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Professional Troublemaker

The Fear-Fighter Manual

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INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
 
From the New York Times bestselling author of I'm Judging You, a hilarious and transformational book about how to tackle fear--that everlasting hater--and audaciously step into lives, careers, and legacies that go beyond even our wildest dreams

Luvvie Ajayi Jones is known for her trademark wit, warmth, and perpetual truth-telling. But even she's been challenged by the enemy of progress known as fear. She was once afraid to call herself a writer, and nearly skipped out on doing a TED talk that changed her life because of imposter syndrome. As she shares in Professional Troublemaker, she's not alone.

We're all afraid. We're afraid of asking for what we want because we're afraid of hearing "no." We're afraid of being different, of being too much or not enough. We're afraid of leaving behind the known for the unknown. But in order to do the things that will truly, meaningfully change our lives, we have to become professional troublemakers: people who are committed to not letting fear talk them out of the things they need to do or say to live free.

With humor and honesty, and guided by the influence of her professional troublemaking Nigerian grandmother, Funmilayo Faloyin, Luvvie walks us through what we must get right within ourselves before we can do the things that scare us; how to use our voice for a greater good; and how to put movement to the voice we've been silencing--because truth-telling is a muscle.

The point is not to be fearless, but to know we are afraid and charge forward regardless. It is to recognize that the things we must do are more significant than our fears. This book is about how to live boldly in spite of all the reasons we have to cower. Let's go!

1: Know Yourself

We fear our full selves.
 
We are afraid of who we are, in all our glory (and grit). We’re constantly “searching” for that person. Or forgetting that person. Or repressing that person. Instead of standing strong in who that person is.
 
Being FULLY ourselves is necessary for us because it serves as a grounding force. I find that it’s the case for me. There is a lot to be afraid of in this world, because in general, things can be a wreck out there. And none of us needs to be afraid of who we are in our whole personhood, because who has the time?
 
This standing in your full self isn’t about being an immovable person, whose beliefs are stuck in a rock. It’s not that can’t nobody tell you shit, or you not being able to admit when you’re wrong. Instead, it’s about having a strong sense of identity. It’s about knowing you belong in this world just as much as anyone else. It’s about taking up the space you earned simply by being born.
 
One of my favorite poems is the Desiderata, written by Max Ehrmann. My favorite part is: “You are a child of the universe / no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here /And whether or not it is clear to you / no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”
 
“YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO BE HERE.” You sure in the hell do.
 
Oddly enough, knowing this fullness of who you are doesn’t make you more stubborn. Instead, it makes you more likely to grow, since you know you have a solid foundation that doesn’t change even as you’ve learned new things and new perspectives. This is a step you need to be a professional troublemaker. Because you will GET IN TROUBLE. Guaranteed. What makes you realize it’s worth it? This process of knowing the fullness of who you are.
 
A lot of fear fighting and professional troublemaking is confronting things that will knock us off our square. Things that will slap us into dizziness and make us forget everything we know is real. We need solid feet, rooted in something strong to continue to stand. Knowing ourselves is important because it provides that foundation for us. It doesn’t allow anyone or anything to tell us who we are. Because when people tell us how amazing we are, that’s good to absorb. But what about when someone tells us we aren’t worthy? Or we don’t have value? Or we don’t deserve kindness and love? Or that we deserve papercuts? To know thyself is to not take all the praise to head or take all the shaming to heart.
 
To know thyself is to know your core, and for me, to know your core is to feel rooted in something outside of myself. It is to know, not only who I am but whose I am.
 
Whose We Are
 
Whose I am is not about belonging to someone or being beholden to people. It is about the community you are tied to that holds you accountable. It is about knowing you are part of a tribe that is greater than yourself. It is about feeling deeply connected to someone, and that no matter where you go, you have a base. If we’re phones, knowing whose we are is our charging station.
 
I learned the importance of WHOSE you are growing up. As a Yoruba girl, I am a part of a tribe that prioritizes your people sometimes as much as it prioritizes an individual. Collectivism comes alive for us through the traditional ORÍKÌ (oh-ree-kee).
 
What’s an ORIKI? It is a Yoruba word that combines two words to mean “praising your head/mind.” Ori is “head” and Ki is “to greet or praise.” An Oriki is a greeting that praises you through praising your kinship and speaking life to your destiny. It is your personal hype mantra, and can be spoken or sung.
 
The original attempts to tell you who you are make up your oriki. It's used to remind you of your roots and your history. It might include the city your father’s from, and where his father is from. It might include the things that make your family name special. It brags on your people. It lets people know who you WERE, who you ARE, who you WILL BE. It reminds you of those who came before you and blesses those who will come after. It might even include some shade.
 
Orikis are often sung at your birthday or celebrations. They also sing them to see you off to the next life. An oriki connects you to your ancestors, and it will move even the most stoic to cry because you feel it in your chest. Your tear ducts just give up the ghost and let the water go.
 
