Born in Bangkok, Thailand, Rebecca has always considered herself to be a world traveler and although she doesn’t speak it anymore, Thai was her first language. ”I moved around a lot when I was younger, living in Thailand, Canada, Guinea & over 5 states here in the US before I was 10” she explained. ”My parents were missionaries and they valued giving my sister and I the opportunity to learn about the world by seeing it firsthand. I was homeschooled from first grade all the way through 12th grade.”
I know about a handful of people who were homeschooled all their lives and they are all pretty smart and talented, Rebecca being no different. ”There are pros and cons to being a homeschooler, ” she continued, ”one pro is that I can teach myself almost anything and the con is that my social life suffered.”
Rebecca spent most of her formative years in Guinea, West Africa. Growing up as a black Seventh Day Adventist in a black Muslim country was, for the lack of better words, ’a very interesting experience’. ”I would wake up every morning at 5 am at the first call of prayer sounding from the mosque behind our house and while many people assumed that my family ’fit right in since we’re black’, that wasn’t true”. ”Even though I spoke both French and Susu (the local language), I was always aware that I looked different and carried myself differently from the other kids and because of that, I would always be considered a foreigner.”
Between her parents’ careers and her upbringing, Rebecca has always had a passion for humanitarian work. After obtaining a Bachelor’s in Communication and French, and then her Master’s in Community and International Development, Rebecca now works for an international non-profit organization doing whatever she can to help alleviate suffering around the world.
”One of my favorite parts of my job is getting to travel to remote parts of the world with my organization and helping to implement different projects, as well as being able to interview the people we help”, says Rebecca. ”Their stories not only touch the hearts of everyone who reads them but they also solidify the motivation behind why I do what I do”.
Aside from being a humanitarian, if you already follow Rebecca on Instagram (@becca_denae) you probably see all the videos of her working out in her ig stories. It’s no surprise to me that fitness is one of her biggest passions/hobbies. ”Last year I started CrossFit and at risk of sounding like your stereotypical annoying CrossFitter, it was the best decision of my life,” says Rebecca. (for those of you who don’t know, CrossFit is a high-intensity training, aimed at people of all sizes with the goal to improve their physical well being and cardiovascular fitness.)
”My days now consist of 2-3 hours of intense training, ” she continues. ”Putting effort into my body and seeing real results has been super rewarding. Coming from someone who has never played any sort of organized or competitive sport in her life, being a part of CrossFit is a great experience. Through my journey, I’ve realized that both being strong and women with muscles are beautiful.” Rebecca went from wanting to a thigh gap and skinny arms to wanting bigger quads and traps.
”My motivation is the improvement I see every day. When I started I couldn’t do one pull-up and now I can string muscle ups together.”
WOAH! Hats off to her because I still can’t do a pull-up, but I’m close.
Just like Rebecca inspires me, she is inspired by others, mostly women. ”From my mother to my sister, to my friends, to icons like Michelle Obama, Rihanna, Ellen & even Little Miss Flint (Michigan). I’m inspired by two-time Fittest Woman on Earth, Katrin Davidsdottir. I’m inspired by black women on social media who I see glowing and living their lives authentically; @estlouis, @verneenorman, @jungleinaroom, @quiana_welch on IG to name a few. I’m inspired by women who not only smile through the pain, but cry through the pain, and by those who celebrate each and every joy.”
No matter what I do in my career or personal life I want to be someone who sees and celebrates humanity in others and those who inspire me to reflect that.
Apart from being super dedicated to being fit and serving others, Rebecca’s loyalty is one of the things that she considers that really makes her, her. Those attributes coupled with her super calm and even-tempered personality, are what she feels really set her apart from the crowd; and I totally agree.
As far as disappointments and lessons go, Rebecca was super honest and open with her response. ”The lesson I’m learning right now is that time and effort put in ≠ a positive outcome, ” she explains, ”It’s definitely frustrating. You want to believe that the more effort you put into something, the more it’s guaranteed to work out. Unfortunately, that’s just not true.”
”I can respond in one or two ways” she continues. ”One, I can become apathetic and think; “well, I’m not going to work hard at anything (my relationships, my job, my goals, etc) since there’s no guarantee that it will work out.”
”Or two, I can continue to put as much effort as I can into everything I do because the journey is just as important as the destination.”
”So what if the end result isn’t what you expected, how much did you learn along the way? I’m trying really hard to actively shape my mindset to the latter and it’s been causing a few growing pains, but looking for lessons to be learned in both the good times and the bad times is one of the best things you can do for yourself.”
With how dedicated Rebecca is to the health of her body, it was no surprise to me when I inquired about her fears (if she had any) her response included aging, losing her mobility and her sharpness of mind. As superficial as these things may seem on the surface, I TOTALLY understand where she’s coming from. ”I can’t imagine not being able to run, or jump or drop down into a squat whenever I feel like it, ” she explains, ”on top of that, I’m also afraid of never having a family of my own in the future.”
Rational fears if you ask me, I would feel so many types of ways if I was unable to move around how and when I wanted, or if having a family was not even possible. That would definitely drive me crazy. Although Rebecca considers her fears to be both a motivation and a hindrance, I’m confident that she knows her strengths and weaknesses and can easily overcome anything that comes her way. ”My fears are a motivation in the areas that I can actually impact, but my fears can also take on irrational thought paths and that’s definitely a hindrance to my everyday life.”
Anyone that can travel the world as a humanitarian by day and be a badass CrossFitter by night has the strength it requires to take on any possible hindrances (in my humble opinion). When I look at Rebecca I see a STRONG black woman (in more ways than one) with a heart of gold and the body to match. I chose the word ’multifaceted’ to describe her because I honestly just couldn’t choose one. Rebecca inspires me because she is beautiful, humble, kind, educated, consistent and strong. I hope you guys get to know her like I do because she’s amazing!
Until next time babies!💕