Mari's
Journey

The badass Brené Brown once said, "You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness."

 

So what did I do?

I paused, focused on healing up, and stop running from my story.

 I grew up in Redmond, Washington - a very white, very affluent suburb of Seattle. For a little extra context, Redmond is the birthplace of Microsoft; it has an average household income of more than $100,000/ year and it is less than 8% Latinx and less than 2% Black. So you can imagine my childhood was a breeze, right? Wrong!

Not only was I that one brown-skinned girl in every class, but I was also that one kid who never wore Abercrombie and couldn’t afford Lu Lu Lemon, and who lived in an apartment instead of a three-bedroom home. As young children, we have a beautiful naivety of our differences, but by the time I got to junior high, I stuck out like a sore thumb. Most kids turn to their parents for comfort, but when I got home, all I was afforded was a barrage of painful comments from a mother battling her own mental health traumas. 

I coped with life by suppressing my emotions and it worked for the most part. But by the time I was kicked out of my house the summer before heading to college, I couldn’t keep my feelings in anymore. I remember calling my now godparents and asking them if they’d take me in. They said yes and made the drive to my house in the middle of the night. I cried nonstop for the next three days. At that point in time, I hadn’t cried in front of anyone in close to 8 years. I cried. And I cried. And I cried. And I loved every second of it.

That was my first time practicing being audacious, and it radically changed my life. 

I went off to college excited to practice feeling things again and ready to own my Blackness, something I never felt I could do living in my box out in Redmond. I joined every Black organization on campus I could find and by the time college was over; I ate, breathed, studied, and loved Blackness. 

 

Over my four years at the University of Washington, I helped lead our campus response to #BlackLivesMatter, I worked with the Department of Justice in Ferguson, Missouri on community action plans, and I traveled to Israel and Palestine to learn about community organizing in one of the most polarized regions in the world. I left college with a passion for empowering communities of colors and incredible lessons on how to build (and rebuild) trust, engage in really hard conversations, and extend grace in the process of community healing. 

It took me about another year and a half before I learned to extend the same grace to myself in my personal healing journey. I’ve learned so much these past few years about forgiveness, love, and joy that I am more excited than ever to share with other women of color on their journeys to be audacious

 

Today, I’m a 25-year-old Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, beating out individuals with 35 years of experience at one of the largest nonprofits in my state. In 2019, I was named one of the 100 Youth Changemakers by the Bill and Melinda Gates Discovery Center and the Amplifiers Project.

I believe in my worthiness now, and I believe we all deserve the same. It’s through taking risks and being gracious with myself in the face of uncertainty and a world that’s not always ready for my greatness that I found my power and can confidently say, I kick ass. This is my story of what happens when you decide to Own Your Audacious. What’s your story?

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by Mariama Suwaneh

 © 2020 Own Your Audacious by Mariama Suwaneh.