Now is her time. And after years of grinding, Solange is getting just a fraction of the recognition her artistry deserves. And with that recognition comes the desire for her insight on life and the art she’s shared with us. With that in mind, Teen Vogue, asked Solange to write a letter to her teenage self. See what she had to say.
“A LETTER TO MY TEENAGE SELF” by SOLANGE KNOWLES
there will be fear. a lot of it. there will be triumph. a lot of it. there will be constellations you want to reach for but can’t put your finger on. you will trace them like the scars on your body you got from trouble and the times of your life. you will take the long way to get to these Orions. the long way will become a theme in your life, but a journey you learn to love.
you will dive head first without looking into phases that you are certain of who you are.
some of these stages include:
- the dance-is-life (aka “this leotard is my second skin”) phase.
- the Bible-thumping-church-camp phase.
(which coincided and contradicted with the Fiona-Apple-fan-club-president phase)
- the Nas aficionado-brown-lip-liner-and-Vaseline phase.
- the Rasta-vegan-thrifter-who-is-determined-to-marry-Brandon-Boyd phase.
- the football-player’s-girlfriend-who-wears-braided-blond-highlights-and-swears-by-capri-pants phase.
at the time, you are searching. seeking in every corner and pocket of the world for who you are. take your time, baby girl. there’s no rush to get there. you will sow each of these chapters in the land that you become. you will see bits and pieces of them scattered into the skin you grow into. you don’t have to figure everything out now. time will reveal itself. i promise you.
sometimes you push these phases to the max, and when you go out into the world feeling confident in who you are and what you reflect, young folks will call you names and grown folks will call you names. It’s ok. one day you will name yourself, and that name will belong to you. it will not be the ones they ordained: “crazy, ugly, attention-seeking, weirdo.”
i really hate to tell you this, but sometimes you will still get called these things as an adult, except you will actually embrace some of them. you will learn that these are just words. words that only have power if you choose to give them power. every once in a while they will hurt, but you will choose to turn those words into a symbol of beauty.
speaking of words. they might just be your first love. sometimes you can write for hours, just you and the words on the pages. they make you feel understood, even if it’s just you that you’re talking to.
trust in these words, even when you’re feeling wildly insecure. hold on to your journals. cherish them. put them somewhere safe so that they may become a guide for you later, a revealer and a friend.
the lucky stars have been good to you, and there’s a long list of things you’d like to give gratitude to them for, but for now thank them for these three:
- that you didn’t die when you and your friends drove up a steep mountain in a snowstorm with no experience and bad brakes. that was stupid as hell.
- that you went to the ensemble theater every summer. i really don’t think you’d be who you are today had it not been for those experiences, teachers, and experimentation with your mind and body.
- that the universe chose your mom to be your mother.
she is a wonder. you watch her drop off 3 kids at 3 different schools in the morning, pick them up in the afternoon, shuffle each of them to their designated activities, and bring them all back to the salon she owns until she closes up with the utmost grace, love, and kindness.
you realize watching a woman balance being a supportive mother, building a successful business from the ground up that was started in her garage, and giving back to the community will make you feel invincible and like the word “no” is just an echo in the universe that you’ll never know. you often take her for granted, but you know with every joint in your bones that she is a phenomenon and you strive to make her proud. you should thank her out loud more, too; tell her you value her. roll your eyes and your neck less. it’s not as cute as you think. tell her you appreciate all that she does, for she makes the impossible look effortless. she surrounds you with other black women who do the same. you study them, and will constantly think of all their stories, their beauty, their strife and their stride. they break down all of the archetypes and stereotypes that you see of black women on tv and in magazines, so you don’t trust those anymore. you thank them for re-writing the script before it was ever etched in your memory.
To read the rest of the letter, click here: MadameNoire.com
Article Courtesy of Solange Knowles and Madame Noire
Picture Courtesy of Tony Rysk / LAN-CRN