So about a week and a half ago I saw that For Women Who Roar (a dope platform you should check out) was accepting submissions to be published in their next print. The prompt was to write a letter to your younger self. I hopped on it, but unfortunately wasn't able to finish my letter in time to submit, because, life. Even so, I'm posting my letter here, because one thing I try to accomplish with this blog is being someone I wish I had around when I was younger. I'm still working through some childhood insecurities, to be quite honest, but this letter really helped me put things into perspective and honestly, is great advice for my present self, too. Thank you to For Women Who Roar for this amazing idea. I encourage you to write a letter to your younger yourself! It's a great exercise in seeing how far you've come and also how you can be kinder to yourself as you continue to grow and evolve. Check out my letter below!
Dear chubby Black girl with braces, splotchy skin, eczema patches, low self esteem and probably undiagnosed social anxiety,
You are beautiful and you matter. You live in a world that hasn’t quite learned to celebrate your wild, glorious crown of hair and sun kissed peanut butter skin. You go to school every day and see people praised for their beauty that look nothing like you. I know it’s hard, but one day you’ll travel to The Mecca where you’ll discover the most diverse black beauties from all around the world. One day you’ll feel at home in your body and understand why you always felt like an outsider. Even so, I want you to know that your value is not determined by your looks.
All those wild ideas you come up with when you daydream are what make you special. All that time spent being on the “outside” will help you understand people and how the world works better, and trust me, it will help keep you sane. I want to warn you that you’re going to experience seasons of doubt, insecurity and shame. I wish I could say you could skip them, but they’re only going to make you stronger. You’re going to spend a good chunk of time trying to fit into a box that just wasn’t made for you. Don’t be afraid to break out. You’re happiness is rooted in being 100 percent yourself, and girl, you are so dope! Stop worrying about the people who left or the people who don’t see you. As soon as you start operating in your full authenticity, your people will come, and they’re so amazing! Let the people who don’t want to stay, go. There’s so much better waiting for you as soon as you’re ready to receive it.
I know you grew up on Disney fairytales and you’re waiting for your Prince Charming to come rescue you, but those fantasies are exactly that: fantasies. You’re going to learn that love is a lot messier than anticipated and it’s not all you need to have a successful relationship. You’re incessant desire to be seen, loved and appreciated, while valid, is going to get you into situations with people who don’t deserve to share space with you. You are worthy. You are powerful beyond measure. You are a boss ass bitch and a lot of these boys who pass themselves off as men don’t value who you are, usually because they don’t even value themselves. Like I said before, walk away. You deserve someone who communicates openly and honestly, because they want to deepen the relationship as much as you do. If you have to pull teeth just to sit down and have a conversation, girl, run the other way.
But also, romantic relationships are not the end all be all of life. Yes, the fairytales made you warm and fuzzy inside, and you just want to have that feeling in real life, but there’s so much more in life to enjoy! Platonic love is just as beautiful and I encourage you to put the same effort you put into romance into your friendships. Strive to be open and honest with your friends and communicate your needs often. Support each other and lift each other up. There’s enough love in your heart to grow your extended family with sisters and brothers for a lifetime, so when you find those connections hold onto them. There’s so many weirdos out there just like you who will laugh until dawn at stupid jokes and nourish your creative soul, just as you’ll nourish theirs.
Oh, and remember that box I brought up earlier? Break down the damn walls! I can’t say that enough. People will try and tell you, you need to be one thing or the other, but you are all the things! Anything you see in your mind, you can do, so don’t let other people’s opinions or your own fear stop you. Sometimes things will feel really hard because no one in your inner circle has done them before. It’s scary to step out on faith and venture into new territory, but take the leap! God wouldn’t give you all those dreams if you couldn’t achieve them, so have faith, trust, and fly. All those stories and songs you wrote as a child weren’t just for fun. They’re an integral part of who you are. Somewhere down the line you adopted the idea that your stories didn’t matter, and you had to conform to be a “real adult.” Lies! Tell your stories and live your truth.
One last thing. That thing you’re most ashamed and embarrassed of…that’s where your super power lies. Use it. Carve your own path. Trust your instincts, and most importantly, trust God. I love you, you beautiful, milk chocolate, creative, shy, imaginative little visionary. Never stop writing, never stop laughing, never stop loving and never stop being you, even when it seems like it would be easier to be someone else. It’s not. Trust me.
Future You Who Knows What The F*** She’s Talking About
I'm Lauren, aka Just Du Pree, and I want to thank you for reading. This is a space where I share my very personal journey healing from eczema and topical steroid withdrawal (among other things), life lessons I've learned along the way, and occasionally the thoughts of an awkward Black girl (no Issa Rae). I'm a performer and filmmaker, so if you feel so inclined, pop over here to see what goes on in my mind on the regular. If you like what you see, you can stay up to date with my work here. Much love, friends!