I am the granddaughter of a woman named Olufunmilayo Juliana Faloyin[1], and she’s the one who serves as my compass. When Grandma would say her name, she’d always say it with a smile. Which makes sense, because her name literally means “God gave me joy.” It was like her very self and presence brought her joy. When they sang my grandmother’s oriki at her funeral, I got emotional because it was a poetic affirmation of her presence on this earth and a send off. It was a standing ovation for her spirit.
 
This is part of my Grandma’s oriki:
 
Ọmọ Ògbóni Modù lorè, mẹ̀rẹ̀ ní àkún.
Ọmọ Fulani Ùjẹ̀ṣà a múni má parò oko ọni.
Ọmọ a fi ọṣẹ fọ aṣọ kí ọ́mọ Ẹlòmíràn fi eérú fọ ti ẹ̀.
Ọmọ arúgbìnrin owó bọ̀dìdẹ̀
 
What it loosely means (because there are some Yoruba words that don’t exist in English) is:
 
The child of the Ìjẹ̀ṣà Fulani who acquires one without killing the birds in one’s farm.
The child who brings out soap to wash his/her own clothes while someone else’s child brings out ashes to wash his/hers.
The child that springs up money (wealth) in multiples.
 
It ties her back to those who came before her and gasses her up.
 
*
 
I don’t know my oriki. Many of us don’t. Like a lot of traditions, orikis have been de-prioritized as generations pass. I’m out here oriki-less AF. But it’s okay. I’m fine, really. I’m not mad at all that by the time I came along, folks were more blasé about it (clearly I’m lowkey salty but I’ll deal with that with my therapist).
 
However, a lot of what we already do are derivatives of orikis and we don’t even realize it. The tradition of the ORIKI isn’t just in Yorubaland; it’s gone on through the diaspora. You can see it in the way people rap about themselves. It’s in the way people praise God. It’s in the way we say who we are in the moments we feel most proud.
 
When Christians praise God, we say: King of kings. Lord of Lords. Alpha and Omega. The beginning and the end. The I am. The Waymaker. That’s an oriki if I ever heard one.
 
When we think about how people are introduced in something as made up as the TV show Game of Thrones, it tracks. “Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen. First of Her Name. The Unburnt. Queen of the Andals and the First Men. Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea. Breaker of Chains. Mother of Dragons.” THAT IS SUCH AN ORIKI! Didn’t you feel gassed up on her behalf anytime they introduced her? I know I did. That’s what it is for!
 
I tend to write ones for people I admire to gas them up as I please. I’ve done a few in the past.
 
For Michelle Obama: Michelle LaVaughn of House Obama. First of her name. Dame of Dignity. Melanin Magnificence. Chic Chicagoan. Boss Lady of Brilliance. Owner of the Arms of Your Envy. Forever First Lady.
 
For President Barack Obama: Barack Hussein of House Obama. Second of his name. Swagnificence in the West Wing. He Who Speaks in Complete Sentences. Shea Butter Skinned Leader of the World. Michelle's boo. 44 of Life.
 
For Beyoncé: Beyoncé Giselle of House Knowles. First of her name. Snatcher of Edges. Killer of Stages. Citizen of Creole Wonderland.
 
For Oprah: Oprah Gail of House Winfrey. First of her name. First of her name. Change of the world. Protector of the Realm of Noirpublic. Creator of Paths. Breaker of Chains and Limits.
 
For Toni Morrison: Toni of House Morrison. First of Her Name. Architect of Words. Acclaimed Author. Shifter of Culture. Netter of Nobel Prize. Writing Domino. Legendary Laureate.
 
For Aretha Franklin: Aretha Louise of House Franklin. First of Her Name. Dame of Detroit. Empress of Elevated Sound. Reverberation Royalty. Vocal Victor. Sovereign of Soul. Aural Authority.
 
For Janelle Monae: Janelle of House Monae. First of her name. Citizen of the Future. Walker of Tight Ropes. Sprinkler of #NoirPixieDust. Rocker of the Baddest Suits. Giver of No Intergalactic Fucks. Head Android of Wondaland.
 
For Issa Rae: Issa Rae of House Diop. First of her name. Slayer of Content. Opener of Doors. Creator of Best Life. Producer of Dreams.
 
For Yara Shahidi: Yara of House Shahidi. First of her name. Builder of Generational Bridges. Teller of Truths. Thoughtful Activist.
 
So, how do you write a simple Game of Thrones style original for yourself? Here’s the formula, and how I come up with the intros.
 
First Name and Middle Name of House Last Name. Number of Her/His/Their Name.
 
That’s the easy part.
 
The next part, throw humility away. The point of this is to give yourself all the credit. I want you to acknowledge the things that make you proud and the things you have accomplished. They don’t have to just be professional, but they can be things that feel like your superpower. Feel free to use royal titles for yourself (Queen, King, Earl, Duchess), because why not? (If anyone from The Monarchy is reading this, sorry but not sorry for the appropriation.) Get creative with your descriptors if you want. I am also a fan of throwing in some alliteration in there for extra pizzazz.
 
Noun (occupation or descriptor) of noun (thing).
 
