For International Women’s Day this year, Youtube started a global campaign titled #DearMe on its platform. Its goal is to empower and inspire young women of today by using the immense power and influence that the platform has provided many of its users.
I first learnt about the campaign while watching Essiebutton’s #DearMe video, and with all the changes, opportunities and adventures that I was experiencing in 2015 (and which I will continue to throughout the year, I’m sure of it), I reflected on my past and how it had led me to my present. As I’ve yet to begin my channel (I might soon), I thought it would be a waste to miss out on the #DearMe campaign, so I’ve taken it off camera and onto the keyboard instead.
Here’s what I’d love to tell my younger self, and all the young women out there who are feeling lost, unsure, depressed or unmotivated.
You might not fit in now, and people will be mean to you because of that, but keep going on, and you’ll become one of the brightest stars there is when you’re older.
Cross my heart. They might laugh and make fun of you now, or they might think your ideas and your clothes are ridiculous, but don’t let their negativity or small-mindedness destroy your dreams. Keep dreaming, find an outlet that works for you, and just keep going. Do what makes you happy, wear what makes you feel good and as you hone your passion and skills, as you push on against their negativity, as they focus on you, you are focusing on yourself and there will come a day when your life will seem so much more magical, meaningful and exciting than theirs. This is my first-hand experience, and I can say without a doubt that the most inspiring people I’ve met have been through hell as youths as well. I am where I am today, running my own business and not stuck in a corporate 9-5 job, happy with my life and having traveled the world because I never gave up. I might have cried myself to sleep in high school, and I might have almost wanted to end my life, but I’m so grateful that I didn’t because I wouldn’t have imagined my life to be the way it is now. Do not give up, and do not let the naysayers bring you down. Being different is amazing, don’t let society make you think otherwise.
Remember your parents, shower them with love, and even if you think they’re uncool now, they’re one of the coolest people ever. They’ve got their stories too.
During my teenage years, I always thought my parents were embarrassing. I’d be too humiliated to walk with them in the mall, for reasons unknown to me right now. I was a brat and I was ungrateful for how blessed my life was because of them. My parents supported me through school, they made sure I was well fed and clothed, they took me on adventures around the world, they introduced the world of music and art to me (without them, I would never have fallen in love with Tschaikovsky or Swan Lake), and they were significant in enabling me to chase my dream life. Even with the occasional (or maybe more) parent-child spats, I’ve learned to put my pride or anger aside, and to love unconditionally. I never understood this when I was younger, and as time passes, I fear that I will miss out on the time I have left with them. Remember to give back to these two individuals who dedicated their lives to giving you a future – find time for them, buy them the gifts even when they can afford it themselves, help them understand their iPhones or the internet, be patient with them, and even if they aren’t perfect, love them.
You will never be as young as you are today, so say “YES!” to adventures, dreams and excitement. Do not let the pressure of society or peers push you into adulthood too early.
Don’t be afraid of adventure, say yes to travels, say yes to love, let experiences and heartbreaks guide you and always learn from anything and everything. Your mindset is what makes or breaks an experience, so even the worst times of my life have taught me lessons on how to be strong, how to ride out the wave, and how to never give up. I ran away from a couple of would-be adventures when I was younger, and a part of me has always regretted it. Ask yourself if you’ll regret turning this opportunity down 5 or 10 years down the road, and if the answer is “yes”, go for it! I accepted a frighteningly exciting offer last week, and although my body has been filled with fear for the past week (and will continue to be throughout this new adventure), I know that I have to take this leap and just go for it. If you want something, ask for it. If that doesn’t work, chase it and do anything you can (legally) to attain it. Keep going at it, and always stay positive.
Be genuine. There will always be people rooting for you.
When I was in the University, I constantly felt alone. Lonely, yes, but feeling alone was a feeling ever greater than that. I could be in the middle of a room filled with hundreds and still feel alone. I could be in the middle of a group of schoolmates and still feel alone. This stemmed from the fact that I had been scarred by my experiences in high school, and I was too afraid to speak my mind. I feared that saying what was on my mind would lead to judgement and eventually me becoming an outcast once more. What I realized though, was that as long as I was genuine, positive and kind, there were always people who wanted to be friends, or who would be more than happy to help me. There are wonderful, caring people in this world who want to see you succeed, be they strangers, friends or family. Even if you haven’t spoken to a friend you used to love, or if there was a misunderstanding or argument, learn to forgive, reach out, and rebuild. Even when I feel alone nowadays, some part of me now knows that I am cherished and that there are are people who love me.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I did writing it. If you’d like to share your #DearMe video or what you’d tell your younger self, I’d love to know. Happy International Women’s Day, and here’s to all the kind, loving, strong and beautiful women I know. Thank you for inspiring me daily.