Article IV: Branches of Sisterhood

A lot of people ask how Doyenne UK came to fruition. To this there are many answers, but underlying, there is one answer that is not quite so easy to explain; to survive and conquer. I don’t mean this in a female world domination sort of way, so, to explain, I must first provide some context.

Being surrounded by females, both family and friends, I have learnt a lot about life in general; how to live it, how to flourish whilst living it and how to overcome what it throws at you. I have implemented this learning into my day to day activities and it has contributed to the skills and characteristics I possess, my outlook and my interactions with others. On this journey of education, having come across many strong and successful women, I noticed some common themes occurring in relation to setbacks, the most prominent being loneliness and disappointment. Of course there are exceptions, but many individuals have experienced loneliness and disappointment at some point in their lifetime. The consequence of these setbacks were often behaviours of incapacity and lack of self-esteem, which have certainly presented themselves in many a situation.  

This got me thinking; I had met so many wonderful, beautiful, intelligent, articulate, kind-hearted women who were brilliant in so many ways, yet they became victim to the same pressures and ordeals as anyone else, be it personal or professional. A thriving career couldn’t protect them and polished appearances did not give them superpowers; there was a threshold, and once that threshold had been passed, it was if their personality crumbled. Having been there on many an occasion to witness the effects of this internal collapse and providing the help to put the pieces together again, there was a voice inside of me telling me that these gestures of support, something that I had considered small, bore purpose on a larger scale.

I noticed that it was not only just a handful of women in my life going through damaging experiences, in fact, it was the majority, and I include myself in this. There it was, my lightbulb moment; all of these brilliant females facing hurdles, feeling like they were battling alone, not knowing that there was someone not so far away battling something similar. I felt the solution was to bring them together, not to compete or compare, but to share, encourage and enlighten. It was going to take a lot more than that, however, as trust does not come easy to most and would normally be built over a period of time. As a collective, an openness to take on board other people’s views, knowledge and experiences, and in turn, to share these, would need to be adopted in order for significant change to occur and for trust to be built. Nevertheless, this seemed necessary to me for holistic, intrinsic development; for example, a conversation with a friend who you have known since childhood might help your situation temporarily, but may not enable you to overcome this situation if experienced again, without them being around. This is part of the reason behind Doyenne UK’s existence. From the support of those close and maybe not so close to you, you learn and acquire skills you may not have had access to and the possibility of overcoming anything increases. 

There is a need, a need for understanding and a need for connection. I felt the need to create a collaborative resource that helps equip women with the tools to survive and conquer all hurdles that come their way, through educating each other and taking care of one another. Granted not every challenge is the same and not every experience elicits the same response, but the basic foundations of positive thinking and a secure support network can almost change a persons way of life. The power in strengthening an individuals’ self-belief can enable someone to find purpose or extend that support to others. The benefit of a nurturing environment and a space free of judgement can unlock talent and potential that otherwise may have been suppressed. It all has a knock on effect. However, these are just my hopes for Doyenne UK, it requires my fellow females’ contributions for it to grow and serve its purpose. 

I watered the roots of kindness and knowledge to form a stem of strength, and from it will grow the branches of sisterhood. 

Article III: Awaken

When I talk to friends who are struggling to find direction in their lives, or perhaps a purpose or passion, my initial question is always this; what gets you up in the morning?

This question should not require much thought, but usually does, which is a little disconcerting. What I’m actually asking is, why do you wake? Just you, for you, not taking into account our day-to-day responsibilities i.e. a job, school run, housework, cooking etc. What is it that actually wakes your soul and encourages you to go on? The answer is hidden in an instantaneous subconscious reaction that only a trained mind would be able to recognise. Once your conscious is aware of this and understands the reasoning, or more importantly, accepts the reasoning, it is easier to answer the question truthfully and knowingly.

More often than not we are relatively able to grasp the reason behind why we do something for ourselves, but are less likely to accept that this may be the sole reason for fear of seeming selfish, irrational and of being judged. The latter is probably most influential on our decision-making. The answers we give to open-ended questions like, “what gets you up in the morning?” will most likely be given after careful thought and consideration. However, the instantaneous subconscious reaction that occurs within does not reason or take into account judgment or fear. It requires no thought and just happens. It just, is. It tells you what you love to do most, above anything, and if listened to, can initiate some of the most monumental decisions in your life.

