This guest piece by my awesome friend and client, wellness blogger and coach at Ready Steady Joy, Jamillah Yoozooph, is so thought provoking. You can sign up to her list here, and find her on instagram, click here.
When I was asked to co-host an event for DILAMs full day celebration on International Women’s Day with my friend, and amazing heart-centred coach, Gemma Gosden, I was thrilled.
If IWD were a woman, she would be one that I’d had a crush on from afar. I wanted to be in her presence, hang on her every word, and make an impression on her. Like other crushes, I kept my distance, always coming up with excuses as to why I wasn’t worthy enough.
I would take in the highlight reel from my favourite heroes such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Reni Eddo-Lodge, Emma Watson. I was in awe of the way they spoke so passionately in celebration of women, and bringing awareness to the more sobering issues of injustice and inequality that women face all around the world. These women were leaders and activists, people that marched, took action, and turned up daily on the front lines of change. I would feel myself shrinking, I wanted to be an activist, but I didn’t know how, and I could not even show up as a spectator for events, I was just a ‘school run mum’. *wince* The irony of that is not lost on me, at all, but it was what I felt.
When I asked during our talk about what activism meant to everyone, the popular response was not always positive. It conjured up images of conflict, anger and fighting against something. It seems that unlike me, it was not something that everyone felt drawn too. So what if activism had a different face?
Recently I heard someone say that ‘activism does not always appear with a raised fist; it was in the actions and decisions that we chose daily.’
At this moment I knew that I and all of us could be activists if we chose and it didn’t need marching or conflict of any sort,
Choosing joy as activism
I have experienced episodes of depression through my life and when I had my first prolonged episode, the scariest part of it, was feeling that my capacity to experience joy had gone, that I might never get it back again. If you haven’t experienced depression before, take a moment to think about waking up and feeling like all the colour, music and laughter had drained from the world, and all the things that usually gave you pleasure no longer did. I did regain my sense of pleasure, and when my recovery periods got easier and longer, I made a promise to choose joy whenever I could, not taking it for granted any more. It is in the repetition of that action that I find my activism and here is why I think you should do the same.
No More Good Girls
Women often don’t know what it is that makes them happy. We lose this connection to ourselves because we are always so busy doing and achieving. We are often in demand from our children, partners, friends and more. When the day’s over and our energy is gone, thinking about what we need or want falls off the priority list. At least we were good for everyone else though…NO! Deciding to claim that joy is an up yours to a model of womanhood that makes us think we are less important than everyone else. The most fabulous way to be in service to others is when our cups runneth over. It feels less obligatory, and we feel less resentful, we also give permission to those around us to sustain their own needs first too.
Stay on Mission
Choosing joy becomes a must if we want to be women that affect change in the world too. Whether our work is personal change or on a bigger scale, it requires much energy physically and mentally. If we are not mindful it can mean we either abandon our mission or get depleted and burnout. Choosing to be intentional about lifting your vibes, and engaging in activities that make you feel refreshed and renewed allows you to carry on doing the good in the world that you are here for. It is also protective for your overall wellbeing.
‘Joy doesn’t betray but sustains activism’
Joy needn’t become another duty, something else for our ever-growing to-do lists, I recommend thinking of ways that you can use little joy lily pads throughout your day. That might be wearing your favourite colour,stopping between tasks to dance to your favourite song, or having flowers at your desk. The point is that joy is an energy bringer, a workhorse that is relentlessly behind you. Activism requires sustainable momentum and joy brings that. In the face of bleak news cycles and taxing lifestyles, joy is the ultimate weapon of the resistance; you need to make the decision and choose it.