Luvvie Ajayi of House Jones (because married AF). First of Her Name. Assassin of the Alphabet. Bestseller of Books. Conqueror of Copy. Dame of Diction. Critic of Culture. Sorceress of Side-eyes. Eater of Jollof Rice. Rocker of Fierce Shoes. Queen of the Jones Kingdom. Taker of Stages. Nigerian Noble and Chitown Creator.
 
I could keep going, but I’ll stop here. You need one of your own and I want you to write it. Now, if you have the time. If not, come back to it.
 
I know you might be thinking “But those people Luvvie mentioned above are famous and extraordinary and hugely dope. I can’t even measure up to that.” And to that, I say “slap yourself.” Right now, slap yourself. I want you to leave that kinda talk behind. Because yes, those are some AMAZING people, and they have achieved a lot.
 
But so have you. By being here on this Earth, you have done enough. (We’ll deal with imposter syndrome in a few chapters).
 
What if you have a complicated relationship with your family members? Or you don’t have any familial ties? Or you were adopted so you don’t know your family history?
 
For those who might not have blood ties to the people they love most, you are still a part of a people who cherish you, adore you, and are glad that you are here on this Earth in this space and time. To you, I send love. Not knowing the binds that tie you by blood does not preclude you from belonging to a people or a community or a tribe.
 
If you are someone who can truly say you don’t have an answer to WHOSE you are, and this book has made it to you and these words are being heard or read by you, then you are truly someone who should laugh at fear. Cackle at it, even. Having no one is not a cause of shame here but one of pride because it means you have moved through the world, dropkicking these obstacles in the teeth by yourself. You are a warrior. Your oriki can start with ARMY OF ONE. You have battled life by yourself, and even though it might have bruised you and maybe almost drowned you, YOU MADE IT TO LAND! You are still here. High five yourself. Army of one. Solo soldier. Rock of Gibraltar has nothing on you.
 
You might be reading this saying “I’m a stay at home mom. I don’t have professional things to put in my oriki.” Well, being a mom is a whole job that you don’t ever retire from and you are constantly working overtime without pay. TRUST, there’s a lot of accomplishments there.
 
Raiser of Future Leaders. Keeper of Everyone’s Shit Together. Master of Calendar. Expert of Efficiency. Queen of the Last Name Dynasty.
 
Everybody needs an oriki.


[1] Olufunmilayo is pronounced Oh-loo-foon-me-la-yaw. Faloyin: Fa-low-yeen.

Praise for Professional Troublemaker
 
“For fans of: Shonda Rhimes’s Year of Yes; Hulu’s Shrill; Glennon Doyle’s Untamed; HBO’s Insecure…With some helpful insights from her grandmother, Ajayi Jones encourages us all, via this audaciously funny guide, to overcome imposter syndrome and accept our worth.”
Marie Claire

“Luvvie Ajayi Jones reveals the ways imposter syndrome has threatened her writing career and argues truth tellers could do with some practice in this follow-up to 2016’s I’m Judging You. Use it to prepare for your next big win.”
Essence

“Luvvie Ajayi Jones delivers a masterclass on escaping the trappings of self-doubt in her latest release... encourag[ing] readers to face fear head on and remove the shame and guilt that we often put on ourselves when experiencing this emotion.”
Ebony

“Luvvie Ajayi Jones, the bestselling author of I’m Judging You, brings Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual, a hilarious and transformational book about how to tackle fear-that everlasting hater-and audaciously step into lives, careers and legacies that go beyond even our wildest dreams.”
Black Business Guide, named one of the 21 Books by Black Writers to Read in 2021

“Looking for ways to tackle fear or overcome imposter syndrome? This anticipated release is aimed at those who need that extra push with stepping out of their comfort zone, and transforming into an individual who is committed to not letting fear keep them from living the life they truly desire.”
Lux & Concord

“As an oft-scared chickenhead, who cares too much about what others think, it’s so comforting to be guided through my own crippling fear and self-doubt by one of the bravest, most incisively honest, hysterical voices I know. This book was so real, relatable and so much of it had me belly laughing. This is the essential manual for anybody who is ready to take that leap of faith to bet on the best, uninhibited, whole version of themselves.”
—Issa Rae, actor, producer, New York Times bestselling author
 
“This book is a manual on HOW TO HUMAN. You could spend a lifetime and fortune finding the perfect therapist, mentor, minister, career coach, and girlfriend—or you could just spend a day reading Professional Troublemaker. This book—Luvvie Ajayi Jones’s most helpful, bold, vulnerable, hilarious, and relevant work yet—is equal parts catharsis and wake-up call, both comforting and galvanizing. I laughed and cried so hard that my family asked me to read in the other room. With her razor-sharp mind, soul on fire, and heart of gold—Luvvie is the writer and artist the world needs right now. This will be my go-to gift for all the beloved troublemakers in my life.”
—Glennon Doyle, author of #1 New York Times bestseller Untamed and founder of Together Rising

