She glistens while she speaks, illuminating a room with her words. At the 2015 Girls Write Now Awards, Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, along with television journalist Juju Chang and New York Times editor Pamela Paul, was honored by Girls Write Now, an organization that mentors and highlights female high school writers.
Chimamanda epitomizes the kind of woman who breathes and lives empowerment. Her moving narratives prove to all girls the validity of their futures and that all is possible when we remain true to ourselves. Social and traditional norms have condemned young women from honoring their virtues, instead encouraging women to adhere to behaviors most favorable by others.
Aware of this, Chimamanda stressed in her speech the importance in telling our stories truthfully. This concept of what she described as being "truly truthful" often clashes with the societal construct of likability. At the awards, Chimamanda amplified the problem with fitting in.
She said, "Forget about likability. Society tells women that likability is an essential part of the space they occupy in the world. That you are to twist yourself into shapes to make yourself likeable. I say that is bullshit."
More often than not, women are hindered from speaking and writing about their stories - concerned more about not offending - that in turn, they stake the risk of ruining their stories entirely. While these hindrances will always attempt to constrain women, it is our privilege and liberty to speak our truths as we please.
To the young girls and mentees in the audience, including myself, Chimamanda's words were more than reassuring. Her passion to inspire and be inspired by the spectrum of women around her is boundless, transcending the walls within which she speaks, ultimately encouraging all kinds of voices to be truthful to themselves. Truly, in such a diverse and what she describes as a "multi-faceted" world, someone is bound to resonate with one's character and being.
And surely, someone will appreciate the integrity it takes to be honest.