One of my favorite lines by American poet Anne Sexton is:
“Out of the cage came Eve,
She was clothed in her skin like the sun
and her ankles were not for sale.”
– Anne Sexton
This is a bold statement characterizing a brand of emancipation and empowerment that many women – particularly women of African descent – still are striving to attain.
What can we do to get in the habit of remaining in touch with ourselves – and communicating that authentic aspect of self – on a more regular basis? In other words:
How do you come to own your own skin?
- Never feel you have to apologize for who you are! There is no such thing as not dark/light enough, not thin/”thick” enough, etc. You are who you are – now – and that is (and will hopefully remain) a wondrous work-in-progress! This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue moving forward towards your goals or reaching for your best life. But by accepting who you are right now you are giving yourself the gift of authentic self-esteem that will continue to energize and motivate you to strive for even better things for yourself.
- It’s OK to put yourself first! Whether we have spent our entire lives in the Diaspora or are deeply rooted in African soil without a detour, we have a history of being called upon to take other people’s welfare more seriously than our own. But: how can we continue giving of ourselves and being the rock in other people’s lives if we don’t take the time we need to replenish our energy source and renew our spirit? When your inner batteries are running low, no one can replenish them but you! If you have a giving heart, make sure you are also giving to yourself. Otherwise you’ll find out you soon have nothing left to give anyone.
- It’s normal to sometimes doubt yourself! When you live in a world that often doesn’t portray people who look like you in the most positive, self-determined light, it seems doubly easy to become riddled with doubt about who you are and what you stand for. But there’s a distinct difference between allowing (false!) images to be projected onto you, and proactively analyzing your own motivations and intentions.
Each of us has a purpose in life. Have you identified yours? Once you have found that purpose, you’ll understand how essential it is that you make regular “pit stops” with yourself to realign what you’re doing with the “why” of doing it!