A letter to a young activist, who works in a conservative patriarchal context

I look at you and see a young woman with twinkling eyes, a woman full of strength and aspirations. You can change the world. Because you are a survivor. You have walked your way through depreciation, neglect and deprivation that had always been with you because you were born a girl, and it is still what the world offers you, along with other much better things though. So, besides the hard work you do to make the lives of other people better you have this additional challenge of being a young woman in a patriarchal society. That may make you feel exhausted, angry or drained at times. 

I want to tell you something. If you do not start taking care of yourself right now, at this very moment, you may find yourself falling apart just in the middle of your way. Believe me, it does not feel good. Although, I am happy that I met people on my way who helped me to stay sane and healthy, and gave me knowledge of how to take care of myself and how to support my friends, I still think how good it would have been if somebody told me these things long ago. 

So, let’s start taking care of ourselves at every stage of our life,  every day, because we are the most precious thing that we have. I have only few tips to share with you:  

Your feelings are the earth that will keep you standing firm and confident. Trust your feelings. Do not underestimate them. Listen to yourself. I know very well how much a woman can be detached from he own self.  Listen to your heart. It helps when you regularly try to think of things that make your heart feel happy. Not the things that make your family, your village, or your friends  happy, but you only. These things are not something that makes you feel proud or excited. No. It is something that makes you feel like a gentle wind blow, filling you with soft and tranquil happiness. Little by little identify and collect the things that make you feel this way. And go for them!  Make space for them in your life.

Listen to your needs. If you feel tired, take rest. There could be toxic relationships or environments that hurt you and distract you from your goals. If you know there is no way to change them, try to step out of them. We are taught to please others,  but not ourselves. Remember about your own self. 

Other women are the air you breath. Remember what happens to us when we are out of air?  Always, I mean always, keep ties and friendship with other women. Give them support you can when they need and ask for support when you need it. Cherish sisterhood. Never let anyone in your life cut you off from other women. Talk through women’s experiences, praise them. You can arrange regular meetings  for this or solidarity days, where you can  gather your fellow activists to build ties and trust with them. 

No perfection  – we do not need to be perfect to have the right to be in this world and to talk our causes. We can fail, make mistakes, get criticized. Our agenda must not look like a brand new Ferrari. Allow yourself not to be perfect. Start with little things and go bigger, until you see that your cause is no less of a value to humankind just because it was not perfectly framed or got too much criticism.  Do not let the idealist moves make you drop your initiatives.   You are incredible the way you are and this is your own path. You own it. The path where you grow and mature. 

Good luck!  I am here waiting for you.  

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