A Letter to My 21-Year-Old Self

Dear 21-Year-Old Self:

I remember you like it was yesterday.  You were fresh out of college and ready to take on the world.  I must say, looking back, you have done a good great job!  I know at times it didn’t seem easy as you were growing into becoming your own, but knowing what I know now, there is so much I wish I could have said to you.  Before I start, let me just say that I’m still learning and the one thing I know for sure is that I’ve only reached the tip of the iceberg in what I have uncovered about life.  I have lots more to learn and will continue to share it along the way.  For now, here goes…


Life

Never live life as if you’re watching it from the sidelines—it will pass you by.  Don’t lose your passion and continue to chase your dreams—they will sustain you in times of uncertainty.  Trust what has helped to get you this far.  Remain vicariously happy and don’t worry about feeling like you must have it all together because you still won’t have life figured out in your thirties.  Yes, it’s possible for you to gain weight so continue to exercise and eat better.  Stop manipulating the texture of your hair–embrace every coily strand of it.  Make sure your graduate degree is worth it because those loans will be with you for a very loooong time.  Continue to feed your desire to see the world and all the beauty that it possess.  You’re a little uncertain right now, but your confidence will grow.  There will be additional moments of uncertainty but never let it rattle your confidence—you. are. smart. So far, you have lived your life like a textbook doing all the right things to become “successful” by your parents’ standards.  Let your hair down and become more of a risk-taker.   The moment you care less about what others think and stop worrying about missteps, the happier you’ll be.  Step out of your comfort zone.  What’s the worse that can happen?  It’s never too late to start over.  Every day you wake up gives you an opportunity to create a better you.  The more you practice being patient, uncomfortable and alone, the happier you will feel.  Stop thinking too much, the answers will come when you least expect it.  Your instinct will improve with age so never forget to trust your gut.  Surround yourself with people who enable you to laugh more; your demeanor will always be serious, but sometimes laughter will be the best way for you to get through.  Make peace with your past and when you feel lost, return to your center–meditate and pray.  Life is a beautiful challenge.

Family/Friends

Cherish your family, especially your parents—one day, you will look up and realize they are aging.  Remember that the aren’t going to be around forever.  You’ll start to sound more and more like your mother as you get older.  Don’t let it scare you because you will also have a greater appreciation for her wisdom.  At some point, you’ll stop saying that you do things to make your parents happy and will start to say you do it to make yourself happy.  It will be difficult at times for your parents and siblings to not view you as the baby–be patient with them and accept that in their hearts, you will always be the baby.  Never stop telling your loved ones that you love them.  Sometimes the lines between networking and creating genuine friendships become blurred.  As you grow and change you may lose a few friends—don’t be confused or disappointed. You will eventually learn that there’s a big difference between friends and people you merely know.   Don’t pay attention to the friends who mock you for not liking hard liquor, they will soon appreciate that your palate was built for wine.  It’s okay to not care about what everyone thinks of you—accept that you won’t be liked by everyone, but will be very loved by some.  Your family will always be your friends and some of your friends will feel like family.

Love

I don’t have this love and marriage thing all figured out yet, but what I’ve learned thus far is: love is durable but trust is fragile.  Learn to trust others and live your life in a manner that others are always willing to trust you.  Most importantly, always love and trust yourself, especially when facing adversity—you will only attract the love you think you deserve.  Don’t expect to be married by 30–you simply aren’t ready.  Use these years to experience all that life has to offer and don’t hesitate in kissing a few frogs.  I know you wish you dated more and spent less of your years with the same guy, but I’m here to tell you there’s not much to look forward to dating in your thirties.  Bu at the very least, you’ll have a few more stories to laugh about.  When you meet “the one” your relationship will feel easy and almost effortless—relationship drama is for the birds.  Your heart is more resilient than you think, don’t be so afraid to give it to someone who seems willing to appreciate and respect it.  Don’t worry, he will love what you think are flaws in yourself.  When it happens—and it will happen—try to ignore the voices around you that ask you how you’re going to balance a successful legal career and a marriage. It will simply scare you into feeling like you have to choose.  Love is not what’s complicated, people are.

 

What advice do you have for your 21-year-old self?

 

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9 Reasons I Hate My Natural Hair

Okay the headline is misleading–I don’t hate my natural hair, I just hate the assumptions that come with it.  Yes, I have natural hair and I love it!  I returned to being natural 8 years ago (with a brief stint in between).  What does it mean to have natural hair?  It seems to mean something different when you speak to various black women.  As for me, natural hair means that my hair is not chemically treated–meaning I don’t have a relaxer/perm.  The texture of my hair is the one that I was born with.  My hair may be natural, but please don’t take that as a reason to assume other things about my personality.  Here are 9 things I hate that people assume that I do or don’t do because I have natural tresses:

9 Crazy Assumptions of Naturals

1.  I don’t eat processed foods: I try to be a healthy eater, but I don’t read the labels before I stuff something into my mouth.  Therefore, don’t assume that because my hair is natural then everything that goes into my mouth is also all-natural.

 

2.  I don’t burn incense: When I’m walking  down the street in New York I’m often approached by street merchants trying to sell me incense.  Now, that’s pretty commonplace in NY.  But when a merchant gets on the metro in Washington, DC and targets me for a sale, I can’t but help to think it’s because I’m the only one in the train car rockin’ a natural.

3. I’m not a revolutionist/militant: Afros have made a comeback since the ’70s when they were sported by many men and women including Angela Davis and members of the Black Panther Party.  Like many afro-wearing people of the 70’s, my afro doesn’t mean I’m a revolutionist fighting for a cause.  I will stand up for a cause but being militant has nothing to do with the width of one’s hair.

4. I don’t judge women who worship getting their hair permed: The creamy crack epidemic is real.  To my chemically-treated hair sistas, I ain’t mad atcha.  Do whatever makes you happy.

5. Yes, I wear deodorant and it’s not Tom’s: They say that natural deodorant is good for you and safer than the others.  But in this case, I sacrifice safety for not being funky.  Sorry Tom’s and other natural deodorants, but you just don’t keep me fresh and clean.

6. I don’t make all my own hair products: My hair may smell like berries, but that doesn’t mean I picked it from a tree.  In addition to making my own products, I am also a product junkie.  My bathroom cupboards are filled with them.

7. I don’t always recycle: Yes I admit it.  My carbon footprint is pretty big.  Despite having these natural tresses, I will still throw plastic and paper into the regular garbage can.  I’m not proud–I’m going to start to do better.

8. I’m not ashamed to rock a weave: Protective styles are a naturalista’s best friend.  In the winter, my hair can’t retain enough moisture and in the summer, it looks like a frizz ball.  But for the fact that I’d probably want to take it out within a day, I would not be afraid to rock a weave to give my hair a break from time to time–the weave would have to be natural of course.

9. I don’t spend my time watching Youtube how-to hair videos: I wish I was more creative and could do more with my natural hair but I’m not, so I don’t bother watching Youtube.

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