Sometimes conversations we have with others are simply conversations with ourselves. If only we heeded half the advice we give to others or gave ourselves half the love we give to the world, our problems wouldn’t be problems at all. Just love and life. The way it should be.
This letter didn’t start out intended for myself, but after some reflection, I realized that is exactly who it is intended for, and possibly every other strong woman in the world out there. I hope you find some inspiration within.
I’ll try not to make this letter long, but I need to write because I won’t allow one more thought to go through my head without saying it to you. It’s been far too long.
I don’t often say enough, and when I do, it’s usually centered around me. When we struggle, it is usually me who is struggling. And when it is you struggling, I always seem to find a way to struggle with your struggling, which, in many ways, just isn’t fair. More often, I need to give you those moments to grieve and suffer, to cry and be sad, to disconnect and exist within yourself for that moment.
You have given a life to serve others, the weak, the saddened, the hurting. First it was your parents, then your sisters, then so many of your friends that you couldn’t save from the symbolic death of your hometown. It’s like a hometown murder, a blackness that paralyzes bright individuals and incapacitates them from ever leaving. None of those were your fault and you were strong enough to find love in the sadness, the struggle.
But sadness and struggle do not mean love. Anger does not mean passion does not mean love. And giving all of your life to someone wholly does not mean love. You must save a piece for yourself. Love starts with yourself and it starts with your faith in all that is good…the good in you. Before coming to Peace Corps one of the things that I was most proud about was how proud of myself I was, how driven and motivated and enthusiastic that no matter what I wanted I could achieve it because I was worth it. I’ve fallen from that pedestal lately, but it’s something I always try to get back to.
Being a strong woman often means you carry a heavy weight and a large burden. It’s means that you are constantly against odds with the world because you fit to exist in a place that doesn’t want your kind. Strong is the kind of woman who says “no, you’re wrong.” That is the kind of woman who fights. That is the kind of woman who says “yes, I can” to every single thing she wants, no matter how crazy or absurd or improbable, and she won’t stop until she gets it. That is the kind of woman who believes in herself in spite of others’ bad will, the one who rises above, nearly always, but never, never compromises her sense of self. It’s the kind of woman who has a sense of self so strong that she cannot be deterred from that path that she is on, and even when that path is covered with Autumn leaves and she isn’t sure she can find her way, she has the self-awareness to breathe, give herself unto others, ask help from those that she loves, and trust them to lead the way.
Not even the strongest woman in the world can do it alone, though she’ll likely be the first to think that is the case. She needs to cry, she needs to fall, and she needs to let others catch her when she can’t handle it all. Then, when she gets back up she needs to straighten herself with her head held high and her shoulders back and the ones that she loves watching from behind, just in case she should fall again.
You are independent but you are not alone. You have a lifetime of soul-searching and journey seeking ahead, but even when you walk out like a trail blazer running on the front lines, I’ll be behind you.
All that you do is good. All that you have ever done is good. It’s great. You have made the world a better place and I am one of the luckiest people in the world to exist in yours. To be surrounded by you and your constant outpouring of love. This isn’t about me, it’s about you and your self journey, but that doesn’t mean you have to close your eyes and walk into the woods alone. I’ll hold the light for you, from afar if you need, to give you the space. Or I can help clear the leaves of the covered paths so that you can decide which one to choose. Or I can wait for you at the clearing, patiently holding our memories, for when you come home to me.
You are independent, but you are not alone.
All My Love, Always
To all the other strong women out there: allow your heart to open, be kind and gentle to yourself, but remember that even in your loneliest moments, I assure you, you’re never really alone. If anything, you always have yourself.