I am therefore I be
Excerpt from Longreads editor’s pick,
‘On Becoming a Woman Who Knows Too Much….’
“For many women, the idea of ambition is complicated. Too often when we’re are described as ambitious, it’s hard to tell whether it’s a compliment or a criticism. Often, it’s an all-out accusation. For the essay collection Double Bind, editor Robin Romm tasked 24 women writers with considering their own relationships to ambition. Hawa Allan‘s essay “Becoming Meta” is a meditation on the mantra of I’ll show you that drove her to achieve—first as the only black student in her elementary school’s gifted and talented program, then as a law student, and finally as a law firm associate, hungry for the validation of the “rainmaker” partners whose ranks held no one that looked like her.”
“Through my education I’d become a trusted source of specialized knowledge. But how could I become the kind of leader who is surrounded with people like me?”
____I am therefor I be____
I read this article with much applause, I myself have always been someone who has strived for ‘self appreciation and attainment of approval with justified intent, and this article resonated deeply with me as I struggle to find the clear balance between being oppressed by others and proving myself time and time again without sounding like a self described ‘bitch’.
Again, I ask myself are leaders born or made..? and again I formulate the same answers. That the very refinement of our character is induced by the circumstances that encompass us.
Some of us are born into leadership, heiresses, wealth, free education etc and some of us are inately aware that we are the product of our environment but have the ability to shape it.
In saying this I believe true leadership qualities are nurtured best when we are surrounded by like minded people.
Growing up in a low income household and raised by a single parent it was easy to conform to others in my social class just to be accepted. I found that I could easily transform settings from being the weakest link to the strongest by socially assessing my peers and offering some sort of process as to how society should shift according to our percieved needs and desires. In high school this was attested as being the only one who would dare walk the corridors in doc martins and petticoats and intimidating anyone who questioned my uniqueness. Yet I was lost in a crowd and a deep feeling of worthlessness that I hid by assuring I did not care.
I left school in year 11 despite high grades, my lack of attendance mirrored my careless attitude. However I still had the strong determination to prove to my former school I was better than their notion I would just be another drop out draining the social system.
I still recall the words of my science teacher and school coordinator who pulled me aside and told me to wake up to myself after many interschool suspensions and a few detentions, when nobody else seemingly cared.
To this day these people were the kind of defined, incedental leaders I attained to be.
When I returned to school I was determined that when doors and lengthy corridors shut, windows could still be opened. (I actually proved this in a literal manner to my agricultural class much to the teachers dismay).
Many of my peers saw me as I had seen myself, disruptive, attention seeking and careless.
Again, within the fine line between wanting to be accepted and proving the system wrong; I graduated as academic dux and school captain.
Since this time I have held a strong sense of moral justice. Advocated strongly for the rights of people with diversity, disabilities or those socially margenalised.
So much so that I resigned a career for the injustices I had seen within the sector…. Right before fair work had offered my long service leave.
But one thing I stand for is that we as humans have a responsibility to not just stand for those that are oppressed or disparaged.
But to remember that we too have to take a stand for our own. Sometimes easier said than done.
There have been many times I have been victimised in certain circumstances and shrugged off because of lack of circumstancial evidence.
There are many times I have been subject to bullying and inturn I become the defensive attack to justify the means.
How do we balance compassion for the rights of others without being seen as soft?
How do we assert our own rights without sounding incessant, narcassistic and belligerent despite our hurt?
In current times there is still a continuum of cross cultural war threats between the nations, and through mediums such as facebook and twitter there is more leway to have a voice that was previously discounted unless you wrote a letter to the editor of your local paper to put your 2cents in.
I’m still balancing the fine line of justice and moral grounding in a system I have felt let down in time and time again.
Yet, as before, many times before… I am determined. I am determined to prove myself, yet aware enough to pay attention (most of the time) and remind myself it’s ok to step back because there are an amazing team of networks I have; that can take the load off when I need to refocus on the fact I can’t save the world…
But can perhaps make a difference to one person who can’t see the forest for the trees.. and that, I believe is true leadership and the core grounding that spurs me from day to day as an activist; as a mother, a friend, a colleague and a peer.
Like will always attract like, but sometimes we must step out into the darkness in order to find the strength to be the beacon of hope for others, and ourselves.