“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along’.” Eleanor Roosevelt
The struggle to “find your voice” can be a lifelong battle for many.
I can relate.
Growing up engaging two very different worlds (Wisconsin and Pakistan), trying to find my place, where I am welcome, & where my authentic voice would be “silenced” due to all of what encompasses my identity, would make that struggle harder. On top of that, an anxiety disorder, creating a “stutter.” Approximately 3.1% of Americans (6.8 million) have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), & only around 40% receive the proper treatment. This occurs in conjunction with depression & women are twice as likely than men to have it.
Nevertheless, since I was young, I have always aspired to master the art of public speaking. I had become nearly obsessed with it. No matter how much more I knew it would be a challenge for me.
When I conducted my fieldwork in Pakistan, I was welcomed with open arms across the country for my doctoral research on foreign aid-effectiveness and for my Masters research on Violence Against Women, within Karachi as well. I listened to voices of women community leaders speaking in rural Sindh with a jaw-dropping, mind-blowing level of confidence I could not convey, with all the speaking opportunities and hundreds of self-help books I would read in the west.
To this day, I don’t shy away from a single speaking opportunity for my voice to be heard. Because I know, that if I speak, I am, in the smallest way, contributing to making it possible for others with similar ‘identifying factors’ to muster up the courage to make their voice heard as well. This is how we are interconnected, our quantum mechanics.
While there remains much to improve, I still speak with a stutter at times, I am proud of how much progress I made in my life and where I am now with my voice & where it is going.
I promised that I would share their stories with the world.
The beautiful women I met in rural Sindh. And return for a cup of chai. 🙂 While I have shared some stories in a small way, small pieces, there remains so much more untold. And I hope to continue to listen.
And I am hopeful for the moment I can be with them again someday.
I won’t be able to forget that energy radiating throughout my body, when I heard the women speak about what they are doing to empower themselves, their households & communities.
Arguably a latent construct, I wish they knew, that what they did for my own empowerment, as that random “Ajnabi”, that ‘perfect stranger’, that “fly-on-the-wall observer,” that Wisconsin cheesehead with an anxiety disorder, could in fact be a measure of their own empowerment.
I hope to muster up the courage to share the story in a Ted Talk one day. 🙂
In the meantime, I will continue to listen & cheer other women on, to elevate their voices along the way.
Happy Belated International Women’s Day!
Happy Women’s History Month.
Stay resilient, empowered,… connected.
Peace, Solidarity, Warmth, and Blessings,
Dr. Elsa, Warrior KQueen
“She wasn’t looking for a Knight. She was looking for a Sword.” – Atticus
#internationalwomensday #pakistan #Sindh #womensupportingwomen #selfempowerment #womenempoweringwomen #womenempowerment #community #leadership #changemakers