“There’s nobody quite like Luvvie Ajayi Jones. She’s a force and a powerhouse, the thunder and the lightning—and Professional Troublemaker shows us exactly how she got that way. This is a great book about reaching deep down inside yourself, crushing your fears, unleashing your ‘too-muchness,’ and giving yourself permission to shake the world. In a voice that is funny, wise, bold, and always generous, Luvvie encourages, inspires, and dares us to follow our dreams, fight against injustice, soak up the pleasures of life, and take up all the space in the room. If this book doesn’t make you feel bolder and braver by the final page, then you weren’t reading it right. I loved every passionate word of it.”
—Elizabeth Gilbert, New York Times bestselling author of Big Magic and Eat, Pray, Love

“Whether you are traversing new territory, bounding back from perceived failure, or learning for the first time how to own the full power of your own voice, Luvvie’s Fear Fighting Manual is the pep talk we all need. Delivered in her singular voice and signature shade, this must-read is chock-full of gems that will guide you out of your own way so you can get more out of your life—a life that is more interesting than one lived in fear.”
—Elaine Welteroth, journalist and New York Times bestselling author of More Than Enough

“If you’ve seen her TED talk or read her first bestseller, you know there isn’t a smarter or funnier cultural critic alive. This is the eye-opening, soul-nourishing, sidesplitting book you need to replace the anguish of 2020 with the courage to overcome your fears, master your doubts, and make good trouble in 2021.”
—Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Think Again and Originals, and host of the TED podcast WorkLife

“As if there was ever a reason to think Luvvie Ajayi Jones was simply a powerful voice, Professional Troublemaker will remind readers that she is one of the most effective and evocative writers alive.”
—Kiese Laymon, New York Times bestselling author of Heavy

“Some of the greatest pleasures in life come from breaking rules, questioning boundaries and troublemaking. But to make trouble well—and to bring all the pieces of yourself to life, love and conflict—is an art. Luvvie Ajayi Jones knows this and shows this as she guides readers to finding their own path to troublemaking with humor, charm and a whole lot of heart.”
—Esther Perel, psychotherapist, podcast host, and New York Times bestselling author
 
“This book is a comfort and a challenge. It inspires, encourages, heartens and invigorates in equal measure. You should read it.”
— Jenny Lawson, New York Times bestselling author of Furiously Happy and Let’s Pretend This Never Happened
 
“Luvvie is authentic power personified. This book has so much depth, ancestral wisdom, and inspiration said in the most delightful way. It is ancient text, wrapped in hilarious observations, charm, and a supportive urging to become more. A blueprint for living with courage and unapologetically standing in your greatness. I legit had my jaw dropped mouth wide open in so many parts, and I felt God all in this book. There is seriously no one like Luvvie; she is 1 of 1.” 
—Devi Brown, chief impact officer at Chopra Global and master wellness educator
 
“Tired of the status quo? This book is a MUST read. There is no better time to shake up your life, your work, or your perspective than today. Luvvie pushes you to places you have always wanted to go, but never thought you could—until now. If you are a leader, urge your people to read this book. Limiting beliefs will be overcome, empowerment will be at an all-time high and the term ‘professional troublemaker’ will become standard when it comes to taking people to the next level.”
—Mel Robbins, bestselling author of The 5 Second Rule

“THIS BOOK. I’m mad Luvvie wrote an even better book than her debut. LIVID in the best way. Professional Troublemaker is full of stories that made me laugh until my stomach hurt, advice that made me rearrange my priorities, and so many examples of the highs and lows of living a semi-public public creative life. Read this book to be simultaneously entertained and educated. Luvvie Ajayi Jones has a singular writing voice that comes across warm, kind, and just judge-y enough.” 
—Ashley C. Ford, author of Somebody’s Daughter

“The three things we need right now are the ability to fight through our fears, the understanding that we can make change in our lives and the world, and the invitation to laugh—hard and often. Luvvie—who is among the most hilarious, passionate women I know—gives us all three in her forthcoming book, which is chock full of all of the things we all think, but never say. It’s the daily vitamin we all need during these times.”
—Abby Wambach, Olympic gold medalist and FIFA World Cup champion

Podcast host Ajayi Jones (I’m Judging You) explores how to fight fear in order to speak up for oneself in this witty, insightful guide. . . Readers needing the extra push to stand up will find Ajayi Jones’s advice enlightening and empowering. (Mar.)”
Publishers Weekly

“Bold, insightful wisdom from a leading proponent of self-expression.”
Kirkus

“Like a self-help book minus the corniness.”
PureWow

“Jones’ fans will appreciate this bold display of her signature fearlessness, and new readers will connect with her funny personal stories and flair for language, which make reading this book feel like talking to an old friend.”
BookPage

© Kesha Lambert
Luvvie Ajayi Jones is an award-winning author, speaker, and podcast host, who thrives at the intersection of humor, media, and justice. She is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Professional Troublemaker and I'm Judging You: The Do-Better Manual. Luvvie is an internationally recognized speaker, and she runs a community for disruptors, called LuvvNation.           
Find out more about Luvvie at Luvvie.org, and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @Luvvie. View titles by Luvvie Ajayi Jones

About

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
 
From the New York Times bestselling author of I'm Judging You, a hilarious and transformational book about how to tackle fear--that everlasting hater--and audaciously step into lives, careers, and legacies that go beyond even our wildest dreams

Luvvie Ajayi Jones is known for her trademark wit, warmth, and perpetual truth-telling. But even she's been challenged by the enemy of progress known as fear. She was once afraid to call herself a writer, and nearly skipped out on doing a TED talk that changed her life because of imposter syndrome. As she shares in Professional Troublemaker, she's not alone.

