Tag Archives: Resolutions

The New Year Resolution That Worked

The year 2015 has been an interesting one for me, taking me through all of my elements and rocking up a myriad emotions in more ways than one.

I am not usually one to make New Year Resolutions, for the simple reason that they are pushed to the back of my mind by reality and, therefore, rendered considerably pointless. However, at the beginning of 2015, I made one resolution and pinned it on my Twitter profile.

 

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You may ask why post it on Twitter and not on the walls of my room, or somewhere more visible. My resolution was inspired by the Twitter trend #FeministNewYearResolutions and through the course of the year, has been a great reminder for me, as I navigate spaces with my voice and thoughts as a feminist.

Making that promise to myself, and to the world which followed that trend, ensured that I shared my views on feminism and a great many issues affecting women and girls without reservation, and with no apology.

The online ‘streets’ can be especially ruthless for those sharing unpopular views that diverge from the usual conservative life values we have been taught to embrace as normal.

Identifying as a feminist has brought me my fair share of vitriol and trolling, especially online, with suggestions that my choice is an anomaly because feminism goes against my African values. Ha!

In past years, trolling and (disrespectful) opposition to my views would get to me and sometimes lead me to question my beliefs, lending credibility to what I have now come to consider as no different from noise. Not this year; and I daresay the conscious decision and the thought process that went into coming up with that resolution helped me in holding the fort strong and remaining unmoved by the negativity.

Proclaiming my feminist identity, especially on Twitter, took to a new level when I changed my name to Jollof Feminist, further strengthening the feminist branding of my page, especially for the benefit of new followers. This change, in itself, warranted comments that I would rather not delve into, but choose to replace with how they made me feel.

A few months ago, I was in conversation with one of the members of the diplomatic corps in The Gambia, and our discussion centered on Gambian women’s voices online and the reception to this new and growing normal. We explored the negative reactions to feminism as a concept or way of life, and I had another eureka moment.

I came to the realisation that people are not as angry about feminism itself, as they are at feminists, especially when these latter happen to be women. Their opposition, I concluded, came from a place of discomfort and displeasure at seeing women use their voices to fill up our spaces, as opposed to the previous norm of being seen and never heard. My conclusion was reinforced by the opposite reactions I saw towards men speaking on the same issues, even when simply regurgitating opinions and think pieces from women in the same spaces.

This is not to say that some male feminists do not get attacked for their views, but this can never be compared on the same scale as the attacks on female feminists. This understanding awakened a new fire in me, solidifying the resolution to remain unapologetic about my being a feminist and, consequently, my feminist views and opinions.

Without a doubt, it has been a challenging year and I have found myself in more debates on feminism and, especially, sexism than I care to enumerate. Sometimes, the exchanges would get too heated, but I pride myself in the calmness and focus with which I now maneuver through them, ensuring that my points are made in all respect, but my views are not watered down and trampled upon as irrelevant or an overreaction.

A friend once asked me if it was all worth it, and if I wasn’t bothered by the negative attention I would probably get from engaging in debates and arguments online. My response was simple: it took me a lot of learning and decisions to get here and I am very much convinced about the necessity of what I do. If there’s anything worthy I am doing, it is this.

Reading through this piece, one would think that it has all been ice, blood and fire with my experiences as a vocal feminist online. However, I am grounded in reality by the many positive reactions to these efforts, directly and indirectly.

I have been humbled and honoured in equal measure by the many young women who reach out to express gratitude for these efforts, and explain how it has inspired them to speak up about their experiences and struggles, as well as those of other women and girls.

I have also engaged with several men, young and old, who acknowledge the importance of our voices and our stories, and who vow to be more sensitive especially in navigating our shared spaces on the grounds of their male privilege.

I had an acquaintance reach out to say he has become more mindful of what he says about women when he is around me. I took that as a first step to change, while making obvious my wish that this would become normal for him and he wouldn’t require my presence to check what he says and does, in relation to women.

I have been lucky to find and engage with other feminists, especially young Africans, who have provided more learning opportunities for me, and even more affirmation of the importance of the work we do in simply being ourselves and making our voices heard. The solidarity on Twitter is priceless and the experience is one I am truly grateful for this year.

And for me, that is enough worth and result for the work being done by the many like me, who have decided to no longer be silenced. Discovering the power in our voices and the greater power in using them to tell our own stories has been enough motivation to remain true to my promise and ensure my resolution was seen through to the end of the year.

