Welcome to 2014. It’s going to be a special one coming up to the 4th anniversary of this blog, and especially as we are going to have the fearless African femme fatale energy present.
But before settling in to the new year: if you could sum up 2013 in one word only, what would it be?
In my case it would be ‘learning’. Especially gaining knowledge through experience. It was a year of change for me; I lost my grandma on my mum’s side. She was my only link to Finland (where my mum is from) so her passing felt like my ties to Finland lessened also. Romantically, my relationship of soon three years went through difficult but necessary changes. My attitude towards my work changed, I started to trust myself more and to feel more confident about the path that I’ve chosen. I lost and made friends. And I began to heal old wounds. For instance, I wrote about being raped, an experience that had silenced a part of me for too long.
Amidst changes and self reflection, the deep feelings that makes our emotional lives; the joys, anxieties and yearnings, I learnt something that I’m taking with me into 2014 and beyond. Namely that emotional awareness is not only knowing how you feel about the world but valuing your emotions as the ultimate source of learning.
We live in a world that encourages reason over sentiment but emotions are the most logical tools we have for self knowledge. Life is an embodiment of emotion. Intelligence itself is a feeling not a fact. Yet feelings are seen as inconvenient because a person who is in tune with themselves is difficult to control. Women who express their true feelings are especially disruptive because women’s preconceived roles keep up so many of society’s facades: the falsehood of harmonious nationhood, of “pure” family (also the source of racial prejudice), of war as justice, would all be severely threatened if women revealed their true feelings about these institutions.
Emotional awareness is not wearing your sentiments on your sleeve but it is you (rather than everybody else) knowing exactly how you feel about everything happening in your life. E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.
Emotional awareness means looking at ourselves honestly. Not just the nice things, our generosity or friendliness or smartness, but also the feelings that we are less proud of: resentment, bitterness or competitiveness. It is love without the frills: unprocessed, unpackaged humanness and it’s a beautiful way to live. In fact it’s the only way to be alive.
So if you make one resolution in 2014, let this be it: to be emotionally aware.
Wishing you a fantastic 2014 and one of raw, expressive feeling.—
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Hi! I’m Minna Salami. I’m a writer, blogger, columnist, lecturer and speaker and the founder of the feminist blog, MsAfropolitan, which connects feminism to contemporary culture from an Africa-centred perspective. I’ve been listed alongside Michelle Obama and Angelina Jolie as one of “twelve women changing the world” by ELLE and my work has been used as a resource and case study at universities around the world. Like what you just read? Sign up above to receive new posts directly in your inbox.