We're all afraid. We're afraid of asking for what we want because we're afraid of hearing "no." We're afraid of being different, of being too much or not enough. We're afraid of leaving behind the known for the unknown. But in order to do the things that will truly, meaningfully change our lives, we have to become professional troublemakers: people who are committed to not letting fear talk them out of the things they need to do or say to live free.

With humor and honesty, and guided by the influence of her professional troublemaking Nigerian grandmother, Funmilayo Faloyin, Luvvie walks us through what we must get right within ourselves before we can do the things that scare us; how to use our voice for a greater good; and how to put movement to the voice we've been silencing--because truth-telling is a muscle.

The point is not to be fearless, but to know we are afraid and charge forward regardless. It is to recognize that the things we must do are more significant than our fears. This book is about how to live boldly in spite of all the reasons we have to cower. Let's go!

Excerpt

1: Know Yourself

We fear our full selves.
 
We are afraid of who we are, in all our glory (and grit). We’re constantly “searching” for that person. Or forgetting that person. Or repressing that person. Instead of standing strong in who that person is.
 
Being FULLY ourselves is necessary for us because it serves as a grounding force. I find that it’s the case for me. There is a lot to be afraid of in this world, because in general, things can be a wreck out there. And none of us needs to be afraid of who we are in our whole personhood, because who has the time?
 
This standing in your full self isn’t about being an immovable person, whose beliefs are stuck in a rock. It’s not that can’t nobody tell you shit, or you not being able to admit when you’re wrong. Instead, it’s about having a strong sense of identity. It’s about knowing you belong in this world just as much as anyone else. It’s about taking up the space you earned simply by being born.
 
One of my favorite poems is the Desiderata, written by Max Ehrmann. My favorite part is: “You are a child of the universe / no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here /And whether or not it is clear to you / no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”
 
“YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO BE HERE.” You sure in the hell do.
 
Oddly enough, knowing this fullness of who you are doesn’t make you more stubborn. Instead, it makes you more likely to grow, since you know you have a solid foundation that doesn’t change even as you’ve learned new things and new perspectives. This is a step you need to be a professional troublemaker. Because you will GET IN TROUBLE. Guaranteed. What makes you realize it’s worth it? This process of knowing the fullness of who you are.
 
A lot of fear fighting and professional troublemaking is confronting things that will knock us off our square. Things that will slap us into dizziness and make us forget everything we know is real. We need solid feet, rooted in something strong to continue to stand. Knowing ourselves is important because it provides that foundation for us. It doesn’t allow anyone or anything to tell us who we are. Because when people tell us how amazing we are, that’s good to absorb. But what about when someone tells us we aren’t worthy? Or we don’t have value? Or we don’t deserve kindness and love? Or that we deserve papercuts? To know thyself is to not take all the praise to head or take all the shaming to heart.
 
To know thyself is to know your core, and for me, to know your core is to feel rooted in something outside of myself. It is to know, not only who I am but whose I am.
 
Whose We Are
 
Whose I am is not about belonging to someone or being beholden to people. It is about the community you are tied to that holds you accountable. It is about knowing you are part of a tribe that is greater than yourself. It is about feeling deeply connected to someone, and that no matter where you go, you have a base. If we’re phones, knowing whose we are is our charging station.
 
I learned the importance of WHOSE you are growing up. As a Yoruba girl, I am a part of a tribe that prioritizes your people sometimes as much as it prioritizes an individual. Collectivism comes alive for us through the traditional ORÍKÌ (oh-ree-kee).
 
What’s an ORIKI? It is a Yoruba word that combines two words to mean “praising your head/mind.” Ori is “head” and Ki is “to greet or praise.” An Oriki is a greeting that praises you through praising your kinship and speaking life to your destiny. It is your personal hype mantra, and can be spoken or sung.
 
The original attempts to tell you who you are make up your oriki. It's used to remind you of your roots and your history. It might include the city your father’s from, and where his father is from. It might include the things that make your family name special. It brags on your people. It lets people know who you WERE, who you ARE, who you WILL BE. It reminds you of those who came before you and blesses those who will come after. It might even include some shade.
 
Orikis are often sung at your birthday or celebrations. They also sing them to see you off to the next life. An oriki connects you to your ancestors, and it will move even the most stoic to cry because you feel it in your chest. Your tear ducts just give up the ghost and let the water go.
 
