Love, Life Stories, Advice

Unleashing the tempest within me

It was the beginning of my feminist awakening, the culmination of a journey of self-discovery.

I remember my first notable interaction with Coming of Faith, now aptly called The Tempest. There was a Twitter conversation with the hashtag #breakthesilence geared at Muslim women who were speaking out against cultural practices disguised as religion. It was a conversation I was eager to read and partake in; it was an opportunity to interact with women who held the same views as me, even though we were miles apart.

It was the beginning of being a part of the Muslim women community I had longed for. In my early twenties, I was on a path to self discovery – finding out what I was passionate about and what I regarded as important to me. For the first time I was looking at the women in my faith community and wanting to know more about them, from them. It was about meaningful connections and being bound by shared experiences.

[bctt tweet=”I was looking at the women in my faith community and wanting to know more about them, from them. “]

After that, I kept coming back to read more articles, which were pushing back against stereotypical and limited views of Muslim women wherever they lived. As a Muslim woman living in the West, diasporic and millennial, the complexities of my identity or others similar to mine was not something I had read or came across often enough.  At The Tempest, these narratives were relatable, yet offered different perspectives on life experiences as a woman. I branched out and began reading articles in life, love, and culture all of which appealed to me and made me want to learn more about other aspects of my identity. As I read more about other women, I learned more about myself.

[bctt tweet=”As I read more about other women, I learned more about myself.”]

Fast-forward a few years, a few open Coming of Faith (now The Tempest) tabs and a quarter century life crisis. Through some really difficult times, the authentic narratives I read of these women helped me. It was reassuring to know that I wasn’t alone, and I began the process of unlearning what society, community, and culture expected of me. I started thinking, what did I expect from myself? I’d slowly initiated the process of taking charge of my life.

Much like Laila, Najira, and Shayan’s stories of wanting a platform and then creating it for not just themselves, but other diverse women, I was also searching for an outlet where the conversations were unfiltered, necessary, and weren’t just a one-off feature post but ongoing conversations. These were the stories that needed to be told by us. I would leap at any media portrayal of women who shared my faith hoping that justice would be done to her character, that it could represent me, but that was hardly ever the case.

Having seen rounds of Fellowships go by, I decided to submit my application for Spring 2016. After a nervous interview with Laila I was ecstatic when I got my email accepting me as a Fashion Fellow. There were tears. It felt surreal and still does.

When you’re given the opportunity to be a part of something that’s meant to empower, uplift, and rip apart that box society has put you in, you bring it. Finally I was able to be a part of this amazing community which had helped me so much- seriously, you women will never know. Now I was able to share my narrative, which as a Caribbean Muslim Millennial woman, was yet to be given a voice. Words aren’t enough to describe the incredible feeling knowing that you crafted something that someone else can relate to and benefit from. The reactions of OMG, tagging friends, sharing, and internalizing these thoughts because of the levels of realness that articles here contain, is worth all of it.  It’s a lot of work, but when you love what you do, that’s okay.

When I was 14, apart from wanting to be a pediatrician, I wanted to tell stories from the front lines, stories about underrepresented people – women, from conflict areas whose voices weren’t heard, were ignored or drowned out. Years later I’m doing exactly that, except the underrepresented voices are my own and those around me.

When I learnt of the new name The Tempest, it was the best description of how I felt. I’m no longer willing to let things which are unacceptable slide. By coming together as diverse millennial women, we can make an impact. We have to because no one else is going to do it for us. Nor can they.

[bctt tweet=”We’re storming in. We’re storming ahead. The clouds have rolled in.”]