Is it just me, or does Instagram make you feel like 82% of the women on your timeline are super heroes? Mothers, Bloggers, Fashionistas, Chefs, Preachers. All of it.
But, many moons ago, when I was much younger and before Instagram – some women were steadily slaying. I must have looked at them in awe, jealousy and envy.
First, there was my drama teacher. I wasn’t surprised she became a Nollywood superstar, and a darling of the screen. Because even though I was 8 years old and she was only my drama teacher, I could tell she was made for more. Made to reach for the skies. Miss Silva’s eyes literally lit up when she spoke about acting and drama. Because of her, I’ll talk to myself in the mirror, till I perfected my script and mannerisms. I was jealous of her enthusiasm, but she made me believe in creativity and in passion. She also let me slap the most popular mixed-race boy in school – Leye, who many girls had a crush on. I was acting as the princess, and I think he was one of my annoying suitors. You probably know her now as Joke Jacobs. Yep! Same person.
In 1998, I’d never seen such poise, charisma and confidence from a woman. The title ‘Principal’ didn’t quite capture all she was. We believed it when she said ‘There are only two schools in Nigeria, Queens College… and others’. And when she said ‘Queens College Girls, Quiet please…’, we would all go silent. Okay, most of us anyway. Some girls were ‘Baddos’. She’d often sit with her legs perfectly crossed and when she walked, she walked tall. With both hands behind her back. Stern, yet graceful. The days I stood next to her on the assembly ground felt incredible. She personified elegance, intelligence and character. Plain simple, I was jealous of Mrs. M.T.F Sojirin. It was pretty disappointing when the next Principal took over and the security guards walked behind her and carried her bag. It felt wrong. I think a lot of my high school friends at that time felt their Principal dropped from 100 – zero (Okay, maybe not zero, 10?).
She owned Ruff ‘n’ Tumble – the awesome and one-of-a-kind kids clothing store in Lagos. I learned this fact much later. That had to be why her kids were always dressed in lovely clothes. She also looked graceful – often in ‘Iro’ and ‘Buba’, perfectly paired with high heels. Her husband looked pristine in white traditional attire. (Maybe this white Yoruba attire planted the seeds of getting married to a Yoruba man?). They often sat in the pew ahead of us. In church. How could she be married with three kids, yet so organised, so fashionable, and still a church-goer who got to church early. I was jealous. But she made me realise I could have it all – faith, fashionable, marriage, kids and a thriving business. I never knew her name then – but now I know she’s Adenike Ogunlesi.
I only knew of her when she died. The TV stations wouldn’t stop showing her. After all, she was Lady Diana. The Princess of Wales. It was love at first sight for me. She was royal, yet more ordinary than most. Her relationship with the sick, the dying and the less privileged often led me to tears. She was an embodiment of empathy, warmth and genuineness. I was not jealous of her crown or title – in fact, I pitied her for having those. I was jealous of her humility, her kindness.
Today thanks to Instagram, I’m motivated by more and more women.
In their daily hustle. In their daily lives. Teaching and Impacting. Breaking Boundaries. Breaking Glass Ceilings.
What women get you (positively) jealous? How they have impacted you? I’ll love to hear.
This post was to be published on International Women’s Day, but then someone asked a really important question, which I felt obliged to answer. Catch up on that here. Thankfully it’s still the women’s month of March, so we’re allowed to talk women, all day every day!