Maya Angelou once said this when describing womanhood...
To be woman is to defy outright any idea that would put you in a trick bag, that will inhibit your growth, that would bind and limit. To be a woman is to compel yourself to search out and embrace ideas that liberate , that make you bigger, finer. stronger, more courageous, more generous, more merciful. To be a woman is to work hard, to count on yourself, to owe nothing. It is to hold the reins of your life in your own hands.
And Warsan Shire- noted East African poet and wordsmith extraordinaire penned a notable poem for women who are difficult to love. I believe that it should be required reading in all primary and secondary schools worldwide.
As a more mature woman who has gone through her twenties with rose-coloured glasses and is now facing her mid-thirties with a somewhat clearer vision of what womanhood is, I now realize that being truly myself where I strive everyday to understand who I am and what I can take is extremely important.
With the ubiquity of social media, we are always exposed to messaging that is mostly negative and highly discouraging. It's increasingly difficult to have a healthy and positive confidence in ourselves, our abilities and even our dreams because the world teaches us that we must decrease for others to increase, or that we must change who we are in order to be accepted.
We are taught that we must fight battles that need not be fought, that we must struggle uphill when those who oppose us should only attend to their own dreams to realize that all are valid, and attainable.
In a world that increasingly judgmental and opinionated, and separated yet innately linked by that which defines and divides us, we must continue to remind ourselves of who we innately are. We lose ourselves sometimes in the knowledge that maybe our "enough" must be defined by another's opinion or affirmation of us. Our generation idolises being defined by a better other, and therefore being singular in your vision as a single, strong, thirty-something woman is so hard. And just to add to that...
Women face the stark realisation that we might not be "enough" when we are forced to choose ourselves, our happiness, our dreams and goals- the right of every human- over those who claim them for their own. Further, women face the harsh reality of sharing their true selves with the world because we are immediately judged for not fitting into the mould that society fashions for us. We are dehumanised when we wear clothing that reflects who we are, whether it bares our bodies and souls, or not.
Every day there is a standard that we must meet by any means necessary, or else we face ridicule and scorn from persons known and even those unknown. Every morning our children ask for us, our husbands require from us, our employers take from us, our colleagues request from us, social media shows us who we are not, and even friends can turn their backs on us.
So where do we dig deep from to find a new beginning? How do we inspire our very selves so that we can aspire to embody the very thing that we chose to let go of in exchange for the people and the things that we love?
What does it really mean to be woman?
Being woman is a journey, a process. It's a difficult expedition filled with dodges and turns and bumps and bruises, and it can never be a destination. To be woman means to constantly remind yourself that you are worthy, that you are beautiful, that you are enough, that you belong, that you don't need to. To be woman means that you fight not only against the world or its perceptions of you, but also that you must fight against the sometimes dampened perceptions you have of who you are.
To be woman is to be... yourself. Your strong, sexy, bold, affirming, assertive, intelligent, curvaceous, kind, generous, obnoxious self.