Happy New Year!
It’s the first month and first week of the year. Welcome to 2018!
This month, we are celebrating a young lady whose remarkable story of strength and perseverance encourages us to be all that we have been created to be. JerryLynn Kariuki is a 20 year old 1st year student of global challenges at the African Leadership University, University of Nairobi. She lives in Kigali, Rwanda. JerryLynn says “We are gifted with infinite treasure which are our minds and our souls. This is what we should focus on. You are always going to be more than your body and gender. Your circumstances should not define who you are. I discovered this secret and since then my life has been changed.”
The secret is in placing infinite treasure in something undesirable finite.
This is JerryLynn’s #StrongEnough story:
- Tell us about (describe) yourself.
My name is JerryLynn Kariuki. I was born and raised in Kenya at the heart of the most glorious continent Africa. I would describe myself in the following terms: An African woman, A scoliosis warrior, A social awareness activist, A passionate writer.
- What are your hobbies (things you enjoy doing)?
Writing, Reading, Learning and before I sound too serious I also love Cycling, eating and art in every form.
- What activities are you involved with in your community?
I am actively involved in bringing social change and spreading awareness through my blog diaryof1000girls. This is a platform where I address social issues such as single parenthood, mental health, discrimination and more. As the author and creator of diaryof1000girls blog, I have been able to create awareness on issues we face today and have given my readers a safe space where they can truly embrace who they are and grow.
- Who or what inspires you?
My greatest inspiration in life has been art. Books, movies, tv series, paintings, dances and songs. I am inspired by how different we see the world we live in. How similar we are though we think we are different. How through art people are able to express themselves. The ability of art to change people and impact lives is what inspires me to do more. I want to be able to make a huge impact in this world through my works.
- Is there something you are passionate about? If yes, what is it?
Yes. I am very passionate about education. I believe in lifelong education. I have seen the impact of good education and it led me to want the same for everyone. I believe in education systems that are not discriminative; that give everyone a chance to be the best version of themselves and empower people to want to learn more.
- What is the biggest challenge you have ever faced? How did you get through it?
My biggest challenge is having medical setbacks. This path began in January 2010 when I was diagnosed with Idiopathic Scoliosis. I was only 13 years old and to me it felt like a death sentence. Throughout the next three years before I had surgery in February 2013, I felt very powerless and disconnected to my world. I had completely lost my identity and my drive in life. How I got through it was more of a miracle. I survived a surgery that I didn’t think I’d come out of. This event started a domino effect in my life. I discovered my inner strength and realised that I am more than my circumstances. Currently, I am a 20 year old scoliosis warrior who has also been diagnosed with clinical depression and stomach ulcers. Despite all this, I have found strength within myself and in a strong circle of friends (some are family). Sometimes you have to motivate yourself to look at the positive things in your life and celebrate every victory regardless of how small it may seem. Teach yourself to see an opportunity to learn instead of seeing a risk of failure. Give yourself the grace to grow. This is how I have become the bold woman I am today.
- What is the biggest challenge that you see facing girls/young women in your community
Most young women are struggling with stereotypes that have been used to define women over the years. They have been empowered but are still bound to cultural stereotypes. Women are expected to be mothers, wives, conservative, meek, not sexual and not open minded. These stereotypes limit young women from fully embracing who they are. They end up living in fear that if they go out of what is expected of them they could be outcasts who have shamed their families.
- What advice would you like to share with girls/young women in your community?
We as women are more than what has been said about us. We are all different and it is okay to embrace your individuality, sexuality and your goals. You are not bound to expectations set by people based on your gender. You should embrace every inch of your body, and chase those dreams you feel are too wild. There is no right or wrong way of being a woman. Being an ideal woman should mean being yourself.
- Who is your favorite female leader/role model, and why?
My favourite female leader is Queen Mary of Scotts. She is a legend of history. During the monarchical age she was one of the most powerful people. As a teenager she had claim to the thrones of Scotland, France and England and with all this power she also took time to find love and live a passionate life. She is one of the greatest rulers and although she met an untimely death her legacy grew on with her son taking up the throne of England. She is my role model because she reminds me of just how strong and powerful I am as a woman. That I can have a cool head and warm heart at the same time. I can be a great queen and a loving mother simultaneously.
- What do the words “Strong Enough” mean to you?
Strong enough for me describes infinite potential that cannot be defined truly. Strong enough describes the hypothetical crown of power I wear on my head that no one can ever take from me. As a woman being strong enough means exceeding people’s expectations. It means I can be great at anything I put my mind to. It means I can face anything and cannot be belittled by anyone or anything.
- Do you have a favorite quote/verse/song lyric?
- I am not young enough to know everything – Oscar Wilde
- “…you want passion, adventure maybe even a little bit of danger…” Damon Salvatore (Vampire Diaries)
Thank you for sharing your inspiring story with us JerryLynn! You are truly a queen, with so many stars on your crown. We admire your strength and celebrate you as our #SEGoftheMonth. Continue exceeding expectations. We wish you continued health and much success.
Follow JerryLynn via her blog Diaryof1000girls. It is a place where everyone matters and every opinion counts regardless of gender, race, age, nationality, social status, religious beliefs and health status. It is a safe space where she talks about social issues. All are welcome to read, comment, share and suggest topics you would like her to cover.
LET’S HEAR FROM YOU!!!
Do you have a question for JerryLynn? How has her story inspired you? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.