Owner of Mahnal, Founder of The Makers Program
what does confidence mean to you?
To me, confidence is a by-product of almost an inner swag. It’s not just knowing your value, but having the courage to express it and express it your own way.
My journey has been one of finding my way back home. Somehow our culture convinces us that everything we need is ‘out there’ somewhere. Somewhere outside of us, away from us, out of reach and we have to go get it or find it. Bull. Everything we’d ever need is already within us, it was planted there as a seed, but no one told us to water it. I’m coming full circle and realizing I could easily go the expected route and probably even get by fine. But then what would be the purpose of God putting my unique self here? It’s my duty to deposit & express that unique bit of myself while I’m here.
When is your first memory of feeling confident?
I honestly believe we’re born with confidence. I became convinced of this watching my newborn baby boy start crawling, pulling himself up, attempting to stand and falling yet continuing on to take steps forward — all without permission. Baby’s have faith, they have no reason to doubt. As we grow older, we learn doubt, we forget our power. Unfortunately it would be easier for me to recall when I first felt UNconfident. Because things that come naturally to us is like breathing, we don’t think about it, we forget about it. So entering adulthood has been navigating everything from new spaces to a post-baby body and remembering my value. Being aware of that value and allowing it to be stretched & expressed through where I go and what I do.
What makes you feel most confident now? How has this changed?
What I feel most confident in today is the same as it’s ever been — the difference is I’m not afraid to indulge it. All of the interests seen as ‘weird’ back then — I love what I love and know better than to place too much stock in what the next person thinks about it. I haven’t mastered this yet, but I won’t ever intentionally hide ‘me’ again.
When is your first memory of feeling insecure? Why did you feel this way or what made you feel this way?
My first memory of being insecure was when I first went to public school in the seventh grade. Coming from a Muslim private school, it was a huge culture shock. Not only was my name weird, but all of a sudden what I wore was important, how I talked, what I was into, what my body looked like. All of these new standards were intimidating and foreign. My insecurity grew because I was the only one going through that and stood out in the most uncomfortable way. Unfortunately and fortunately I was eventually able to acquiesce.
what is something you're most proud of?
I’m most proud that I’m literally living my dreams. I’m not rich (yet), I’m not even 121lbs anymore (lol), but I get to wake up everyday and decide what I want to do with my life. That’s a huge luxury and I realize that and cherish that and will never take it for granted.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
I would tell my younger self to be me fearlessly! To make God my best friend, study much and really indulge in my creativity freely. As long as there are new things to experience we will never be insecurity-free, but the key is to push beyond and onward.
How are you using your platform to make a difference?
Through Mahnal I strive to pour all of the little life lessons I learn into my design process. As women, we’re always going to want to adorn ourselves, why not deliver positive messages that will be a reminder to these women of their own value? As a woman born and raised in the Nation of Islam, we’re taught that civilization is measured by the woman — that a nation can rise no higher than it’s woman. Growing up in a culture that reveres the woman in such a unique way, I wanted to share that. Within this same spiritual framework, I learned to value my community. That whatever I want for myself, I should also want for my brother or sister. The Makers Program was born out of my own desire to put those words into practice. By connecting other Black and Latino artists to guidance and resources, they can also grow their own businesses and now make changes they want to see through what they create as well.
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