should always have justice. Also, I believe in shea butter
as a core value, and — (Laughter) and I think the world would be better
if we were more moisturized. But besides that, with these
as my core values, I have to speak the truth. I have no other choice in the matter. But people like me,
the professional troublemakers, should not be the only ones who are
committed to being these dominoes who are always falling out of planes or being the first one to take this hit. People are so afraid
of these acute consequences, not realizing that there are many times
when we walk in rooms and we are some of the most
powerful people in those rooms — we might be the second-most powerful,
third-most powerful. And I firmly believe
that our job in those times is to disrupt what is happening. And then if we’re not the most powerful, if two more of us band together, it makes us powerful. It’s like cosigning
the woman in the meeting, you know, the woman
who can’t seem to get her word out, or just making sure that other person
who can’t make a point is being heard. Our job is to make sure
they have room for that. Everyone’s well-being
is community business. If we made that a point,
we’d understand that, for the times when we need help, we wouldn’t have to look around so hard if we made sure
we were somebody else’s help. And there are times when I feel like I have taken very public
tumbles and falls, like the time when I was asked
to speak at a conference, and they wanted me to pay my way there. And then I did some research and found out the white men
who spoke there got compensated and got their travel paid for. The white women who spoke there
got their travel paid for. The black women who spoke there were
expected to actually pay to speak there. And I was like, “What do I do?” And I knew that if I spoke up
about this publicly, I could face financial loss. But then I also understood
that my silence serves no one. So I fearfully spoke up about it publicly, and other women started
coming out to talk about, “I, too, have faced
this type of pay inequality.” And it started a conversation
about discriminatory pay practices that this conference was participating in. I felt like I was the domino the time I read a disturbing
memoir by a public figure and wrote a piece about it. I knew this person was more powerful
than me and could impact my career, but I was like, “I’ve got to do this. I’ve got to sit at the edge
of this plane,” maybe for two hours. And I did. And I pressed
“Publish,” and I ran away. (Laughter) And I came back to a viral post and people being like, “Oh my God,
I’m so glad somebody finally said this.” And it started a conversation about mental health and self-care, and I was like, “OK. Alright. This thing that I’m doing,
I guess, alright, it’s doing something.” And then so many people
have been the domino when they talk about how
they’ve been assaulted by powerful men. And it’s made millions of women
join in and say, “Me Too.” So, a shout-out to Tarana Burke
for igniting that movement. (Applause) People and systems count on our silence
to keep us exactly where we are. Now, being the domino sometimes
comes down to being exactly who you are. So, I’ve been a shady somebody
since I was three. (Laughter) This is me on my third birthday. But I’ve been this girl all my life, and I feel like
even that’s been the domino, because in a world
that wants us to walk around as representatives of ourselves, being yourself can be a revolutionary act. And in a world that wants us to whisper, I choose to yell. (Applause) When it’s time to say these hard things, I ask myself three things. One: Did you mean it? Two: Can you defend it? Three: Did you say it with love? If the answer is yes to all three, I say it and let the chips fall. That’s important. That checkpoint with myself always tells me, “Yes,
you’re supposed to do this.” Telling the truth —
telling thoughtful truths — should not be a revolutionary act. Speaking truths to power
should not be sacrificial, but they are. But I think if more of us chose
to do this for the greater good, we’d be in better spaces
than we are right now. Speaking of the greater good, I think we commit ourselves
to telling truths to build bridges to common ground, and bridges that aren’t based
on truth will collapse. So it is our job, it is our obligation, it is our duty to speak truth to power, to be the domino, not just when it’s difficult — especially when it’s difficult. Thank you. (Applause)

Comments (100)


  2. A message I will receive, thank you Luvvie

  3. Very relatable very inspiring thank you love xo

  4. โ€œdid you say it with love?โ€ FREAKING YESSSUH

  5. She literally has cat shaped eyes ( gorgeous!)

  6. Beautiful โค๏ธ

  7. I sell shea butter in fancy ways, check my brother send this link to me saying she is the person on earth that ressembles me. The most and that is kind of True ๐Ÿ˜‚

  8. You can actually tell This girl is so powerful even in speech

  9. โ€œBridges that arenโ€™t based on truth will collapse.โ€ Not likely. Liars may collapse but the system based on lies (like U.S foreign policy and 'national security') hardly not.

  10. Thanks for the inspiration! This is my dream job!!

  11. Im 3 minutes in and I'm just loving her energy! Hilarious, Bold, Authentic, Edgy. Love it

  12. I love this. Fear will keep us from stepping into our destiny. I have learned along the way, the things worth having are usually on the other side of fear/self-doubt.

  13. amazing! check out this future ted talk – "care to share" to reflect on how to unlock your power –

  14. In a world that wants us to whisper, I chose to yell! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿพ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿพ

  15. Amen, o my god. When you said Yes we are not fearless, we have to. Powerfull! I now this feeling sometimes I wish it wasn't me. But then there I go again! I have to.

  16. Simply amazing!โค

  17. That's a beautiful women right there man . God bless her

  18. Thank you. I can relate. This is one bandwagon that is not full. I will not be silent.

  19. Honking Car Locking is Stressful Noise and Wakes People Up.
    It can Be Heard Behind the Walls of the Buildings You Park Next to.
    It is Especially Painful for Those with PTSD, Migraines, Cardiac Disease , and Hypertension. Please Think of Your Neighbors. BREAK THE UNNECCESARY HONK HABIT.
    Turn off mental autopilot.
    Use Light Flash Only.
    Thank You.
    PLEASE! Lock your Cars Quietly.

