How Zakiyrah Ficklin Helps Young Women Become the Best Version Of Themselves
By Stephanie Powell
When was the last time you gasped after a friend mentioned to you that her father was not a major part of her life?
It’s ok if you can’t remember. I can’t either. Most people can’t. As blunt as it sounds, these days, with so many daughters growing up without fathers, it’s hardly ever surprising to hear about one more addition to the bunch.
Still, growing up without a father figure can have a major effect on a girl, so much so that Zakiyrah Fickin decided to create a nonprofit organization for young women without father figures in their lives.
Her non-profit, H.E.R. reminds women that they can still be beautiful, confident and successful regardless of the relationship they didn’t have with their father.
But on top of that, Zakiyrah also helps women find their purpose in life. In her latest book, Her 20 SomeTHINGS, she offers women a roadmap to navigating early adulthood.
She took some time to speak with us about the way she discovered her purpose, the dark times she went through to become the woman she is today and the realizations she had that helped her let go of her past.
Your nonprofit organization “H.E.R” is doing amazing things. At what point in your life did you discover your passion for serving others?
I’ll kind of base this question off of my nonprofit. I’ve always been a giver at heart, ever since I was a child. My nonprofit is based in work & development of young women who have absent fathers.
I know what it feels like to grow up without a father and I also know what it feels like to have a father. I know what that void feels like, and I wanted to be able to reach other young women who didn’t necessarily have a father or a father figure in their lives. I wanted to let them know that you can still win and you can still be beautiful. We offer experiences and tangible things. For instance, we go to a lot of group homes, we do makeovers, and, we give clothes.
What was your journey like up until this point, and how did you discover what your purpose was?
Before I knew what my purpose was, I was very upset, very uncomfortable, and very saddened that I didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing. You know how you have friends who are talented in all areas - they can do hair, nails, sing, and dance?
I didn’t really have those talents. My talents weren’t really in the physical form, they were more so characteristics. I love helping people. At the point in my life when I was going through depression, I would still do everything. I was working three jobs in college, and I would go to work, and be excited and happy at school, and then I’d get home and I would be a total wreck.
The turning point for me was that I really had to sit and listen to God. There was a moment when I was sitting in my closet and I was literally crying for hours, and I started praying and I instantly heard God say “surrender.”
So, I had to surrender all the baggage, all the pain, all the negative thoughts, and all the doubt. I had to surrender everything to God, and as I did that and started developing my relationship with Him, He started to pour my purpose into my lap.
I knew for sure that my purpose was in helping other women succeed and helping other young women get over the things they’ve been through in life, so they can walk in who God called them to be.
Who are the people in your life that help you to push forward?
My “whys” are both of my parents. My father is actually a motivational speaker, author, and he’s one of my best friends. He’s my accountability partner, and he’s always there’s to keep pushing me and cheering me on.
Then, my mom is the ultimate definition of unconditional love. She’s always been there, and is very supportive of everything that I do. I also have different mentors for different points and seasons in my life, and there are other motivational speakers who mentor me.
Earlier you mentioned that you know what it's feels like to grow up without a father and that you also know what it feels like to have a father. Could you touch on that a little bit more? How did your father become your best friend?
During my childhood, my father was physically present but he did not have a real presence. In my eyes, that was just as good as not being there, physically.
I feel like being physically absent and emotionally absent can be equivalent. So, when I was growing through my go-through, he wasn't there. For a while, I had this void of love that I couldn't get rid of.
During my healing process, I had to realize that my father was being the best father that he knew how to be. There's no handbook that comes with parenting. So, as I began to accept who he was and as he started changing and becoming the person God called him to be, it allowed us to move forward and build a bond that's so unbreakable now.
That is so empowering. So, your book teaches young women how to navigate through their prime. What inspired you to write Her 20 SomeTHINGS?
I wanted to create a guide for young women, to help them transition from pain to purpose.
When I was growing up, I was the child who didn’t really like talking about things. I was very quiet and private. I would let everything bottle up on the inside, and I wouldn’t talk about anything, so I ended up going through a depression period from not speaking about things and just dealing with things on my own, and not letting other people in to help deal with it.
So, I wrote the book, and as I was writing it, it was somewhat like therapy for me. I wanted to help other women do the same thing. I’ve struggled with what my purpose was and setting goals and sticking to them, and I struggled with letting go of a lot of things that I dealt with in my past, so I wanted to create a guide that would help other women just like me.
There are so many gems to take away from your book, but if you could only pick one thing, what would want your readers to walk away with?
There’s beauty in pain, and you have to learn to fall in love with your process. A lot of times we get upset and we want to give up during that process before we get to who we’re supposed to be, because we can’t handle it. But during the process is where we learn the most valuable things.
Trust that your outcome is going to be great, but know that the journey is so much greater than the outcome. “There’s an expiration date on blaming the past,” that’s one of my favorite points from the book.
When we stay stuck in what happens, it’s very hard for us to move into who we’re supposed to become, because we’re holding onto so much baggage. You must let go of something to get a hold of something. That’s a great lesson too.
What advice would you give other women, who are trying to chase their dreams and goals but feel stuck?
I would say just start. A lot of times we’re waiting for perfect timing and there’s no such thing as perfect timing. We don’t know how much time we have. When you know God has called you to do something, just start and start small.
For me, when I started, through the whole writing process, I did a little each day. I never envisioned myself writing a book, it was so surreal to me and I had to start small. You’re going to mess up, you may fail…as a matter of fact you’re going to fail, but get back up. So, my advice to someone is just start, because if you stay stuck, nothing will ever happen.