“You are too young to have such a voice”
She said to me.
“You just speak to these men.
You don’t even seem afraid. ”
“You just speak” she continued, in an accusatory manner.
I was to be ashamed of my confidence and freedom.
I was to shrink myself and act like a little lady.
How dare I forget my place of insignificance?
How dare I speak my mind?
How dare I think?
How dare I even think that it is permissible to take up space?
Who did I think I was?
What made me think that it was ok to be bold?
To smile with men like the humans that they are, rather than gods that are to be worshipped?
What in the world made me think that I was more than a porcelain doll?
All I wanted to ask her was:
When will I be “old enough” to have a voice?
Are you old enough?
Have you found yours?
Do you grow into it?
Do purchase it?
Does each year lived qualify you to speak louder or do you get gifted more words with each birthday?
I mean no disrespect, truly.
I just want to understand.
And what I really need to know is why?
Why does it still seem like you’re afraid of the little gods that you build shrines to in your heart and dare not speak to or confront out loud?
Why does it seem like you opted to use your gift card of power on me?
Why are you wasting your voice on oppressing young women rather than on raising young men that do not view us dolls to be toyed with and never to be taken seriously?
Why won’t you give me the same respect that you give them?
I wish you would find your 55year old voice.
I wish you had found it earlier.
I wish you were able to see men as…. Men.
I wish your 20 year old self would have been more confident and able to stand up for herself.
I wish your mother would have raised your 5 year old self to express herself freely.
I hope your daughter has a voice at her workplace and her home.
I hope she’ll raise her 3 year old to be bold and fearless.
See, I have no box.
I have no “place”
I have a brain.
I have a voice.
I am confident.
I am bold.
I take steps to become more fearless each day.
I was named Freedom, because my mommy wanted nothing less for me than a world with no limitations on who I could be and what I could become.
I was raised to live up to this powerful name.
I was raised to be a roaring lion.
I was raised to be a meteorite – you can appreciate me or fear me, but your perception of me won’t change who I am or take away my power.
I will not feel guilty for all this grace that I have been given.
I was taught to be myself and never to be apologetic about it.
I know that it’s tough for you to comprehend just how amazing it must be to be true to yourself without all the constructs that society has placed on you.
It’s breathtaking to escape the weights that hold you down and keep your lungs flooded.
I wish you didn’t have to drown in expectations and limitations.
I wish I could release your anchor and bring you up for air.
I wish I could speak freely with you, but I know you wouldn’t understand.
I wish I could speak freely with you, but I was taught to respect my elders, even in their ignorance.
I wish I could speak freely with you, but I wouldn’t want to make you feel small.
But ironically, in this moment, I shrink myself to give you the dignity that you don’t think that I deserve.
I keep my mouth shut.
I smile like a pretty lady and I bite my tongue.
Along with my freedom to be, I have the responsibility to have insight.
You will never understand, and I don’t have the magical wand that I need to speak to your 3, 5, 15or 20 year old self.
What I do have is the opportunity to interact with 3,5,15 and 20 year olds.
May I be a great mother, aunt, friend, cousin and stranger.
May I be the kind of woman that makes other women want to find themselves.
May I be the kind of woman that inspires other women want better themselves.
May I be the kind of woman that encourages women to be themselves, unapologetically so.