[VoxSpace Selects] An Ode To My Inspirations – How Strong Women across The Globe Are Changing Lives

Celebrating Courage, Strength, And Vulnerability

Almost all my life, I thought I am a very brave person with no stereotypes or judgments about people or no affirmations to the set standards of society. But as I grew older (that is when I hit twenty) and started interacting with the real world, I realized that I am no different. I have ingrained in myself all the existing standards, possible insecurities, under confidence and what not just like any other typical teenage girl. All the associated prejudices, rules, stigma about being a girl have started hitting me slowly from very close vicinities- family (a lot), friends, workplace (surprisingly a little less), internet (let’s not even get there), etc. (It took ages for me to realize that it’s not my fault)

By the time I was aware of all the alphabets and numbers and a little bit of algebra in school, I also realized that kabaddi is for boys. And the girls played Kho-Kho. Cricket is not for girls at all. So never did I think of asking my PET Sir about it despite liking the game a lot (How cool is it to hit a ball however far you want!) By the time I started chumming, I realized that I should only be wearing certain kind of clothes in order not to garner attention from the opposite sex (as if clothes really helped me not get harassed by a stranger at the age of 14). I have learned it the hard way that we need to use our strength and brains in order to escape from the traitors.

By the time I was in college, my father asked me to stop dancing for girls need to be stable at that age. In fact, both my parents were very upset with the course that I chose (mass communications and psychology) for desk jobs best suit girls. I had to fight for days for them to agree and sacrificed my wish to study in a different city altogether for girls can’t manage alone in a city at such a young age. When I told my parents that I like films and would love to be in that space for the rest of my life, they were more than disappointed. I still receive tantrums about that every day. When I told my parents that I am the only girl in my office, you know what they said! I still to this day struggle to convince my parents that I can ride a motorbike if given proper training.

Now, why the rant? Time and again I have been told or shown that I have a certain place to be or things to do because of my gender. And for the most part of my life, I even believed so. All of what I mentioned is just a fraction of what I have experienced. And this is the story of most women out there who are struggling to do something with their life.

It’s humiliating and annoying to see that you are always expected to be safe, groomed and protected. You cannot get hurt or experience even the slightest bit of discomfort. Everything should be proper and according to the norms for you can’t take it otherwise. It’s hard to swim against the current. It’s hard for every single woman out there. But despite that, few did it. Went that extra mile and proved to the world over and over again that they can do anything they set their mind to. And stood as an inspiration to so many amateurs and aspirers in this world.

And this article is a celebration of those incredible women who chose to break the barriers and followed their dreams irrespective of whether they were or not given a chance. They created opportunities for themselves and the like.

Chetna Gala Sinha -- Our Courage Is Our Capital

We dont need poor solutions for poor people | Chetna Sinha | TEDxSanFrancisco

With her every step towards making women more empowered, Chetna Gala Sinha is proving that there’s no such thing as a hindrance. If one is determined to do something, they will figure out the ways to do it too. Starting a bank for rural women to manage their finances and successfully running a community radio in remote villages to giving a TED talk in front of the world about how they turned their courage into their capital, Chetna Gala Sinha and her fellow warriors are the biggest inspiration to the current generation.

Never Provide Poor Solutions to Poor People

When Chetna mentioned about Kanta Bai and Keera bai in her talk, I was awe-inspired to see that despite the lack of exposure and modern education, these women have thrived and all they did was fearlessly chase their dreams. Their smart choices show how wonderful ideas can come up from utter necessity. Being the first bank for and by rural women, Deshi Mahila Sahkari Bank now has more than 20 million dollars of capital with more than a hundred thousand women saving with it. And these warriors are on their way to achieve a lot more.

Ellen DeGeneres -- The Funniest Woman Person On The Planet (And The Kindest)

Ellen at Tulane Commencement 2009

Ellen DeGeneres needs no introduction. Choosing to talk about her sexuality despite the stigma for she needed to be authentic to herself to building her career from scratch, Ellen is the Wikipedia of strength. The very reason she wrote her first standup sketch was the loss of her loved one. She wrote a magnificent piece from utter heartbreak. If this is not entrancing, I don’t know what is!

Find out who you are and be that person. That’s what your soul was put on this earth to be. Find that truth. Live that truth and everything else will come

We all love her surprises and jaw-dropping gifts that she gives to her fans. She’s one of the kindest women I have ever known. Walking through shit and raising above everything as the ultimate comedy queen with a smile on her face throughout, Ellen is the symbol or love, strength (and sense of humor). With always funny and knowledgeable speeches, everlasting smile, humility, and giant heart, Ellen is practically teaching everyone how to live and am more than grateful to have known about her.

