"All over the world, girls are raised to make themselves likeable, to twist themselves into shapes that suit other people.
Please do not twist yourself into shapes to please. Don’t do it. If someone likes that version of you, that version of you that is false and holds back, then they actually just like that twisted shape, and not you. And the world is such a gloriously multifaceted, diverse place that there are people in the world who will like you, the real you, as you are."Another one I love is from her acceptance speech for the Girls Write Now award....
"I'd like to say a few things to girls who are writing and telling their stories. I think it's important to tell your story. [...] I think it's important to tell your story truthfully. And I think that's a difficult thing to do; to be truly truthful, because it's only natural to be concerned about offending people or possible consequences. So when I teach a writing workshop in Nigeria every year, what I say to my students, and what I say mostly to the female students, is: forget about likability.
I think that what our society teaches young girls - and I think it's also something that's quite difficult for even older women and self-professed feminists to shrug off - is that idea that likability is an essential part of you, of the space you occupy in the world, that you're supposed to twist yourself into shapes to make yourself likable, that you're supposed to hold back sometimes, pull back, don't quite say, don't be too pushy, because you have to be likable.
And I say that's bullshit.
So what I want to say to young girls is forget about likability. If you start thinking about being likable you are not going to tell your story honestly, because you are going to be so concerned with not offending, and that's going to ruin your story, so forget about likability. And also the world is such a wonderful, diverse, and multifaceted place that there's somebody who's going to like you; you don't need to twist yourself into shapes."
I really like Chimamanda. We need more brilliant women like her. I am a shy girl. You know someone you'd think is always "cool, calm and collected" lol. Except that is not me sometimes. I hold back so much, even in school.
Little story - We have started clinic duty (Junior clerkship) and during our group discussion the other day I swear I knew the answers to 4 out 5 questions our preceptor asked, but I never answered. I kept thinking, "what if you are wrong?" "you really want everyone to be staring at you?" "what if you sound stupid?"
My problem is more about self doubt than being likeable, but I guess both are related in a way. So for the remaining part of this semester I'll try to answer/ask questions, because you can learn a lot by doing that. Now this doesn't mean I will be Miss ITK (i-too-know/Know it all) during our small group discussion. I just need to make myself more confident and comfortable. Also, it is ok to make mistakes. We live and learn.
P.S- "Forget about likability" doesn't justify being rude or acting anyhow. I really don't think that is the message Chimamanda was trying to pass. There are times we need to be likable, example during a job interview or in my case- in the hospital, I need my patients to like me so they can be cooperative and to get the information I need from them to enable me to arrive at my diagnosis. (we have been talking about history taking..hehe) So yeah, I just wanted to point that out. What do you think?
Have a great week!