At eighteen years old, I felt well-prepared for the life I thought awaited me. I loved high school and excelled at it. High school presented a platform to emerge from the insecurities conjured up by elementary school “friends,” in a fully bloomed flower. I then arrived at the university in a state where I knew no one, and after a series of revelations, I feel as if I no longer knew myself anymore either.
I suddenly did not have access to my childhood hair stylist and had to do my own hair. My friendly salutations that were once returned with a warm responses were now ignored or issued a look of disgust or confusion. My liking for high heels and shirt skirts were now a means of isolation and ridicule by those who deemed my fashion choices pretentious. My intellectual ability, once celebrated was now relentlessly critiqued. The world as I knew it had changed in a way I had not anticipated.
I’d spend a good portion of the next few years doing what seemed like tripping, but in actuality was me stepping into my destiny. Eleven years later, I only wish I knew then what I know now.
Here are a few things I’d tell my 18-year-old self.
- Don’t worry about being liked: You can’t expect those who don’t like themselves to like you.
- Don’t shrink to fit through any doorway
- Don’t flat iron your hair every day! In an age where folk are buying what you have naturally, appreciate what you have.
- Spend wisely but save wiser: Looking nice is good, but having something to show for your hard work is way nicer.
- Don’t chase boys let them chase you: You are the prize!
- Don’t do business with those you feel disrespect you. If it feels disrespectful, it is.
- Braid your hair every summer.
- Get lost in your work.
- Speak up!
- It’s not mean to be real, its cruel to be fake.
- There isn’t anything wrong with you because you are not interested in alcohol.
- The coursework is supposed be challenging, embrace it, and don’t be discouraged. May the challenges ignite a fire in your bones.
- Cool out on the cupcakes, and eat more fruit
- Stop wasting your money eating out all the time. Call your grandma for recipes and cook!!!
- It’s not conceited to alienate friends or potential who points out our flaws but will never comment on how amazing you are. Find those who see the best in you, even when you can’t.
- Write.Write. Write. Whether things are going well or not, write to transcend earthly limitations.
- Be kind to those you knew in high school, but expect them to change– you will as well. Change is good!
- Be kind to you parents when you discover they’re real, flawed people.
- Coloring your hair is not cool or fashionable, its detrimental to your hair health and esteem as a young black woman.
- Those who “show off” are often the most insecure. Be patient.
- It’s often the ones closest to you, that are bringing you down. It’s not cold to distance yourself from toxic people–it’s survival.
- Still speak to people even if they look at you like you’re crazy.
- Never feel guilty for standing up for yourself.
- Just because someone likes you does not mean they do not envy you.
- Don’t succumb to the vanity others hold you to. Your beauty is just that, yours.
- Be careful who you go to for advice.
- Knowing your worth means not letting anyone tell you what you can or cannot do.
- Get your eyes checked.
- Have the courage to be your most authentic self.
- Realize that folks will talk regardless.
- To know your history is to know yourself. Make the most of being at a black school and discover your culture.
- Follow your gut and don’t second guess yourself.
- Quit your job and focus on school. Money comes when you do what you love.
- Things rarely turn out how you envision them, but with hard work it can be better than you ever imagined.
- Never stop dreaming. One day, you’ll wake up and be that person you dreamed about becoming.
What would you tell your eighteen-year-old self?
Black Power. ❤
10 Comments Add yours
That’s a good list CC. Some very good advice. I was pretty ignorant at 18.lol I didn’t have the knowledge or wisdom I have now.
1. Believe in yourself even when others doubt you.
2. The history books in school are full of lies.
3. No ones history starts as a slave.
4. There is no individual power..only group power.
5. Read books by Amos Wilson.
6. Read books by John Henrik Clarke.
7. Read Books by Bobby Wright
8. Read books by Queen Afua
9. Read about men like Thomas Sankara,Marcus Garvey and Patrice Lumumba
10. Read books by Marimba Ani
11. Television is mind control. The images of black people are distorted.
12. Your natural mate is the black woman. Ignore your friends who worship non-black women.
13. Natural hair and African features are the standard of beauty.
14. Black civilizations were established long before European cultures.
15. Do not worship white gods.
16. There is more to life than sex,sports and money.
17. Always stand up for yourself even if it makes others uncomfortable.
18. Stop eating fast food. It’s all garbage! And not REAL food.
19. That ganster rap music is mental poison. Yes the beats are nice but it’s degrading your women and promotes death and self hatred.
20. Study psychological warfare and know the tactics of your enemy. Study how to defeat your enemy and liberate your people. That is the true sign of intelligence. If you are not free then everything else is irrelevant.
This deserves to be a post, KP!
Thanks a lot. Once I started I couldn’t stop.lol It just kept flowing. There’s so much I’ve learned over the last fifteen years. My consciousness has grown so much. I’ve read so many books and learned so much from others.
And now you’re spreading that knowledge. Full circle.
This is a great list! I’m currently eighteen and starting my freshman year at college, and I’m finding myself struggling with some of the same issues and learning some of the same lessons. Knowing others went through similar experiences as I am now is very reassuring!
I’m glad! Keep shining beautiful 🙂
This is a great list, C.C!
I would tell my 18 year old self to do what you want regardless of what you’re friends say or do. You’ll waste a lot of time listening to people who laugh at your dreams. And to read more and be careful in what you invest your time, energy and money.
That’s really good advice Kelley. Imagine if we could really go back in time. How much knowledge we could give our younger selves? We would be so further ahead.But still we are shaped by the mistakes we make in life. So it better to know the future? Hmmmmm…..I have to meditate on that for awhile.lol
Right! Sometimes the best lessons are through personal experience- not secondhand or reading someone else’s story.
I love this so much because i can actually relate to from dressing up to get everyone to like you and flat ironing my hair all the time. Since I am becoming 18 soon, this motivated me and it was understandably incredible. This post can be truly inspiring especially to the black community. In this generation especially, you really got to be careful about a lot of things. Not everyone understands their worth and it sad because they would look at one person and believe they aren’t pretty enough or smarter as them.