“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Over my lifetime, I have found and lost my voice, many times.

In fifth grade, my teacher asked me to change my creative writing submissions. I stopped writing stories about tradition and religion and began to write stories about characters that have English names, live in houses with white picket fences, and have birthed 2.4 kids.

Raised in Eswatini, I grew up under the facade of free speech. Intimidated by the fear of retaliation, I learned quickly to silence my political thoughts.

I grew up around women who have long been penalized for “being too much” of something. I was taught that “good” women are meek, respectful, and silent.

Somewhere along the line, I began to silence my inner voice, my intuition. When I had a feeling that I shouldn’t take the first job I landed in corporate America, I ignored it. Many times, I knew it was time to leave – many times, I ignored that intuition.

Over my lifetime, I have lost and found my voice, many times. I hope to spend my life helping others reclaim theirs.

— Selamile Dlamini