By Akosua Dardaine Edwards
When I found myself having to answer the question, “Who Are You?”, I was more than 5,000 miles away from home about to facilitate a training session with a group of women I met monthly at what they called a V&S, a village and savings meeting.
The women do the sessions seated in a circle which signified that they are one. They refuse to be broken. Entering their circle is a sacred act. Not one to be taken lightly or opened to any and every one. You enter the circle only when you answer the question “Who are you?” to their acceptance. Because I was a guest, I was given the opportunity to go first, to enter the circle of women who made decisions as a group for the improvement of their community. I announced myself as I entered the circle by stating my name, my qualifications, the country that I came from and what I was there to do. After my passionate recital, the circle did not make a way for me to enter. They asked me again the very simple question, “Who are you?” I repeated the script that consisted of my name, country, qualifications and job. The circle got tighter and did not include me. They pulled me aside for a quiet chat.
“Madame, who are you? You? Not what you do or the things you own. You. Who. Are. You?”
In that moment, I did not know how to answer that question beyond what I just said. I based my entire life on the things that I had acquired and worked hard for including the qualifications, the material possessions and the networks established over the years. Up to that point, I had the smiles, the education, the degrees, the connections, and the networks. Truthfully, even though I had all of that, it just never seemed to be enough. There was always, to me, a sense of more being required. This was a “more” to keep what I already had, and to ensure that I strived for even more of what I already had.
My goal was to be a success – no matter what. That success, I now know was not consciously defined by me. It was a default mix of what I was told, what I saw, and what was given recognition and praise by the world around me. Success was multiple educational qualifications, a safe, high powered job, and a retirement with a bag of money and possessions. Only after that was achieved was I then allowed to do something fulfilling. Those goals were etched into my consciousness through a very detailed plan, which was stuck up on my bathroom door, my bathroom mirror, and any other available wall space. I recited it daily, knew it off the top of my head and was following it with precision. The results were there for all to see, I was a success by that formula.
It just never ever felt like I had enough. That I was enough. And so I continued getting more. I had this knowing feeling at the pit of my stomach, The feeling of:
- Not enough time
- Not enough love
- Not enough money
- Not enough qualifications
- Not enough sleep
- Not enough money
- Not enough validation
- Not enough acceptance
- Not enough material possessions
- Not enough properties
Just not enough. Not enough of anything drove me to work harder, and make decisions from a place of fear.
Our inner being has so much integrity; it will not allow us to KEEP anything that we do not believe we deserve. There is an inner healing that has to take place or the result is usually self-sabotage and continuous searching. I started asking myself more and more. What is it that I want? Is this really what success is? Please show me a new path. And when we ask questions – we receive answers. Many times we are not prepared for the answers because it pushes us out of our comfort zone to a space where we have to make a different decision with absolutely no guarantees.
Everything that I based my success and self-worth on in the past started to fall apart one by one. There was a domino effect.
- I lost the job – Well, I was fired on national television.
- I lost the chocolate brown brother man– well he left- found another lover- “the one” as he frankly put it.
- I lost the place on the beach – well, I neglected to pay the taxes and it was auctioned off.
- I wanted to hide because, now it seemed to be that I was an almighty failure.
- So, I left the country, 5000 miles away where no one knew that I was a “failure”.
And here I was, standing outside of a circle wanting to get in but didn’t know who I was, which was the way in. Did I not know? Or, was it that I never took the time to think about me, who I wanted to be and what I wanted to contribute to the world?
We are taught that the way to produce enoughness is to figure out how to get the things that we want.
What job will make you enough? What relationship would make you enough? What house will make you enough?
As I stood there outside of the circle, I had to consciously think about who I was, who I wanted to be – without any of the titles and external tags. It was a sobering moment that made me realise that when I consciously decide who I want to be I can move towards that knowing that I am enough, that I can choose how I show up in the world, and those decisions will guide me towards my best self.
We make the decision and choice on how we want to show up in this world. Our circumstances are not who we are; they are part of the journey. Our past is not who we are and certainly the things that we own are not who we are. They may say something about us yes, but don’t make the mistake for one moment to place your worth, your enoughness on what you have.
What I have learnt is that all the things can vanish in a moment. When we are secure in our enoughness, we know that we can recover from the challenges. We know that the challenges come to support us in our growth and that they are par for the course of this beautiful gift called life.
As I recited again who I was, the circle opened. It opened to a person who made the choice that of being love and being in service.
I stepped into the circle, tears running down my face, a combination of happy and embarrassed blubbering. I stepped in, confident that this day will forever be a turning point in my life. That all the decisions as of this day forward will come from a space of knowing who I am and honouring all of me, even the parts that I have not fully embraced and accepted yet. They also are a part of me.
I stepped in announcing boldly who I was. As I said it, I noticed my chest rise up, my shoulders were no longer slumped. I looked ahead with more ease than I ever did before, announcing loudly and confidently that I am Akosua, I am divine, courageous, patient and compassionate. I am a child of the source of all things, over flowing and abundant. I am love and I am here in service.
The circle opened and it reminded me that making a decision gives us the power and drive to make decisions knowing that we can trust in who we are.
It reminded me that choices and decisions can always be changed.
It reminded me that my choices and my decisions are my responsibility.
And to me, that is enough.
Akosua has won awards for Social Entrepreneur of the Year in Trinidad and Tobago and Caribbean Female Social Entrepreneur of the Year from the Global Innovation Partners. She was named as one of the 2019 Women’s Economic Ambassadors by Diversity RD Global. Akosua shares lessons on her own Journey to Unconditional Self Love and Living in Service in her books, “What Did I Learn Today?”, “Lessons on the Journey to Unconditional Self Love”, and “Nyabo (Madam) – Why Are You Here?” Learn more about her journey at her website.