By Venecia Pearce-Dunbar
Recently married and fresh out of graduate school, I was offered my first contract as an academic. I was a university lecturer, a dream come true after years of labor and at times failure. The first day of the semester was filled with elation, pride and fear of the unknown. Leaving straight from a doctoral program to a position as a full-time lecturer was the dream, but was I prepared to take on this huge responsibility?
Young, educated, but inexperienced, I convinced myself that if I could go through 5 years of living in the cold, wet, and inconsistent British weather, moving house 5 times from one side of London to the next, often strapped for cash, almost deregistered, working part-time as a waitress, writing a thesis in addition to navigating a long distance relationship – I should be prepared for just about anything.
I was no longer a girl but a woman. A woman who has been given much. A woman of which much was now required. For years I have lived in the shadows of being a student but now it dawned on me that being woman was an extraordinary job, parallel to being super human. As I reflect on my transition from a girl to being woman, there are many pressures that often restricted me – religion, sexism, colorism, inequality, being too fat, being too skinny, being seen as a sex symbol, and fear.
Life in a filtered, makeup-plastered world makes normal ugly. With body dissatisfaction so pervasive, it’s easy to think I’m not enough. The obsession with earthly possessions, looking perfect, and the constant need to achieve in order to fill the perceived void of perfection leaves a dearth of spiritual wellness as well as a sense of meaninglessness.
If I continued to pursue this false sense of self, I felt I would have been 6 feet deep, sooner rather than later. So I refused to continue living a life like this.
After all, I’ve accomplished much more than was expected of me, so why did I need validation from a source external to what was within me? Despite many challenges, obstacles, failures, setbacks, and conflicting emotions, I awake every morning to privilege of being a perfect creation of God.
I perform my duties as a wife, an academic, an aunt, a daughter, an entrepreneur, a friend, but I refuse to make these roles place restrictions on my ability.
As I reflect on being woman, the power that resides in me is greater than any opinion or lack that the world wants me to believe is true. This power is not one of dominion or supremacy, but the power of gentleness with myself and others, the power of acceptance of myself, and the power of belief in Christ who strengthens me. No longer do I need validation for being me because being me and being woman is enough.
Womanhood is not defined by how many children one has or the lack thereof. Being woman is living unafraid, knowing you are enough and taking the time to practice self-love. Your worth is not defined by some earthly entity or entities in the form of a man, social media, a boss, a sibling, a parent, a celebrity, or whomever. Being woman is knowing you are beautiful, you are enough, you are worthy, knowing your capabilities, and believing in you. Yes, fear will come, challenges will come, pain will come. Being woman, however, has equipped me to not obey or surrender to life’s crippling darts but to activate the gentle power of self-care and self-love that curates the best version of myself.
This article was originally published onWitted Roots.