Everything I am and have, I owe to the incredible women in my life.
From my Ethiopian hair stylist that braids my hair with love every month to my creative writing mentor, these women have shown me that running away from a toxic environment doesn't mean that I stand alone. My village is made up of amazing women that embrace and celebrate everything I am. They make me feel loved and supported and I find their selflessness encouraging and inspiring.
I met some of these women by chance and others through organizations that recognize the importance of leadership in a youth’s life.
My creative writing mentor, Mikaela, has changed my life tremendously by just being her amazing, driven and generous self. Although she has the craziest work schedule, she makes time to see me and work with me on my writing.
If you know me, you know I'm obsessed with Toni Morrison and that I aspire to write like her. Knowing this, Mikaela got me tickets to Luminato’s Festival “Beloved: A Celebration of Toni Morrison ”. It was a simple act but it made me feel both seen and heard.
Although I was over the moon, I felt nervous too. This event was for writers and I didn't see myself as one. But she did. She believed in me even when I was unsure of myself. She taught me that I belonged in that room as much as any other writer. And when she introduced me to the art director of that event, she showed me that there were more phenomenal women out there that I could learn from and collaborate with. She helped me recognize that you don't have to be related to a big name or be an alumni of a big university to connect with people that would happily lift you up.
She showed me that there are communities and networks of women that truly support each other and want to see everyone win.
Having run away from home, I always felt that I wouldn't get far because I didn’t have my family's network. Or if I did manage to succeed, that I'd have to do it alone. But Mikaela has proven to me time and time again that there are women out there that are more than happy to root for me, support me and lift me up.
While Mikaela helped me find my voice, Laurinda, my boss here at Kind Karma, helped me use it. If it wasn't for our regular check-ins and mentorship, I wouldn't have known how I wanted to use my voice. So while my mentor encouraged me to write, Kind Karma gave me a space for my voice to be heard.
It's moments like these that remind me that my village of amazing women is here and all around me. I'm grateful for all the women that made me feel safe and their generosity with their time and effort. For someone who doesn’t have that at home, they’ve created a nurturing environment for youth like myself to heal and reach their full potential.
And for that, I feel incredibly lucky.