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Solange Knowles’ recent album, “A Seat at the Table”, provides commentary on her experiences as a black woman in America and places her amongst the most talented artists of this generation.

I’ve played the album over and over again since it came out, and each time I feel more empowered and encouraged as a young woman. Her melodies are woven in with stories that we can all take inspiration and a little guidance from. Here the 5 things I’ve learnt from “A Seat at the Table”:

1. “But I’m not really allowed to be mad.”

It takes a lot of restraint to sing in a cool silky voice when your songs speak out about the injustices you’ve experienced because of the colour of your skin, or when you’re trying to work through the hurt and anger you feel.

We often face a conflict as women; do we raise our voices and risk being labelled as loud and angry, or remain quiet with our voices barely heard. How do we effectively get our message across without coming off as the ‘angry black woman’ when we disagree with someone? I’ve come to find that people are more attentive when you speak in a composed, self-possessed voice, with your words carefully thought out. This way, you avoid hurling insults and jabs that do nothing but foster more resentment.

2. “Ain’t no apologizing for all the things you want.”

Have you ever been told that your strong opinion or confidence is too intimidating? Or, God forbid, that a woman who is self-reliant and self-assured won’t find a husband? Being a Motherland Mogul means we know what we want and we go out and get it.

Being labelled bossy or a control freak is the side effects of being a badass who knows her business and herself. The negative labels from the naysayers shouldn’t deter you from you doing what you want, but rather should drive you to work hard and be proud of how much you have achieved.

3. “Fall in your ways, so you can wake up and rise”

Trust your intuition. That little voice in your head, she knows what’s up. Trust your instincts, who knows what glorious journeys they will put you on. When you take the time to listen to your intuition the challenges to realising your goals become minor obstacles because you know where you’re going. Your gut is your compass and it doesn’t hurt to follow it.

Don’t discredit your feelings; ask yourself why you feel a certain type of way, are you content, are you doing what you love? How you feel internally shows in what you put out to the world so self-reflection and assessment will foster a more creative, intuitive and stronger you, becoming a more positive force in what you do.

4. “Be weary of the ways of the world”

Have the difficult conversations. We are living in a time when people are so divided on a myriad of political and social issues. The instinct is to avoid these debates because engaging could ruffle feathers, bring friendships to question or have you never wanting to attend another family gathering.

But how do we create and foster change if we don’t ask the hard questions and challenge each other? Part of this is listening to what others have to say, even when you struggle to agree or even understand their point of view.

5. “Don’t let anybody steal your magic”

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Celebrate yourself and your success. You’ve got a lot to be proud about, from large milestones such as graduation or a new job to the small things like finally getting to the gym. We are who we are, we’ve gotten here whether it is through chance or some detailed planning.

The people and experiences we have encountered have such a profound role in shaping our ideologies and path. So don’t take it for granted. Don’t think your path is less significant because it is different from that of your friends and family. You are your own success story and appreciating that is one of the best ways to take care of yourself and keep you pushing for more.

 

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