It has been a little while since I wrote my last blog post. I have been swamped with some exciting things coming up (more on that later) but I wanted to share with you something that is in the forefront of my mind. I just found out yesterday that someone very close to me is fighting a battle. Upon learning this, I was instantly taken back to a time and a place that I couldn’t wait to get out of when I was there: High School.
Please tell me I am not the only one who absolutely dreaded going to school. It wasn’t because of the academic part of school. It was the social part. Now don’t get me wrong. I had “friends” and I participated in sports. But the whole thing just seemed fake to me. I played the game, I kept my head above water and after I was shunned by my then best friend I decided to graduate early and get the heck out of dodge. What a nightmare.
When I look back on my high school days I see a girl that was desperately trying to find her way. I was the only black student in my school and with that came a whole additional set of trials. Humor and sarcasm has always been my defense mechanism, so I survived, but deep inside I was dying. Or maybe, I had yet to come alive. I was so torn between trying to be who I thought everyone wanted me to be and who I wanted to be.
Graduating at 16 was an accomplishment and a setup. I was still a kid. I had no business going to higher education that young (I did turn 17 the weekend of graduation). I had no idea who I was. I had lived my entire life being sheltered and I didn’t know anything about anything. College was a culture shock and I wasn’t ready for it.
I am reminded of a quote from one of my favorite books. A book that started out being an assignment for school, turned out to be a book that I would revisit multiple times throughout my twenties (time out: Am I really thirty years old?!?!).
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird
Confession: I am going to be completely transparent here for a minute. I am a judgmental person. I am working really hard on this; to be more loving and to try and understand people better. I am quick to pick out the faults of others and it is mostly because I don’t want to look at my own shortcomings. I am often reminded of this quote above and it has helped me to not jump to conclusions so fast.
There are so many takeaways from this novel that I could write a series on it. I won’t, but I did want to share one more thing from the book. It is about courage. Time and time again, I have had someone close to me receive devastating news. To watch them face their challenges head on, and on most days with a smile is nothing short of a miracle. It is encouraging to me and to everyone around them. They possess an undeniable inner strength and courage to wake up every morning and fight.
“Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”
This describes them perfectly.
If I could write a note to sixteen year old Jerakah it would say something like this:
You are so much stronger than you know.
Life will not go the way that you have envisioned it, but don’t worry. It will be better.
Through all of the trials and the heartache (yes, there will be A LOT of this) you will find out who you true friends are.
People who you thought would always be by your side will become a fading memory. Complete strangers and people you have never met in person will become some of your closest confidants.
You will find true love. The unwavering, knight and shining armor kind of love.
You will create value and inspiration for hundreds and thousands of women.
Chin up Jer, you are going to leave your mark on the world. And it will be a better place because of you.
If you were to write a letter to the high school you, what would you say? Leave me a comment or shoot me an email and let me know. I look forward to hearing from you soon!
Until Next time,