Mikea James is an aspiring Life Coach and Motivational Speaker striving to motivate women to believe in themselves and overcome their battles with singleness, relationships, career goals and more. Born and raised in Aberdeen, MS we begin our interview with Mikea describing her experience growing up as a child of divorced parents.
Mikea: My parents divorced when I was about 6 years old. I spent most of my time with my mom until I turned 14 and then I started living with my dad.
HerStory: Do you remember your mom and dad being together? Mikea: I remember them being together but it was never a happy time. They were going through some struggles. Together one minute and separated the next.
HerStory: So at 6 years old did you understand what divorce was? Mikea: Yes, I definitely understood, during that time is when I really developed a prayer life. I use to pray to God every night asking him if he would bring my parents back together again. I didn’t want them to be separated. I really wanted them to be together. But now looking back, I can understand why that didn’t work out.
HerStory: So you were only 6 years old and had already developed a prayer life, who introduced you to God? Mikea: I guess my mom. I remember going to Sunday School almost every Sunday, either my mom or my grandparents would take me. We were raised in the church.
HerStory: So describe your life after the divorce. Mikea: I’m not going to say I was sad, I think I was a happy kid. I went through a stage of being rebellious against my mom and I had a really smart mouth. I thought I was grown. I went through the stage of thinking I could just talk to her any kind of way so that created a strain in our relationship. She remarried when I was 14 and relocated to Nashville, TN and I had no interest in going. I was a teenager getting ready to go to high school, and it seemed like things I had dreamed of forever were starting to happen. I was not about to leave my friends and family.
Herstory: What do you think caused the strain in your relationship with your mom? Mikea: She didn’t spend as much time with me as I thought she should have. She was present but she wasn’t present. Looking back at it now I think it was because of everything she was going through. She would be in the house with me and I would suggest we watch tv together but she would rather go in the other room and talk to her boyfriend. I just never felt like I got the love and attention that I could have. I really think it was the things she was going through in her life. When she was with my dad she was dealing with abuse among other things so I guess when she finally found someone who she thought was the love of her life she was drowning in that and eating that up.
HerStory: So what changed, why did you decide to go and live with your mom for a year? Mikea: Well honestly, I got mad with my dad. We had a huge disagreement because he was upset that I didn’t come straight home from school one day.
HerStory: Tell me about your experience living with your mom and stepdad in Tennessee. Mikea: That was actually a really pivotal and defining point in my life that made me turn around. When I moved to Nashville my mom was attending a church called Mt. Zion Baptist Church where Bishop Joseph Walker is the pastor and it was the first time that I was able to get the word and understand it. It was also a very humbling time for me simply because I had left Aberdeen. I loved Aberdeen and I loved my family so I was homesick and struggling with all of that. God really started to work on me and it made me want to turn around. I didn’t want to be the girl with the smart mouth who didn’t get along with her mother. That’s really when I started to develop a close relationship with God, I mean you couldn’t beat me taking notes in church, I was just falling in love with Jesus.
HerStory: Why did you leave Nashville? Mikea: I wanted to come home and graduate with my class. I had been with my classmates since we were 4 years old. It was very important to me.
HerStory: You shared that you strive to motivate women to believe in themselves and overcome their battles with singleness and relationships what did you experience as a young adult that made you want to help other women? Mikea: I left high school and attended the University of Memphis. I felt rejected when it came to guys and I feel like a big part of that was because I was a virgin. I was committed to my relationship with God. The guy I was interested in during my freshman year of college never really wanted to commit to me because I wouldn’t have sex with him. He would say if you sleep with me then I will be with you. He felt like my relationship with God made me boring. After that, I continued to run into the same type of guy, a lot of non-committals. By my junior year, I ran into this guy from my hometown and I fell in love with him, but once again he did not want to commit because he said we were long distance. I loved him and I was in love with him and he wasn’t even my boyfriend, and that became a reoccurring cycle. Because this has happened to me a lot, my pattern is that when someone rejects me I continue trying to make them love me. I don’t give up. I keep praying and asking God to help them to come around. One thing about a man is that he will never see your value once you start doing that. The more you pursue him the more he is going to reject you. Even in the midst of all of that I still took having an education very seriously and I graduated Magna Cum Laude. I was focused on what was most important at the time.
HerStory: Thank you for being so real and so raw. This is why I love doing this because there are so many women reading this that can relate to exactly what you are saying. So after experiencing these things tell me about things you started to learn about yourself after college. Mikea: I took my first job when I was 23 right out of college and I moved to Dallas. I was working for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and everyone in my office was white and I was the only black girl. They would invite me to church and different places and I would refuse to go. I learned that in order to grow I would have to be more open-minded. Since then I have lived in so many places and I feel like now I can go anywhere and thrive.
HerStory: What is one of your biggest regrets? Mikea: I think it would- be not believing in myself sooner. I feel like you can be whatever you want to be. I wish I had someone back then to encourage me and tell me I could do anything. I wish that I had belief in myself and the courage to fight and keep going. I just started a new job and if I had listened to other people I wouldn’t be here. I am a Program Sales Manager for a Fortune 500 company. I am making close to six figures at 30 years old in Corporate America. People told me not to change jobs just because I was not happy but I decided that I was not going to settle. I was not going to stand for a bad boss that makes me feel unfulfilled and underutilized. In making my decision God led me to the scripture of Esther where he put her in position at such a time as this. Even if I don’t stay here long, at least I am able to inspire someone they can do the same. This is not about me. If I had not changed and learned to believe in myself I would have missed this opportunity.
HerStory: Tell me about your organization SisterStood! Mikea: SisterStood came when I was so depressed from rejection and was feeling less than. I talked to my pastor’s wife who is a doctor and she shared with me that she had dealt with the same stuff. She said she would date people and lie about what she did for a living just so they wouldn’t feel threatened. She said she would tell them she was a nurse just so they wouldn’t reject her. Her story helped me in a big way because I looked at her and thought she had it all together. It helped me so much to know that what I was going through was not only understood but it was SisterStood. Her story gave me the confidence to keep going.
HerStory: What’s upcoming for SisterStood?
Mikea: We are relaunching in January. I will have girl talk bible study in a blog. I will post twice a month and it will cover girl talk topics. I may invite speakers to speak along with me sometimes, but we will still apply the word of God and I will post it so that people can get on at their leisure. I’m also still going to have brunches once a month. My vision is to see SisterStood grow in different cities by other women who believe in empowering women.
HerStory: At the end of every interview, I always ask every woman to answer the same question. To help leave your impression on every reader, in hopes that they will be able to identify their purpose through yours, please answer the question Who Am I?
Mikea: I am imperfect but I am a fighter. I have a beautiful heart. I am a woman that believes I can have whatever I want through God. I am a woman of strong faith.