As a shy, quirky, little girl from West Philly, I learned so much about the world, by simply watching the world around me. I have a keen ability to sense a person’s character the moment I meet them (and I’m never wrong), I can feel when I’m in danger even when the environment or person doesn’t look dangerous (this was very helpful the day two men tried to abduct me from Hamilton Middle School), I know that hurt people hurt, I can pick a lock with a credit card (came in handy when the hubster and I got locked out of our home years ago), I learned the meanings of true love and self-love, I learned what independence looks like, and I learned that sometimes the loudest and strongest acting people are oftentimes the weakest and most broken of the bunch. I learned all of that and more from the life lessons I was taught, not directly, but through sitting back, being quiet, listening, and observing people.
With all I learned and understood, there were some lessons I still had to learn – about myself! There were qualities about myself that I struggled to accept, and this is where most of the lessons took place; this is where my trouble happened. The trouble came mostly while I was trying to figure out where I belonged and who I was. The growing pains were really tough and the lessons were hard and at times, shameful. I know growing pains are inevitable, at every phase of life actually. There’s no outrunning them. However, if I could have appeared as my 43-year-old self in a dream to my 9-year-old self, I would have told that fiery, smart, gracious little diva these 3 things to help her get through those growing pains and avoid so much of that trouble:
#1 Stop dimming your light for people who say you shine too bright
See that fierce little face of yours. That is you! That is God-given!
Don’t deny your passion for life, your curiosity about the world, and your talents because you don’t want people to think you are “too much.”
The people telling you to hush, be quiet, sit down, and telling you “You ain’t smart or cute,” are struggling to find their light, and because they haven’t tapped into their confidence, they will attempt to smother yours.
Stay unbothered. Stay fierce. Be yourself. Your authenticity, your light… They are your greatest assets. You’ll see.
#2 Being Quirky is Cool
Stop pretending. You don’t have to make up stories about kissing boys. It’s okay that you are not into designer labels or the latest fashion. It’s okay to want to stay in the house and color, listen to Motown sounds or country music, read the encyclopedia, or play with your just-as-quirky and weird-like-you friend, Keya.
Being cool is overrated and really, what does it mean?
Cool is being yourself and standing out. Being like everyone else isn’t what makes you great. Being authentic makes you extraordinary.
Stay extraordinary. Keep reading those encyclopedias as they are delivered, because get what…
One day, you’re going to have beautiful children, who will both be information junkies, too, and those fun, and seemingly useless facts are going to come in handy when you mind battle them one day.
#3 You May Be Poor, But You’re One of the Richest People In The World
You’ll get to high school and then college, and in both places, you will question your worth because you don’t have the clothes, the car, the financially comfortable lifestyle, and material things.
Here’s what you need to understand…
Money and stuff are not synonymous with happiness. Everyone you meet is going through something, coming out of something, or on their way into a life struggle. Poor, rich, and everything in between… we are all doing our best at this life thing. Life is full of ups and downs, and it’s how you’re built on the inside that determines the quality and fullness of your life experience. Believe it or not, some of the best times you’ll have with your future husband will be when you two have no money – while you’re building your life together.
So don’t worry, beautiful girl. Don’t lose yourself in shame and don’t let your “lack mentality” get you into trouble.
You have innate qualities, talents, and the fortified favor of God. And all of that… well, it can’t be bought, leased, or borrowed. And no one can take it away from you. So you’re good. Trust me.
My dear, you are priceless. You’ll see it, feel it, and live it. Until then, be grateful for who you are and for the extraordinary life being mapped out for you.
Yeah, that’s what I would have told my 9-year-old self to protect her from some of the trouble, tears, and struggles she eventually experienced.
When I look back though, I needed those struggles. They were part of the journey. No journey is without pain, sorrow, and struggle. Through it all, I evolved and grew into the woman I am today.
That little feisty soul grew into a big feisty soul. Yes, still quirky and introverted, shining brightly on purpose, and even on my worst days, living life like it’s a gift – because it is.