How 6 Women Strangers Inspired Me to Stop Being Afraid #womeninspired

11Growing up, I was afraid to read at home—when I wasn’t in school. By sixth grade, I was a “latch-key” kids— the ones that let themselves into the house with their own keys before their parents got me.

Walking into the empty house with just Shadow, my cat, and the hum of the refrigerator was overwhelming lonely and creepy; I felt as if the world would slow down and inch along the moment I picked up a book to read.

Instead, I would readily turn on the TV and stuff myself with French fries and crab legs that I bought from the Chinese food place before my mom got home. TV and food were my second choice company and a pleasant distraction from me having to be honest about who I was.

I would be in my twenties and a college degree before I admitted that I was a nerd. A big fat one with a penchant for black feminist literature. Once I was introduced to Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, bell hooks, Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, and my favorite…Jamaica Kincaid, I realized that I was not alone.

I had found my tribe.

The characters in some of these women’s books (books and Lorde don’t write literature) made me wiser and kinder while simultaneously thickening my skin and making me tough. The conviction with which they all wrote humbled me and inspired me to unapologetically claim my spot in this world.

Once I filled up on their words and their thinking, I turned to the lives of the authors themselves to inspire me.

When I say wicked, fierce, #bawse, and unbossed, I am taking about some of the life decisions that they made to purse their happiness despite the constant objections of the peanut gallery.

Here are just three examples:

Jamaica Kincaid formerly known as Elaine Richardson, changed her name and moved from Antigua (big-up!) to the States as an au pair. The way that she speaks about her relationship with her mother is real, raw, and very transparent, though she does it through the guise of fiction.

I had a chance to meet Ms. Kincaid. I was SO cheesin'. I told her that she looks like my aunt. It was a great day.
I had a chance to meet Ms. Kincaid. I was SO cheesin’. I told her that she looks like my aunt. It was a great day.

As for Alice Walker, I read somewhere that when she was writing The Color Purple, she said that Shug spoke to her and told her that she needed to be by the sea. Instead of thinking that she was crazy, Alice picked up and moved to be by the sea—to birth this character, one that I love and admire.

As for Toni Morrison, I learned that she didn’t get her first book deal until she was in her late thirties. On top of that, she woke up early in the morning to get her writing in before she went to work. (kinda like what I’m doing right now; it’s 5:06 am)

Powerful, no?

These women, without knowing me personally, pushed me to stop being afraid of the thoughts that went through my mind—no matter how unladylike, coarse, and brazen they were. Knowing that these women lived in their truth encouraged me to engage those thoughts more, unpack them, sit with them, and let them speak their truth.

I always thought that the first book I’d write would follow in the steps of these women— a piece of fiction honoring the journey of a strong and flawed brown girl warrior.

But the Universe didn’t plan it that way and that’s okay because this is my truth. My love of personal finance and feminism inspired me to write a personal finance book focused on love and money from a frugal feminista perspective.

And based on the lessons that these women have taught me other the last fifteen years, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Frugal Feministas–Share how you were inspired to be who you are today, and join the growing community of #womeninspired

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