When most urban teenagers turn 18, the typical rites of passage that populate their minds are entering nightclubs for the first time, or swigging their first underage drink. In some capacity, their activities of choice are rooted in things that are socially acceptable among the cliques they associate.
In today’s street vernacular, we’d call this “turning up” where as my generation would’ve said “crunk” or “raw”. The generations have changed but what remains is that in order to partake in either form, people, other than yourself, are necessary. Essentially, it aint no fun if the crew can’t have none.
This coming of age was bleak for me. Other than two friends, who got me through more than I’ve ever accredited them for, I was alone. Petty arguments and total misunderstandings made my senior year a living hell that resulted in minimal invites to graduation parties, social pop ups, or clubbing. Where in years prior I’d be the center of attention, or at least a participant in loud unscripted recklessness, I was suddenly forced to learn how to be by myself.
When the silence reached deafening levels, I would incessantly pressure my then boyfriend to marry me. No tangible plans for the future in sight, the thought of having someone who wouldn’t leave me so easily was comforting. Always heartfelt, his let downs were adages that highlighted our lack of establishment in the world, or that we were too young to make such large decisions. At the time, that rejection burned, but every day, I am grateful that I cooled my heels. By now, we’d surely be divorced. However, what this uncomfortable time allowed for me to be was honest…with myself, my thoughts, and the way I viewed the world.
The other day, it hit me that I’ve been on the journey of truth and healing for the last 12 years. I’ve stumbled and acquired some nearly life-ending and certainly life-changing bruises throughout my 20s, but my yearning for being real has remained. Writing, blogging, and expressive interactions with friends and family have been my saving grace. Still, because of the societal boxing and respectability standards that were ingrained into my childish psyche, I suffer. The same day that I realized I’d been on a decade-long truth voyage, I valiantly discovered that I want to express the hidden figures.
Some would call this my undoing, or worse, telling all my business. The truth is, I just want to experience the fullness of the freedom I believe Black women are owed and truly deserve in this life. The duality of this expression is to help someone else while finally healing and further loving myself.
Just say it.