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Dr. Amakove Wala, an epitome of Courage and Confidence

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One day, a researcher Robert Biswas-Diener got curious about courage and asked himself. Are women braver than men? He decided to do a little experiment and ask the public to nominate someone they thought was brave and mention what they did.

He offered a prize and waited for the nominations to come in. As the nominations trickled in, he was struck by the fact that most people who were nominated were women. He had expected people to assume that courage was something stereotypically associated with men. But time and again throughout his research he heard of bravery of women. Women keeping their spirits high while battling cancer and other chronic illnesses, women making a difference in their communities through various initiatives, he heard of of women in executive positions in male dominated industries and of women sticking up for their children. In fact, the winner of the researchers’ courage cash prize was a woman who jumped off a cliff to save a friend drowning in a river below, breaking her own bones in the process. 

MEET AMAKOVE ...

 In the context of our story, a little peak at the research on the topic of courage confirms that women are far braver than stereotypes of male courage might lead us to believe. If you understand that courage is—essentially—deciding to act even when there is fear, a perceived threat and the outcomes of your actions are uncertain then it makes sense that bravery isn't just about rushing into burning buildings and other physical feats of daring-do. Bravery is also about choosing to live your life on your terms, like Amakove Wala.

She is woman who truly embodies what it means to be courageous - eating life with a big spoon at every turn. A familiar face to many, she is fierce, bold, has an amazing sense of humor and is beloved for speaking her mind. She was not always like this. She shares her life story on what shaped her to be the gallant woman, mum and professional she is today – perhaps her story will inspire you to break away from the norm and live your life …. your way.

 She shares more below:

 

“My name is Amakove Wala I am the 7th out of 8 children born of parents who were teachers. That basically meant that we had to take education seriously! I am grateful for the discipline instilled by both my parents as I remember my dad often saying that he did not have any wealth to leave to us. Rather they invested in our education and that was our inheritance.

I can say we’ve all pretty much turned out very well. However, growing up in a peasant family, being the 7th born (last girl) meant that we had to share a lot! So hand-me-downs were basically the order of the day. One of my best memories growing up was my first day in high school. It meant that for the first time I owned my own pair of bed sheets, towel, suitcase and such like stuff that our children often take for granted. But I must say that since we grew up in a neighborhood where everyone was basically at the same level socio-economically, it really didn’t strike me that we were poor. Well, until I went to high school… We were also not a very physically expressive family. I don’t ever remember my parents saying words like, “I love you” or hugging us. But we knew we were loved by the fact that we had food on our table and we went to school! I have great memories of my childhood.

Growing up, I wanted to be a lawyer. Then I only knew about criminal law and I was queasy about “defending’’ criminals. So I changed to medicine later on. I am a Medical Doctor currently focusing on health care policies and programmes.

In retrospect, I don’t think we really had good career counseling. It was more of the top students were to select certain disciplines. Maybe given a chance I would have taken a more “arty” career because I am re-discovering myself and I love creativity.

PROUD MOMENT

Either way I am very proud of my career achievements, I have always been a pioneer in the fields I have chosen to pursue in medicine. I’ve been in research, pharmaceutical medicine and healthcare advocacy. Breaking glass ceilings and thinking without the box is something that I have always strived to do. I’ve never seen my gender or age as an impediment to success. When I get into a role,  I fold up my sleeves and deliver. But then I have to have an environment that allows me to be the best I can be. On reflection, my best performance has been with superiors who allowed me to thrive. One of my career highlights is being selected as a Business Daily Top 40 under 40 Women 2016 in recognition to my leadership skills at the last organization I worked. It was very humbling.

I CHOOSE TO DO ME 

As a woman – I recognize that I am quite different. I am very outspoken, bold and confident but I can tell you I was not always like this. Once upon a time, there was this young girl who cared so much about other people’s opinions on her life. She therefore denied herself and lived by the expectations of society. It was only when she got diagnosed with early clinical depression that she sought professional help and snapped out of that trap.

I think every woman should look herself in the mirror and ask the person looking back, “Are you happy?” If the answer is yes, then rock on girl! If it is no, well, what are you doing about it? Women bear so much. Many are broken deep inside but put on a mask for society’s sake. Why?

