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 your 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. ❤