I did not march.
Had I been in London, I think I would have but as far as I’m aware, there was no march organised here in Tenerife.
I’d seen a lot of posts on social media leading up to Saturday as well as on the actual day itself but I hadn’t looked into it too much.
On Sunday, I woke up feeling guilty – a feeling I know all too well and something I wrote about last week – because I hadn’t paid much attention to the event and made no effort to be involved.
I’m always advocating freedom and self-care for women yet I’d shown little interest in the Women’s March.
However, rather than wallow in the guilt, I reflected on why that was.
And there were a number of reasons.
I don’t know where I stand on feminism
Firstly, I’ve tried to avoid all things to do with the man who is now president of the United States.
I know ignorance is not always bliss but for my own sanity and well-being, it was necessary.
(Although, after reading this article, I am going to make more of an effort to be aware of what is happening.)
Secondly, I am not sure where I stand on the term “feminism”.
I’m aware that just by typing the sentence above women are poised ready to attack me and will demand to know how I can not consider myself a feminist and be a woman?
How can I not consider myself a feminist and be an advocate for the freedom and equality of women?
I admit I’m nowhere near an expert on feminism, but what I do know is that sadly, even within feminism, race is still an issue.
I see all too clearly how “mainstream” feminism still excludes or perhaps overlooks issues that are specific to women of colour.
And that makes me uncomfortable.
And, just like with religion, if I do not agree with the overall ethos of something, I will not claim to be it.
However, that said, I am all for the equality of women and I long to see the end of patriarchy and the constraints it inflicts upon us.
But I am not the next Dr Martin Luther King
Since the weekend, I’ve continued to reflect on things.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what I do and the contribution I want to make this year and beyond.
People have been telling me for years that I need to put myself “out there” and that I should create my own speaking platform – whether that be public speaking, a Youtube channel or more recently Instagram Live – because they think I’d be really good at it.
I always consider it, and I even see what they see, but I always come back to the feeling that it’s just not me.
Now, I’m fully aware that there is some playing small happening.
I do and have played small for years.
I’ve let fear and vulnerability dictate my choices too many times.
I acknowledge that.
We all have our part to play, but what I’ve come to realise is that not everyone is Dr Martin Luther King, Malcolm X or Angela Davis (although my ‘fro is just as epic).
Not everyone wants to stand in front of millions and speak – and actually, if everyone did, I wonder how much progress we’d make?
Because, we also need people who document the speeches, write the articles, make sure everyone is fed and watered, keep the finances in shape and manage the logistics.
I’m the person that Angela Davis would have called for a pep talk when she was doubting herself or having a bad ‘fro day.
Malcolm X would have called me when he wanted someone to rage at that would also give him honest but constructive feedback when he was all up in his feelings and ego.
As for Dr King, I probably would have been part of his team making sure all the logistics were taken care of so that all he had to focus on was what he was going to say.
I’m that person.
I’m not the person at the pulpit but I’m the one keeping those who are supported and believing in themselves.
I reflect back to them why they’re doing what they’re doing and remind them that they are great.
I am the person in the community sharing the bigger, overall message in smaller groups, using metaphors and other creative ways to help more people access, digest and effectively implement the overall message.
I know that now and more importantly I see that my role is just as valuable as any other.
We all have our part to play
Yes, I have strong opinions and I am passionate about the freedom and equality of women.
Not being at the Women’s March does not dimish that because we all have our part to play.
We live in a society where there is too much shaming, especially of women.
If you wear your hair natural but decide to straighten it, people are ready to shame you.
If you follow a plant-based diet and have a plate of chips or eat a cake once in a blue moon, the shame squad pounce.
If you don’t march, it means you don’t care and you’re not as passionate as those who do.
Don’t get me wrong, I can be as judgmental as the next person, because I’m human, however, we need to stop this blanket shaming and dismissal of people.
Activism is mentally, emotionally and spiritually draining.
I know a lot of people who care deeply about many of the issues in society today but on top of their day job, financial demands and other life issues, they just do not have the capacity to get fully stuck in.
The struggle is real!
Prioritising self-care is critical and balancing it with passionately supporting a cause – or several as is normally the case these days – is not an easy thing to do.
We all have our part to play and I believe we do that by playing to our strengths and doing what we can to honour our values and beliefs.
We can all do what we can, where we are, with what we have.
I’ve spent the past seven years empowering and motivating young people to believe in themselves and their abilities and I have changed lives.
Just not on a Nelson Mandela scale.
But that’s OK because one of those young people could go on to become the next Mandela.
I am also a freelance writer and I can and will continue using my words to empower and inspire women to believe in themselves and reach their full potential.
So, I suppose I wrote all this to say, don’t feel guilty for not being “down for the cause” in the same way as the next person.
Figure out the contribution that you want and have the capacity to make, then do it with passion and commitment.