According to Beyoncé, a diva is defined as “a female version of a hustler.” But let me tell you, when I hustle I don’t feel like a diva; I’m just tired. I don’t wake up flawless — I’m sleep-deprived, I’ve probably skipped lunch, I chew ice cubes (which is apparently a sign of anemia?), have anxiety dreams about projects that are due and I have a to-do list stuck to my laptop that will probably never be completed.
I dream it, I work hard, I grind ‘til I own it — but I still feel like an imposter. And while it’s true, there’s nothing not to love about me (I’m lovely), sometimes I feel like my confidence is a turn-off. I’m a host of imperfections, but I try to cover them up with smiles and kind words.
What’s worse: being passionate or submissive? These are the type of questions I constantly ask myself because both choices have consequences. As a woman, life is a constant existence in the in-between. As the Queen Bey says, “I took some time to live my life, but don’t think I’m just his little wife.” Whether living into societal expectations for traditional femininity or taking a different path with your life or doing a combination of both, someone always has their two cents to give.
Last week I was introduced to the term “moral courage” by Dr. Luoluo Hong, vice president of student affairs at the University of San Francisco. This idea, I’m sure, is not alien to most, but it defines a quality of mind and spirit that enables a person to face ethical dilemmas firmly and confidently, without flinching or retreating. I think women are well-versed in this type of courage.
As women, every decision we make is political, whether it is what we want to major in, who we love, how we love those we love or whether or not we have sex. ‘Yoncé is right; perfection is the disease of a nation, and this disease disproportionately plagues women.
This is not to say men don’t experience gendered double standards — toxic masculinity is no joke. Gendered expectations negatively impact people all along the gender spectrum. I am simply speaking from my own lived experience, and that experience hasn’t always been pretty.
To live as a woman requires moral courage to unflinchingly face the demands of our society while continuing to pursue passions and goals that might contradict society’s demands. Some call it arrogant; I call it confident (quote Beyoncé).
In the past year, I have been trying to become more morally courageous for myself and no one else. This requires risk — the risk of vulnerability, the risk of losing face, the risk of people thinking I take myself too seriously. Even when I am not flawless, when I’m tired and just want to make it through the day, I remind myself that I am the Dragon breathing fire. Beautiful mane, I am the Lion. (I promise, I’m done with the Beyoncé quotes). Boy, bye. (Whoops)