*I wrote this post last year, before my 24th birthday and it really clicked with me tonight; thus, I felt the need to repost.
I am almost 24 years old. It took me roughly 6 years to find the lesson (and then the joy) in my experiences from the religious, predominantly white university that I graduated from. I feel proud. Had I gone to an HBCU as I often lamented not doing, I would not have learned first hand what it meant to be a minority and how to relate to the majority. As someone who loves traveling, I would not have learned how to adapt to situations where I was the minority and how to find comfort in my own skin despite looking different. I grew up where often times I was the majority. Although much of the discrimination or colorism I experienced were at the hands of people who looked like me, I was still the majority. I learned how to navigate that system. I learned how to find joy and beauty and pride in my mahogany/chocolate skin tone, dark eyes, and athletic tone. But I had never learned what it was like to be a minority and to learn to still feel comfortable and centered.
I use to think that I could control and change people. I know, some of you reading this might laugh or find it strange that I would ever think that. But I did. I thought that by being an example of a good, conscious, higher vibration person, that I could make (not just inspire) people to change. My experiences at my religious university showed me the need to relinquish control. Now I realize and live the understanding that all I can do is control myself. I can still be a higher level, high vibrating consciousness. I am still a beautiful reflection of the Divine, continuously on the path of enlightenment. I need not experience those feelings of self-doubt simply because I stood out for something I have no real control over.
For some time now, I tried to keep everything in the neutral position, everything just is, because I didn’t want to be delusional. I use to think I was delusional. I always wanted to see the good in people, in situations, in events, in life. I wanted to inspire people to be their best self by being the best me that I can be. I wanted to be an example. And then I went to college and I was hurt and confused because it was an environment I was not use to. And I told myself that never again would I delude myself like that again. For the last 6 years, I went into hiding and just felt like I was wandering around with no real purpose because I was delusional all these years. Today was the first day that I realized that I was not delusional. I was inexperienced. However, because of my experiences at my university, I’m not completely inexperienced anymore. I know a bit more today than I did 6 years ago. Not only that, I travel now. And because I’m in the U.S and I often go to places where I could very easily be one of the few black faces in the crowd, I know now how to manage that and how to cope with those moments of loneliness. I know what it’s like when the majority overlooks me because they don’t have to acknowledge me. And then I’m even more grateful and excited when I see that I’m not the only one, that they do acknowledge me, and that people are more willing to take that step and venture into the unknowns because they’ve met me and I inspired them to do something they might not have had the courage to do on their own. And that makes me happy.
It’s not always easy being the first one or the only one to do something or go something. You’re a pioneer. You’re traveling the road less travelled and so you’re navigating an environment and a road that wasn’t exactly inhabited by anyone like you in the moments prior. So you’re the one paving the way, making the road more or less habitable for people who come after you. You experience all the bumps and rocks and thorns that come from being on the unbeaten path. And people will look at you and laugh and think you’re weird for doing things or going places. You’ll get moments of push back or you’ll hear people say, “I told you so” and laugh. But go ahead and continue to transform your experiences. 1000 moments of failure don’t make you a failure. Painful experiences don’t have to cripple you. You can grow. You can make transform those experiences by transforming your perception of them. Use them as fuel.
You’re a better you now than yesterday. Make it so.