Dear Young Woman
I am going through my old journal. The year is 2009. The year you turned 18 if my math is correct. I notice how at this age; you are goal driven and positive. If I remember correctly, at 18, you felt grown up because that’s when you are legally recognized as an adult in Ghana. But not in your home. You are thinking about how to be good enough, how to fit in, knowing what you like aside from reading and other things. I know this because I am writing to you from the future; thirteen years from now. Yes, a month and a few days from being 30.
It is the year 2022, you are 29, the ending of that ‘terrible age’ Damilare Kuku writes in side-lined, “that cusp before the decade of womanhood where you had to have something of value to show society”.
You have never dreaded growing up. In fact, you keep hounding friends a few months or a year younger than you with that fact with a grin as wide as that of the Cheshire cat.
I am not here to rain on your parade, just to give you an update, to give you a hint about how things turn out. I know you are worried. Lessons you have learnt, the highs and lows of course, you cannot know everything. Suspense.
You are in Senior High School, a bit socially awkward and a bit shy. Alhough you have goals and you really want to succeed in life at what you do, you are self-sabotaging and do not believe in yourself much. You are a bit mean to yourself, not living, overthinking every decision instead of at least trying. You are constantly thinking about how you used to involve yourself in activities; choreographies, the choir, playing drums at school assembly, cultural dances, running track, volley ball and you even tried football and loved every bit of it.
That was in primary school, so why did it stop? Let me tell you why! You listened to people. You let them tell you what you can and cannot do. You listened and talked down to yourself. Do you know what that did to you? To us? Many years after, you do not even think you can do anything. You kept thinking ‘what if it goes wrong?’ That’s how bad it got at a point. You really need to just listen to your intuition. What if it goes right?
I do not blame you for ignoring the lessons along the way. Concentrating on only what happened and sulking and complaining wildly. You were all over the place. You struggled a lot at a point. Mainly with yourself. I get it. Its pretty scary for you. You don’t know if you are an adult or a child. You have come to accept that in your twenties, you learnt. A lot!
When you finally came to your senses, decided to be more intentional about everything, your growth especially, you saw things a bit clearly and from a different perspective.
You remember when you always said that by 30, you will be married, have a job, you will be ‘sorting’ your siblings and parents out, have a yearly donation to the less privileged and would have figured out things for yourself? I am laughing hysterically at this point. One of the biggest lessons I have had to learn is that “…sometimes, life just does its thing” (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie). I hate to break it to you but you are not married, heck you are not even in a talking stage. You have been single for a few years now. You are actually enjoying it. And Audrey still thinks you were going to marry right after school.
You do not have a job yet, after having applied for almost 3 years. It is not like you have not had any offers at all. You have gotten three different jobs. A part time and two others you would have done tremendously in. Something ‘strange’ happened and like a candle in the wind… all that was in 2021. Unbelievable, but many things have happened that cannot be explained.
You have accepted how things are and settled into working with what you have. You started unlearning behaviors and changing unhealthy patterns. You have learnt to be more observant and silent in certain situations rather than react.
You met a few people that made sense, you run from those your guts told you to run from, but not fast enough. Not after they stressed you out and ‘showed you pepper’. This time, you focused on the lessons, you stand up taller and are calmer. You have learnt and experienced a lot in a short while. It has made you better.
You have started writing finally and contrary to what you have always thought, the few that you reach, love it. You are also about to turn one of your hobbies into a business and the process is exciting. You still have a lovely smile and still like laughing like a wealthy person. You still always want to put a smile on the faces of everyone you meet. Careful, you get burnt easily. You still cannot really read intense romance novels. You still love animation and action movies. You hardly eat and often stressed out, then you calm your nerves.
You have learnt that not everyone will like you. In fact, you have met a few people who don’t like you for no reason. It doesn’t matter. Its their cup of tea. You do not, under any circumstance, take how someone treats you personally, I know what I am talking about. Just do the best you can and move forward. You will find out later their actions is more about them than you.
Moving on into this new phase of your life, you are minding your own business! You are minding who is minding you, and, for your own peace of mind, you are taking all mixed signals as a no. Life is too short for sketchy vibes. You are doing what makes you happy. More importantly you always remind yourself to Live. Oh, you have stopped waiting for the right time to dress up. You are trying. It is not easy. But this is life. When you fall down, you pick yourself up and try again. Not everything works. But some will work. You can do anything you want to do. Just put your back in it. Hard work pays.!
Do not think about the things out of your control. You are fine. Stronger, wiser, calmer and more accommodating. You still hate nonsense, but you are way cooler than you were. What’s the worst that could happen? You are focused on loving and developing yourself, you cannot pour from an empty cup. Oh oh, did you know delayed gratification is always the best? I almost forgot to tell you how awesome you are.
You have not figured everything out. You probably will not. It is totally fine. One step at a time. You will be fine.
All My Love,