I am the granddaughter of a woman named Olufunmilayo Juliana Faloyin[1], and she’s the one who serves as my compass. When Grandma would say her name, she’d always say it with a smile. Which makes sense, because her name literally means “God gave me joy.” It was like her very self and presence brought her joy. When they sang my grandmother’s oriki at her funeral, I got emotional because it was a poetic affirmation of her presence on this earth and a send off. It was a standing ovation for her spirit.
 
This is part of my Grandma’s oriki:
 
Ọmọ Ògbóni Modù lorè, mẹ̀rẹ̀ ní àkún.
Ọmọ Fulani Ùjẹ̀ṣà a múni má parò oko ọni.
Ọmọ a fi ọṣẹ fọ aṣọ kí ọ́mọ Ẹlòmíràn fi eérú fọ ti ẹ̀.
Ọmọ arúgbìnrin owó bọ̀dìdẹ̀
 
What it loosely means (because there are some Yoruba words that don’t exist in English) is:
 
The child of the Ìjẹ̀ṣà Fulani who acquires one without killing the birds in one’s farm.
The child who brings out soap to wash his/her own clothes while someone else’s child brings out ashes to wash his/hers.
The child that springs up money (wealth) in multiples.
 
It ties her back to those who came before her and gasses her up.
 
*
 
I don’t know my oriki. Many of us don’t. Like a lot of traditions, orikis have been de-prioritized as generations pass. I’m out here oriki-less AF. But it’s okay. I’m fine, really. I’m not mad at all that by the time I came along, folks were more blasé about it (clearly I’m lowkey salty but I’ll deal with that with my therapist).
 
However, a lot of what we already do are derivatives of orikis and we don’t even realize it. The tradition of the ORIKI isn’t just in Yorubaland; it’s gone on through the diaspora. You can see it in the way people rap about themselves. It’s in the way people praise God. It’s in the way we say who we are in the moments we feel most proud.
 
When Christians praise God, we say: King of kings. Lord of Lords. Alpha and Omega. The beginning and the end. The I am. The Waymaker. That’s an oriki if I ever heard one.
 
When we think about how people are introduced in something as made up as the TV show Game of Thrones, it tracks. “Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen. First of Her Name. The Unburnt. Queen of the Andals and the First Men. Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea. Breaker of Chains. Mother of Dragons.” THAT IS SUCH AN ORIKI! Didn’t you feel gassed up on her behalf anytime they introduced her? I know I did. That’s what it is for!
 
I tend to write ones for people I admire to gas them up as I please. I’ve done a few in the past.
 
For Michelle Obama: Michelle LaVaughn of House Obama. First of her name. Dame of Dignity. Melanin Magnificence. Chic Chicagoan. Boss Lady of Brilliance. Owner of the Arms of Your Envy. Forever First Lady.
 
For President Barack Obama: Barack Hussein of House Obama. Second of his name. Swagnificence in the West Wing. He Who Speaks in Complete Sentences. Shea Butter Skinned Leader of the World. Michelle's boo. 44 of Life.
 
For Beyoncé: Beyoncé Giselle of House Knowles. First of her name. Snatcher of Edges. Killer of Stages. Citizen of Creole Wonderland.
 
For Oprah: Oprah Gail of House Winfrey. First of her name. First of her name. Change of the world. Protector of the Realm of Noirpublic. Creator of Paths. Breaker of Chains and Limits.
 
For Toni Morrison: Toni of House Morrison. First of Her Name. Architect of Words. Acclaimed Author. Shifter of Culture. Netter of Nobel Prize. Writing Domino. Legendary Laureate.
 
For Aretha Franklin: Aretha Louise of House Franklin. First of Her Name. Dame of Detroit. Empress of Elevated Sound. Reverberation Royalty. Vocal Victor. Sovereign of Soul. Aural Authority.
 
For Janelle Monae: Janelle of House Monae. First of her name. Citizen of the Future. Walker of Tight Ropes. Sprinkler of #NoirPixieDust. Rocker of the Baddest Suits. Giver of No Intergalactic Fucks. Head Android of Wondaland.
 
For Issa Rae: Issa Rae of House Diop. First of her name. Slayer of Content. Opener of Doors. Creator of Best Life. Producer of Dreams.
 
For Yara Shahidi: Yara of House Shahidi. First of her name. Builder of Generational Bridges. Teller of Truths. Thoughtful Activist.
 
So, how do you write a simple Game of Thrones style original for yourself? Here’s the formula, and how I come up with the intros.
 
First Name and Middle Name of House Last Name. Number of Her/His/Their Name.
 
That’s the easy part.
 
The next part, throw humility away. The point of this is to give yourself all the credit. I want you to acknowledge the things that make you proud and the things you have accomplished. They don’t have to just be professional, but they can be things that feel like your superpower. Feel free to use royal titles for yourself (Queen, King, Earl, Duchess), because why not? (If anyone from The Monarchy is reading this, sorry but not sorry for the appropriation.) Get creative with your descriptors if you want. I am also a fan of throwing in some alliteration in there for extra pizzazz.
 
Noun (occupation or descriptor) of noun (thing).
 