Where reality has often pushed previous resolutions to the bin in my head, this year has been different. Perhaps, this is because I made a resolution that was in complete alignment with my daily living and activities, both at work and through private ventures. In alignment with my beliefs and what I have come to accept and embrace as the purpose of my life, for as long as it is needed in our world.

I made a resolution at the start of the year, and through the course of living it, I have been blessed with countless experiences and lessons, each one reaffirming the validity of my choices and the necessity of my life’s work. I would cheat and make this my resolution for the coming year, but it would be a repetition of something that has already taken firm root in my being and would flourish even without a reminder.

In 2015, I refused to apologise and stood firm with my beliefs, but I still believe I can be more, do more, give more and embrace the wholeness of my being.

So for 2016, I choose one phrase to guide me: BE INTENTIONAL. In everything I choose to be, say, do and be a part of. Let’s see how this one works out.

As we go into another year, with resolutions or not, I thank you for taking this journey with me and for reading my blogs, even when they come from a very confused place. I am truly appreciative of the support I get through Linguere and pray that it will lead to the realisation of the plans I have to make this bigger.

Have a very awesome 2016! 🙂

For 2013, Gratitude

Two nights ago, I had a much-needed conversation with someone who’s become an invaluable constant in my life. It was probably the most meaningful conversation we’ve had in a while and I was truly glad it happened. It was beautiful in that it came unplanned, at a time when I needed it the most. At the end, through the confessions and the encouragement, the tears and the smiles, I was left with a myriad of feelings. Prime among them was GRATITUDE.

I read through our conversation again and realised it might have been a message for me to acknowledge and appreciate everything that has happened in my life this year – the good, the bad, the ‘in-betweens’. This last month has been a tough, stressful, almost depressing one for various reasons, the majority of which I’m glad to have overcome. I realised that, in the end, life is really what you make of it and things eventually fall into place when you let them.

This year has been filled with moments that have marked me in great ways. I celebrated the accomplishments and the victories – both major and minor. I made choices and decisions that left me feeling either great or bad; never indifferent, for there was always a reaction to the results. I shunned the low times, those moments of disappointment and failure that left me feeling inadequate and less than worthy. I put them all in a box and hid them in a place where I wouldn’t see or be reminded of them, as I tried to remain positive at all times. In my moments of reflection last night, however, I realised that this may have been a mistake.

As much as I wanted everything in my life to be perfect, I had cheated myself of being whole. For me, living life had meant focusing only on the good and ignoring the low times. I had cheated myself because I did not stop to accept the beauty that lives within that which I had qualified as bad, and discarded from my thoughts and daily existence. I had lost out on lessons I could have learned on picking myself up and gaining strength even from my weaknesses. I had ignored the very essence of being human: my infallibility.

The beauty of introspection is that it helps you to see things in a new light. It guides you through the process of identification, acknowledgement, reassessment and then action. Through each stage, you keep learning and growing from the experiences. I have identified, acknowledged and reassessed everything and have decided to act upon the things I have control over and can change. I have resolved to accept responsibility for my choices and their consequent results; to accept the not-so-good moments and things in life instead of discarding them.

This does not mean I will be holding on to things that might drag me down. Accepting them means dealing with them in a mature and constructive way; it means seeing the light within the darkness, the good within the bad… and where there’s no good, accepting the bad for what it is. It means living with the duality of life and taking its complete package. This is what living whole has become for me and I’m grateful for the moment it dawned upon me.

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Gratitude… it keeps coming back every year and I know it is true. I am truly grateful for life and everything it brings; for love from the special people in my life; for the support and encouragement from family, friends, acquaintances and even complete strangers; for trust, belief, hope and faith; for tenacity and strength at the times I needed them the most; for the simple things that have made this year worthwhile. I am grateful to everyone who has been with me on this journey as a writer and blogger, faithfully reading and motivating me to do even better. The experience would have been different without you all and I really hope that it is as worthwhile for you as it is for me.

A new year is here and I pray that God sees us all through our plans, wishes and dreams if they are what’s best for us. As I pray for you, I ask that you also keep me in prayer as I go through a very crucial period of my schooling. I am confident that, by God’s grace, I will emerge victorious and we shall all celebrate together. As this year comes to an end, I share these few lines that I wrote a few months ago. They aptly describe how I feel at present.

Thankful for all He’s given, all He’s taken back, all He’s yet to give and take and for that which He shall give and leave with me through the rest of my days. For what was, what is and what will be, I’m grateful. 

I wish you all a happy and blessed new year. Here’s to many more years of sharing and interacting with you all. God bless.