  20. What an awesome woman.

  21. Hate to be in the same room with this female

  22. Awesome share Luvvie! I can totally relate to that!

  23. What a charisma๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

  24. Love how she delivered this powerful message. Get comfortable being out of your comfort zone. Itโ€™s the only way to truly grow, despite the fear.

  25. What a great talk and great human!

  26. I moisturize, will you marry me? Awesome speech, keep strong

  27. Her Podcast with Yvonne Orgi of the HBO show โ€œInsecureโ€ called โ€œJesus and Jollofโ€ is changing my life at the moment…very charismatic, very insight and very humorous!!!

  28. Lol I am Capricorn too. Not because I am a Capricorn but this is how I been feeling for so so so long. Thank you so much. And I been this girl as well . But I felt like I lost my way for very long time.๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™

  29. Lovely lovely lovely thank you

  30. I choose to yel!

  31. 3 questions:
    1 did you mea it?
    2 can you defend it?
    3 did you say it with love?

  32. do not talk about her appearance of course no judging about her face


  34. "My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you. But for every real word spoken, for every attempt I had ever made to speak those truths for which I am still seeking, I had made contact with other women while we examined the words to fit a world in which we all believed, bridging our differences." – Audre Lorde

  35. My mother always said "A closed mouth don't get fed"๐Ÿ˜

  36. Bet she's a Scorpio

  37. Ms. Luvvie Ajayi, I am so happy I found you! I don't thrive on being comfortable either . . .

  38. Get her masta-s

  39. very thankful to have crossed paths with this talk – Thank you Luvvie

  40. You lost me at โ€œtruth to powerโ€ , the most overused cliche ever.

  41. She sound like Lauryn hill

  42. Awesome. Well said.

  43. This was an incredible ted talks, she grabbed my attention!!๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ

  44. Go ahead ILL school-mate. Powerful powerful TED Talk!

  45. โ€œComfort Is Overratedโ€….๐Ÿค”…..FACTS๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿพ๐Ÿ˜

  46. โ€œBe the change you wish to see in the world.โ€ -Mahatma Gandhi

  47. This is really the key to being successful!! This is so awesome!!

  48. As a shady Nigerian ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

  49. Just.. be the domino and you what scary you

  50. Luvvie!! I stand Queen!! ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿฝ

  51. She is soooo cool ๐Ÿ˜Ž !

  52. Whenever it comes to processing, women are quicker! I am impressed and proud that someone could get the message out sooner than I ever planned to! Thank you for speaking out!

  53. Bravo ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿพ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿพ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿพ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿพ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿพ

  54. That was amazing, she has so much power in her words.

  55. I didnโ€™t want it to end! What a powerful speech!

  56. absolutely a powerful speech!!..Thank you.

  57. She had me at "I'm a professional troublemaker".

  58. "in a world that want us to whisper i choose to be yell"

  59. Ok so when I'm Uncomfortable I need to be Comfortable about being uncomfartable, but isn't it because I'm not comfortable I'm being uncomfortable so tryna be comfortable would make me uncomfortable so….this is so uncomfortable

  60. Ohhh I love it! Thank you

  61. The story of my life! Having avoided discomfort for so long, I decided to start doing the very things that made me feel that way. It changed my life and I have since committed to sharing my learnings with others via youtube. Would love if you all could join me-

  62. PERIOD POOH ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฌโค๏ธ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿพ

  63. I get knocked down, but I get up again
    You are never gonna keep me down

  64. Love this โค๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ

  65. Year ago but I still remember you. Sharing you with the ones who matter now ๐Ÿ™‡โ€โ™€๏ธ

  66. Im speechless…taking it all in..a very nice TED talk delivery

  67. she's phenomenal. wow.

  68. ITโ€™S A PARADOX

  69. Well said Diva U spoke to my heart๐Ÿ’—

  70. I donโ€™t like that Hillsdale college is being shoved down my throat, while the people behind such a program support Trump over the TWENTY TWO WOMEN he sexually assaulted. I feel violated as a SURVIVOR of sexual assaults when I see smug people openly supporting sexual predators in a Nation that profits off of nonviolent prisoners held in for profit jails, while only 5 in a thousand rapists serve a single day in jail. Come on YOUTUBE!! Yโ€™all can protect women better than this. #MeToo ๐ŸŒฌโœจ๐Ÿ•Š๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ•Šโœจ

  71. She has such a punchable face

  72. Around 7:00 you speak real talk.. bless you, bless you.

  73. Love this talk so much!!! I also have my own anti-me campaign to overcome all fears – and it works perfectly ๐Ÿ˜€

  74. I love this ๐Ÿ˜ฉ๐Ÿ˜ฉ๐Ÿ˜ฉ

  75. love T talks!..I have seen alot of Ted talks.. but this?! I didn't just see this.. I felt, heard, and believed this! After watching this I knew I had just experienced something life changing .. so, wow wow wow Luvvie!!โค. Thank you for the laughs, thank you for sharing yourself with all of us. Thank you for your Words, thoughts, and funniness. I will ALWAYS remember this video and what you gave us. thank you!! this is exactly what I needed , exactly when I needed it. brilliant

  76. Powerful speech sister ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

  77. โค๏ธ

  78. I am watching this and working on my terrifying writing project! It's almost like it was written for me! Thank you! I literally just wrote about the dangers of the comfort zone.

  79. Love love love this. My exact sentiments & unfortunately there are not many people that are willing to face fear/the consequences for speaking the truth when no one else is.

  80. ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

  81. I needed and loved this message

  82. I love the third one saying it with 'love and kindness'

  83. This human is gorgeous inside and out

  84. I know the point of this ted talk isnโ€™t her outfit but you are wearing this outfit girl. Your an inspiration thank you for being authentic.

  85. Amazing talk. This is what TED is all about.

  86. The "greater good" is overrated!

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