Dear Tasha, age 17:
You were so beautiful.
You just didn’t know it.
You had spent your entire life believing the lies you had been fed since early childhood. When family and friends made fun of your skin color, your nose, your introvertedness, your sensitivity, your forehead, your butt, your socioeconomic status, you existed as if only their words mattered. You never looked hard into the mirror you tried to avoid, seeing how amazingly special you really were.
You were a fighter and very few people knew how hard you really had to fight.
You were so naturally gifted and talented and you only knew how to pretend like you were not. You never considered yourself a snob but people thought you were so you tried hard to be everyone’s friend. Your talents were rough around the edges yet God given but you spent all of your time comparing yourself to people who would never accept you anyway. You turned your light off and learned to ride the back row…
You had a heart of gold. You gave because you could even you didn’t have it yourself. You embraced the world even when it kicked and punched you. You just wanted to be loved. Oh, how you wanted to be loved. You wanted to be the girl that a boy bragged about having on his arm. When you had it, you didn’t believe it was true. When you lost it, you convinced yourself that it was because you were “less than” and you weren’t popular enough or didn’t have long enough hair or pretty enough skin or couldn’t go out because your parents weren’t about that life. You cried in private for days, weeks, months and still had to deal with real life; the stuff your peers weren’t going through, the stuff you didn’t understand.
Sometimes I feel like you’re fighting me, like you want this space but, Love, I want you to know that you gave me a foundation that I no longer despise, am no longer ashamed of and no longer regret. You pushed me to find my way.
I found it.
When I look in the mirror, I see grown woman beauty. I see my mother, my grandmothers, my aunts. I see the gentleness beyond the pain it took to get here. I see the beauty in these dark eyes and dark skin. I absolutely LOVE being a woman with curves. I thrive on being creative in my own way and not feeling the need to compete or explain. I love the part of me that is satisfied with curling up in the bed with a book instead of needing to be seen. And as far as the back line goes, can you believe God gave me a life assignment that puts me in the front EVERY DAY (Confession: I do still sit on the back row at church but I’m working on it)? People still see me as a snob…until they meet me. I don’t try to prove who I am. I just do it. I want to be accessible to people. I want to be real with people. The part of you in me that still exists is the part of being of service to people. At 41, I’ve finally figured out how to not let take advantage of me because of this. Because you stayed in church, even when you didn’t “get it,” I “have it” and it changes my life daily. I speak up for me. I speak up for you.
I speak up to you.
That cocoon, Love? You needed be in there. I’m sorry it was dark. I’m sorry it was lonely. I’m sorry for all of tears, the rejection, the days you thought the world would be better off without you.
You were wrong.
I’m flying. I have my wings. I cannot go back. This is where we part ways. I love you and I thank you for your lessons but your job is done. I’ve got it from here.
Sincerely and with love,
Tasha, age 41