A journey into my womanhood, in four parts.

Part III

By Charmaine Adetola Shaw

April 2023

Thumbnail illustration by Carole Maillard

Thumbnail illustration by Carole Maillard


“To resume (an activity) after an interruption”

“What a joy it is to be fulfilled

To be overflowing with joy and purpose

For the fog to be cleared and my focus to be renewed

To be able to breathe and to have found myself once more

To find beauty and meaning in the cycle of being lost, then found

Until my body feels like home again.”

After the storm has passed and you have rebuilt yourself from the ground up again. It’s time to nurture and heal. Often, after rebuilding yourself the one thing your soul needs more than anything is love. And who better to give that to yourself than you? After all, who should love you more than yourself?

However, the renewal of this cycle is always a difficult start. Often exhausted from the bleakness of before, it can be difficult to return to a self-compassionate space. A way I tend to ease into this is by practicing gratitude – what or whom am I grateful for today? This often prompts me into a meditation or a long scribble in my journal just letting my words and thoughts flow without fear of judgement or misunderstanding.

I think it’s important as I grow further into myself and adulthood to really understand that life truly is a journey and is not at all linear. Personally, I have found my 20’s a series of losing myself and finding myself again and again until I have just surrendered to the process and allowed the ‘what will be, will be’ mentality to take precedence.

For me, there are some life lessons I seem to deal and manage with a lot more ease as some wounds or more tender than others, but this is part of the journey. Being a biracial woman of colour, I struggled a lot with my identity growing up. Being raised in a white majority community I often found it hard having anyone to relate to. I felt misplaced a lot of the time knowing I was not ‘white’ but in the same breath not knowing if I’d be accepted as labelling myself ‘black’ at the time. My experiences of racism were often overlooked or unheard, and without friends I could relate to I often felt lost. I actively challenge the narratives put on me from then and have become so at one with myself. However, unravelling the traumas of our past do not happen overnight and often requires time away and renewals in order to develop and grow. But even a small forward is progress.

When reflecting on myself interiorly vs exteriorly, the latter can be a challenge for me. I find the reflection of my interior to be a much more comfortable topic of self-observation than that of my exterior. This I believe this to be true for all women also. Our bodies and appearance so often criticised by every element of the media, discussing ‘trends’ and what others may find attractive. Although, it is so positive to see this being challenge in the body-positive movement, I believe we have got work to do ourselves to undo the conditioning of the societal opinions concerning our bodies and exterior.

However, I think our interior selves should weigh the most importance:

Please dont call me beautiful

Instead, call me kind

Or intelligent

Or loving

Why should I care about my exterior?

Something I have little control of

When you can measure me by how I choose to leave my mark on this world

Compliment me, if you must

On what I emote in you

I am known for being exceedingly hard on myself and building up my self-worth and compassion has been something I have been working on for years, and is definitely a ‘hard habit to kick’, but is not impossible even when it feels like it. Each day, if you can, write down one thing you like about yourself or that you appreciate about yourself. Believe me, as the time passes, it becomes easier and reading through and reflecting on your points fills your heart in a way I cannot describe. And soon enough you’ll start to believe that you are worthy.


Be gentle with yourself.


You can find more of Charmaine’s work here.