Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Being a strong woman isn’t remarkable, it’s normal

“Please do not twist yourself into shapes to please. Don’t do it. If someone likes that version of you, that version of you that is false and holds back, then they actually just like that twisted shape, and not you. And the world is such a gloriously multifaceted, diverse place that there are people in the world who will like you, the real you, as you are.”


It was a stormy day. The rain pelted down, wind whipped, and grey unwelcoming clouds left without a comment. A series of unfortunate incidents unfolded: meetings that did not happen, buses that were missed, and metros that left with my reflection on their shut doors, some letters did not make it to the postbox, others I never got around to writing.

And, then there was this. This video of Chimamnanda Ngozi speaking at Wellesley College, Massachusetts.

It is the end of the day, as the reading lamp shows me the way through the words, as I navigate through theory and text, as I ask Darwish for the nth time, in my mind, where should birds fly after the last sky? ….I thank the cosmos. The weekend will bring the sun. This week will be over – like all weeks, and days, and months, and years.

All I can do is fight for my right to intellectual labor – persevere, persevere, persevere. I think of all the chapters that go into comprising a life, of Ngozi saying:

“I already knew that the world does not extend to women the many small courtesies that it extends to men.

I also knew that victimhood is not a virtue. That being discriminated against does not make you somehow morally better.

And I knew that men were not inherently bad or evil. They were merely privileged. And I knew that privilege blinds because it is the nature of privilege to blind.”

I think of being in a position of privilege myself – of having, knowing, owning, partaking – how further have I come, I know more than I knew, I have more than I had. How would I fare in the percentile of privilege, and who do I benchmark it with and against? That glimmer of light cuts through the cataract of having-moved-on. A journey of determination can start in many different ways, you start for yourself, with only but the self, and soon you find that you are walking with others, and for others, for those who don’t have, don’t know, don’t own and don’t partake – and you know you need to see this to the end. Because you made it. Because you had to. There is no otherwise.

“Minister to the world in a way that can change it. Minister radically in a real, active, practical, get your hands dirty way.” So much work left to do.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: