One fear that I battled with for a long time and can finally look back and say, I came, I saw and I conquered’ was the fear of being my true, authentic self. As a young black African woman, I was raised in a predominantly patriarchal society and have had to fight hard to get where I am today and still fighting. Sadly, experience and living in other parts of the world has shown me that this situation persists from place to place albeit in different forms. These situations used to bother me a lot.
As a young black girl, I was so concerned with not creating any ripples, making waves and rocking any boat, that I waited far too long to start speaking up for myself. I endured bullying and physical assault, that I thought that if I suffered in silence that it would stop and if I worked twice as hard to succeed in all that I do, that one day all of my hard work would magically pay off and my success would announce itself. I found out soon enough that I couldn’t suffer through such situations and had to learn to fight back any way I could.
Now living and working in the UAE, I have fought hard with prejudice, fought with not making myself small to make others feel comfortable and unthreatened by my presence as a vocal, audacious, confident and proud black woman. I have had to deal with various ranges of microaggressions and a lot of times pulled far more than my weight in order to prove my value. It hasn’t been a smooth journey learning never to think less of myself because of my skin colour and how others may perceive me and to stand tall in the face of such adversities – especially when everyday reality tries to assert the opposite.
I have learnt how to overcome these obstacles, how not to lower my standards and pride myself on how my experiences have helped me to become a connector of people, places, positivity and possibilities.
These days, I prioritize myself outside of work and above most things. Over the years, I’ve learned that at the end of the day, places might change, teams will change, projects and jobs will end but my mind and my body are the only constants that I have and that taking care of every part of all that concerns me is critical to getting through the storms of life. I had to learn to reset my relationship with self-care and wellbeing and I no longer allow work, or anyone dictate my mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. This shift in paradigm has given me the energy to take control of my situation where and when I can and not to be fixated with how others see me. I no longer look for permission to be me nor do I seek other people’s validation to be authentically true to myself.
4 thoughts on “Being me…”
More power to you, Jacqueline. Sadly, in almost every society you will have to fight twice as hard for yourself if you are a woman and twice as hard again if you are black. You seem to be winning the battle!
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Thank you so much Mick for your kind words. Indeed, it has not been easy and I do hope that it will be easier on the younger generation.
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We have to hope that things will get better.
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