When I was very young I found a book on my grandmother’s coffee table.
“I Dream A World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America” was the title.
In my mind these women were legendary. They were icons. They were the almost untouchable dream because I couldn’t grasp the concept of ever being that good at life that I inspired others.
Every time I would visit my grandparents I would go through that book and read every biography and run my fingers across the faces of these strong women and be in awe. I often wondered if I could write another one. Write another one that would include all of the legendary women and men in my life that seemed to change the world for me.
I was surrounded by adults who showed me strength, beauty, resiliency, laughter, and prayer. But most of all they showed me the power of love.
For the people that know me, hearing me say the words “I have social anxiety” or “I’m shy.” might come off as a lie. It’s not. I’m also an incredibly private person. Not out of shame, just out of the desire of not wanting everyone to know everything about me. Let’s bring these three together. I often feel overwhelmed by how much I feel. I very rarely feel things halfway. Whether it’s a negative or positive emotion that emotion is at 100%.
Even though I was surrounded by love through family and friends, I had a hard time loving myself. I stressed whether loving myself would bring pain to my family. I was convinced that my mere existence would harm them in any way. Society placed doubt in my mind that my family’s love would continue if I told them who I was. So I hid myself. I decided it would be best for everyone if I kept myself secluded internally. I refused to open up to anyone. I refused to be myself around anyone in order to protect everyone.
I was 10 years old when I made that decision.
It took me another 10 to realize that it was time to love myself.
10 years of a battle with depression. 10 years of loneliness. 10 years of self hatred. 10 years of denying my own existence.
Even now I still have moments where I allow external voices and the words of strangers seep in and tell me that those 10 years were truth.
When I turned 20 years old I was exhausted. I was running on the fumes of unsaid lies. I was no longer allowing myself to feel the love and strength that my family had surrounded me with.
I came out and never looked back.
I didn’t wave a flag. I didn’t lead a parade. I didn’t throw up rainbows.
I just...started loving myself.
I stopped apologizing for my heart. I stopped hating my existence.
I stopped hating my maker for creating me the way I am.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” - Jeremiah 1:5
I have always been the prophet that love can heal the world.
There are so many different forms of love in the world. I spent 10 years denying myself love in any form and it almost ruined me. I will forever be an advocate for love. Loving my family. Loving my friends. Loving my neighbors living in some house in some place I’ve never heard of.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” - 1 Peter 4:8
I don’t expect everyone to approve of my life. I actually expect that I might lose a few friends. But I’m not writing this to seek approval or permission from anyone.
I’m writing this because I am an advocate for love and I am not ashamed of it. I’m proud of the work that I do that allow others peace, support, and happiness. I'm writing this because this is me striving to be someone's legend. Striving to be in that book that inspire someone else.
I’m proud of the amount of love I put back in the world.
Neighborly love. Relationship love.
Spiritual love. Agape love.
So from my heart to yours,
Go. Be happy. Love others. Love yourself. Love the earth. Just love, ya know?