By Ev Petgrave
When I think about a “journey,” images of exotic, faraway lands and an expectation that a profound meaning of life will proclaim itself come to my mind. My journey into womanhood has been anything but those things.
My exploration of womanhood (which I’d much rather call it), has been saturated with mistakes, ignoring my intuition, feeling the consequences of ignoring my intuition and ultimately learning why I should never ignore my intuition.
Being a woman means being an embodiment of love. Love was something that I never had a lot of growing up with a mother like mine.
My mother is not the archetype for all mothers. We aren’t close and she was never very affectionate. Throughout my childhood and still to this day, I’ve watched her jump from relationship to unhealthy, abusive relationship and put her children last, all for the love of money and herself.
You’ve seen enough Tyler Perry movies to know what kind of effect this would have on a young woman. I struggled with self-love and feeling like I wasn’t good enough, which led to my own period of unhealthy relationships.
I didn’t have a blueprint for becoming a woman. No one showed me what it took to take care of myself, my heart, my mind or body. Most importantly, no one taught me to trust my intuition. The very thing that would’ve spared my heart from one-too-many hard lessons.
The thing about lessons is that while they can be tough, there is always something life-changing to be gathered from the ashes after all of the smoke has cleared.
The greatest item I have ever retrieved after a fire has been a small, inimitable human being. I named her Amara.
Amara means “eternal” in Greek and “grace” in Igbo. And my daughter has brought a deep understanding of both of those concepts to my life. Young and absent of positive support, I lied in a birthing suite studying for a psychology exam, not realizing that a few hours later, I would be giving birth to the greatest and most challenging test of my existence and womanhood.
Womanhood. The very thing I didn’t know how to embrace, let alone know how to teach a young girl. How was I going to teach her how to love herself when the rest of the world didn’t? Teach her that sexism is a social construct and that she could be anything she damn well pleases? Teach her that she is much more than a body and face and that she can be comfortable in her own caramel-coated skin devoid of enhancements?
I didn’t know. The weight of my choice landed on my chest and I decided what I had to do next.
I started to work on myself. I started questioning all of society’s mass beliefs and coming up with my own opinions. I sacrificed time with Amara to work my ass off to finish my degree while working two jobs so that when she gets older, I could give her the time and guidance that she deserves.
I became selfless. I became a mother and a woman. I learned to love.
What society doesn’t tell you is that there are multiple ways in which a girl becomes a woman. It doesn’t have to happen after a cherry pop or becoming a wife, sometimes a girl becomes a woman after a fire is placed deep inside her womb. It is up to her to choose what to take from the ashes.
Ev a twenty-something figuring out life as I go along. She explores her creativity and womanhood one self-loving day at a time. Connect with her on Twitter @underpriv and read her work at www.underpriv.com.