It really is a strange feeling to see yourself talk to an audience. I don’t really know why, but your voice sounds completely different, your face seems different. I guess it’s because we don’t actually see ourselves talk like this on a regular basis – you only get to see yourself if you are being filmed.

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I honestly did not want to share the link to my TEDx talk because I felt so embarrassed! But everyone had been waiting for it, so it had to be shared. As I cannot hide it any longer, you can watch my TEDx talk here:

I am, of course, very honoured and happy to have taken part in the event, and maybe – with a little more practice – one day I’ll even become a professional at giving talks. I do believe it is very important to be heard, and I’m thankful that I was given the chance. The issues I talk about – they need to be talked about all around the world. Maybe then the necessary changes in society will finally happen.

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Unfortunately I forgot some parts of my talk because I was a little nervous and tipsy. Those parts were actually pretty important to me, so I would like to share them with you now. Here are those paragraphs:

“I recently learned a new German word: Herrenlos. The word translates to “abandoned” or “master-less”. I am also un-owned. I am a woman without a man. There is no man in my life. I am Herren-los. I wish more women had the chance to be left alone, to be abandoned by their so-called protectors, these rule makers who make decisions on our behalf, supposedly for our own good. It can get very lonely, but it is necessary to be alone. That is when the good things happen. That is when we meet ourselves, our real selves – not just some created version of us. Sadly, I do not know many women from my country who could easily answer the question “Who are you?” or “What do you want to do with your life?” Because most women think they were born only to be mothers, to stay in the kitchen, to do as they are told. Well, it’s my life and I am going to live it for myself, not to make him or any other man happy.
Young Turkish girls are not allowed to talk to other boys. German boys are especially forbidden.
Once I was in the metro, sitting next to three young Turkish girls giggling while staring at their phones, all wearing the same type of jeans, all with very long, beautiful hair. Then one of them broke the silence and exclaimed: “Ali has a German girlfriend now! Look at how cheap she looks with her short skirt!” I had to smile because her skirt in the picture was not even that short. They saw me smiling. They all looked at me and one of them asked: “ Are you Turkish?!” I nodded. They scanned me from head to toe. It was summer, it was warm and I also had a skirt on – and mine was actually short. One of them said: “Why is your hair so short?!” The other said: “We should not talk to her… Stop.” And she continued in German, I did not understand exactly but it sounded like I was evil and to be avoided.
After some seconds of silence, I told them I liked my hair short. They all looked confused. They said: “But that is not very feminine!” Now I was the one who was confused, because they had a very clear idea about what it should be like to be a woman, yet they all knew they had to hide their femininity as much as possible. They were so curious about my story, how I ended up here in Berlin and “survived”…Maybe they wanted to be like me, to wear whatever they liked, to be whoever they liked, to have the hairstyle they wanted. It is sad because I do not think they are happy. They did not seem to know what they love about life, what they want to do with their lives. But I do not think they want to follow the orders of a man. Who would? I do not think any young girl’s passion in life is to do that. Our passions shape who we are, and nobody would want this in life: to be under the control of another person. We are all individuals and we all need to find our own way in life – that is the only way to be happy.”

I feel like these missing parts of my speech are important because we all have different backgrounds and sometimes it is easier to judge or label people because we do not really know their backgrounds, their stories. But we need to stop and listen, to really hear who they are and what they have been through. I was lucky to have been given the chance to tell my story. Maybe my story is also, in some way, theirs. Hopefully you can find something in it that will move you, encourage you to make a difference in the world.

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All images by Eylül Aslan