By Gaayathri Periasami
Heaven forbid if you hear a woman publicly cry out ‘I am enough’. After all, whether a woman is enough is a validation that most women seek from other men and women but never from within or from themselves. An external validation that gives a woman a reason (even if meaningless) not to disrupt the status quo but to homogenise what the broader society confines her into.
So when Samata creates a tangible object as a token to the IAmEnough era, a gentle reminder that the sufficiency of a woman is an objective measurement which does not have to be verified with external sources, I have to say that I have seen nothing quite like this in the market before.
THE TRIBE Empowerment Journal that was launched on 4 December 2018 is not your everyday journal where you log random thoughts. It is a book specially crafted to shush your lizard brain in times of self-doubt, to put a stop to self-sabotage and help you be grounded in the present. A book that reminds you that empowerment is not about the gaining of power, esteem or, confidence. It is simply the birth of oneself; the loss or shedding of yourself and the subsequent renewal of yourself. There is no gain, but merely the affirmation of yourself in that very moment and knowing that you have full control over your mind, body and soul. Empowerment is a time-sensitive snippet of your reel of life. A fleeting moment that makes you realise that this is who you are in this very moment.
In the discovery of the ‘self’, it is quite fascinating how Samata explores the Freudian theory of the conscious and the unconscious mind in the journal to unlock the power of a woman’s repression. The questions she asks in the book forces you to visit both your conscious and unconscious mind. Women will often find that when they have to answer what is their first doubtful thought of the day, repressed thoughts previously buried deep into the unconscious mind will resurface. Things and memories that the conscious mind wants hidden get locked and stored deep into the unconscious mind. Austrian neurologist and the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud often believed that the things that we desperately try to keep hidden are the ones that exert the greatest influence in our daily actions. For instance, childhood trauma or fear can often manifest in our conscious actions (e.g. declining public speaking opportunities, not enjoying sex with your partner, distressed parenting, anti-social disorders, etc). Bringing the repression to light is important because women generally internalise their struggles and inadequacies and then bury them deep again for another rainy day. As you progress through each entry in the journal, your thoughts are steeped in constant acknowledgement. The acknowledgement of past disruptions, the acknowledgement of past achievements, the acknowledgement of self-doubt and finally the acknowledgement of your current self. This acknowledgement is critical to disrupting the pattern of regression where typically your mind does not even want you to go to the repressed layer.
Renowned gender intelligence expert, Rebecca J Brideson in her inaugural book ‘Blind Spots’ reinforces that “we must serve the unmet and unrecognised commercial needs of women in a way that adds value by creating relationships that endure.” This is exactly what Samata has done. She took a gap in the market and transformed it into something meaningful for women looking to journal their intentions in a thoughtful and endearing manner while not being overly concerned with what’s coming or what’s next. Very few items, if any come to mind, which actually tell a woman that she is absolutely enough as she is. Clothes, accessories, home decor, make up – there is always a thought that something more is needed, just that tiny more, yet how many things in life truly reflect that we are enough as we are. “Viewing business through the female lens means getting the right focus on the value of women…as the end user of consumer you serve.” Brideson cites the example of how De Beers, the US diamond company significantly changed the engagement and matrimony narrative by switching their advertising campaigns to celebrate women as they are, regardless of their martial status. When De Beers unearthed some female lens thinking, they experienced exponential growth in sales. With a growing population of single women or women choosing to get married at a much later stage, De Beers invented the ‘right-hand ring’ concept. Where the left hand says ‘we’, the right hand says ‘me’ signifying that women should celebrate their position as a strong, assertive, independent woman instead of seeking validation of the self and identity from engagement or marriage. Samata fuses the exact same concept with her journal by filling the void in the market. Women never really had this explorative, mindful space first thing when they woke up in the morning or even at night when they hit the sack. The daily reinforcement of past achievements and what you will do to quieten that lizard on the shoulder when self-doubt creeps in, is such a powerful routine akin to meditation. “Meditation is a practice of concentrated focus upon a sound, object, visualisation, the breath, movement, or attention itself in order to increase awareness of the present moment” and it is riveting that a five minute writing exercise could give you that same level of intensity. The mindfulness of writing in the book every day will bring you into full awareness of your conscious mind and gently guide you into that present moment.
The journal is also peppered with extracts of interviews from other female entrepreneurs, thought—provoking quotes, and little tips and reminders to tell us that the mind is not a vessel of repression.
As Samata puts it so eloquently, “It’s not here to teach women how to be great, it’s here to remind them that they already are”. The journal pays quiet homage to our ancestors – the Darwinian women, the nurturers and providers of peace and love within the ancient tribes while also reinforcing that women do not need a structured agenda in the modern world. Women have always worked and performed best in tribes. Ancient civilisations signify the importance of women in tribes where they were the primary care givers, gathered food, cooked together and educated their children. They were the fundamental pillars that held the civilisation together. From the tribal days of performing very limited roles within a civilisation, women have all come an incredibly long way but the journal is our reminder that we do not need to lose our tribal instincts in seeking companionship and camaraderie.
“In its simplest form, The TRIBE Empowerment Journal is a transformative mirror you will start to love looking into,” says Samata. The mirror analogy is critical here as it forms the basis of many theories proposed by iconic twentieth century psychologists like Freud, Jacques Lacan and Charles Horton Cooley. From a very young age, women especially, learn to look at themselves through an imaginary interactive mirror. The form of the ‘self’ is intimately wound up in relationships and social interactions. How you learn to view yourself and think about who you are is directly depicted by what others have said or think of you. That is why it is so easy to believe your interactive mirror when it says to you that you are fat because earlier in the day someone passed an unsolicited comment about your t-shirt being a tad too tight. This is the reason why we need Samata’s transformative mirror more than ever now – to not be swayed by any external influences or interactions but be true to ourselves in journaling our intentions by only looking within ourselves.
And that’s why this book is phenomenal. It is an avenue for liberation, a self-unloading dock, heck even a cathartic catalyst if that doesn’t sound like an oxymoron. Cathartic because it helps you purge unwanted emotions and catalyst because your restored self will spearhead the change you crave. In a digitally driven world, I love it that the journal forces you to go primitive, like writings and paintings on cave walls that depicted the stories of daily life. It forces you to look for a pen or pencil every morning to journal your intentions; a salute to simplicity and a welcome departure from my hands automatically reaching for my iPhone to do that perfunctory morning scroll through Instagram. Pick up your copy here.
Gaayathri Periasami is the founder and creator of Baby Peppers, an ethical and sustainable brand specialising in heritage techniques and slow fashion while invested in making a social change. In full disclosure, an extract of her interview is featured in THE TRIBE Empowerment Journal.