Alefiyah, 30, United States, (Chicago, IL)



What is your story of strength?

Life has a way of testing our patience and persistence. Throughout my life, I knew that I wanted to be my own boss and have a business. Although I am still in the process of establishing my ASL Photography business, starting it tested me in many ways. I learned so much about others, and well as myself. It was a huge risk, and I realized that not everyone was supporting me in my journey. As much as it hurt me, a part of me knew that I had to continue with my business because it was what I enjoyed. I experienced a lot of rejection, and I am still struggling with creating a client base. But, having a business taught me that the best things in life take time to become successful, and that all of the challenges that I am experiencing now will lead to better things later. Inshallah.


What does being a woman mean to you?

Being a woman means many things to me, and no two women will have the same definition. I started a blog called Unsung Echoes where I ask women (and men) the same question, and it is beautiful to read their stories and personal experiences. To me, being a woman means to be respected as an individual. Women are constantly told to meet society’s expectations of how they should be, and they are compared to other women. We are never valued for being ourselves, and for our achievements. As a woman, I want to be accepted for who I am without being told that I am not good enough. I do not want to blamed or made to feel guilty because my individuality makes others feel uncomfortable. Being a woman is tough as it is, and I want to be appreciated for the work that I have done, and am doing to reach my goals.


Can you tell me about a time you disappointed yourself?

Everything that happens, and everyone who we meet teaches us a lesson. As challenging as life can be, I am disappointed in myself during those times when I did not defend myself when I was being disrespected by others. I tolerated their behavior when it should not have been tolerated at all. Sometimes, we have to be our own heroes and save our self-respect regardless of the situation. I am also disappointed in myself during those moments when I did not defend others when they were being oppressed or insulted. We live in a world that has become less compassionate and more divided. People are selfish and materialistic, and the only way to create change is to be that change.


How can women better support each other?

Women are naturally strong and nurturing individuals. We are capable of accomplishing great things when given the opportunity to do so, and I think that women can support each other by teaching others from their own experiences. Women entrepreneurs can help other blooming women entrepreneurs about marketing strategies, or business ideas. Women who are in more male dominated fields can encourage other women to become engineers, accountants, financial analysts or computer scientists. As women, we need to stop comparing ourselves to others, and have the confidence to know that we achieve great things too. We also need to realize that we can not be everything to everyone all of the time, and that it is not selfish to take care ourselves when it is necessary. Nothing is more important than our mental, emotional and physical health. If we are not happy with who we are, then nothing else matters.

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