 Try to ask yourself that very question and be conscious of your true self. Do not take into account other people or conventional everyday norms; answer this without boundary or responsibility. What is it that keeps you breathing, keeps your heart beating and opens your eyes each day? What contributes to your want to survive? The irony is, that the key to understanding the direction in which you are headed lies in the knowledge you already possess.

Article II: Worthy

Know your worth.

If you cannot see your intelligence, your beauty and your kindness, amongst many other attributes, how can you expect anyone else to see them? Look in the mirror and understand yourself. That doesn’t have to mean finding your purpose and why you’re on this Earth, it could simply be getting acquainted with a stretch mark you’ve avoided staring at for some time. Work with whatever you’re comfortable with; finding the truth about yourself can be a daunting task, so start small and answers to bigger questions will follow.

 Understanding your “Self”, the true you and appreciating all that you are and all that you can give, provides an insight in how to build a more concrete belief of you. I say belief and not view, because you have to know that you shine, not just see it. This takes me back to my opening statement; once you are concrete in knowing your worth, you will not settle for ill treatment, you will heal quicker and learn that what was once impossible is now within reach. Above all, you will be equipped to achieve your greatest potential.

Article I: I am woman

I start with a very big thank you, to all the women who get up each morning and brave the rush hour for payday at the end of each month. Thank you to the women who balance work, a busy social life and keep fit, along with finding time to carry out voluntary activities. Thank you to the females who run their own businesses all whilst changing nappies and breast feeding. And last but most definitely not least, thank you to the ladies in my life, you all continue to inspire and encourage me each day. Watching you conquer life’s hurdles whilst keeping a smile on your face and maintaining your integrity, instills an energy so powerful in me, the prospect of giving up is non existent.

I am a true believer in the empowerment of women. Would I call myself a feminist? Perhaps. I see us as equals, be it in the workplace or at home, or anywhere else for that matter. However, the purpose of ‘Doyenne’ stemmed from wanting to create a community of women who came together to simply help and learn from each other. I wanted to introduce a positive environment where women could realise their potential instead of what they were lacking, via group events, regular articles and interviews with female leaders in their field. I am here to shine some light on the qualities and attributes that we, as individuals and collectively, contribute to society and hopefully open the door to endless possibilities. There is something special about a strong woman; she is one who carries herself gracefully but confidently. She acquires the ability to hold her own. A confident but well-mannered individual with the desire to learn. It is she who holds the three key components to what makes a Queen; self respect, self accountability and self assurance.

I am often in awe of what has been achieved by the beautiful beings that surround me; no matter how hard the task, it is always carried out with positivity and determination. I am forever grateful that my own strength of character enables me to overcome and get through whatever life throws my way. This uplifting attitude is, in some aspect, self-manifested; I am connected both spiritually and mentally, which allows me to generate a source of energy from within. In other words, I am my own fuel. My actions are, most of the time, a result of thinking rationally and not based entirely on emotion. This, I am aware, may not always be the preferred outcome, but because I am in control of my emotions I have conditioned myself to be accepting of result, whatever it may be. Everything I go through on this journey is taken as a lesson that can be learned from, making it in fact, not a lesson but a blessing. I wake up most mornings, tired and cold, but with the knowledge that everything is going to be OK, and with this mindset I continue to persevere, to recover and to put it frankly, handle my s***.

So ladies, again, I thank you. You are the survivors of life; you are the fighters that do not settle for anything less than what you deserve. Be it mother, daughter, sister, partner or friend you fulfil and exceed your ever growing list of responsibilities without complaint and often, without support. I hope that we, as a cohort, can continue to encourage and inspire, but most importantly, introduce strength, in all aspects of the word.

They say we live in a man’s world, but they obviously didn’t carry out their research correctly. They forgot about us, the opinionated and strong-willed lionesses. The type that uphold recognition and respect and are not tolerant of the stereotype. In the words of Beyoncé, “I am woman, and when I think, I must speak.”