Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
The past three years have been years of triumph for me. I overcame my mental illness. It’s still there, and bad days still come however, it doesn’t affect me like it used to. I overcame homelessness. I’m not in a condo but no longer in a shelter. I graduated from college! I lost my grandmother and gained personal strength. I came out as transgender (FtM) and started HRT and I’m loving the journey. I lost my family and created a new one. In spite of all my loss and gain, I never lost my faith.
I took control of my life. I’m setting the course for my destiny. I’m fighting doubt, some days depression, some days energy in order to be the best I can be. I’m fighting an eating disorder that I tried to bury for years. I’m winning each fight.
No longer timid or shy. Not as afraid of tomorrow as I once was. I’m gaining my barrings. I am finding a love for life, for people, nature, and animals. I see God in the little details of life not just in the blessings.
Kujichagulia is my favorite principle of Kwanzaa because it’s where I get to see my physical strengths and literal improvements. While on my journey through school, I realize that everyone’s pace in life is different. We don’t all walk or run the same distance or at the same speed. It took me 9 years to graduate. Many of my friends are done with their Master’s degrees and becoming doctors and lawyers. Some are parents and married. And I’m just starting to bud. That’s ok! I realize that it’s ok! I’m not my friends and they are not me, and as long as we win in this life, that’s what matters.
Kujichagulia is about celebrating our journey. Seeing our strength. Valuing the superpowers and the capabilities the Creator gave us. No longer comparing and shaming but seeing our journey as pure beauty. Kujichagulia reminds that I am allowed to be who I want to be. Love who I want to love. Live however peacefully as I can. Kujichagulia tells me that I have a duty to leave this earth a little better. Kujichagulia tells me to leave a mark for the generation behind me.
As a great pastor once said to me, “we (you) are world changers and history makers.” Life is a gift from the beholder and we are to create, express, forgive, love, and be driven with self-determination.