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A letter to my younger self…

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Every issue, a Pride reader writes a letter to herself as a teenage girl, filled with advice, hot tips and hints for the future. Here, poet Bakita KK tells her 15-year-old self to keep her head up through tough times.

I know you’re feeling trapped, I remember. I remember when a ‘good day’ wasn’t about being happy. Boring days, uneventful days are the good days. I remember that the main thing keeping you going right now is the next thing and whatever comfort and happiness the future hopefully brings.

You become so good at focussing on what could be next that it takes you 25 years before you are able to appreciate the present. Embrace I Am: make a note of your achievements, and celebrate them. Take note of the things that you are able to do that surprise you and the things that you are able to do that you expected. Expected or not, you still did them. Burying yourself in books and obsessing about cleaning the house won’t work. Burnout is real. No point having those good grades, if you don’t have anything else.

Trust your instincts. The people who love you won’t always know what’s best for you. Sometimes the baggage they carry, from their own experiences, will stop them from seeing your potential. Recognise your own potential. It might even stop them from seeing your worth. Recognise your own worth. Learn to self-define and realise your own path. It will turn your barely bearable world to something enjoyable. Love is complicated and sometimes harmful. Trust your instincts; you’ve got a good head on your shoulders… for the most part! Some of the decisions you make will be a bit off, but you learn from them. Always be willing to learn.

I know you want to fight against the stereotype. You want your blackness to be palatable, but often there will be times (many times) when your anger is justified. Palatable doesn’t work, you’re just denying yourself. You don’t need to transcend your blackness to succeed. Seek out people who look like you, spaces filled with black girls and women – it will be good for your soul. I promise that you will find so much comfort and glory in being a black woman. You’ll even write poems about it.

Yep, poetry is still in the picture! Sometimes we even get paid for it (I know, what?!)! Yep, the words you only ever consider to be ‘Dear Diaries’ with a rhythm. You’re going to learn a lot of valuable lessons from these challenges that you can only bear to express on a page. Some of the challenges will fade; some will lessen but never go. 

Remember: there may be ‘beauty in the struggle’, but don’t let them romanticise your pain.

A lot of adventures are coming, my friend. We are happy. We’ve found self-acceptance. I’m writing my letter to you as a 15 year-old and I know you will doubt so much of it. I can’t help but think about the fact that our 10 year-old self would believe that all the adventures are coming.

You get your hope back. I know that you’re not in a position to right now, so I’ll love you enough for the both of us.

Stay safe and be true

Bakita K is a poet, personal development trainer and consultant in the HIV sector. Keep up with all she’s up to on Twitter and Instagram – @BakitaKK.

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