Musimbi Kanyoro -- Making The Masses Realize Their Privileges

To solve the world's biggest problems, invest in women and girls | Musimbi Kanyoro

Musimbi Kanyoro who I came across very recently is changing the world with her exhortations and is imparting much-needed knowledge about Isirika. Her passion for making the world a better place is unimaginable. There’s a warmth in her smile and the way she embraces humanity.

 Those who have more, enjoy the privilege of giving more

Despite being such a renowned personality, her soul is so down to earth. There’s compassion that penetrates through her words every time she begins to speak. Musimbi has taught me how important it is to love, be generous and spread smiles.

Anne Lamott- She Is My Grace

Grace finds you exactly where you are, but it doesn’t leave you where it found you

More often than not, I wondered if writing was my thing. If I would enjoy the process. I failed to understand that writing is not about putting out phrases that make everyone laugh out loud or open their mouths wide with surprise. It’s about us putting out our stories. Good, bad or ugly but OUR stories. And now that I sit down to think about my stories, I discovered that there are so many. I lived on this planet for 21 years and that’s not a small time. I have seen so many people, so many things and so many situations that I can already write a book about it.

12 truths I learned from life and writing | Anne Lamott

It’s been a very bad match for those of us who were born extremely sensitive

I decided to stop thinking that I have nothing to write about. Thinking so would be so disrespectful to all my experiences. The person that I am today is an accumulation of so many weird, fantastic, ugly, amazing and challenging experiences. And I am determined to embrace them. Anne Lamott is someone who has changed my perception of a lot of things.  Although writing is not my first love, I discovered that I somewhere deep down rely so much on it and I secretly sought solace in it.

I am more than happy to have found such an incredible woman say such incredible things. It’s overwhelming when you discover that you actually like something but never really realized it. It’s good to know that you are capable of doing something, big, small or whatever but something. And Anne Lamott makes feel both good and overwhelmed and I couldn’t ask for more.

Lidia Yuknavitch -- The Torchbearer Of Successful Misfits

Lidia Yuknavitch Interview

Lidia Yuknavitch is someone who I am eternally grateful for, for continually with multiple examples telling me and everyone like me that it’s okay to be a misfit. She is someone who embraces vulnerability like nobody else. From being a victim of both emotional and physical abuse, homeless to now being one of the most revered writers Lidia’s story is full of ups and downs with her picking herself up every time she fell, dusting herself off and starting all over again.

I have not figured out how to live with a lot of stories of my life yet

She has taught me that it’s okay to not be able to figure out how to live with a loss of life. Or with a dysfunctional family or with an anxious mind. Her story has so many unwanted or unexpected situations that it boggles my mind every time I think about how she raised back every single time and with flying colors.

A Few More Symbols Of Absolute Brilliance

Leila Hoteit, an Arab Businesswoman is a phenomenal example of how one can turn every obstacle into an opportunity.  She extensively talks about supporting women around her and how that has helped her grow in turn,  which is an extraordinary lesson to be learned by all the women out there who are on their way to make it big in their demanding careers.

Leila Hoteit | SME Beyond Borders 2017

Lilly Singh aka our very own Bawse lady is another millennial rock star who is shattering all the existing notions and creating a history. Lilly never settled for anything less than what she deserves. What does she deserve? Whatever she decided to have. For she hustles harder than anyone to have it. She is a synonym of hard work and determination(just what we need to succeed)

The ultimate path breaker, youngest Nobel prize winner, the one that fought the destiny to fulfil her dreams, Malala Yousafzai. Need I say anything more?

Emma Watson is one of the first few females I have ever started following. I admired her with passion for her irrevocable strength and persistence towards creating a gender-neutral world. She went on to win the first ever gender-neutral prize for acting proving that nothing is ever impossible. Particularly a much-needed change!

Emma Watson at the HeForShe Campaign 2014 - Official UN Video

Dear girls, these women and a lot more like them (am sure I missed a zillion other names) have constantly and invincibly taught me, guided me, helped me and supported me in ways inexplicable. They taught me how to embrace my sexuality and sensitized me towards queer communities and fellow human beings and inspired me to celebrate vulnerability.

And so will they to you too. Look around and find your inspiration, find your truth and follow it. Growing up to be a nerdy introverted creative enthusiast, with all kinds of weird experiences, I have survived and am thriving now in a dream space at the age of 21 and am more than proud of myself and so should you be of wherever you are in the journey of being where you want to be. Am forever grateful to all of those strong, witty and sensitive women who are making this possible and are tirelessly working towards making a difference.

To becoming unconquerable! To Us!