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When I Grow up I Want to Be like Her

Ask any of my friends and they will confirm that I am the biggest Idris Elba fan that ever lived I love looking at him, in films obviously. A few months ago I read something he had said and it stuck with me, he said ‘I do not want to be the next anything, I am the first me’. I can guarantee that we have all, at one time in our lives, seen at least another woman and said to ourselves ‘When I grow up I want to be like her’ or even ‘I’d love to be the next (insert the name of a Phenomenal Woman)’. We love her strength, wisdom, tenacity, dedication, style and attitude – we have all encountered someone who we would like our futures to identify with right? However Idris, my dear Idris is challenging that notion and I get it.

At the end of a training session, I had been facilitating one of the young participants approached me and said; ‘Francesca, I want to be just like you when I grow up.’ I smiled and responded – ‘No, when you grow up be just like you. You see, her wanting to be like me is pointless; now, I hear some of you Scholars saying but she was talking about your characteristics Francesca, it’s not that deep. Maybe, and whilst there isn’t anything wrong with admiration, you must understand where I am coming from and how I recognise it in others, including this young participant.

For a long time I hid behind wanting to be like others; it was comfortable to be silent, to sit with my head down, to think I added no value to any place in life – I never took the time to embrace who I was and definitely did not believe that I was significant in the world. Well, now I know the truth, my life is important; I add value wherever I go and I have a very significant role in the world. You’re probably thinking, how narcissistic, how can she say she is significant in the world? Well if you are uncomfortable reading that line, then you are the one I am talking to.

I recently returned from a Women’s retreat and one of the ministers said ‘You are not one in a Million, you are one out of one. I honestly believe that, so, lady reading this, you are one out of one. You are completely unique, and the uniqueness of you is where your value lies. There is not another like you in all the Earth. You may not be the fastest, fittest, ‘prettiest’, smartest, richest girl in a room but you are the only version of you that was ever made and that counts for something. Never diminish you’re amazingness by comparing yourself to someone else – you bring something to the World that no one else can. AND if you have people in your life who compare you to others then they are not your people.

The woman you see yourself being in 10 years time should inspire you and you owe it to yourself and the world to be her. Being inspired by someone else is great but I believe that we must be extremely comfortable with just being who we are! Who knows – our unique contribution may just change the world.

Words by Francesca Danmole

Francesca Danmole has over 10 years experience in youth development. She is committed to ameliorating systems so that socio-economic circumstances do not hinder people’s lives. Francesca consults on youth participation, leadership and training of trainers.

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