Hear me roar

There is something intrinsic in us as human beings; a deep-seated need to belong. An unshakeable compulsion to be able to identify with at least one other person in the room. To be understood, to not be completely and utterly alone.

Like that caterpillar in its cocoon, I faced my imminent transformation with great deal of excitement and a generous helping of trepidation. Change is never easy even when we know that it is vital, and I couldn’t help but grasp about me, longing for something to anchor myself to as I was flung into the unknown.

My search for a touchstone lead me down the corridors of history, marvelling at the line of remarkable women who came before me. Queens and samurais, scholars and courtesans; an intriguing and captivating mix of women who managed to be extraordinary at an age when the odds where very heavily stacked against them.

As I read their stories, some of which only exist through folklore, I drew strength and inspiration from their courage. If they managed to do all that they did at a time when women weren’t even allowed to wear trousers, how much more could I accomplish with the freedoms they had worked so hard to afford me?

I also pondered what it must have been like for them to forge their own paths. What gave them their sense of belonging when they were different from everyone around them? Their fellow women would hardly have been able to understand their motivations and while the men might have had respect for them, they would never view these women as their contemporaries. How did they deal with the loneliness of their hard-won positions?

The ‘Hear me roar’ series is a tribute to these long-forgotten women whose valour and strength earned them a place in history. I hope that by sharing their stories, people will once again remember their names and celebrate their remarkable accomplishments, even as their spirit lives on in the strong women I see around me today.

View some of the pieces here