It was a dark presence on the edge of my vision, like a spot of blackness hiding in the corner of my eye. I turned to look at it and as I did, it stared strongly back at me.
There was no easy way defeating the fear that had crept into my soul. It rose with each passing second, the taste of bile rising and when I swallowed, the acid rose and burnt my throat.
I was dying.
“God, I’m too young to die, please. I haven’t even celebrated my thirteenth year birthday”, I prayed silently to God.
It was a few days to my thirteenth year birthday. My parents were planning the best for me. Big brother was coming home from New York to celebrate with me and he was coming with more than enough chocolates and cookies for my friends and I. I was super excited. I kept counting how many days it was left to that day.
It was five days to my birthday that day. I had woken up to see blood on my bed. My body was soaked and as I investigated further, I realized I was bleeding from my privates.
For the next minutes, I was transfixed. Fear held every bit of me captive. I didn’t want to die and there I was, with it staring back at me without remorse.
“Mum! Mum!”, I screamed running round the house, looking for my mother.
“Mum, I’m dying. I’m bleeding from my private part. I don’t want to die yet”, I said to her as I saw her by the kitchen door. I could still feel the salty taste of fear on my lips.
The reaction I got from my mother was unexpected.
She laughed. So hard that tears flowed from her eyes.
I didn’t know what to feel but I knew I was shocked. I had just told my mom that I was dying and all she could do was laugh. My eyes flew open in surprise and I froze. This was enough shock for a day that wasn’t even lived halfway yet.
“You’re not dying yet, baby. You only just became a woman. It’s called menstruation”, mom finally said to me.
It was my turn to laugh. I couldn’t believe how stupid I was. Just about two weeks before, Teacher Ngozi had taught about menstruation, pads and other things that happens to adolescent girls. It was finally happening to me and I didn’t know.
As I grew older with it and other things happening to my body, my mind evolved to other things and this was due to better understanding of myself and the society I live in.
Being woman is not genitals, femininity or fitting a specific mold. It’s many things, including being you with an experience that’s uniquely yours. It’s about creating an identity for yourself and owning it radically and unashamedly.
Becoming a woman is beyond menstruation and the transition from adolescent to an adult female. It’s being everything and more that you’re stereotyped.
So Dear Woman,
Made of moonlight magic and more,
Created with a rare kind of authenticity,
Adorned by the CREATOR and declared “Worthier Than Rubies”,
Being Woman is beyond being a man’s “wife”.
Being Woman is far beyond seamlessly alternating to your role in fulfilling the collective dreams of an entire family.
Being Woman is beyond being organized and hot at multi-tasking. It’s a super power you should be proud of though. Wear it like a cape.
Being Woman is AMBIGUOUS to define. It’s you being you Undefined yet Refined. It is what you make of it!
Being a woman to me is a lot about strength, mutual support, and love. The women I choose to surround myself with are always there to back me up, to rely on for whatever and whenever with unwavering levels of support. I feel so much comfort in this.
There is certainly far to go, but the tides are changing. I often see this phrase stuck on laptops, bags, or on signs littered all over campus, and every time I do, I feel a little more empowered by the knowledge that ‘the future is female.’”
—Iona Cleave, ArtSci ’21
Being a woman might come with the unfortunate downside of gender-based discrimination, made worse by intersections like race, class, and sexuality, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Being a woman has allowed me to be a part of a beautiful lifelong community. I may have been teased, taunted, and harassed for doing nothing more than existing in this society as a woman, but I always know I can rely on other women to support me and protect me. Our universal negative experiences have brought us together, and I think that solidarity is a wonderful thing.
To me, being a woman also means using my own privilege to support others—Black women, disabled women, and trans women—who face even more barriers than I do. I love being a woman, and I love having the privilege to fight for my right to be a woman with full control over my body, future, and life.”
—Tegwyn Hughes, ArtSci ’20
There’s a quote by Coco Chanel “A girl should be two things: who and what she wants.“
A woman can also be two things. It’s time that you be your own woman, find it, define it and own it!
Ignore the glass ceiling and do your work. If you’re focusing on the glass ceiling, focusing on what you don’t have, focusing on the limitations, then you will be limited.
Don’t be the woman that limits her own self. Be one that stretches herself way beyond potential’s drive.
Cheers to becoming your woman.