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a letter to my teenage self.

                                                                                                              image credit - george ekwensi

                                                                                                              image credit - george ekwensi

breathe. yes, breathe. you spend so much time not breathing. you spend so much time suffocating yourself.  you spend so much time pulling yourself apart. i need you to just breathe and to just be. 

those two things are so hard for you. i know. but it will get better. you will reach an age where breathing becomes the only thing you know how to do. you will learn to be. but not soon. first come the fears. you have many. but you're good at hiding it. you fear who you truly are so you will sit on yourself for some time. a long time. but college will come and you will let her free - well sorta kinda. but then again, is anyone really free? 

you will go through many phases. wearing bows in your hair and chains on your pants because avril lavigne and red hot chili peppers are life. to oversized sweat pants and hoodies because you watched too much america's best dance crew and wanted the dancer look. to your i must wear ankh everything to prove I'm down with the movement look. you will do it all. never comfortable in yourself and always searching here and there for a better self. you will find self-love you will lose self-love, rinse and repeat. 

everyone will tell you that you've changed since high school. to everyone this change seemed so sudden, but you know its not. they were never really paying attention. you started to question everything a while ago but like always, you kept it in. you will struggle with this. this need to stay safe. being safe will be all you know. being safe for your friends. being safe for your family. never considering yourself. you will be safe for sometime but then you will hit 19 and you will start finding other words to define yourself with. womanist will be the most important and safe will find another home. 

lord, you will be problematic as hell. but you will learn and you will grow. 

hold on to that 99 cent composition book. the one you named 'the best of bilphena' and filled with poems and short stories. that book will make you a self-published author at 22. people will resonate with the words you birthed and cradled. it will take you some time to see how worthy you are of this praise but you will get there. 

you will come face to face with depression and anxiety. you won't call them by name for sometime. they will tell you lies about yourself and you will believe it. and you will find that darkness is all you want some days. you will learn that this is okay too and the same patience you extend to others you must also extend to yourself. 

you will spend so much time fighting. you will learn that being a black woman means fighting all the damn time. you will tire yourself from giving so much and will find your mother's ways in you. but you will eventually learn that fighting is not the only way to show strength. 

speaking of your mother, you will learn to see her as a whole person and not just your mother. you will learn about her trauma and you will see how you've inherited some of it. but trauma isn't all you inherited. you will learn that your mother is fierce in her ways and you will embrace this in yourself.  you will write an entire book about this. about breaking the cycle of women carrying trauma in their bones because they have been told that this is their duty. 

you will master the art of saying so much but really not saying anything at all. this is your defense. transparency and vulnerability will not be your friend for some time. for a very long time. but you will eventually find love. love that will be vulnerable, love that will be transparent. love that is freeing. and you will learn how to breathe through this love. but you will lose this love and will have to teach yourself vulnerability and transparency again. but you will be okay. and your heart, so strong, will take many hits but it will carry you through. trust it and trust yourself. 

i know it's hard to believe where you are now, but you will find your fire. oh and you will burn and you will be a force to deal with. you will be bold. you will exist and be so loud about your existence. some will love how you exist, others won't. but you will not bend because you will finally be okay with all of you. and you will present all of you in everything you do. 

trust your journey. let life do life but assist it on your behalf. you are becoming and you are breathing. you are here.