Eritreans are very special in that they celebrate two New Years. One in January and the other in September called Geez New Year. The Geez New year is commonly knows as Kudus Yohannes, in honor of John the Baptist - a prominent biblical figure. For many, it is a new season to reflect and have a rebirth, if you call it. We wanted to spotlight an Eritrean who embraces new beginnings. TONL Ambassador, Rahhel Woldu talks us through her day in the life as she juggles work, personal passions and everything in between. Read her story below and be sure to shop the "Eritrean Collection" in honor of Geez New Year!
Empathic Genuine Forgiving
I was born in Phoenix, raised in Seattle, but my family is originally from Eritrea. My parents immigrated to the United States in 1984.
Being born and raised for the first few years of my life in Phoenix, I remember that even though my family came from humble beginnings, we had a multicultural and diverse community in our apartment complex. When my family moved to an area just north of Seattle, I just remember feeling different– like I was a misfit. Edmonds, Washington currently has a 2% black population. Growing up being one of the few black people that people would see or interact with, there were macro-aggressions I endured in which I did not realize until muchlater. For example, I would hear, “You’re really pretty…for a black girl,” and in my ignorance, I really thought this was a compliment. It was not until I graduated high school, and started digging into whythese interactions triggered or bothered me, that I realized the true lackof representation of people of color in our society. It has been a 15 year journey of exploring and understanding all the complexities of my experience growing up. This is why I am so passionate about learning more about black history and have so much pride in my heritage. The world continues to see blackness, and more specifically, black-womanhood, as a threat to the status quo. So I will continue to glow in my truth as a proud, black, Eritrean woman.
A Day In the Life....
When I wake up in the morning the first thing I always do is take a moment to thank God for blessing me with another day on His Earth. I am a morning person and feel most alive at 5am during my spin classes because it helps set the tone for the day. Spin-Cycling is something I have been doing for the past few years. Every year, I fall more in love with the process, the burn and the rush of adrenaline to push through the mental barriers the mind creates when your body is pushed to the limits. After spin class I get ready for work, make myself breakfast and read a page from my daily devotional book, Jesus Callingby Sarah Young. This is a key part of my day because it serves as a perfect way to orient my day around God’s word and it reminds me to remember God in moments of despair or jubilance.
At 7am I take my first client call from home where I talk to customers from all over the world helping to create a strategy around their SEO and Digital Marketing goals. I am usually out the door by 9:15a and catch the bus as I commute into the office by 9:40a. During my commute I either listen to music, a motivational word from some of my favorite speakers or read from a book I am currently inspired by titled, You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Lifeby Jen Sincero.
I work for a SEO/Digital Marketing Tech Company in Seattle called Moz. I am extremely proud to work in such a progressive space. For instance, we have a Haloprogram where we have 1:1 coaches that help with personal and professional development. I call it “work therapy.” This has impacted me by helping identify my anxieties and my saboteurs, and how to manage them as they come. We also have weekly Lunch n’ Learns that cover an array of fantasizing topics. Last, but certainly not least, we have PAID, Paid vacations! I took my first trip last winter to London, Paris and Amsterdam! This experience gave me the opportunity to see my uncle for the first time in over 15 years! Despite all of the amazing attributes of this company, I do yearn for more black professionals in this space and very much look forward to being a part of that effort.
The benefit of getting a kick start to the day is that I am out of the office by 3:30pm where I commute back home and take some time to decompress from the work day. Shortly after I begin my passion projects. These consist of either prepping for a photoshoot that I will be styling for, or I commit a second round of workouts at my brother Robel’s gym, Athletic Form. After a workout, I come home, have dinner and either indulge in my favorite Netflix show right now The Killing, or I continue to work through ideas for my next creative/style project. By the time I look at the clock it is 10:30-11pm and it is time for bed - because I need my energy the next day!
What are your passions?
I’m passionate about people, fashion and running.
“Allow God to continually soften your heart so that it beats for what His heart beats for - people.” – Christine Caine
We all need a place where we feel safe enough to be honest about our challenges and shortcomings. None of us are perfect. We allcan use some grace, I need grace, every day. As much as our world tries to find ways to divide humanity, if you really take time to truly understand someone’s perspective, their world and their story, there is a large chance you will find more things in common than not. We all want to be heard, valued and understood and if I can extend myself to someone so they can see their true value, I am absolutely going to do that.
I have always appreciated being able to express myself through my clothing. Every day is an opportunity for me to change how people see women like myself and to transcend the stereotypes society may have of black women. My power is in helping shift society’s paradigm of what it means to be a black woman and I am able do that in my fashion.
My relationship with running is a unique one. As a runner, when people ask, “why do you like to run?” The answer is deeper than anything I can explain or articulate. It started as a way to stay active post high school but quickly developed into a passion of mine. Running gives me the chance to be extraordinary when I hit the pavement and to discover just how far I can push myself. It is an exhilarating and powerful feeling to have a chance to overcome all obstacles, fight through pain and suffering, test emotional limits and boundaries, and experience the potential of the human body. Running allows me to break down the barriers in my mind I never even knew existed. When a run becomes too exhausting, and I want to stop, I hear a soft whisper in my head reminding me, “I can do this!” When that mental shift takes place, I truly feel unstoppable. I feel proudand that is why I keep coming back to it. Running will always accept me no matter where I am in life, it welcomes me back with open arms.
What do you wish people knew about you?
A couple things;
I am an extrovert. I love being around people, they are what fuel me. Simultaneously, it is important to note that alone time is also essential to my happiness. In my alone time, I am able to process and reflect with no distractions. I give myself the chance to clear my mind, focus and reflect more clearly.
One more thing....
This year, I am welcoming every opportunity that feels like a gift from God. I hope to access and develop my creativity more. For the longest time, I resisted good things that came my way because I did not feel I was worthy. If it were not for my tribe (tight-knit circle or family/friends) pouring their love and admiration into me where I did not see value, it might have taken me much longer to realize that I amworthy of all great things.
“We're all out here struggling silently or otherwise and the most important thing I learned this year is that you are not your mistakes; you are worthy and you are capable. Believe in yourself.” – Ismail YusufYou've read the narrative, now use it for inspiration! Shop the Eritrean Collection below!