Phenomenal Woman: Natelege

What is your definition of a phenomenal woman?

She is a woman who has a great understanding of who she is. She doesn’t believe in compromising what makes her unique. And she has no problem standing up for the things that will make the world a better place --- whether she is a politician on Capitol Hill pushing laws that will make the lives of the citizens she is representing better or a teacher who is molding the minds of the future. A phenomenal woman knows most importantly that her power lies in her womanhood and that God gives certain gifts to women that men don’t have, which is what makes us unique and why we are needed in this world.

Who would you say are phenomenal women of the past?

So many to name but I have a strong connection to the wonderful Ms. Ida B. Wells. She was a journalist in the early 20th century who wrote about the horrible epidemic of  lynchings in the American south. So many Black men were were being killed for just being Black and she wrote about it in various publications. Three of her own friends were lynched. She soon became part owner of a Black-run newspaper in Memphis and warned Blacks to get out of the South and boycott businesses that discriminated against them. Of course the racists in town didn’t like that and they burnt her paper down. But that didn’t stop her and she end up spending most of her life  writing about the social ills Black people faced in America during the Jim Crow-era. And also traveled abroad and became a spokesperson for them. She was a phenomenal woman because she used her talents as a writer and communicator to help bring change where it was needed. I admire her and writers like Jamaica Kincaid, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Nikki Giovanni, and many others who wrote about the many societal ills people of color faced in their own way. They also helped reshape Black women’s identity post-slavery since much of that was stripped away from our ancestors once they were brought to the Americas.

Who are your role models?

That’s easy. My grandmothers, one has passed on. R.I.P. Grandma Polly. Gratefully my maternal grandmother is still here. Grandma Dorothy. My mother as well and my two big sisters. And of course my aunts and older female cousins. I’m not the youngest child in my family but out of all the grand kids, I’m relatively on the younger side so I had alot of examples of hardworking sacrificing women in my life who stood up for themselves daily. They carried themselves beautifully on the outside with style and grace. But on the inside they put God first and it showed through their loving ways. Through their success and even through their mistakes I’m able to gauge where I need to go and how I can work to make my life the way I feel it should be. 

What do you think makes you a phenomenal woman?

Honestly in a sense I think it’s too early in the game to call myself a phenomenal women as that would put me on the same level as the ones I mentioned before. I’m nowhere near those women in clout, success, internal beauty or strength. But I think a few steps below would be a “good” women and that I do think I am. Before you can ever be phenomenal you have to get the basics first. I think I’m a good woman because I keep my word. I also have a plan for my life and I have a good idea of where I’m going. No I don’t have it all figured out. But I have a sense. And you can’t stop a woman with a plan and who is motivated. I also think for myself and I question and critique everything that is given to me. This is a cold world so you must measure and discern everything and everyone who comes to you. Lastly, I’m only a good woman because I’m learning to put God first in my life and keep Him there. That presence and that relationship guides me and has given me the character which has brought me into spaces I never thought I’d be in. I do make mistakes but I’m willing to own up to it. I know that’s the only way I will continue to grow and eventually become a phenomenal woman.

If you were to write a letter to your future daughter, what would be three important pieces of advice you would give her?

I love this question because it’s a very hard question because there would be so much I would want to tell her right now. lol. But here we go:
1. Put God first. That’s your foundation. If your heart is with the one above you can’t be led astray. Pray alot.
2. Talking to yourself or writing or recording a diary is a great way to get your frustrations out when no one else is around. It’s also great for when you want to look back and see how far you’ve come.
3. Family is important, don’t forget who supported you through thick and thin and who will love you no matter what. Also in life, even though people throw this word around recklessly, you get friends. These people sometimes know you better than your own family. I call friends God’s gift to us in human form. KNOW who those people are and cherish them.

What are three mistakes you made in life, but have learned from that have made you into a better woman today?

Man listen. So many.
1. I wish I’d put God first when I was going through obstacles in my life. But all I found was emptiness when I tried to do everything myself. Now I know better and I’m building from there.
2. Doing the most! I’m an overachiever. I love having multiple projects going on at the same time. I love being involved. But I’m also an introvert. So that doesn’t work after awhile because then I need time to sit back and analyze things and if I’m overextending myself I start to break down. In college my sophomore year I learned that doing everything doesn’t always bring faster results. If anything, taking my time and working smarter and not harder and focusing on a few things at a time brings even more fulfillment and even greater results.
3. In the past I made the mistake of thinking I always had to get things right the first time. I would beat myself up about jobs I didn’t get. Guys that didn’t like me like that. Or just not feeling like my worth or presence was being valued. I realized that rejection is inevitable. Failure is inevitable. But what is for me is for me. And what can I say, blessings always comes at the right time!

You have dreams, where would you say that you are in completely those dreams?

I’m getting there. I’m setting the foundation. I’m in my very very very early stages. When I look at writers who are in their 60s and 70s still writing, it’s amazing to me. That’s 40 to 50 years from now. There’s so much growth that will happen. It’s exciting and I’m in no rush. I’m just learning and building day by day.

Finally - Back to letters, if you were going to write one to your younger self, what would it say and why?

I don’t want to sound redundant so I won’t repeat what I said earlier.
I’d tell her not to be so hard on herself and that all the challenges she was facing in college would all work out. It’d be kind of rough telling my high school self that the guy she was dating would no longer be there when she was 23 because that would ruin it for her. But I would tell her that she should follow her intuition and let go of him a little earlier than she actually did. But no regrets there though. Shout out to him. Hope he’s doing well in life.I learned so much from him. Also I’d tell myself to not be so shy. I was so shy back in the day lol. I’d definitely tell myself to do study abroad and alternative spring break in college and do Africa Tours in high school. I’m so mad at myself for not doing any of those opportunities. I’m sure it would have opened my mind even more at those ages. Also back to men. Don’t worry about men. They come and they go. You are going to have to wait awhile before you meet your next man so just cherish that single life! Also start a business and stick with it so when you’re 23 you would be ballin. This economy is rough!
I’d tell myself that you’ll won’t have to think about “what could have been” when you get old, if you just do that thing you’re itching to do!
Truth be told though if I got a visit from me at a younger age, I probably would not have been able to process all of this information. Some of this stuff I just had to learn in time and through experience. 

To find out more about this beautiful, but more Phenomenal Woman, please visit her site, Hearts Converse.


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