I can’t remember what year it was, but at some point in middle school I got my period for the first time. It was so dramatic for no good reason. My mom, my brother, and I were at dinner at this restaurant that I refuse to eat at even now. I went to the bathroom, saw that it had happened, and scurried back to the table to whisper it to my mom. First of all she asked how I knew. I was so annoyed like, “What do you mean? You signed off of on the sex ed papers like three years ago, I know what the hell is happening here!” That coupled with my brother’s snickering because he figured out what was happening added to my embarrassment. To make matters worse, my mom called damn near every woman in our family to tell them the good news (this is not newsworthy). After she made her obligatory phone calls, we took the longest drive to Wal-Mart ever. Why? Because, this is when my mom decided to have “the talk” with me.
“You are now able to become a mother. I am not the vagina police, so I am not going to tell you what to do with yours. But know this, anything a boy tells you, he will go down the street and tell another girl the same thing. Anything you ever do in this life, you need to be able to proudly look at yourself in the mirror the next day, and be okay with your decision. If you feel the need to have sex, call your sister,” she said while driving to the farthest Wal-Mart possible upon my request.
“Why can’t I just talk to you?” I asked innocently enough. Isn’t this the kind of things mothers and daughters discuss based on every sitcom I’ve ever seen?
“I would advise you not to,” she said matter-of-factly. You know that voice moms use when you know that’s the end of the conversation? That one.
That was the first and last conversation I ever had with my mother about my sex life. In her defense, I don’t ever remember not knowing what sex was, or where babies come from. No one ever sheltered us from that kind of info. If we asked a question, the adults in our lives told us straight up. Although, I don’t ever recall asking anyone that cliche question either. So the part of that conversation that freaked me out was looking in the mirror, and being proud of what you see. I was such an independent kid that I felt I had been responsible my whole (short) life, but now I am responsible for making sure I don’t create another life. That part was easy. There are more ways not to get pregnant, than there are ways to get pregnant. So I never worried about that. What gave me anxiety was that I needed to like myself. I needed to be proud of myself. I had to trust my own decision making. But there was never a talk about that. No one ever told me the importance of loving myself, or trusting myself because they all assumed I did. That’s the danger of being an extrovert. People always assume you have a bottomless pit of confidence to be so outspoken and outgoing, but that just wasn’t the case for me.
The reason I have such deep admiration for Diane von Furstenberg is because she so accurately summed up how I’ve always felt about my life in saying, “I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I always knew the woman I wanted to be.” I always knew who I wanted to be. I just didn’t know to give myself the time, space, and patience to grow into her. But, this year I did. I made a point to be nicer to myself, to be patient with myself, and more than anything I learned to trust myself.
Last story (for now) I promise. My Manager/sister/friend and I were in the midst of one of the many meetings we had before relaunching this site. She started asking me an array of questions that I knew I should have the answer to, but I was afraid I would choose the wrong thing. I got insanely overwhelmed and started to doubt whether I should do any of this at all. “Okay let’s stop here. If you are going to go through this meeting with a defeated attitude, then let’s regroup another day. You know what you’re doing, and you have to trust yourself. I am not going to make these decisions for you,” she said, and she gathered her things and left. Initially I was like well damn!
But, she was right. How can I undertake such an immense project with no sense of confidence in my own decisions? It’s my brand, and my site, so I have to make these choices. I had a major come to Jesus moment, and look where we are. The site is doing so much better than I could’ve ever hoped for, and I’m so looking forward to what we have lined up for the coming year.
The lesson to trust myself did not come easily, in fact I’m still working at it. For example, it is very sobering to learn that a guy you have been dating for three months has a mixtape (and a trash one at that). Y’all I found YouTube videos of this clown rapping, and I just felt awful. Epic effin failure. The lesson of trusting myself came from failure, and from recovering from those failures stronger and wiser. When you allow yourself to see the other side of failure, you become less afraid, and much more empowered to just live. Whatever your goals are for the next year, be patient with yourself. You don’t know everything, and you cant expect yourself to. It doesn’t have to be perfect, you just have to start. Be nice to yourself. If you fail, it’s okay. You’ll grow stronger in your recovery, and this is usually where you see God show up the most. And trust yourself. Your path is your path. If you listen too much to other people’s advice, they will talk you right off of your path. Seek wise council, but trust yourself. This is where confidence grows. This is where you grow.