My Commencement to My 18 Year Old Self

It’s funny that at this time right now when people are graduating that I should be re-evaluating or evaluating my life as well. You know, wishing I had known things that I know now. Thankful for the things that I didn’t know then that probably would have scared the heck out of me. So, it got me to thinking about what I would say to myself at 18 at my high school commencement.

Why? Because no one remembers the speech the valedictorian gave. High school (much like college) was filled with papers, my senior thesis, community activism and parties and I really can’t remember what was commenced. But, if I could for just one moment go back and give my younger self a message it would be this…

  • You are bigger than your problem. Sometimes things will happen to you that you are unprepared for. Mountains will seem unmovable and your problems will seem insurmountable, but you should not distress love. You will be okay. Your student loans will be more than your paycheck and you can’t figure out why your boss is a raging lunatic and you want to walk out the door, but don’t fret love. You will get through this.

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  • Love will hurt. You won’t end up with your childhood love, but that is a fairy tale. Life is different. You will fall in love, get married, live in NYC, have a baby, separate and divorce and you won’t even begin to scratch the surface on the issues you both had. Drink lots of wine and understand that this pathetic period of self-pity can only last for two weeks. You have bills to pay, a job to get to and a child to raise. He needs you. Yes, you will lose some friends, some respect for some people and money because everyone knows that divorce is costly, but you will get through it. Love hurts. You will need to remember what your mom said, “Ain’t no shame in starting over.” You can start over. You will start over. You will know your worth.

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  • You will become a mom. I know it is hard to believe that you will become a mother, but it is true. You will be 32 when you feel your beautiful son kick for the first time. He will be born the April after you turn 33. I know you never wanted children, but I promise you that he is awesome. He will bring more smiles than tears and more hugs than heartache. He is perfect. Perfect for you. He will restore your faith in men and you will have the opportunity to raise a beautiful man to become a wonderful husband to a woman someday. But, be careful sis. The war on our black boys takes center stage as your son is growing. He will be feared. He will be hated. He will be despised. He will be labeled. You have to stand up for him. You have to fight for him with all your might because you are the rib of man. You have to teach him how to love in spite of society’s attitudes. He will love you just for you being you.

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  • Forgiveness is free. You spend so much time carrying grudges and being mad at those that hurt you that it is literally like putting a band-aid on a wound that needs stitches. Look, you don’t have to ever forget those that hurt you. In fact, I encourage you not to. But, what you need to do is forgive yourself. Forgive yourself of the guilt that you carry because you hate what people have done to you. When you forgive those that have wronged you and when you forgive yourself of the guilt you carry you will realize that your burden seems lighter. You will know the true meaning of “thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” You will be comforted because of your faith and the Comforter hears your cries. He hasn’t forsaken you.

  • Take your time. There is no rush to decide what you want to be when you grow up. Allow yourself the opportunity to discover what makes you happy. Whether it is in law or human resources. You deserve to take your time trying to figure out what you want to do. I mean who really knows what they want to do at 18? You should try different things and just go with what you can make a living at. Remember like mom always says, “You have to be able to support yourself”. Trust me — you will.

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  • You are beautiful. You spend so much time hiding your true you that it is at the end of your marriage that you will truly shed your layers and become comfortable in your skin. This is a good thing. You are beautiful. Intimately created by the man up stairs and you know what? You should rock that short shift dress and show off those honey colored thighs. Your momma gave them to you. Don’t hide behind baggy jeans and big shirts. Love that awkward shaped nose and big arms. Your curves are gorgeous. They tell your story and yes you have a butt that others will try to emulate by taking injections. Keep your head up and rock the skinny jeans sis! You are beautiful.

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All in all, just remember where your help comes from. Don’t allow your pride to stop you from asking for help. Allow others to get close to you. Enjoy the ride baby girl because it will be bumpy!

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3 thoughts on “My Commencement to My 18 Year Old Self

  1. Oh my gosh, look at your smile! Radiant. Children are gifts for sure. I hear what you’re saying about pain and forgiveness. It’s so hard to let go of the anger and guilt, even though we want nothing more. Trauma is a serious thing however, and etched deeply in our minds and hearts. I think remembering to be gentle and compassionate with ourselves is the best gift we can give ourselves 🙂

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