I am Wonder Woman. Well, at least at times. At times I am capable of literally anything and I feel strong, empowered, and equal to my peers and counterparts. There are other times when it’s like there is a small scribbley monster living in the corner that calls out terrible words of discouragement and shame – and the result is that I feel small and invisible. The monster in the corner assures me that my deepest insecurities are showing in neon lights to the world around me, and my value to the world around me is minuscule at best.
Mali is doing great and terrible things to this dichotomy of feelings I call life. There are times when I feel absolutely incredible for moving over 2,000 km from home, to a country that speaks a foreign language, and lives it’s life in a new and different cycle to that which I am accustom to. Then there are other times when all I can do is compare myself to the people around me – how fast they are adapting to things, how comfortable they seem in navigating the world around us.
The coolest part about Mali though is that I am always being encouraged to take up more space. My driver kindly reminded me of this as I had finally found the seat position to offer the most comfort for our long journey to Bougouni (over 300 km from Bamako). When someone else entered the vehicle I instantly went to re-arrange my seat and belongings to assure that our colleague had more than enough space. My driver kept repeating “laisse, laisse” (leave it, leave it). My driver, my colleagues, my peers, encourage me to speak up when I have an idea and not to hesitate because I am the new kid on the block. They show me how to speak proudly about my background and where I stand on issues and not make excuses or apologies.
Their kind encouragement is silencing that scribbley monster and I am slowly taking steps to grow into my own. At least at this moment. Ask me again on Tuesday and I am sure the roller coaster will continue with my ever fluctuating emotions, but today, right now, I feel whole. Thanks Mali for the reminder.