Luvvie Ajayi of House Jones (because married AF). First of Her Name. Assassin of the Alphabet. Bestseller of Books. Conqueror of Copy. Dame of Diction. Critic of Culture. Sorceress of Side-eyes. Eater of Jollof Rice. Rocker of Fierce Shoes. Queen of the Jones Kingdom. Taker of Stages. Nigerian Noble and Chitown Creator.
 
I could keep going, but I’ll stop here. You need one of your own and I want you to write it. Now, if you have the time. If not, come back to it.
 
I know you might be thinking “But those people Luvvie mentioned above are famous and extraordinary and hugely dope. I can’t even measure up to that.” And to that, I say “slap yourself.” Right now, slap yourself. I want you to leave that kinda talk behind. Because yes, those are some AMAZING people, and they have achieved a lot.
 
But so have you. By being here on this Earth, you have done enough. (We’ll deal with imposter syndrome in a few chapters).
 
What if you have a complicated relationship with your family members? Or you don’t have any familial ties? Or you were adopted so you don’t know your family history?
 
For those who might not have blood ties to the people they love most, you are still a part of a people who cherish you, adore you, and are glad that you are here on this Earth in this space and time. To you, I send love. Not knowing the binds that tie you by blood does not preclude you from belonging to a people or a community or a tribe.
 
If you are someone who can truly say you don’t have an answer to WHOSE you are, and this book has made it to you and these words are being heard or read by you, then you are truly someone who should laugh at fear. Cackle at it, even. Having no one is not a cause of shame here but one of pride because it means you have moved through the world, dropkicking these obstacles in the teeth by yourself. You are a warrior. Your oriki can start with ARMY OF ONE. You have battled life by yourself, and even though it might have bruised you and maybe almost drowned you, YOU MADE IT TO LAND! You are still here. High five yourself. Army of one. Solo soldier. Rock of Gibraltar has nothing on you.
 
You might be reading this saying “I’m a stay at home mom. I don’t have professional things to put in my oriki.” Well, being a mom is a whole job that you don’t ever retire from and you are constantly working overtime without pay. TRUST, there’s a lot of accomplishments there.
 
Raiser of Future Leaders. Keeper of Everyone’s Shit Together. Master of Calendar. Expert of Efficiency. Queen of the Last Name Dynasty.
 
Everybody needs an oriki.


[1] Olufunmilayo is pronounced Oh-loo-foon-me-la-yaw. Faloyin: Fa-low-yeen.

Praise

Praise for Professional Troublemaker
 
“For fans of: Shonda Rhimes’s Year of Yes; Hulu’s Shrill; Glennon Doyle’s Untamed; HBO’s Insecure…With some helpful insights from her grandmother, Ajayi Jones encourages us all, via this audaciously funny guide, to overcome imposter syndrome and accept our worth.”
Marie Claire

“Luvvie Ajayi Jones reveals the ways imposter syndrome has threatened her writing career and argues truth tellers could do with some practice in this follow-up to 2016’s I’m Judging You. Use it to prepare for your next big win.”
Essence

“Luvvie Ajayi Jones delivers a masterclass on escaping the trappings of self-doubt in her latest release... encourag[ing] readers to face fear head on and remove the shame and guilt that we often put on ourselves when experiencing this emotion.”
Ebony

“Luvvie Ajayi Jones, the bestselling author of I’m Judging You, brings Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual, a hilarious and transformational book about how to tackle fear-that everlasting hater-and audaciously step into lives, careers and legacies that go beyond even our wildest dreams.”
Black Business Guide, named one of the 21 Books by Black Writers to Read in 2021

“Looking for ways to tackle fear or overcome imposter syndrome? This anticipated release is aimed at those who need that extra push with stepping out of their comfort zone, and transforming into an individual who is committed to not letting fear keep them from living the life they truly desire.”
Lux & Concord

“As an oft-scared chickenhead, who cares too much about what others think, it’s so comforting to be guided through my own crippling fear and self-doubt by one of the bravest, most incisively honest, hysterical voices I know. This book was so real, relatable and so much of it had me belly laughing. This is the essential manual for anybody who is ready to take that leap of faith to bet on the best, uninhibited, whole version of themselves.”
—Issa Rae, actor, producer, New York Times bestselling author
 
“This book is a manual on HOW TO HUMAN. You could spend a lifetime and fortune finding the perfect therapist, mentor, minister, career coach, and girlfriend—or you could just spend a day reading Professional Troublemaker. This book—Luvvie Ajayi Jones’s most helpful, bold, vulnerable, hilarious, and relevant work yet—is equal parts catharsis and wake-up call, both comforting and galvanizing. I laughed and cried so hard that my family asked me to read in the other room. With her razor-sharp mind, soul on fire, and heart of gold—Luvvie is the writer and artist the world needs right now. This will be my go-to gift for all the beloved troublemakers in my life.”
—Glennon Doyle, author of #1 New York Times bestseller Untamed and founder of Together Rising

