Finding my woman

It is so, that there are a thousand and one instructions on how women are to live. What women are to do with their bodies. What she is to do with her toenails to the tip of her hair. From the external to the internal organs, there are laws, regulations, expectations, and advice on how she is to look, work, be paid, behave, speak, date, and breath. And these come from every angle. The radical feminists, the liberal feminists, the conservationists, religion, family, the list is countless. For they are provided on the premise of aiding the woman navigate life. There is always something she needs to do or is not doing. And that is the reason women tend to inherit blame or are awarded the blame when situations like child loss, divorce, job loss, childlessness etc. happen. The general belief is that she could have done A, B and C to counter these situations.

Well, with so many voices telling me what I am to do with my body, my voice, my hair, my mind, etc. in which breath do I find out what I want? What I want, what I want to be, what I want to look like, what makes me happy? Where is the space to nurture those thoughts and fulfil the person God created me to be? As much as society has expectations, mostly outrageous I dare say, it behoves on me as a human being to find out my desires for my life. Do I have expectations of myself? Do I want to work because society expects me to? Do I desire children because it is expected of me? How many children do I want to have? To what extent and levels can I pursue formalized education? What can I wear today? As I ask these questions, I realise there are provided responses from concerned parties.

“What is the essence of a woman who desires no children?”

“A woman should not desire for much in her future, she will be provided for by her husband.”

“A woman does not dress like that.”

And these are statements that have literally flown into my body through my ear.

If everyone and society has these expectations of me, at what point do I start to live out my expectations? That is, if I have asked and know what my desires are. Am I leaning only towards what society expects, concerned about what will happen if I do not conform?

What do I want?

Do I really want that?

Or am I pursuing that because it is what is expected of my kind?

Great! When what I desire aligns with the world’s expectations of me.

But what if my desires do not conform? Will I still pursue them?

Will I keep finding my woman, even when I know I will be challenged and despised?

Down here, there are no easy roads, but better to be on the road chosen.

What afternoon runs taught me

I enjoy morning runs, I believed they were the ultimate until I went on an afternoon run. My running goal for this year is 600 km. Though I am 70% in and with a good chance to reach this goal, I decided mid-August to commit more to the goal and be consistent.

Respect is what I have for people I see on a jog or run on a hot, sun-burning day. Only respect. Why would someone go on a run when the weather is so hot when they could do morning runs? Hello?? However, last week, I had to go three times on afternoon runs since those were the only time slots for me to get a run in. It was an experience. It was different. And this is what I learnt.

Morning runs are easier. The weather is right. There are many doing the same, and so I was never alone.

Afternoon runs on those warm sunny 25 degrees plus days are not easy. The body gets heated up. There was so much dryness in my throat. My body was pushed beyond its comfort zone. I had to convince myself to keep going. And it was not what everyone was doing.

Though I was uncomfortable, I was amazed that my body pushed through. So, my body can do afternoon runs, can survive afternoon runs. An interesting discovery. And until I put myself in this place of discomfort. I never knew I could.

Why I love morning runs

Why not right? Mornings are cool. The birds are singing. Most of the people I meet on the run, are happy, sharing morning compliments. The sun is shining on my face. The cool breeze cooling off the warmness of my forehead. Morning runs are cool. It allows myself and my thoughts engage in conversation. And a place or state where I get ideas for just about anything.

I started running about a decade ago, in Accra. It was a challenge! I remember Sena coming for me from his house at dawn. He did, well not literally, push me out of the comfort zone (of my bed). For someone who had offered to help, I felt he was enthusiastic, more enthusiastic than I. He was patient. A trait which has made him a great personal trainer.  After those episodes and on my own, running still did not come naturally to me. I went running when I felt like. Once a month or twice a week. And each time it was tough, pushing myself to finish what I started.

In Weimar, I would run as the weather dictated, only during the warmer seasons.  My first 5k was in Weimar. If I ever did a 5k in Accra I would not know as I never used Apps to monitor my distance or speed. Speed and distance were not the goal. Using Apps like Runkeeper helped my pace and how further I run. The furthest I have run was 22km in April 2020. It took me 2 hours 40 minutes and 57 seconds. I was really proud of myself for that feat. It made me ask myself what else could my body do if I pushed it? I am looking to run a marathon someday, probably on my own or in a group. That is a cool goal. I can tell everyone proudly I have ever run a marathon. You know what a much cooler goal would be? To get running to be a natural thing to me. As natural as eating and sleeping.

So why do I love morning runs? Not only because they are cool but also each time, I leave the house in the morning for a run, it is a form of recognition, self-respect, and self-honor to my set goals. It is an act that says I did not just set those goals or daydream them, but I am putting in the effort to be that vision I desire. I do this also because I am not your average running girl. I am black, weigh about 90 kg and about 5.11 feet tall. Furthermore, I’ve never seen anyone like me out on a run in Ghana nor Germany. So I rep and protect my uniqueness on those tracks. I’ve over the years learned a lot about myself running. Most importantly that running is not just physical exercise, it is a mind battle. Even today, each time I step out for a run I engage in a battle. But guess what I get better at winning this battle each time.