I have recently gotten into watching this series by the Nigerian director Kemi Adetiba called “King Woman.” “King Woman” is an interview series that feature prominent Nigerian women talking about their lives. It is fascinating to watch because I am Nigerian. Sometimes, I feel like I don’t know how to be a Nigerian woman. It is that conflict that I have in my identity as both Nigerian and American. It has been interesting to realize that there is no such thing as a Nigerian woman. Everybody is making it up as they go along.
I introduced one of my friends to it, and now we talk about each episode in depth. A couple of weeks ago, we started talking about the idea of women owning their stories. One common thread in the interviews has been this idea that a part of the women’s stories was not theirs to tell. It is most evident in that moment when TY Bello, one of the interviewees, pauses before she talks about her sexual assault. She told Ms. Adetiba that she would share the story on the condition that if her husband objects, the footage would not be aired.
I am glad her husband approved because the way she talks about sexual assault as a Nigerian woman is one that is universal, powerful and necessary. Although I don’t agree with the idea that anyone should own any part of a woman’s story, I understand that moment. In watching that moment, I realized that there are parts of my own story that I don’t tell. It is one of the reasons why I have a hard time writing. Blogging, for me, is based a lot on my experiences and my thoughts. My inability to be entirely honest about my life has been a roadblock. I am always afraid of saying too much and embarrassing my family. In many ways, my voice is has been locked down by my shame.
Shame is a central part of my story. It is the weight I carry with me. Shame is also a figure that I am starting to confront head on. I have no reason to be ashamed. There are have been challenges in my life, mostly mental health related, that I am have been nervous to speak about openly. However, I am starting to realize that my power lies in talking about those things that scare me the most. By adding my voice to the chorus speaking about what it means to be a woman, I can help stop some of the stigmas that come with mental health related issues like depression and eating disorders.
So I am taking ownership of my story and promising to talk more honestly about what it means to live with depression and anxiety. I want to talk about my best days and my not-so-good days. I want to be vocal about what makes me happy and be honest about the things that scare me.
For the first time in my life, I feel like I am starting to grasp what it means to be happy. I am finding that happiness, for me, lies in doing things, even imperfectly.