Dear girls of the world,
I know you feel lost. I know you feel left out. I know you feel that some people benefit from “privilege” while others, like you, don’t. And maybe you’re right. Maybe the social, racial, and economic injustices of this world are completely messed up. Maybe it isn’t fair. Maybe it is a huge hurdle to jump and maybe some people “don’t make it” because of these conditions.
But you know what? It’s more than that. It’s not only the injustices holding you back. It is the mental slavery you are trapped in: the submission to your circumstance. The acceptance of an unfulfilling life. When you allow your circumstance to define you, you create a negative imprint on your future and the possibilities that await you. I share this with you because I too was once a victim.
When I decided to let go and travel the world, it wasn’t just an act of wanderlust. It was a statement.
A statement to the autoimmune disease I’d been diagnosed with eight years before. To the chemotherapy treatments that still haunted my dreams. To the bottles of medication I debated throwing away on a daily basis. To the recurring flare-ups from a stressful job.
A statement to my youth and deprived upbringing. To the neighborhood that raised me and taught me everything I didn’t want to be. To the naysayers who mocked me for wanting to leave and better myself. To the wealthy private school students who pitied me for being on a full scholarship.
A statement to my failed relationship. To my dependence on “us” and our love. To the insecurities that told me I didn’t deserve better. To the time wasted trying to get it back.
It was a statement to my family.
A statement to our fears.
I was born and raised in the South Bronx.
A family of four; then six; and then five. You know: the complications of family life. We were poor but had a loving mother, subsided apartment, clothing, water, and food – so I was grateful. I lived in a bubble where failing education and life experience told us: you’re worth nothing.
And we all believed it.
We believed in the separation between the well off and the less fortunate. And fortune didn’t just mean money. It meant stable homes; absence of abuse and turmoil; and safe schools. We believed in “how things were” and rarely questioned how things should be.
As I grew older and more curious, it seemed as if every time I tried to remove myself from my circumstance, I would fall into the quicksand of self-doubt ignited by those closest to me.
I’ve now realised that it wasn’t because they wanted to bring me down, but simply because they didn’t believe we could move up. Simply because they were afraid to try.
They were afraid of disappointment and mockery. However, I believe that they were really afraid of success. After all, society says you wouldn’t know what to do with it anyway. In some ways it’s easier to live life at rock bottom when you’re so good at it, than to climb up the ladder and fall – HARD.
It’s also easier to accept your circumstance than to realize your greatness. But I’m telling you to let go of your fears and embrace your journey.
Stand up against your situation because you deserve this life as much as the next person.
So what if you fall?
You, out of ALL people, know how to survive. If you already feel like you are at rock bottom, the worst thing that could happen is you end up in the same situation you’re already in, right?
Think of all of the skills you’ve acquired in this hard, unjust life you’ve lived. They are survival skills and highly desired advantages over the next person.
Your experience with poverty will allow you to travel the world on a shoestring budget, with knowledge of bargain shopping, haggling, and comfort with local transportation. Your inability to afford to wine and dine has made you a killer chef. You’re a builder, a creator, a thinker, and an innovator. You’re a scientist. You’re an artist.
Now it is time to design your life.
It is your turn. While you’ve worked hard just to get by, you’ve become a stepping-stone for other people’s success. Now it is time to find your way. Now it is time to take the first step. And as small as that first step may be, like finding a mentor or releasing negative relationships and influences, it is a step that will help begin to unlock the shackles holding you back.
You deserve to be free.
who is a totally free woman
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