“There’s nobody quite like Luvvie Ajayi Jones. She’s a force and a powerhouse, the thunder and the lightning—and Professional Troublemaker shows us exactly how she got that way. This is a great book about reaching deep down inside yourself, crushing your fears, unleashing your ‘too-muchness,’ and giving yourself permission to shake the world. In a voice that is funny, wise, bold, and always generous, Luvvie encourages, inspires, and dares us to follow our dreams, fight against injustice, soak up the pleasures of life, and take up all the space in the room. If this book doesn’t make you feel bolder and braver by the final page, then you weren’t reading it right. I loved every passionate word of it.”
—Elizabeth Gilbert, New York Times bestselling author of Big Magic and Eat, Pray, Love

“Whether you are traversing new territory, bounding back from perceived failure, or learning for the first time how to own the full power of your own voice, Luvvie’s Fear Fighting Manual is the pep talk we all need. Delivered in her singular voice and signature shade, this must-read is chock-full of gems that will guide you out of your own way so you can get more out of your life—a life that is more interesting than one lived in fear.”
—Elaine Welteroth, journalist and New York Times bestselling author of More Than Enough

“If you’ve seen her TED talk or read her first bestseller, you know there isn’t a smarter or funnier cultural critic alive. This is the eye-opening, soul-nourishing, sidesplitting book you need to replace the anguish of 2020 with the courage to overcome your fears, master your doubts, and make good trouble in 2021.”
—Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Think Again and Originals, and host of the TED podcast WorkLife

“As if there was ever a reason to think Luvvie Ajayi Jones was simply a powerful voice, Professional Troublemaker will remind readers that she is one of the most effective and evocative writers alive.”
—Kiese Laymon, New York Times bestselling author of Heavy

“Some of the greatest pleasures in life come from breaking rules, questioning boundaries and troublemaking. But to make trouble well—and to bring all the pieces of yourself to life, love and conflict—is an art. Luvvie Ajayi Jones knows this and shows this as she guides readers to finding their own path to troublemaking with humor, charm and a whole lot of heart.”
—Esther Perel, psychotherapist, podcast host, and New York Times bestselling author
 
“This book is a comfort and a challenge. It inspires, encourages, heartens and invigorates in equal measure. You should read it.”
— Jenny Lawson, New York Times bestselling author of Furiously Happy and Let’s Pretend This Never Happened
 
“Luvvie is authentic power personified. This book has so much depth, ancestral wisdom, and inspiration said in the most delightful way. It is ancient text, wrapped in hilarious observations, charm, and a supportive urging to become more. A blueprint for living with courage and unapologetically standing in your greatness. I legit had my jaw dropped mouth wide open in so many parts, and I felt God all in this book. There is seriously no one like Luvvie; she is 1 of 1.” 
—Devi Brown, chief impact officer at Chopra Global and master wellness educator
 
“Tired of the status quo? This book is a MUST read. There is no better time to shake up your life, your work, or your perspective than today. Luvvie pushes you to places you have always wanted to go, but never thought you could—until now. If you are a leader, urge your people to read this book. Limiting beliefs will be overcome, empowerment will be at an all-time high and the term ‘professional troublemaker’ will become standard when it comes to taking people to the next level.”
—Mel Robbins, bestselling author of The 5 Second Rule

“THIS BOOK. I’m mad Luvvie wrote an even better book than her debut. LIVID in the best way. Professional Troublemaker is full of stories that made me laugh until my stomach hurt, advice that made me rearrange my priorities, and so many examples of the highs and lows of living a semi-public public creative life. Read this book to be simultaneously entertained and educated. Luvvie Ajayi Jones has a singular writing voice that comes across warm, kind, and just judge-y enough.” 
—Ashley C. Ford, author of Somebody’s Daughter

“The three things we need right now are the ability to fight through our fears, the understanding that we can make change in our lives and the world, and the invitation to laugh—hard and often. Luvvie—who is among the most hilarious, passionate women I know—gives us all three in her forthcoming book, which is chock full of all of the things we all think, but never say. It’s the daily vitamin we all need during these times.”
—Abby Wambach, Olympic gold medalist and FIFA World Cup champion

Podcast host Ajayi Jones (I’m Judging You) explores how to fight fear in order to speak up for oneself in this witty, insightful guide. . . Readers needing the extra push to stand up will find Ajayi Jones’s advice enlightening and empowering. (Mar.)”
Publishers Weekly

“Bold, insightful wisdom from a leading proponent of self-expression.”
Kirkus

“Like a self-help book minus the corniness.”
PureWow

“Jones’ fans will appreciate this bold display of her signature fearlessness, and new readers will connect with her funny personal stories and flair for language, which make reading this book feel like talking to an old friend.”
BookPage

Author

© Kesha Lambert
Luvvie Ajayi Jones is an award-winning author, speaker, and podcast host, who thrives at the intersection of humor, media, and justice. She is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Professional Troublemaker and I'm Judging You: The Do-Better Manual. Luvvie is an internationally recognized speaker, and she runs a community for disruptors, called LuvvNation.           
Find out more about Luvvie at Luvvie.org, and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @Luvvie. View titles by Luvvie Ajayi Jones

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