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Letter to Self

Dear Shewa,

This is the year you have been waiting for. The year you have been praying for, because being 30 represents a new beginning. Being 30 means you made it into adulthood. Being 30 means you get to be who you were born to be, free.

It’s humbling to look back on the past 29 years of experiences that shaped you and what you believe and still recognize all the growing you have left in your life. In this decade, you have major goals set before you, not because of a deadline, but because you are ready.

For the past 5 months, you have been exploring your mistakes and accomplishments. You have been facing fears, pushing pass discomfort, and exploring what it takes to grow. It has been uncomfortable. It has been messy. It has caused you to question why you want what you want. Above all, it has been necessary and, better yet, it has been organic. I believe God laid these specific challenges at your feet so that you can face {some of} your fears and, despite all odds, emerge victorious.

You have had a habit of dismissing your accomplishments. You would achieve something you worked hard for and, when the moment of glory appeared, you would shy away from acknowledging your sacrifice and strength. You would let the moment for joy pass you by, all in the name of humility, I suppose. Then, the moment would be gone, and on to the next goal you would push toward. This has everything to do with how you were raised. Be humble, be quiet, praise God, and pray. That worked for a long time, but, especially in the last 5 years, you have learned there is a need for nuance in the previous mantra you lived by for so long.

There have been countless times when you have been advised or even pushed to follow a certain path, but you choose, instead, to follow your intuition. From pursuing Peace Corps to teaching in Korea, you proved that this life is yours and you have all the tools to achieve your dreams.

This new mantra, I have all the tools I need to succeed, will be the soundtrack to this new chapter. Because you have shown how time and time again, no matter who says no, no matter what barrier is designed to keep you down, you will overcome. And that deserves celebration.

In the beginning of the Becoming 30 project, you wrote a letter to James Baldwin. Since learning about the greatest writer and social critic of the Civil Rights Movement, you have felt an intense validation for your dreams. Because of the way Baldwin lived his life, the fear that once held you back became a steppingstone at your feet. Because of James Baldwin, you know it is possible to achieve all that you desire. He laid the foundation, the groundwork, for the language and fire you feel. The sadness, the guilt, the rage, the hope are all a part of you, and you are more open to acknowledging these complexities. At a time in your life when you felt lost and directionless, James Baldwin was your guiding light. Watching clips from his speeches and interviews validated what was next for this young girl who was told to be quiet and pray, to remain humble and unheard; you were called to testify. You quickly learned the burden of testifying. It did not automatically invite understanding.

Vulnerability can be tiring and triggering. You had to accept that there are people who still see sharing pain and truth as a sign of weakness. You had to accept how the draining nature of opening yourself up to criticism can leave you hurt all over again. But that was just the beginning of growth. Now, you can see freedom on the horizon. You can accept that becoming who you were born to be is a process that requires patience and constant reflection. You can make out the beauty in the struggle.

It makes perfect sense why you fight for freedom. Your upbringing was confined. Now you choose to wander free and far, write without boundary, and explore what it means to be a free woman.

The absolute goal in becoming 30 is to know myself well. I want to recognize when I allow my insecurities or ego to take control. I want to understand when the resistance I feel is a sign to stop or a signal to push through. I want to know when it is the time to sit still and listen and when it is time to take action. I want to be so in tune with myself no one will be able to convince me to ignore my emotions. I will always be becoming someone and something else. That is the beauty of becoming. I will strive to find the beauty in what comes before freedom; fear.

This decade is mine. This life is mine. I choose to spend my energy on my passion for self-development and asking how we can create a better future. I choose to embrace all that I am and try to become a better version of myself every day. This decade will be the decade I accomplish what I was born to do. Because I am ready and so are you.


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