By Nomali Cele
As a 26-year-old woman, I find myself at the point where most of my romanticism is fading away. You know the ideas from the teen-age years where you thought you knew everything and the world was one straight line where everything fit into neat boxes. I’ve grown from my first reaction to hearing about domestic being”why don’t they leave?” to understanding the dynamics
But one early 20s stumble too many and I’ve begun to accept that life has nuances that I could never have predicted in my younger years. Be it stumbling in your career or finally accepting that home is not a safe place and deciding not to go there during the holidays or confronting body politics, life can take you in many different directions than you expected. How do you access and exercise your power?
Some people are lucky enough that by the time they begin the journey of belonging, they have long known who they are. But for the rest of us, this is the place to start – Who are you? What do you believe in? What are you and aren’t you willing to do in this life?
This is the part where you look at all the things you have been taught and the beliefs you have picked up along the way and which, if any, serve you. Here you create the template for who you want to be – even with what you may have been told is contradictory behaviour or contradictory desires.
Your life is yours. This isn’t an empty call that you be precious with your time or cut people off or step on others, it’s a call to look at yourself, your life and what you really want. You can’t use other people as an excuse for what may go wrong in your life or any roads that you don’t take.
Working towards “belonging to yourself” means knowing what you want, or being honest with yourself to admit when your needs have changed and changing course accordingly. After our discussion with Afropolitan women in November, it was clear that belonging to oneself often requires fearlessness.
The late icon, Maya Angelou once of success: “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it.” The “how” is often overlooked in the pursuit of success and self-actualisation but it matters. This isn’t about policing yourself in relation to other people’s feelings or egos nor is it pandering to people.
A life of integrity, in this instance staying true to yourself, is the biggest gift you can give yourself. So being considerate as a woman who belongs to herself isn’t just about other people, it’s also about yourself. Forgiving yourself and allowing yourself moments of vulnerability and healing are all considerate behaviour.
The thing about freedom, especially as a country going into a quarter of a century of being “free,” is the responsibility that comes with it. For me, the biggest lesson in my belonging journey has been accepting the outcomes of my actions as a self-determining woman.
Of course, it’s hard when things don’t work out as expected but taking responsibility means that the lesson is taken in and that way you create your own roadmaps and resources for survival. All my favourite women who exemplified belonging to yourself were open and honest about their mistakes and I believe this was also a source of their power.
How do you access and exercise your power? Tweet us with #KayaOnline