We allow ourselves to be defined by our jobs, our children, our marital status, our child bearing abilities etc. When did we lose ourselves? That if stripped of any of the things that seem to “define” us, we crumble? So, be honest with yourself. Only you can take that journey of self-discovery. And it is ok to seek help. Sometimes you cannot do this alone.

TAKING CHARGE

I am not ashamed to say that I was at one point losing it. I walked into a counseling center and said, help me.

I also went through a 12 week coaching journey by Alabastron. This was my eye-opener. I had tried so many books, links e.t.c but I had never actually tried to look inwards for my solution. Alabastron helped me unravel the negative thoughts I kept on having and helped me replace them with beautiful words of affirmation. I learnt the hard way to go way back into my childhood, my young adult life and my current life to see the patterns that had formed based on my experiences. I learnt to forgive myself and forgive others. I then learnt to affirm myself.

And I recently came across this personality test that I preach from the roof tops to anyone who cares to listen. The Myers Briggs Personality Test. https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test the result I got described me to a T! I stopped being apologetic or trying to conform to other personalities. Of course I also got to learn about my weaknesses and I am now more conscious about them.

 

PASSING THE BRAVERY BATON TO MY CHILDREN

Having grown up in a large family, I always wanted to become a mum one day. I used to role-play with my dolls, stitch tiny dresses and have conversations with them like they were my children.

Raising brave kids  is about creating an environment where you get to nurture their confidence. I have four kids - Jabali (rock), Zahra (princess), Zarina (flower) and Zuena (star)Each of my kids has a different personality, and I consciously strive to raise them to be self assured. Motherhood is one of those roles that no amount of training can prepare you for - you can only do your best.

 

I am a fun mom. I do push them sometimes. We enjoy being outdoors. This means that  over the weekends we are often engaging in at least one or two physical activities like swimming, cycling or going for walks. We also visit places like nature sites, museums, plays etc.

I am bringing up my kids to be  live independently of me if such a scenario ever arose. They are the sort of kids who can eat anything, can live with anyone and are self-sufficient.  I mostly engage them rather than lord over them.

To build their character and equip them for life we have age-dependent roles in the house. So they clean after themselves, make their beds, bathe and dress themselves, lay out their uniform for the next day, they know when they are supposed to be out playing, or doing their homework etc.

Because of my hectic career, I put all my kids on a schedule from birth. So we did the 3 hourly feeding, the controlled nap times, the night downtimes and so on. This gave the nannies and I ability to place other chores around their schedules. I always know what my kids are doing at any one time even when I am away. They too know when they are to do certain things. This makes it easier for them too. Of course, there are days I am flexible say on their bedtime.

We talk a lot in our house. We have very candid talks about sex, relationships, body image, religion, even politics! I try and answer every question they have as candidly as possible. I hope that this will make them know that they can come to me with any question; even the most uncomfortable ones and I would try my best to answer truthfully. So my kids from a young age knew where babies come from.

MAKING TIME FOR ME

Even in this chapter of motherhood I have made a conscious decision not to lose myself. Self-development is a continuous journey. I engage in many other activities. My children know that mommy goes out dancing most Fridays. They even help me dress up! I have different friends for different spheres of my life. When I am overwhelmed, I do not hesitate to reach out. Sometimes I will call my relative and say, look, I need a break. Let the kids come over for the weekend. I am glad that my family is very supportive on that front. Once in a while I get out with friends for some cycling tour and such.

And then, I have learnt to “treat’’ myself too. As mothers, we often put other members of the family before our needs. So I ensure that I save up for a treat (e.g. a spa or an outfit) and spoil myself!

I know as Amakove, I am destined for greater things. I hope to impact women not only on a local but also on a global scale to believe in themselves and live their lives beyond the societal stereotypes

 

Finally, going back to the topic of living life with courage, my advice to women is you hold the key. I often tell people that whatever it is you are going through, you are only being refined for better things. Stop worrying about what people think or what they will say. Do You. The World Will Adjust. “

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