With a huge smile on his face, Ovie Soko is most renowned for his skills on the basketball court, but 2019 saw him take his chance at love. The North Londoner captured the nation’s hearts as one of the 2019 Love Island contestants whilst inspiring his fellow islanders with motivational words of wisdom and his positive mental attitude.
2020 saw the beginning of another big chapter in Ovie’s life, as he’s turned his hand to writing his first book: You Are Dope.
Exploring his own journey which has seen him live in multiple countries, Ovie pours his heart and energy into this book – soon to become your own personal roadmap to dopeness. He encourages us to lean into our vulnerabilities, take chances and be ready for what life has to offer in search of ultimate happiness and fulfilment.
“I hope that this book will be the beginning of a journey for a lot of people. I know from experience that it’s only once you start to value yourself and the power you have in being yourself and embarking on that journey that you see the necessity of taking the leap of faith and starting to live to the beat of your own drum.”
So where did the idea from the book come from?
What inspired Ovie to create such an open guide to positive mental health? After all his support on and off the court and TV screens, Ovie wanted to “give something of value… that can hopefully help the reader whatever situation they’re in ”. He also saw the huge gap in the market for such a book to inspire individuals in this age of social media and remind them of their own “superpower”. When “what we don’t have is often pushed in front of us and held up as our measuring bar”, don’t we all deserve a little loving boost from this 6ft something professional?
That’s exactly what you get while turning the bright pages of You Are Dope. The book explores his travels overseas and draws on his own experiences of living in numerous countries, their cultures and their viewports which have helped him “grow as a person”. The toolkit provides all the tricks we need to be dope – a word he uses a lot. “I wanted to let the reader know from looking at the cover, this is about you, your being unique, you being dope exactly how you are.”
“Don’t drown out the sound of your hopes and dreams — amplify them instead.”
Being authentically you isn’t always easy and, as he points out, “it’s important to be inspired by but not empowered by people who you find dope”. Ovie admits to having struggled with being his authentic self in the past and it’s something a lot of us also battle with each day. He notes that it is often out of fear of “not being accepted for who they are, [that] can ultimately drive people into professions and jobs they hate, relationships they don’t want, and just a world of lies ultimately.” A life in which “ultimately the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.”
“I didn’t know whether being myself would result in success in life. That’s a scary place to be in when you don’t know whether your genuine thoughts, your genuine feelings, your genuine outlook on things, are good enough to be accepted.”
How does Ovie stay positive in trying times?
Finding fulfilment is one step on your journey to acceptance and positivity is key. He believes that it is a mindset – one that you choose each morning to “find the light in all situations”. Yet he is realistic about it and admits to also having off days “where I’m in a mood, or not positive, but it allows me to work out of that state of mind and get back into a productive one much faster.” He pulls on the common cliche to get him through: “It’s not how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you can stand up again”.
You Are Dope is full of similar motivational messages (any Love Island fans will remember his catchphrase from the villa) and the one piece of advice that sticks with him is how “[c]omparison is the thief of joy”. He reminds us to not compare our current situation to someone else’s as we don’t know their own journey: “you could be comparing your level 3 to their level 10.” Which serves as a great reminder to be open and honest with our mental health.
He talks openly about his own battles with mental health and reminds us, and men in particular, that we are not alone. “One of the silliest assumptions is that men don’t need help, we all do, and the help is there. Trying to always do things yourself is like giving yourself an extra handicap in life that you can choose otherwise. Life is hard, and there are so many challenges we already face, don’t make it even harder for yourself.”
Hardship often brings with it lessons of hope, every cloud has its’ silver lining after all. Ovie draws on his past to teach him to count his blessings, and appreciate that life is the biggest gift you have, as he reminds us that we should try to love our lives and those in it to the best of our ability.
The role of social media
We can’t talk about our everyday lives without talking about social media – and one way to sky-rocket your following is being the nation’s heart-throb on reality TV. Despite never being “a huge social media guy”, he learned to adapt after leaving the villa. Albeit overwhelming at first, he shares the “same kind of quirky habits most of us probably have” on his channels and he is pretty mind-blown that we are all so interested.
“I tend to take a break from it every so often to make sure I don’t confuse filtered reality and the life that is in front of me”, he admits. This time away allows him to take a step back and avoid falling into the comparison trap that is oh-so-easy to do “when you become obsessed with what is happening in everyone else’s life” even when you are in a mentally good place.
And there has been plenty of time for soul-searching over the last few months in quarantine! Ovie believes that this time off has been a “much-needed break” and has allowed him to “hit the reset button, spend some quality alone time, and refocus for the journey ahead.”… Which leads Ovie back to his passion! While this last year has been a whirlwind of TV appearances, marketing jobs with amazing companies and continued support from his loyal and ever-increasing fan-base, he believes true fulfilment “comes from things I work for and skills I have acquired over time such as Basketball” and so who knows where we will see him pop up next.
One thing is for sure, whether Ovie Soko is shooting hoops, finding love or taking part in celebrity Bake Offs, You Are Dope will, for a long time to come, lead us all down our personal paths to dopeness.
You Are Dope by Ovie Soko (Quadrille, £12.99) is out on 1st October: take a look here.
Photos of Ovie Soko: Photographer credit © Ellis Parrinder
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Amy is a plant-based food blogger, recipe developer and content creator behind Nourishing Amy. She focuses on food, health and happiness to promote a nourishing lifestyle and regularly shares her positive vibes, inspirational affirmations and food creations on her social media channels and her website.