Dare to Change Your Mindset

Bezawit Zerayacob
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Bezawit Zerayacob acquired her Bsc in Architecture from Addis Ababa University and currently works as an an architect at Extudio 35 Architectural Consultancy. She also doubles as a researcher studying vernacular architecture for 'futuristic past project' that will be exhibited at the Venice biennial 2020. Recently Bezawit had the esteemed pleasure of taking part in the Mandela Washington fellowship 2018 at Rutgers University. 

I believe the purpose of life is unveiled through mindset shifts. The first major shift in my mindset took place in a simple conversation I had with a remarkable artist called Abel Tilahun. We were discussing opportunities and he said to me (I am paraphrasing here)  “when ever I go after an opportunity I am prepared to celebrate, whether I get it or not”. I was bewildered as to how one can celebrate failure. I have read in many books to not fear failure but it wasn't until this conversation I truly understood what it meant. Every NO is one step closer to a YES; and not attempting is a failure by itself. Hence forth folks, I damn well celebrate my No's and trust it will be a YES soon after. 

My next mindset shift happened after a looooooong day filled with misfortunes and I caught myself complaining. It hit me like a wave; I had become part of a society that was cultured to complain about problems. Why do we call problems “PROBLEMS”? I realized that every problem is an opportunity disguised in plain sight. This is the moment I transformed from being a problem identifier to an opportunity seeker; from being a complainer to a solution finder.

I am sure you read stories and books on how to become successful and how to define success. These books contain the answers but as long as you don't shift your mindset they will remain words stored in your hippocampus. I am still uncovering my potential and it comes with its challenges. 

As a female Architect; breaking into a male dominated field was a struggle.It is no surprise that the 'work force' is favorable to men. Why? Because men are branded with the stereotypical thought that "they are smarter, tougher, they are better equipped to lead"; but frankly speaking its mostly because they are just Men. I am not denying that there are quite a number of men who are exceptionally smart and incredible leaders, I am only justifying that if these men were up against an equal female counter part, the man will be more favored for the position. Even when a woman manages to enter the "men's arena" its often for the wrong assumptions: "female employees will stay in the company longer as they don't seek out better opportunities", "female employees hardly ever demand pay raise or higher positions", " female employees come at a cheaper salary". This is the harsh reality I was exposed to. 

As I hinted above, I celebrated my No's and sought after problems as opportunities. For me, my biggest challenges lie in everyday actions. The everyday cat calling that makes me question how I dress. The seemingly harmless narratives we use in our everyday conversation that undermine the ability of girls and women. How often have you used phrases like ' you punch like a girl' ? The "You are smart for a woman",   " you are strong for a woman"  are the shackles of the modern day women achievers disguised as compliments. I hope while reading this I trigger a chain of thoughts that allows you to examine how you conduct your conversations. I hope to invoke a change in your mindset and transform your understanding of how a simple construct of words can have insurmountable ripple effects. 

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of IGNITE THE YOUTH are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the entire society of IGNITE THE YOUTH.