Remona Aly
Wednesday 06 January 2021 Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2

From Barriers to Open Doors

Pause for Thought on BBC Radio 2, Zoe Ball Breakfast Show

On being your own advocate


As the final hours of 2020 were still ticking, I got out the glad rags and glitter, and went on the razzmatazz to my living room where I was about to redefine Micky Flanagan’s going ‘out out’ as being ‘in in’. 

Aside from demolishing a cheese board and jigging to Jools Holland’s Hootenany, a highlight of my New Year’s Eve was a Zoom soirée organized by a wonderful friend who gathered a bunch of us together to bring in the new year, each of us laden with gifts she’d posted to unwrap at our virtual bash.  

With mocktails in hand, through laughter and tears, we celebrated our friendship over song, poetry – and dance, when I burst into some questionable and rather uncontained bhangra moves. Bringing the sobriety back in the room, our hostess asked us what change we wanted to make in ourselves for the coming year. 

One of our company said that after a lifetime of trying to please others, she was finally letting go to find her own contentment. Another friend proclaimed, “I want to be an advocate for myself” – meaning she would always speak up for herself and be her own best supporter.

As I listened to their pledges, I thought of the many barriers, brick by brick, that I’ve built in me. I’ve beaten myself up for having so many doubts, fears, a lack of self-belief, but hearing the word ‘advocate’ made me review my insecurities as open doors, instead of weights that drag me down.

The great Prophet Moses, or Musa as he’s known in the Quran, acknowledged his confidence issues, and worked though his self-doubt to face the tyranny of Pharaoh, and miraculously opened up a sea to lead his people to freedom.

I believe that sometimes you have to move through an emotion to get to the other side. I cannot become, without first overcoming, I cannot bloom, without first breaking through the soil. Like Rumi, the medieval Muslim scholar and poet says, “the cure for the pain, is in the pain.”

To hurt is to be human, yet the hurt can lead us towards our brightest light. So, I will turn my doubts into opportunities, be my own advocate and raise a mocktail to the miracles within.