The first year of university was pretty good, and I enjoyed 2014, the year after we got married and went on loads of holidays but wow what a year it’s been. MFF has grown to an unbelievable level and although I always knew this would be a thing, I genuinely didn’t think it would happen so quickly. I’m sharing this story because I think it’s important to talk about what consistent hard work and finding your true purpose can achieve. It’s not always been easy though so I also want to share what I’ve learnt about self-care and how to find a balance between professional success and personal wellbeing. I hope this inspires you to pursue your dreams in 2018.
When I launched this platform on New Years Day on 2016 it was a very personal blog, a space for me to talk about my experiences of fatherhood (my daughter was just 3 months old) and looking back, a theraputic way for me to express myself while dealing with the mental aftermath of my daughter’s traumatic birth. MFF turned into a collaborative platform pretty soon after it launched as I realised that other dads also wanted a place to share their stories and perspectives. It was obvious that this kind of platform was missing and we were plugging a very very big gap. As our About page says, the modern father is a new breed. Dads want to talk about dad stuff (and most of us just happen to also love music and football too lol).
I took the platform offline for the last couple of months of 2016 to redesign and refocus the core purpose of the website. We relaunched again on New Years Day 2017 and had a great few months publishing some quality content. And then my life changed. On 10th July 2017 I wrote an article for the Independent about black fatherhood. On the day it was published, the article was the second most read article on the Independent’s website and it was shared 17,000 times within the first week. It went viral on Facebook and Twitter and took on a life of it’s own. I have never experienced a period like it during the the week after the article was published and I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard in my life to stay on top of things. I was inundated with emails and requests from all over the world. I had so many messages from people saying how they related with the article and how it struck a chord with them. My experiences resonated with people and it sparked conversations on numerous media channels about the black fatherhood experience. I even remember listening to the radio one day and hearing them talk about the article and referencing quotes; surreal doesn’t even start to describe it. That article went along way to change perceptions of fathers and black men as a whole. I am so blessed that I could articulate an issue that so many others were experiencing. The article only took 20 minutes to write and I truly feel like God blessed me and rewarded me for the hard work and sacrifice that had gone into building this platform.
The contributing team continued to grow and we published some really popular, real and hard hitting articles. Two of the most popular being ‘Why I embrace being a widower and a single father’ and ‘Would you feel comfortable discussing periods with your daughter?’.
Things snow balled since the Independent article was published and in August the BBC came to film us and we ended up being one of most watched videos on the BBC website that day. We were on the front page of the BBC website, being called the ‘Dad’s version of Mumsnet’ and once again, life went mad!
Since then I’ve been invited to speak and be on the panels at some great events. I’ve spoken to audiences at Nationwide Buidling Society HQ, BNP Paribas Bank with Being ManKind and Inspirational YOU. I’ve been interviewed on podcasts such as Off The Cuff, The Good The Dad and The Ugly and The Healer Hiphop. I’ve also been featured in a Buzzfeed article about black fatherhood for Black history month and Know Knowledge even made a video all about my story.
This widespread coverage has meant that when I go to events and introduce myself to people, they have often heard of MFF, that is truly mind baffling to me.
This year we have reached thousands of people and helped change the perception of fatherhood. We have shared stories from many fathers and grown the contributing team to 15. My team is strong and we have a great group of very talented men and fathers who write extremely insightful, honest and vulnerable articles on fatherhood, music and football.
MFF has become bigger than me and although I want to ensure that my personality is still at the forefront, I have become more comfortable with stepping back and handing over the creative reigns to others. I am delighted to have recruited our first intern who has been excellent in helping to package and present our content. I am so so thankful for what 2017 has bought. I truly feel that after years of searching and grinding, I have found my purpose and this is exactly what God wants me to do with my life.
So what have I learnt this year? The main thing I’ve learnt is that when your are pursuing your true purpose and work really really REALLY hard consistently, the universe will conspire to do some amazing things for you. But I’ve also learnt that self-care is important and a balance is needed. For a month around October I was feeling quite overwhelmed, and looking back, I was definitely stressed. My body was telling me to slow down. I had to start eating better, exercising and getting more sleep to protect my physical and mental health.
My plan for 2018 is to continue to grow MFF while finding some more personal balance. I want MFF to be THE online destination for fathers and I whole heartedly believe that we will become that in 2018. Thank you to everybody who has been a part of this journey over the last 24 months and here’s to another fantastic year!