To the powerful women we may know, raise, love and become: International Women's Day is a moment in time to recognise, reflect and resolve. In 2021, the collective #ChooseToChallenge.
From Canberra to the highest Court of Australia, the systemic challenges faced by women in and around patriarchal power have rung out. We've heard the stories ring loudly in the National Press; we've heard them quietly over coffee with confidants. We are not deaf to the loss of innocence of both genders caught in these institutions of power.
These are not new stories. Some of us have lived them. Many of us love someone who has. This is not the first, nor perhaps the last, time we will hear them. Rightly, as a community, we speak up about these challenges. We talk of the external forces we face into; of institutional corruption, the systems that support inequality, endemic exclusion. We talk of the winds of change to move them; of the powers, the policies, the people we need in this point in history.
Much of the focus of #ChooseToChallenge is on these externalities we rightly choose to battle. These are complex challenges occurring to us. They are inflicted upon us.
What of the challenges within us? What of the challenge of being and becoming itself? What does it mean to be, and become, a woman?
If we are to truly emancipate ourselves from these external forces, perhaps there is a more fundamental inside challenge first: to be and become.
What will you do with this one beautiful life?
To answer this requires two things:
- Finding your radiance: This is the recognition that everything you need to become the person you're meant to be is inside your feelings of now.
- Claiming your beautiful life: This is the understanding that in order to live a truer life than you are living you will have to forge it for yourself, creating on the outside what you are imagining on the inside.
So how can you do this, on this International Women's Day, and each day after?
Finding your radiance requires brutal confrontation of what it means to be alive. The paradigms of our reality may fracture for different reasons: a relationship, a redundancy, an illness. The challenge of choosing life manifests differently for each of us, but the choice to move through it is always the same.
For me, it came from the decision to survive from anorexia.
This was challenging because of the gravity of the task. 40% of my body-weight was lost in 3 months, replete with hair loss and atrophying skin. This was challenging because of the radical accountability. I alone was responsible for the inputs and outputs. This was challenging because of the stigma of the illness. The raw physicalisation of mental health is confronting, and ugly, and stark. It was most challenging because it forced me to confront my fear or surviving; my anxiety to be alive; the reality that my divinity, creativity and lovability are innate.
Whatever the prompt, when we face into the reality of choosing life, we must first choose ourselves. When we do this, we can no longer be protected by what the world tells us to be, or imposes on us. Instead we must be who we are, love who we are, and realise we are enough. Living into your worth, loving yourself, owning this choice: this is the greatest challenge.
Claiming that life is the next step.
Whatever the external challenge we face as we move through the world, the fracturing of our world, like the fracturing of glass, is a metaphor for life in general. Things get broken. Sometimes they get repaired. In most cases, we realise that whatever fractures, life rearranges itself to compensate for that loss, sometimes wonderfully.
In the re-stacking and layering of your existence, reshape your tribe with those who build you up. Align your intentions to your most beautiful life, and know that the outcome takes care of itself. When we do this, we make the invisible order visible. Only then can our dreams become our plans.
As you #ChooseToChallenge, who will you choose to be in this life? Step into this first, for the challenge of being may become the way.