When I joined the broadcasting world at age 20 I was one of very few women in the industry. At first, it was exciting to be a rose amongst the thorns, but after a while, it became a challenge. I remember a time in my early 20’s when I became greatly distressed because I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. Being a female, I was constantly reminded of my gender as a result, I had to “prove” myself all the time. I would work twice as hard as the boys just to earn my seat around the table. I would take more work than I should just to show them that I could multitask and deal with the pressure that came with the job. I had to deal with people who undermined me and my worth. I had to learn to shake off comments such as, “Who do you think you are.” It was not easy. At first, my strategy was to push back and stand my ground every time something inappropriate was said. But over time, the insults and the “jokes” pierced through my armor and I slowly grew weary. The words spoken started knocking the wind out of me and I increasingly became someone I couldn’t recognize. I started believing the lies that this is no industry for women. I started feeling guilty for taking time off to be with my family. I started feeling like I didn’t belong. I suddenly found myself apologizing for needing time to myself. I started wanting to fit in and not standing out. I got bored with the mind games and I became tired of trying to be “one of them” when all I wanted was to be was myself. I started keeping my ideas to myself so my voice wouldn’t be heard. I grew tired of explaining myself or what I meant. Slowly, I started allowing the negativity to get to me. I started doubting my abilities and my dreams. I started looking around me and finding no one to cheer me on. I started drowning…
The more passionate I got, the more I was labelled as emotional. The more planning I did, the more I was seen as not being assertive. The harder I worked, the more pressure was on me to do even better every time. The load became so heavy on me to the extent that I fell into depression.
For a while I wallowed in self-pity and bitterness because I felt unseen, undermined and unappreciated. But that didn’t help me… the more I stayed in that dark place, the worse I felt, the more sick I got and the more unhappy I was, but life didn’t stop.
It was not until I changed my strategy that I crawled out of the darkness into the light. I realized that my happiness was up to me and so, I gave myself the permission to be 100% me. I decided to take responsibility of my happiness and my success without compromising the essence of who I am. I stopped apologizing for being a woman in a male dominated industry, and I focused on paving the way for others instead. I figured; I could choose to let the fact that I was overlooked to harm me or I could use it to build myself and become the best. I could stay bitter and angry at the fact that others didn’t see me as valuable, or I could make up my mind about who I am and what I have to offer and be content with that knowledge. I could let how others see me to limit me, or I could pursue my dreams with everything in me. I realized that what other people thought or said didn’t have any effect on me unless I made the decision to believe them. And so, I began working on myself and on my mind and on my character. It was not easy, but I was determined to be everything I desired to be—a fearless woman who pursued her dreams and stayed true to her purpose.
One of the things I did was to stop caring about what others think of me and I took the time to assess how I thought about myself. I took back my power, and I owned my flaws and imperfections instead of trying to hide or deny them. I worked on my weaknesses but I worked harder on strengths so they could carry me when life got hard. I spent time doing those things that gave me life and energy and I focused my energy on things that inspired me. Soon enough, I became re-energized, excited about life and ready to take on the world.
Life can get messy and unfair but don’t let people or circumstances make you quit. Don’t allow the negativity around you to get inside of you. Protect your mind from getting swayed by untruths. Protect your heart from offence and bitterness. Make up your mind to succeed no matter what comes your way… No one can give you that kind of power, it already exists in you.
Love and Light,
Tweet me: @Nono_Cele
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