We are pleased to bring you a new #dearblackgirl letter to kickstart a new month. Thank you Monique, for taking up your pen!
Dear Black Girl,
This is probably the hardest letter I’ve ever written. I think that’s because it’s so important. It’s like someone taking the time to guide a little me. I’m certainly up for it. I want you to have the best life possible as I am pretty happy and proud of mine. I want you to know that every young girl needs guidance and encouragement along the way. Fortunately, I had no shortage of any of that in my humble beginnings. Here are just a few notes as you journey through life:
Speak up. The world deserves to hear your voice. That doesn’t mean being loud for the sake of being loud. Anyone could do that. I’m talking about when you open your mouth, make sure what comes out is and more importantly, intelligent. It’s okay if what you have to say is not “perfect.” No one is. But the world needs to hear your point of view—no matter if your world right now is just a couple of blocks in your neighborhood.
Have a spirit of adventure. I grew up believing I could do anything and be anything. I was blessed with parents who encouraged my sister and me and never tried to stifle us. If this is not your reality, find a teacher, mentor, friend or another relative who can provide this for you. Imagination is a wonderful tool. If you don’t have access to travel and trying new and different things right now, find books to help you explore. Enjoying other people’s experiences through the written word can open up doors.
Love yourself. There is no one like you, girl. Celebrate your body, respect it and learn it. That last one will come in handy as you approach middle age when all the things we were used to be able to do easily become a bit harder. Treat your body as a temple and demand that anyone who touches it does too. Try not to eat too much garbage like fast food and sweets. Exercise regularly—bust a sweat. When I was about 60 pounds overweight, I met a bicyclist who was on a mission to ride his bike across every continent for charity. Mesmerized, I began talking to him about weight loss and fitness. He suggested I try to train for some kind of sporting event in an effort to foster regular exercise goals. A few months later I signed up for a full marathon to fundraise for “Train To End Stroke.” I finished all 26.2 miles with a time over 7 hours, but bottom line, I finished.
Don’t allow other people’s limitations affect your goals. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way. I know when you’re young you want to be part of the clique. You don’t want to stick out as being “different.” With maturity, you’ll find that this is absolutely unimportant. Besides, there’s safety in numbers. You should stick together if you’re in a group of women and one meets a guy and tells the other two to go home without her. You need to get your friend in that scenario. I’m talking about new opportunities in travel or experiences. There were a few once in a lifetime experiences I decided to scrap because my travel partner did not have the funds or did not have the chutzpah to go somewhere or do something. Life is about moments. When you have the chance to do something, take it. It could be that the opportunity will not present itself again.
Ask for help. When things get crazy there’s nothing wrong with turning to God, your higher power or anyone you respect for assistance. Don’t let fear overcome you and make you stuck.
There’s so much more I could tell you. I’m wishing you the best of everything knowing you’ll be just fine.
Monique Oliver is a TV news producer from Montclair, NJ. She currently resides in Atlanta, GA and is 43 years old.