I had a recent interaction with an unlearned, wet-behind-the-ears, 20-something who, in the immortal words of Real Housewife Kenya Moore, came for me when I CLEARLY did NOT send for her. I could have LET.HER.HAVE.IT., but something in my spirit held me back. If this same incident happened a few months ago, I would have instantly whipped out my West Baltimore alter ego, LaQuisha, and I would have read her like the Yellow Pages. But something has taken hold of me in the last few weeks that I can’t quite explain. It’s a sweet, beautiful calm that doesn’t have to defend herself with loud words, a neck roll, or a sassy attitude. Quite simply, I made the choice to stop being a little girl and become a grown-ass woman.
At the end of last month, I decided to celebrate my 10-year adulthood anniversary by reviewing Landmark Education’s premier course, the Landmark Forum. My original plan for rejoicing in this milestone was to spend a full day at the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa. But I opted for this 3 ½-day emotional, spiritual, and mental boot camp instead.
On the first night of the course, I raised my hand and stood up to ask for clarity on a concept I was struggling with. I was trying to understand the concept theoretically, but the course leader encouraged me to put my life smack dab in the middle of my question so that I could really get it. I went for the gusto and shared about my lifelong struggles with my weight and my challenge to find the love of my life. He looked me straight in the eye and said, “Well, why aren’t these things present in your life right now?” Really, dude? I went OWF on him for about two minutes listing all the diet and fitness plans I had done over the years and every profile I had set up on countless dating sites.
And then he spun my little head around when he said, “Leah, when are you going to grow up and stop being a little girl?” I had LaQuisha poised and ready to fire, but I kept her caged because I saw his point. In a matter of two minutes, I went from being 34 to 4. I became a stomping, raving four-year-old little girl who didn’t know how to use her words to own her successes and accept her weaknesses. I took my seat after our interaction, but my head was still sizzling from this new revelation.
I went home and had the best sleep that I had had in weeks. When I woke up the next morning, I realized that my inner four-year-old ran the show A LOT. So I sternly sat four-year-old Leah in a corner and told her the truth. (Hey, if I can keep it real with myself, who will?) I told her that it took that it took a grown-ass woman NOT a little girl to leave our beloved Baltimore and the safety of our family 10 years ago to strike out in the wilds of the DC Metro Area. I let her know how proud I was that we created an amazing circle of great friends, extended family, and colleagues that we could depend on. I told her that I knew how hard it was to build up our professional confidence in the tough world of association publishing but we did it anyway. I let her know how proud I was that we opened up our heart and let two great men in to teach us how to love. I told her how much I loved our ever-burgeoning adventurous spirit that allowed us to try anything and everything from new cuisine to traveling all across the world.
Most importantly, I told her that I would ALWAYS be there for her. I told her that I knew she showed up a lot, especially when I got scared, frightened, or threatened, because we no longer have the traditional, earthy support structure of our parents. But I reminded her that there are at least 100 people in our life right now who are willing (and some who are literally begging!) to support us in any way possible.
Finally, I invited her to remember the day that we got swept into adulthood on May 15, 2003. My housing plans shifted suddenly and I had to move from Baltimore into my new rooming agreement in Suitland, MD, an entire two weeks before I had originally planned. I left work early, ran to the Metro, and caught the first MARC train smoking back to Baltimore. Just before my brain went into overdrive, it was like God literally stepped into my commuter car and I just heard a gentle voice that said, “Leah, there’s NOTHING that you and I can’t do TOGETHER.” I’m still fuzzy on exactly how I packed up my entire life and moved to Suitland in two days. But I told four-year-old Leah that through 10 years of laughter, tears, disappointments, achievements, friends gained and lost, pounds shed and packed, lovers cherished and kicked to the curb, that I knew one thing for CERTAIN: that with God NOTHING shall be impossible (Luke 1:39). Even when I was a hot mess flaming towards being an even hotter mess, God was always there to pick up the pieces and put us back together again. Four-year-old Leah seemed to like that last part a lot, and suddenly I was allowed to blossom into the grown woman I was always meant to be.
Since that weekend, I let four-year-old Leah be comforted in a cozy corner of my heart with a red Huggie drink, a few slices of highly processed Velveeta cheese, and “Price is Right” reruns (Don’t judge her 1983 throwback snacks and her love for Bob Barker! And much to the delight of my fair readers, there shall be an upcoming post about the strange but true connection between Bob Barker and my potty-training days.)
I realized that it takes something to stand up and take FULL RESPONSIBILITY for my life, the victories, the flaws, and everything else in between. I now know that my journey can’t be sustained by a limited, four-year-old’s vision of the world. It’s going to take a GROWN-ASS WOMAN to step up to the plate and be more confident than she’s ever been before, to love with an open heart and a sound mind, to pursue her career and dreams with passion, and to know that God will be with her every step of the way.
If you need a GROWN-ASS WOMAN jam to go with this post, please treat yourself to one of my favorites, “Grown Woman” by Mary J. Blige.