A letter to my 23-year-old self
The year is 2013 and you are starving for everything. Success. Connection. Authenticity. Love. A sense of belonging. A tribe you trust and treasure. Yes, right now you are starving for everything, and no matter how much you grab at the shelves, it feels like the cupboards are never stocked enough.
There is something about being 23 years old that makes your eyes bigger than your stomach.
You want all of the things, but there are only specific morsels and people and experiences that you can digest with ease. Your spirit will reject everything you crave that was never meant for you.
You are floating among three points of a triangle. One point is you shedding your old self, crawling out of a tunnel with walls built from tragedy and roads paved from despair. The second point is you finding yourself, learning what it means to stand tall in the rich soil of being a black woman.The last point is you holding steadfastly to the things you believe to be true, so steadfastly that sometimes you stunt your evolution.
You don’t yet know how resilient your heart is because you never give her a chance to bounce back. Instead you continue battle testing her, crushing her underneath the weight of unrequited love that breeds bloody slashes. It will take some years and some broken glass to master how to protect your most vital organ.
I can only write this letter to you now, four years later, as I bear witness to the way other women your age both break and blossom. When I see them, I see you, and I remember all of the tightropes you crossed and tug of wars you fought to get here. I remember all of the things you believed about yourself that no longer hold water. I remember your relaxed hair and your defiance about having children and all of your convictions that now feel like lost islands. When I see them, I decide that there are five beautiful and tangled lifetimes that occur between ages 23 and 27.
I write this now to honor your becoming and unfolding. Stay the course and discover the beauty in each of your cracks. That is the only way you will arrive here, four years later, dancing beneath moonlight and carrying your whole heart.