Against my better judgment, I had decided that I wasn’t going to write anything tonight. And by write, I mean publish. Hell, I’m always writing for goodness sake. I feel like I write as often as I blink. It’s the only thing besides breathing that just comes natural to me.

Today I came home, after having my nails freshly manicured at my favorite salon, curled up on my couch with a bag of Pirates Booty baked rice and corn puffs and enjoyed tonight’s episode of Love and Hip Hop Hollywood #GuiltyPleasure. I then retired to a tub of hot bubbles that had cooled perfectly from scolding hot to just regular hot, accented with  eucalyptus bath salts. Now usually, I reserve this type of treatment for special occasions, or as I like to call them, Thursdays, complete with a flûte à champagne. But today, seemed like a perfect evening to luxuriate myself. #LikeINeedAnExcuse

I got out of the tub, looked myself in the mirror, fresh face without makeup and smiled. I looked at the reflection of the woman staring back and me and I said to her, “I’m proud of you”. Weird, I thought, but for whatever reason, I felt compelled to let her know that. In that moment, I began to think of how wise this woman is and how much she has overcome. I wondered what she would have told me 10 years ago…

I imagine that I’d tell myself, “Daddy said it best when he told you to ‘Go to school, get your education, save some money. Then, (dot, dot, dot, dot) you can fall in love and get married.’ You’ll come to appreciate this one day.” It just so happens that someday turned out to be this day, some 15 years later. I never understood why Daddy preached that to us so tough. Now I do. And it’s the same thing that I’m going to teach my daughter.

I’m the woman (Auto-correct: was the woman) who, when she falls in love, loses herself. I was the woman who had ambition, but quite frankly was more motivated to fall in love than to really pursue my dream. In fact, love was my dream. Love was always my main priority. I thought that if you had love, then you had everything. That is, until I found love. Then lost love. And myself in the process.

What I’ve come to know about love, and life as well, is that love starts within. Everybody thinks they love themselves. It sounds good to say. And simple enough. But self-love is actually evidenced by the love that you allow others to give you. And no that ain’t just some Iyanla Vanzant ish, that’s #Truth & #Facts, honey #Snaps.

I wrote this affirmation on Friday, June 19, 2009, fresh off of one of my early heartbreaks with #UKnwWho (do I have to say his name?) While the “situation” really doesn’t warrant me going into at this moment, suffice it to say that this was just another disappointment. So I wrote this affirmation to tell myself every single day. I am beautiful. I deserve only the best. I will not settle for what I have. I will wait for what I want. Boy, I’m telling you, I plastered that sucker on Post-It notes everywhere! In the bathroom, on the mirror, on the refrigerator, on my radio in the car, on the nightstand beside my bed, on my computer desk at work. Believe it or not, I had lost sight of my own beauty and my own worth. Now I love me some Iyanla Vanzant and all, but Ms. Iyanla don’t get it right everytime, now. Despite some of her “lessons” I’ve heard her preach and teach on her show, people do have the power to make you feel a way about yourself. Regardless of how smart, pretty or holy you claim to be, people can tear you down and make you second guess the truths that you already know about yourself. Believe me, (pinky in the air, in my Donald Trump voice) I’ve been there.

To the girl in the mirror, I’d tell her first and foremost: trust yourself. Trust your own intuition. If you have to ask him if he cheated, then that’s your answer. And once he reveals to you that he absolutely did not, then you ask yourself: Do you believe him? Not do you want to believe him, but do you believe that he is telling you the truth. Women can always find the truth in lies.

A mirror selfie before they were called mirror selfies

To the 20-something year old girl, I won’t even tell her to leave him alone. Because you’re not going to do that. Not now, anyway. You’ll do that in your own time, Dear. After you cried enough tears and learned enough lessons to write a book. #HintHint

My 20-something self

To the 20-something year old girl, I’d tell her to keep smiling. Never lose your smile. Smile even when you don’t feel like smiling. Smiling will coast you through the oceans, seas and lakes of heartache, disappointment & pain. The beam of your smile will dry away your tears.

20-something and Smile

To the 20-something year old girl, love yourself enough to realize that you are enough. Love yourself enough to not require validation from anyone. Love yourself enough to forego trying to convince anyone that you are worthy to be loved in the most intimate, romantic, passionate, & spiritual way possible. You deserve that and more.

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