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EASY MAGAZINE: Shaniqua has the write ideas


EASY MAGAZINE: Shaniqua has the write ideas

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Who would have thought a simple plan of sharing bits and pieces of life experiences and general ideas on Facebook and Instagram three years ago would turn into a book? 

Well, pinch Shaniqua Howell because the author cannot believe it.

Shaniqua never had this path in mind. After all, she was never into writing at school although she loved reading and would read anything and everything she got her hands on. She loved English literature and language but not mathematics and did the other things that teenaged girls do. She never did a course in journalism or anything related either.

Shaniqua told EASY magazine that she was the “it” girl at school, the cool one who was popular, but little did her friends know she wore a mask that covered her fears and also the scars of rejection and low self-esteem buried deep in her psyche.

Today, she has “exposed” herself, and her soul has become a window through which she allows others to peer in with the hope that she can help. Her book, Diary Of A Girl, a hashtag she used at the end of each post, is about her life.

Now with 3 500 followers on Instagram from across the globe, she’s onto her second book – what she calls fiction and non-fiction – and she hopes to have it published before the end of the year.

As she chatted easily with EASY on a warm morning, she began to think of the impact her ministry could have on others. She didn’t see herself and her books as helping to shape younger minds because for her it was a catharsis, necessary almost, helping her to heal the wounds of self-harming and sexuality. She also shared that she wished she had “held onto her virginity longer” instead of losing it at 19.

“I took about three months to write the book but before that in 2013 I decided to post and have my social media ministry because that way it was easy for me to reach people all over the world instead of being able to impact people locally. In order for other people to see our testimonies we have to expose ourselves. We all have a chapter in or lives that we don’t want anybody to know about but if sometimes we just expose ourselves, we’ll be able to help somebody else heal. 

“That’s what it was basically for me. I shared my thoughts, and people responded by messages or inboxed me on Facebook and said ‘this piece helped me today’ or ‘this piece helped me yesterday’ and then they wanted to talk. That’s what I wanted, to help people.

The writing of the first book came one day after an emotional talk with a friend.

“I had just gotten off the phone with a friend after another heartbreak and I said I was tired of this and I just wanted to write. I just decided I wanted to share more of myself, about singleness especially, and saying to wait on God and stop giving yourself away freely. That was my main focus in terms of singleness,” Shaniqua said.

After telling her story, she said she was “afraid of what people would say” but God told her she “had been there and done that” and she had no reason to feel weak or afraid and she should not worry about what other people would say.

“Right now I don’t feel anyway when someone reads my book and says, ‘Wait, that’s what she did”. It has now made me stronger. 

In Diary Of A Girl, the author speaks about her self-harming (cutting) episodes which took place between 16 and 17 years old. She recalled it occurred in Canada where she lived with her dad, whom she hardly knew. She said feelings of rejection enveloped her as she had left everything familiar to her in Barbados and moved there.

“I felt alone . .  . .Rejection was still playing on my mind and I just started to do it. There was low and no self-esteem and self-worth . . . . I didn’t know who I was and I was trying to figure it out. My grandmother raised me from three months old and I felt my parents rejected me because they lived in the same island but they didn’t raise me.

“There was a process throughout life when I was rejected by other people. Another thing is me being in church and fornicating and not only fornicating but having somebody who was already in a relationship,” she added.

Her teen years, she said, were filled with anger, bitterness from being rejected and she hid it well.

In 2009, when she became a Christian, she took off the mask and faced her fears.

“I had started going to church at Payne’s Bay Pentecostal after I had just broken up with a boyfriend and I was just going to church because a friend invited me. After a while I felt convicted and I felt it was time for me to accept Christ.”

For Shaniqua, writing is the easiest part of the process and with two other female authors, Paula Richards and Maria Carter assisting and guiding her, she was able to get Diary Of A Girl published.

Now she is on to The Waiting Room.

“We live in a fast-paced world. We lack patience, I do for sure, and God is dealing with me and that. We want everything fast. It is about waiting for whatever it is He has for you . . . . I’ve found that for people to really grasp and understand we sometimes need a story where people can help relate to what I’m trying to say.

“The story is basically about a girl who is about to get married and God told her don’t, to wait on Him. It was a process of her not wanting to wait and her struggles. In the end she found out why God wanted her to wait,” Shaniqua disclosed.

Apart from writing her name on history’s page and in the annals of Barbados, Shaniqua hosts free seminars, and preaches and ministers when called on to do so. 

“I am a very simple person. I like to hang out with my friends . . . . My ministry focuses on women finding their purpose and walking in purity . . . . I want to encourage and help people . . .”.

With Barbados’ celebrating 50 years of Independence, the young author hopes to go into full-time ministry and to be a role model.

“I hope people can look up to me. When I speak to young people I want them to know who they are because a lot of them don’t know and are guided by who the world says they are. I would be guiding them to who they are and to have a sense of self-worth and identity and not be insecure but to walk in purity and abstinence.

“I want them to hold on to the morals and values that our grandparents and parents instilled in us,” she said, smiling. (GBM)