What is your story of strength?
My story of strength started to develop around the age of seven. That’s when I remember that as a family and as a community we were struggling in many different areas. An area that sticks out to me the most is the area of mental health. At a very young age I became aware of the disparities prevailing and how it affected us. I started to notice, for example, that in the NYC public housing complex that I lived in, there were a lot of cases of single parenting, poor mental health, substance abuse, and poverty. Right across the street from us was Lincoln Center for The Performing Arts, so it was like a tale of two cities. That’s when I started realizing that our minds can either make us or break us. And that’s where my story of strength began.
I feel that mental health is something that isn’t addressed as often as it should be. For example, if we have a physical ailment and we’re ill, we go to the hospital to get checked by a doctor, however, when we are feeling emotionally overwhelmed, stressed and or depressed, we don’t take care of that, in fact as a society we tend to neglect our mental health.
What does being a woman mean to you?
Being a woman to me is the embodiment of the word strength. As women we are able to create and sustain life within our bodies, we’re able to keep families together, we’re able to nurture others, and we’re able to build community. Not that men can’t do it, but as women we have an instinctual nature that’s innate in us to build, nurture, take care of others, and unite. As a woman and a mother, I say that there are many things we’re capable of doing, but as strong as we are in being able to create, we’re strong enough to be able to destroy as well. That’s where we need to find a healthy balance and that’s where I feel being self-full comes into play. If we take the time to nurture ourselves, then what we give unto others will be even more powerful. And this is my mentality, as a woman and as a mother, what legacy am I going to leave behind for my daughter and one day (if that is what she wants) her children.
Can you tell me about a time you failed or disappointed yourself?
A point in my life where I felt like I may have failed—I thought it was failure, but in actuality it was more of a blessing—was when I was around the age of 17. I left my house and felt like I needed independence…I was trying to run away from the problems I had at home. I decided I wanted to move out of the house and be in a relationship and I prioritized a relationship rather than my education. It took me a few years to go back and complete my undergraduate and Masters in Psychology.
How can women better support each other?
As powerful and independent we are as women, I think women can better support each other by uplifting our men. Because at the end of the day, while we can do it on our own, we’re stronger together. Optimally we will be stronger by supporting each other, by building up our sons, our brothers, our fathers, our uncles, our husbands. And I feel that if we as women can nurture our men more and uplift them that in turn will make us all more resilient.
I feel often times we waste energy in being pessimistic, in thinking we can’t accomplish things, and in thinking that obstacles are barriers. If we shift and redirect how we see life and how we view life and recognize that energy is all we need to manifest our full potential we will all be in a much better place, mind, body and soul . So to all of the women out there, and men, girls and boys, I would say we need to be careful how we use our energy, how we use our words, words are spells. The more we focus on our purpose in life, building community, and being supportive –rather than competitive and independent—the stronger we’ll be.