In a world filled with angst and anger and insecurity it is ok to be confused, I am so often confused. Do not let the bad moments and the bad people consume you. I have often thought about the things I wish someone had said to me, the words to soothe me on the days when I have felt like less, so I am writing this to you and to every young woman walking on the eggshells of life.
Do not worry about others’ friendship so much, people will be who they will be and sometimes that will hurt, be more concerned about who you are. Be a good friend, a deliberate friend, be careful with how you love those close to you. That won’t always be easy, but the important things never are. Often you will hurt people and often it is because you were careless with them, you were not deliberate. Be deliberate.
Know when to walk away, know when to run and never look back. Sometimes you will love parasites, sometimes your best friend will sleep with the love of your life and act like it’s a Wednesday, do not place too much importance on that. You will meet and keep the people you are supposed to. It’s ok.
On these niggas
Do not let bad love make you cruel. I wish I could protect you from the heartbreak of loving someone and it doesn’t work out, I wish I could remove the men who will make an altar at your feet only to desecrate your temple but I can’t. What I can tell you is you will need to fight, to get on with the everyday things, to love again, to love yourself again. Do not let the process change you so much that you cannot be good and open to the next person. Realise that bad love feels personal but it is not about you, it is about someone fighting the brokenness in themselves in your arena. Forgive them, but not enough to go back. Please, do not go back.
You will never feel like you are where you are supposed to be in your life. Your career will move slower than you had planned, you will be more broke than you thought and it will seem as though everyone else is so much closer to their dreams. It is at that very moment that you must slow down, stop. Take stock of your own journey, of the little wins, of how hard you have fought to be just where you are. That, right there, is success too. I believe that winners win, and mama didn’t raise any losers, so relax (but not too much).
Bear with them, even when you think they are being too hard or too soft or too anything. Family is the one thing that is constant. Mama has always said to me “you are not in exile, if you need to breathe come home.” When things get to be too much and you feel as though you are losing yourself in the noise, go home. Do not be too proud to pick up the phone, or your bags, and simply go home.
On being black
Embrace it, even the hurtful things. Embrace your black spaces, celebrate your culture and your skin and your nappy hair – not just because it’s trendy but because it is who you are and it is beautiful. Learn that being told you are “well spoken” is racist and that as awful as it is, you really will have to work twice as hard. What I have learned the hard way is that success and happiness do not worry about the cards that are stacked against us as a people, but on the daily toil of simply getting ahead and then giving every black person you trust a seat at the table. Don’t let the race debate distract you so you spend your life explaining who you are, use that time to win.
On being a feminist
Be a feminist, please. Don’t fall into the trap of “I wouldn’t really call myself a feminist because feminists are X”. By virtue of being a woman, a black woman, believing in yourself as whole and important and worthy is the only thing that will help you in this world. But be careful about your feminism. Make sure it takes into consideration your culture and religion and anything else that is important to you. Real feminism is about the choice to build the life you want. If that life is as a stay at home mom, or as a woman who “sleeps around” then that is amazing, as long as the choice is wholly yours. Do not let anyone, even me, decide the kind of woman you should be. But watch other women, your friends, your mom, your loud aunts, watch and learn. Rinse and repeat.
On being a good person
Be accountable to yourself. Always have the hard conversations about who you are and why you are. Call yourself out daily. Being an honest, kind, present person is so important and so difficult. Whilst you are doing all this, find time to be kind to yourself, to forgive yourself, to celebrate yourself.
Lastly, I love you. You are my sister, and I am here. On the day I’m not and the walls are closing in, understand that every black woman is trying to build a world for you where we are all your sisters, lean into that. There is life there, there is hope.
Love and light, sis.