Birra nghinu guyungan.

Firstly, I’d like to pay respects to my ancestors, my elders past, present and emerging and the beautiful land in which I have had the privilege to be born and raised on – as well as a special thank you to my beautiful tidda Mali for presenting me with this opportunity, and my Aunty for helping to inspire my voice.

Birra (back) nghinu (your) guyungan (self) is what the title reads in my mob’s (Wiradjuri) language.

I know. I know all too well the sinking feeling when you’re told you’re not enough.

Or too much. Being moulded into the shape that society attempts to fit you, us, our uniqueness into the norm.

There is no more powerful feeling than unapologetically being yourself. And as you read this, you might be thinking, “it’s just words. I don’t feel this way.” “I don’t know how”, possibly even “I’m not strong enough.” Trust ME. The woman behind this writing was in your seat, your shoes, your headspace. Sometimes, I still am. Daily.

If you’re a blackfulla, you’ll know what I mean when I say that our ancestors, our families, our aunties and uncles did not go through what they did for us to continue to suffer. It is imperative that we back one another. Our culture is as old as time and has survived so much, is stronger than the trauma we have experienced. You being here, is proof of that.

Whether you’re a blackfulla or not, you are not your trauma. You have not survived everything you have, whatever it may be, to not excel in your own way, and be you, speak your truth. You have survived every single thing you have so far, why not this?

Lily, a proud Wiradjuri woman, is standing on a balcony. She has long brown and blue hair. She is holding out her t-shirt to draw attention to it – on it is an illustration of milk being poured into a cup of coffee that reads “Still Black” on the mug.
Lily standing on a balcony proudly wearing a T-Shirt that reads ‘Still Black.’

We are all human, and we all deserve to live and lead ourselves in the way we see fit. Nobody else is living your life for you, so why do we allow others to dictate how we should or should not feel, when YES, our feelings ARE VALID! Why do we allow others to dictate what we should or should not do, act, wear? Our personal choices? Continuously question our individuality?

Ask yourself, each and every time we allow somebody to dictate to us, about us, how does it make YOU feel? Think about it. The only reason we feel/hold doubt about/over ourselves, is because we allow others to talk at us, allow their projected thoughts & feelings to penetrate OUR bubble.

Because at the end of the day, nobody else is in your head.

Nobody else is in your heart.

Nobody else is in your shoes, but you.

The point I’m trying to get across here, is that if we continue to live the life others EXPECT, we are never going to feel the way we should; ginhar, strong. A leader in our own spirit. To lead for our own life, and to pass the baton to our sisters, and continue to show one another that leading yourself in your life is how you LIVE.

I’m not sitting here telling you it’s piss-ass easy to let someone’s shitty comment go over your head. These people can be family members. Sometimes the situation isn’t one you can escape. (And as a handy tip, if you wear jewellery such as a ring, and someone really starts to test your boundaries or is pressing your bubble, and you aren’t in a position to up and leave, touch the ring; spin it. Use it as a physical reminder – because sometimes our brains don’t like to believe the thoughts we tell it when we are surrounded by negativity – that you are STRONG. You will move past and through this situation.)

But during those times, and over a short time, after reminding yourself every god damn day that you are a strong mother fucker, you CAN block them out. You CAN block the words, the hate, the control, the dictatorship.

So, the next time somebody attempts to belittle you, silence your voice, shove you in a box of their own identity & self-conscious issues, or for a moment you feel doubt in your mind, your heart, your soul even…you will remember this that you read just now.

You will ask yourself, “how does this situation serve me?” (If it’s making you feel like shit or anything I’ve written above, it doesn’t serve you, and it’s not worth your time.)

“Do these words define what I believe about myself?” (Same as above, absolutely not.)

“Can I lead myself to where I want to be, who/what I want to be?” (WHATEVER that may be).

“Am I a leader?” (FUCK YES YOU ARE.)

And know that the woman on the internet who wrote these words you read one day, even though you don’t know her personally, absolutely, completely, and wholeheartedly, BELIEVES, IN, YOU. She is silently reminding you to Ginhiimadilinya – lead oneself.

So,

Always Gari Yala (speak the truth)

Dyibarra Nginhu Garí (speak your truth)

And winhangadurinya (know) your worth.

Munun marrumbang (big love).

Lily, a proud Wiradjuri woman, is kneeling on rocks within a flowing creek. She is wearing all black and has her back to the camera. On either side of the creek are trees hanging overhead, and in the distance behind Lily you can see mountains.
Lily kneeling in a creek on Ngunnawal and Ngambri Country.

My name is Lily Hodgson, and I am a Dyiramadilinya Wiradjuri Malungan (proud Wiradjuri woman). I come from a very strong family who has survived the Stolen Generation. Intergenerational trauma, identity stripping and poor physical/mental health is the common theme for most First Nations families & individuals, including my family and self. My goal in this life is to show others how to break free from these commons; actively showing others how & demonstrating that you can be stronger than you believe you are. I love connecting with people, connecting to culture, and in doing so connecting others through my art and my voice. You can follow me on Instagram here and here, and on TikTok.

See our full leadership blog here: Leadership Blog

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Disclaimer 

The blog posts do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA), and blog posts are contributions made by women, girls or non-binary persons with disability about what leadership means to them. All possible care has been taken in the preparation of the information contained in this document. WWDA disclaims any liability for the accuracy and sufficiency of the information and under no circumstances shall be liable in negligence or otherwise in or arising out of the preparation or supply of any of the information aforesaid.