It would be easy for me to write a piece listing all the odds stacked against women; and more specifically, Black women. Whether viewed through a lens of race, gender, class, sexuality, femininity, fertility and so on, there are countless disadvantages that have the potential to make our accomplishments more difficult and seem impossible to achieve. Instead of giving more energy to those influences, I’d rather focus on the relationships that have made it possible for me to achieve my goals and have confidence in my ability to not only succeed, but to be great.
The women in my life have taught me more than they could ever know. Seeing my mother literally make something out of nothing in order to get by is what taught me resilience. Getting up at 6 am every morning to go to work and take care of responsibilities, when every part of your being wants to drop everything and just enjoy life without its burdens, requires a special set of skills. It is also a reminder that she has worked hard all my life to provide, rather than follow her passions, so that I would not have to do the same; that it would be cowardly for me to not challenge myself and push my limits to achieve.
My grandmothers instilled within me grace, poise and charm. But they also reminded me to SPEAK UP so they could hear me when I talked and taught me not to take no mess from nobody. They told me that no matter what, I must always love God and myself. That as long as I do those two things, I can handle anything that comes my way.
My aunts showed me that it’s important to enjoy life and that I will make decisions that may not make sense to anyone else but they are right for me. They showed me that the main source of being stubborn is knowing exactly what you want and that compromise is not always the solution.
My sister and best friends, past and current, have taught me the importance of sisterhood, the necessity of conflict and resolutions. They’ve taught me what it means to really be there for the people you care about, to listen, to be quiet, to take charge of a situation when they’re not in the state of mind to do so themselves. They’ve also taught me when to take a step back or forward as our relationships evolve over time.
Most importantly, I have received unconditional love from the women in my life. So much so that when I receive it from others, it is not filling a void. It overflows and channels itself into all of my passions and inspires me to share that love with others. That love has given me confidence and the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them in ways that I need to grow. I know that I have women in my life who will catch me, check me, debate with me, cry with me, proofread my papers and cover letters, celebrate with me and pray with and for me.
I write all of this somewhat selfishly, as a reminder to myself when news clips and social media posts seek to poke holes in my confidence and joy, that I am more than equipped with the arsenal and olive branches I need to follow my path. I could write about what I’ve learned from the men in my life… but I’ll save that for another time lol
- Antiganee Cain