BRAVE Stories: Conquering Faded Fears, Learning from Bob the Turtle, and Facing Oppressive Realities
“Your Respect is My Strength”
By Isis Amusa, United States BRAVE Rock Girl
It’s 7:30 AM, 1:30 AM in the United States. I should be in bed, but I’m here, I’m finally here.
Soon after jumping off the bus, we all gather around a bench made by Rock Girl BRAVE in previous years. It reads, “Your Respect is My Strength” and “You Strike a Woman and You Strike a Mountain.” At this moment, I don’t quite absorb these quotes, but later come to understand their importance.
There it is, the renowned Lion’s Head Mountain. As it towers over my head, I realize that there is no way that I’m making it up that. Two minutes in and I’m already sweating, already taking off my stylish Rock Girl BRAVE jacket, and already reminiscing over the palm sweating, knee quivering, long forgotten days of being scared of heights.
Locals pass us by and stroll along like it’s nothing as I nearly cough up a lung. However, I’m not alone. Other Rock Girls surround me, and we all continue on together, slowly.
We continue to push on, knowing that brownies, hot chocolate and coffee await us halfway up the mountain and this motivates me to go on, along with the incredible photos I know I could get.
The mountain was a photographer’s dream and a lazy person’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately, I dabble in both, but I know I have to get up there and seize the day. My hunger for adventure luckily outweighs the normal hunger I feel for a bag of chips and a couch.
Halfway up, we all chat and catch our breaths, take selfies, and learn the “power pose.”
With our fists pressed firmly into our sides, our chests out and strong stances as we all look out on to Cape Town, I know this is exactly the type of women empowerment, unity, and community that I need. We all uplift each other, and I feel an immense joy.
As more girls continue to go further up the mountain, I decide to go with them. It gets steeper and steeper and soon I’m holding on to ladders and chains for dear life. Slippery dust and accidental glances down begin to raise my heart rate, and my fear of heights begins to creep back in.
I’m out of breath, my legs are shaking, and I doubt my strength and my ability to continue. I’m about to give up, but once again I’m not alone.
Above me is Rock Girl BRAVE partner and mentor, Natalina Schappach, with her hands out, a smile on her face and words encouraging me to continue. This happens not only once, but at least five times as I hold on to the rock for dear life.