From Creative Exploration to Feminine Pioneer
Despite some societal views having a bit of an issue with this notion, it is no secret that women today are more focused on their independence and self-awareness than they are about seeking fulfillment in a man and being reliant on one. Though I think we can all agree that this type of mindset should be encouraged, there are still boulders to break for women to be taken seriously as mothers and career-women to the same capacity of a man.
And Selin Senol-Akin - a mother, writer, teacher, and activist- would agree. Raised in an environment with strong matriarchal influence, Selin always knew she’d have to work hard and struggle to provide for her loved ones. Once her and her mother were abandoned by her birthfather, her mother remarried after being a single mother for two years and moved Selin and the family from Istanbul to New York City in the early 90s. This was her first personal instance in seeing first-hand, the strength of a woman.
She also says her grandmother was a feminist, often telling her “stories of how she often stood up against the mistreatment of women by some Communist soldiers in Bulgaria, where her family was forced to migrate to Turkey due to discriminatory policies against religious minorities.” So, it is no surprise that Selin is passionate about finding ways to inspire women like her.
“I’m loving the way that women throughout the world have been increasingly more and more outspoken about gender discrimination and injustices going on against girls and women in their countries, and uniting more and more on social media,” she says, regarding the necessity for empowerment. Selin is determined to make a life for herself and her daughter in a world that promotes equality for all. With an MA in Political Science, a certification as a TESOL/TEFL teacher, and a passion for writing, it is easy to say that she is working hard towards her ideals of success.
Working as a TESOL/TEFL teacher for over a decade, Selin expresses that she believes “wholeheartedly” in performing her lessons in front of her class- as if on stage- to keep their interest. But her true passion lies in storytelling. Writing poetry and fiction stories simply because it allows her “busy mind to breathe onto paper”, her passion for writing began when she was just nine years old. Mocking interviews about her future books written with her Barbie dolls, childhood-Selin found comfort in getting lost in a variety of stories. She says it also is what helped her learn English when she came to America. Reading book series like Sweet Valley High and The Babysitter’s Club, Selin was able to adapt to American culture while also developing a deep love for the written word.
Now, she has a growing social media presence on her Instagram page @writeoutyourdrops, where she shares her poetry, spoken-word performances, and information about her upcoming novel, The Catalyst. Selin says inspiration for her poetry comes to her spontaneously, but her biggest inspiration is her daughter, Dalya. “This is all for her. I hope to be able to inspire her to never give up on her dreams and, more importantly, on herself: even if it takes her a long time,” Selin told me, following up with the fact that she has never felt more connected to her daughter than she does now.
Plus, her debut novel, The Catalyst, has been a long time in the making. “As a newlywed housewife in an entirely new country,” she began, “It activated my imagination to the point of conjuring up this story where all of the events and all of the characters have been drawn from people and situations I’ve known from real life. It all just flowed and I wrote most of it in Norway.” This was back in 2012, when she married and moved to Norway with her husband before his deployment to Turkey where her novel took a back seat. Her family struck emotional turmoil and separation after tragical politic events in Turkey, but after rebuilding herself in America with her family, she began writing again.
As she grew up, Selin said she struggled to find her place between an “eastern mentality” and the “western lifestyle” she knew from her birth city of Istanbul. But now she is secure in her womanhood and believes that “creative magic” within the soul should never be dampened by self-doubt. She said, “We often tend to overthink many things in life more than men do, and hence feel stress more. Thus, some sort of distraction is often necessary so that when we do have time to concentrate more on our home and children- we can focus our attention more wholeheartedly during those moments.”
But none of this comes easy, as Selin says she struggles with self-discouragement and mental chaos of the mind. “It definitely took some time for me to allow myself to just forgive myself for making mistakes and having needs and being an imperfect human being.” According to her, it took until the age of 30 and becoming a mother for her to truly embrace who she was- body and all. In spite of that, Selin hopes to be able to inspire other women to find ways to be more self-satisfied.
Selin says she is proud of the results she is turning over in her writing, and appreciates, “That breath of ‘relief’ after all the hard work.” And she wants to encourage her daughter to do the same. She says she wants, “her to follow her passions but also be able to always have enough free time to sometimes just be present in the moment, relax, and take a deep breath and be grounded and grateful to be young and alive, in a world increasingly becoming more and more uncertain.” And that is sound advice for us all to take.
What I love most about Selin is her sense of awareness, and her strong desire to break the stigma that paints women as enemies to one another. I was captivated by her observation about some influential women in history. Selin expressed to me that, “Many ‘successful’ yet ultimately ‘sad’ women with tragic ends- like Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana- have mostly been adored, yes, but also called the worst of insults by other fellow women, as if anyone can deem themselves morally ‘higher’ than another mere human being in this world.” But she believes that is changing.
This Queens, New Yorker is optimistic for a bright future for herself, her daughter, and the women she encounters. She says she has faith that the trend of women banding together to encourage self-acceptance is one that will bring us closer to understanding each other without judgment. I encourage you to follow Selin’s journey, not just for her quality writing content, but because she is a pillar of hope for the strength of women in society.