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Taking our power back

Taking our power back

Tutu Fellow Linda Kasonde shared an article with AFLI that has been posted to the online magazine, The Alchemist. The article is on page 19 of the publication, along with a number of other articles of interest, but if you don't want to click through, the full text follows below.


I took my first real vacation for three years. I did not go to an exotic location but for the first time in a really long time I decided to “vacate” the official labels attached to my name and rediscover who I am and what makes me tick. A few weeks ago I had bought a large TV stand for my almost new TV that was sitting on a piece of furniture that I had inherited. The new TV stand had been sitting in a big box against a wall right next to my old makeshift one. I was waiting for my brother or “someone” to help me unpack it, put it in its new place and reconnect the TV and decoder I wanted to put on it. One day I decided that I would be the “someone” who would unpack the box and put everything in its place. After a couple of hours of de-cluttering and heavy lifting it was done. I was beaming full of pride, that wasn’t so bad after all. It was actually liberating. I sent a text message to a few friends bragging of my accomplishment saying, “here’s to showing up in your own life!” Perhaps my friends did not truly grasp the significance of this small feat but for me it has been life changing. There are thousands of ways in which we give our own power away every day. So many times we wait for someone to make us happy, to validate us, help us make personal decisions that we already have the answers to or to give us permission to simply be who we are. That is extremely disempowering. Today I opened up my devotional Bible and the page I turned to had a poem by Madeleine L’Engle which says this:

“The most difficult thing to let go is my self, that
self which, coddled and cozened, becomes
smaller as it becomes heavier. I don’t
understand how and why I come to be only as I
lose myself, but I know from long experience that this is so”

How true those words are. We really are the greatest stumbling blocks in our own lives. Sometimes we just need to get out of our own way. A while ago I was in a meeting and asked for volunteers to carry out an assignment. The only two other women in the meeting opted out stating that they did not think they had the necessary skills to do the job. A few days later I called one of them out on it, “lean in!” I told her. She responded that actually she did not have a problem leaning in but was still considering what direction to take in the organization. I told her I was glad that she did not have a problem leaning in but asked her to consider the chapter in the book ‘Lean In’ that says “Don’t leave until you leave”. In that chapter Sheryl Sandberg narrates how a young woman in her twenties approached her for tips on work-life balance. She told Sandberg that she was considering cutting back at work because she wanted to make room for a husband and children. Upon further inquiry it turned out that the young woman wasn’t even in a relationship at the time and yet she was already giving away her power.

It’s so easy to give our power away.  It’s nice to be “coddled and cozened” sometimes but I think that if the price of constantly succumbing to that causes us to lose ourselves in the process then it is a price too dear to pay. We each have our own journey of self-discovery. I acknowledge that I may have to keep reminding myself of my small victory over the years to remain liberated but I know that the potential rewards are limitless. So here’s to taking our power back!

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