My name is Tomi Akitunde. I’m a journalist and the founder of mater mea, a platform that celebrates, supports and empowers black moms through content and community.
I love talking to people. I love storytelling. I love hearing people’s stories.
Who were you 13 years ago and who are you now?
Oh, man. I had just graduated from college and was obsessed with Chicago. I thought it was the best American city…until I met New Orleans. But I was a big Chicago person. Most of my memories are of me being drunk and eating late-night tacos.
I was unemployed for a really long time after college because it was right after the recession. Then, I started a new job at a textbook publishing company. I was the person writing the answers for the teachers’ editions of their workbooks.
I was hiding in plain sight and didn’t know it.
I was in a bad relationship but didn’t know it was bad yet. There was a lot of hiding and performing that I was doing to look the part of a twenty-something-year-old in Chicago. I was hiding in plain sight and didn’t know it. I was afraid but didn’t know it.
So much has changed—very much so.
Now I’m learning about myself. I’m not hiding anymore. I think I’ve done some of my best personal work just in finding myself.
Describe a life-changing moment that contributed to who you are today
I think moving to New York was everything. I didn’t realize how strong and capable I was until I moved here. There were things that I would cry about at the drop of a hat when I was 22. Now I just keep it moving.
Things you thought you knew when you were younger that you know to be different today
I thought I knew my parents and I thought my parents didn’t care about me. I just didn’t think they thought about me at all. Now I realize, that couldn’t have been further from the truth. It’s just the way that they express love. It wasn’t always what I needed or how I needed it to show up, but I can now appreciate it and value it so much.