Because there is strength in femininity…
I want to preface this article by saying that this article is simply just my opinion as I navigate my femininity journey. This article is in no way written to be judgmental, disparaging, or offensive to anyone who sits comfortably in their power and position as a "strong & independent woman."
There was a time where it seems as if no matter where you turn, there is a new song about "Miss independent". I'm here to tell you from a personal experience, we were bamboozled. We all know at least one powerful woman. She is capable, doesn't seem to need anyone, hardworking, intimidating with enough confidence to fill up a room. I was one of them and not by choice, I came from a long line of Matriarchs. My mother was a powerful woman and so is every other woman in my family. All are either life-long spinsters or are providers in their marriages.
A little back story on my life. If you were to ask anyone in my life, they'll say "she has been a bit precocious, strong, and fiercely independent" from the moment she was born. My Mom would say "you were a difficult baby, very tough and very stubborn, you had a personality before we even left the hospital with you". I was a premature baby who lived the first few months of my life in an incubator fighting for my life. My earliest memories were of me being asocial. Not wanting to play with other children, sitting alone in the playground with my books. By the time I was 3, I had experienced my first trauma… a trauma that lasted till I was 12. By the time I was 12, I had started running away from home. At 12, I experienced another trauma, and this time I fought back, I fought so hard and I've never stopped fighting since. I remember coming out of that traumatic experience saying to myself "NO ONE WOULD EVER HURT ME AGAIN."
I was 12 when I filled out the application (American Lottery) for the entire family to come to America. That was not an exaggeration. What can I say? I was a gifted student. Surprisingly, we won. My parents were angry and perhaps, still resentful. To them, it wasn't an American dream. It meant having to give up all their life earnings on a journey that wasn't guaranteed to be successful. To my Mother especially who grew up an orphan, and had lived in over 25 "foster" homes by the time she was 18, it felt unfair to have to start over. I implored, cajoled, cried, and talked my parents into coming. As usual, my ever-so-powerful mother (the provider) worked incredibly hard to relocate the entire family here.
Landing in America at 14, I immediately told my parents that I wanted to work. I had two part-time jobs while going to school by the age of 14. By the time I got to high school, I was working full time. I was such an awkward kid that for 4 years, I sat alone in the school cafeteria. I was bullied so severely that I ate most of my lunch in the school bathroom. On the occasions that the bullies caught me in there, they'll pour my food down the toilet and make me eat out of it. My parents were so stressed and inundated with the stress of adjusting to the states that I didn't want to bother them with my "little bullying problem". The little girl at 12 who promised herself to NEVER LET ANYONE HURT HER AGAIN once again fought back. She fought her bullies so hard, she lost her rights to walk her graduation. By 24, I had run away from home again, moved to LA, lived in a shelter, and eventually bought a Nissan Altima for $800 and lived in it for a year. All I had was a suitcase, a ramen noodle a day, and a laptop I purchased for $200. Are we seeing a pattern here? Three abusive relationships later, here is who you get: A STRONG, INDEPENDENT WOMAN!
I gave you this back story to paint a vivid picture that usually (at the risk of generalizing) that an independent woman isn't a badge of honor. It is usually a result of trauma or knowing at a very young age that NO ONE is going to be there for you. No one is coming to save you, you are all you have. I used to take pride in being able to cut people off before they hurt me. That I can work myself to death, and that I don't get tired ever. I was once in the hospital with malaria and did flat-lays on the hospital floor.
As you can imagine, this had affected my love life negatively. I've heard men say to me "you don't need me". "What could I possibly add to your life?" Alas, men NEED to be NEEDED. Being a strong, independent woman was me in survival mode, and it wasn't healthy.
It took My Mother, a woman so invincible, so powerful, so impervious getting sick for me to realize that this is not the life I want for myself. My mother had never taken a vacation and I mean EVER. She took pride in being a workaholic and I emulated her strength. So much so that when she fell ill, I called multiple friends in an awkward attempt to cry and be vulnerable to which I received a flippant and dismissive "but, Niké it is you, you are very strong, you'll be fine."
I started a femininity journey, and it's been brutal, but a rebirth. I am learning to nurture the child that was never nurtured. To let her know that she can STOP fighting now. That it's okay to let people in, to belong to someone. Removing the armor, feeling vulnerable, learning how to need people is all anew to me, but it's a journey I must take. With tears running down my eyes, I understand most of you follow me for my strength, for my "power", for my "bossiness" and formidable nature. But, I AM TIRED. I AM DEPLETED. A powerful & masculine man that I had the absolute pleasure of meeting recently called me "a force". A few months ago that'll have been a compliment, however today? Today, it felt like a heavyweight to carry. I remember whispering to myself "I am going to kill that force". To summarize, I don't have any fight left in me. I am putting the boxing gloves down now and learning to rest in my feminine energy.
I know this "new me" is disappointing for my long-term followers who started following me when I worked with the United Nations, was a chest-beating feminist, and wrote about women's empowerment. But, I pray you'll give me the grace and the room to explore this new part of me. To heal, to make mistakes, to misspeak but to fundamentally understand that I am doing this for young Niké, because she deserved to be taken care of, she always did. It's been beautiful to hear from a plethora of young black girls from TikTok with comments such as "I too was hardened from childhood trauma, and you are helping me heal". This is me letting you know that I am no longer a strong independent black woman. I've learned that feminism does NOT mean running from femininity. I honestly don't know where I'm going with what I'm writing or even this journey, So I am going to wrap it up here.
To everyone healing, I hope your hearts can breathe.
With Love and Light,