These Weekly Tips are from my speech at the 2016 Muslim Women’s Literary Conference: “Just Let Me Bee: Finding Your Creative Niche”
Despite what we like to believe about ourselves, we aren’t born queens. Or kings. We must create our own narratives. We must nurture and raise queens just like the bees. The bees have an Anse. They have a teacher. A mentor…a guide…a developer…a mother…someone to lean on and show them the way and give direction. We all need teachers, guides, and helpers. But we must be careful of whose guidance we follow. We need to make sure that they are working towards the same goal as we intend. Walking in a crowd, it’s hard to follow multiple people unless they are all walking in the same direction. And if we want to emulate someone within that crowd, then we need to pay even closer attention to them. Meaning, we can only really faithfully follow one teacher.
So find yourself a teacher if you don’t have one. For whatever goal you hold dear in life. But recognize that everything and everyone that you come into contact with in life is a teacher. Parents. Spouses. Children. Animals. Plants. Saints. Sinners. Abusers. Uplifters. The past. The present. They are all teachers of how we should be, can be, or must not be. Heed the lessons of the Creator through creation.
The Queen bee isn’t born a queen. She is raised as a queen. Her narrative changes because of the support of her hive, her tribe, her community. She starts out as a worker bee. But then the gift and responsibility of motherhood is suddenly dropped upon her when she is impregnated by a drone. This great responsibility of motherhood turns her path into one of royalty. And once the bees recognize her royalty by her status of carrying the next generation of bees, they crown her as their Queen. The rest of the female worker bees all submit to her direction and don’t try to be queens. They don’t sabotage her. In fact, they work as a team to give her the best of everything…including royal jelly, a whole ‘nother class of honey. So that she can be the best that she can be. They only raise each other up to be queens once it becomes apparent that the Queen’s life is ending and that her work is done.
Know your Queen. Follow your Queen. And give her the utmost respect. Whether she be mother or teacher. Not all mothers are mothers. Not all non-mothers are non-mothers. We all mother differently. We all lead and follow, but at different ebbs and flows in our lives. However, when the opportunity to lead approaches, we need to be ready. Queens retire. Everyone gets tired. Put in the work now so you can reap then benefits of your royalty tomorrow. Follow now to lead tomorrow. Learn from the Queen how to be a Queen.
NOTE: Though I use the word “queen” in this post, I also intend these words to be of benefit to males as well. Substitute king where you will–the example of the bees, which is a majority female enterprise, still rings true for men, too. As a new mother to a little-man-in-training, I learned recently from the mothers of male youth that boys tend to run in packs. Like wolves. Think about it. Boy Scouts. Gangs. Fraternities. They are all yearnings for social belonging. A tribe. A hive. A boy needs male leaders to follow in order to visualize how to become a man. And a girl needs a woman to show her how to navigate the waters of womanhood with ease. But in speaking of our youth, BOTH boys and girls need excellent examples of men and women to know how to interact as well as what to look for in friendship, community, and family…in spouses. I mean, don’t men often marry women who remind them of their mothers? And women marry men who remind them of their fathers? We all have to help each other grow into the people we dream of becoming–our future selves–the leaders of tomorrow. And it takes one to know one.