I am fascinated at how often we are pushed into corners.
Are you one of those who prefers working at night but has to work by day to meet the needs of others? Are you a loner and would rather be off on an island but life tells you that is not the way? Are you loud and many people look at you in shock when you laugh? Are you positive and happy and you keep being told to tone down? Society has a way of telling us what is right and what is not.
Recently the new World Trade Organisation Chief Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala reported to work in her usual attire, an elegant, floor length flared African print outfit with matching head gear. I saw post talking about how regal she looked and how she had just burst the barrier that said our Afrikan print fabrics and clothes were unprofessional. If you have never met the stereotype, it exists.
Stereotypes are created from experience and values set for us.
It reminded me of my days in the event world. I am a born creative and event designer who struggled with rigid colour codes, so I wore flowing printed A-line skirts with fitted tops and headgear. I remember going for a meeting with a corporate client and they could not get past my dress code. We had several meetings and every time I walked in, they smiled, and we discussed. One day, I was told that when I am meeting with banks and corporates I need to be in black, navy blue and red if I wanted to be taken seriously. You can imagine how I would have to shop for that wardrobe and of course I did not do so.
I have always been one to question things around me so it was no surprise that I would not align to something that was deeply contested in my heart. Watching Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala walk up the steps at the Centre William Rappard (CWR) in Geneva, I understood that times had changed, the shift had happened, the scale has tipped, and I must step deeper into my identity as a daughter of Afrika and do my part to change the narrative and life around me.
Life was demanding more, and I need to be prepared to stand firm.
I looked at many pictures of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala online and there was not anywhere she is in anything other than her Afrikan print outfits and head gear…not a single one. So, I asked myself, am I so sure of who I am that I would keep to my personal style and sense of self no matter what? Do I even know what I must wear and who I must be well enough to I would be steady and unmoved? Am I confident enough in who I am and what I bring to the table to say, stuff it, I will be me at whatever cost?
The ability to stay a course is based on my sense of self, belief in myself and certainty of my calling. The certainty is based on my upbringing and belief system. It is about clearly knowing that my path is divinely ordained, and I am around here to make a difference that will leave footprints for others to follow. Some of us will walk where there are no paths and will be the ones wielding the pangas aka machetes to cut through the bush and leave a path for others.
Bottom line…everyone has a path to chart, a difference to make.
Each of us is responsible for our lives and impact of the same. Each one must commit to the path and bring forth the good within them, but it is a very personal choice. No one can force another to make the choice or live for another. Understand that just like Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, your place in the community awaits you and no one else is created just like you are to become all that and more in your area of influence and ordination.
Arise and be counted as one who makes a mark on their corner of the world that will understand their calling, align to the path and live-in full fidelity to the calling. Rise and be counted!!