While writing this article, I found myself googling who an icon is just to be sure I could call her an icon. The definition I got defined an icon as a successful person. Hmmnn, well here’s how I’d define it:
An icon is a person whose impact has been felt or is still being felt in the world.
I mean, she was named Fortune’s magazine’s 50 greatest world leaders and has received a couple of awards for her notable works.
I’m sure many of us know her but for those that don’t, well..you’ll have to google her.
So you might ask why her? What about her inspires me. Here’s why:
- When it comes to career choices, she discovered quite early that medicine wasn’t for her and went for communications and political science instead. She read creative writing at masters level. I can’t imagine how her parents took it at the time, typical African parents will be so happy and proud that their daughter was going to be a medical doctor and a year and half into medicine, she stopped. I admire her courage. Maybe if I had left engineering right when I knew it wasn’t for me, I wouldn’t had to deal with so much depression then. My case is a bit different though cause I knew it wasn’t engineering but I didn’t know what I wanted to be doing. Anyway right now I’m fine with the decision I made to complete my engineering degree.
- She’s a writer and certainly somebody I look up to now I’m taking writing a bit more seriously.
- She has a sense of style. I doubt it’s something she puts a lot of effort into but her style exhumes confidence. I’m quite updated on trends but I’m more of stick to whatever you’re comfortable in. She’s known for her signature hair dos which I really admire, it takes a lot to pull it off so well and consistently. I can’t seem to get over her pictures from the shoot with Style magazine.
- She gives African women a voice. Have you ever listened to her give a lecture or speak on a show? First she’s very proud of her identity as an African woman (I’m so proud she’s Nigerian), the confidence with which she airs her views and dissect issues. I listened to her speech on “the Danger of a Single Story” (well my dad drew my attention to it) and I was like wow, so true. I admire her creativity. How she starts her speeches with stories and smoothly eases you into the real issue .
- I learnt she dealt with depression while doing my research for this article. Here’s a snippet what she said that stuck:
“Depression is difficult. It is difficult to experience, difficult to write about, difficult to be open about. But I wanted to do it. For myself, in a way, because it forced me to tell myself my own story, which can be helpful. But also for other possible sufferers, especially fellow Africans, because there is something very powerful about knowing that you are not alone, and that what happens to you also happens to other people.
Depression is something I have recognized since I was a child. It is something I have accepted. It is something I will have to find ways to manage for the rest of my life. Many creative people have depression. I wonder if I would be so drawn to storytelling if I were not also a person who suffers from depression.
But I am very interested in de-mystifying it. People who don’t have depression have a lot of difficulty understanding it, but people who have it are also often befuddled by it.”
Truly only people that have suffered depression can understand it. I can completely relate to what she’s saying because I’ve had to deal with it too at various points in my life and it’s good a lot of people are talking about it. What she also said about creative people having to deal with depression makes sense if you really think about it.
6. Lastly she’s not afraid to speak her mind. In one of her speeches she said:
“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 bullsh!t. 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.”
(Words in quotes were written by Emmanuel Lala for 36NG)
The pictures below are some of my favourite pictures of her.
Chimamanda Adichie in a recent speech she delivered at the 2015 Girls Write Now awards ceremony spoke on how girls should stop pursuing likability and learn to be themselves