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Dear fellow strong African woman,
I see you. I see you because I am you. I know and understand your struggle. For so long, you were made to feel like a misfit, a pariah.
“Toe the line,” you were told. Who do you think you are? You’re too loud, too vocal, too audacious, too opinionated, too free-spirited, too visible, too everything that you’re not supposed to be.
And for so long, you believed it. You believed your gifts were a curse. You tried to make yourself small to fit in. Until life, or perhaps providence, brought people your way who made you realize that there was absolutely nothing wrong with you. In fact, the contrary!
You are an invaluable jewel, and the world is lucky to have you. What a loss it would be for the world to be without your wisdom, your compassion, your care, your kindness and generosity, your courage and strength, your intelligence and intellect.
The thing is, the people around us are the mirrors of our inner-being. And when the only thing being mirrored back to you is that there is something “wrong” with you, you are bound to believe it. Even all the self-love in the world will not pull you out of it. You will have eaten up all the lies you were told about yourself, and you will be bloated with this false image of who you are.
Eventually, a different mirror is held up to you. Then, you start to see a different image of yourself: one of beauty and abundance. And you stop cowering and start roaring.
You were also often told that a woman like you could never find a man. You are “too picky.” You are not “marriage material.” Who would want to marry a woman like you?
Understand this: the question is not who would want to marry you; rather, who is worthy of you in all your beauty and brilliance and gifts that you have to offer?
You are also not picky. A woman like you can only be with an extraordinary man (just as you are extraordinary). The kind of man who is sufficiently secure in himself that he is not threatened by you and your success. A man who does not need you to dim your light to make his shine brighter. A man who does not need you to make yourself small to make himself feel big. A man who does not mind taking second stage if needed because he knows that he is not defined by his dominance over you.
So, do not get disillusioned. All the broken paths you have walked on so far will lead you to him. And even if they don’t, trust that you will be okay. After all, it is you—the strong African woman—who has all that is required within.
For the younger woman reading this (the younger Kui), it is my sincere hope that this letter saves you the many years it took me to get on the path of true self-appreciation.
This is me telling you that it is okay to be you—exactly as you are. You were never born to fit in—you couldn’t even if you tried because you were born to stand out.
You are phenomenal. Nothing about you is, or ever was, a mistake. So, stay beautiful, stay strong.