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The Aram

with Tahmina Begum
I no longer wish to be "the strong one". I no longer want to be defined by my resilience nor the ability to withstand an atrocity just because I can. I no longer want to resemble how walls and bridges are described. 
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Now, I see that being "the strong one" — what I mean by "the strong one" is the one who carries it all — is a systemic and imbalanced facade. I'm talking directly to all my women, all my daughters of immigrant households, all my men who were taught being soft is a weakness and had to become cold instead. You see being "the strong one" is usually bestowed early and for many initial years, you hold it like a prize. Even when you are as young as six. This is me, I Am The Strong. Look at how I have been chosen. 

In reality, being "the strong one" is the act of being able to hold everyone else's experiences and frankly, baggage while having to hold your own but usually prioritizing yourself last. Being "the strong one" holds the same acrid feeling in the air as when you're upset about something only to get the response, "Don't worry, this will only make you stronger". Being strong all the time is for weights and skyscrapers, not for humans. 
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And though being "the strong one" comes with its merits: you learn how to keep going ahead with moments of hope and without moments of grace, Black and brown women especially have been sold so many myths that have been dependent on what we can take. It's what makes us 'wifey material', a good friend, a better daughter. 

It's how so many of us continue in the face of persecution, it's how we deal with what's weighing us down, it's who we say We are. But I'm going to tell you something as a formerly proud "strong one": being "the strong one" all the time is not sustainable. Being strong all the time means you end up hard and then brittle only to then break over the smallest things. 

I've watched too many hearts compose guarded walls around themselves because they have no time to look after themselves, they are too busy looking after everyone else. So their strength becomes too tough for them to even pierce through and it shows on both their good and bad days. Do you know what's worse than being "the strong one"? The numb one.

The other thing about being "the strong one" is the act of being leaned upon. It's nice to be the one people can depend on. It's an honour that people trust you with their stories but sometimes being the pariah, being the one who always speaks out, the one who pushes on, leaves little room to be and rest. Where's the space for life?

A friend of mine this week has been told someone she was assaulted by may simply get off without any real consequences and now she's the one expected to seek justice. The one who should do the bidding that will help other women. The one whose voice is expected to resonate and cause change. History says freedom doesn't come for free but what happens to the one who is attempting to do the freeing? "The strong one" who is expected to be strong for everyone?
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Sometimes who we are invites more of that same token. If I am strong all the time, when do I get to be soft? The one who gets to take her hat off and be? When do I get to be rightfully small and inconsequential with the freedom to not worry about doing the right thing all the time? Being "the strong one" can be a myth because it means you always have to be the 'better' one, the one who understands and is able to look past human error while everyone else is given the mercy of mistakes.

Yet in order for any of us to have a good life and not just a full life, means we have to take it in turns to be the different versions of ourselves. I say to the Other strong ones like myself, the ones who have been anointed this position from birth, be vulnerable and weak sometimes. As sometimes, it's a matter of reminding others that we can't be strong all the time for them to see, oh wait, we're human too.

Again, I am not an engineered construction but an emotional, spiritual, holistic feat. I don't wish to be the strong one all the time because I deserve the time to be able to feel the rainbow of emotions I can feel. To be strong all the time means going at one speed all the time and not knowing, we're allowed to change gears and brake every once in a while. And if you do want my strength and the tenacity I am able to bring on the good days, I need to simply be on the other days. There need to be seasons when I forget to be "the strong one". 

So to all my strong ones, the ones who aren't checked in as often, I hope you take the time to put your feet up and never mind about holding it all together sometimes.

With softness and aram, 

The Aram is a bi-monthly newsletter that explores our relationship with ease and joy. In "Getting Aram With", I ask a woman of colour and/or Muslim woman I admire three questions surrounding her comforts.

#22 is Claire Yurika
The co-founder of CogDis, and intuitive studio working in re-aligning fashion’s internal purpose with external output, alongside building a PoC focussed witchcraft community with The High Priestxss. Yurika blends her spiritual journey with her experience as a fashion designer for her zero-waste fashion brand HANGER.

Claire was also a part of Netflix's Next In Fashion with Alexa Chung and Tan France. A show I devoured last year. 

What's currently bringing you aram right now?

Getting into Human Design!!! HD helped me realise that my strategy in life is to wait for things to come to me (instead of actively initiating) and to then respond to them, and since realising this I have been *attracting* what I want instead of chasing it. SO much more relaxing! And I have to do much less :)

What's one thing you're proud of that you have had to unlearn?

Unlearning the need to constantly 'strive’. Teaching myself to remember how to just *exist* feels quite radical, and is actually essential for my wellbeing.

Spread the maya and shout out any women of colour who have been inspiring you.

Other women of colour I would love to shout out are: Ruby Savage — one of my best people, a DJ, artist, curator, all-around energy!! Manuka Honey — my gorge friend and fellow reader, astrologer, DJ, artist (what doesn’t she do?!) Shanu Walpita - future thinker, mentor, and amazing mind! 

What's Brought Me Aram Lately
That Moment When: Life Stories from Way Back Then by Mo Gilligan (e-book is elite)

Half Of A Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Peaky Blinders

When You Were Mine by Joy Crookes
Want to read past newsletters from the archive?
Want to read past newsletters from the archive?
Hola! I'm Tahmina Begum 👋🏾 I'm a writer, editor and creative consultant. The Aram is currently free to subscribers but it does take a labour of love to write and produce, so if you'd like to support, you can buy me a digital Ko-Fi. If you'd like to commission me for any work, feel free to check out my website

Images courtesy of @picklesonpaint @nobordersshop

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