How is that two words can hold so much weight? Why does every ounce of that adjective feel like the support of 1,000 ancestors, a self-love that can move mountains, and everything I’ve been searching for in this world in the wrong places, instead of within? It tastes like the abundance of the Earth, and tears of relief.
I never knew it truly, until now—that the Universe has my back. She shattered what used to be my dreams, including attending my dream school, Spelman College. She forced me to rebuild from scratch. She made me discover who I was outside of a “Spelman Woman”, an honorable title that I invested all of my self-worth in. But what happens when you cannot be pretty, polished, have a seemingly inseparable friend group, make straight A’s, draw every man in that you see with one glance, cure cancer, have it all together, AND on top of that, have the funds to do so for eight consecutive semesters?
At all. Times.
In combination with neglecting my healing of truly raw wounds from a childhood of being bullied and abused, trying to live up to a grandiloquent image (instead of focusing on what really mattered), and looking for love in all the wrong places, my mental and emotional self deteriorated in college. So I was catapulted back to Delaware, the place that I swore that I would leave for Atlanta, Georgia, and never look back.
While home last year, I suffered from a deep depression, and dwelled within that part of my psyche most of the time, sometimes to the point of sickness and even worse. My family did their best to assuage my aching spirit, but I couldn’t fathom the fact that I went from attending one of the best schools the country has to offer, to returning home and bagging groceries (which I now no longer have to do, thank God). I felt like I let myself down, and had no clue how or if I’d return to my beloved Spelman College.
Then one dawn, around 3 a.m., Mother Universe spoke to me and whispered,
So, what are you going to do? Because this is no way to live, my love.
You can’t stop now.
I thought about it. Staying down is easy. Searching for happiness and loving yourself, despite feeling alone was hard work.
But something told me plainly and clearly: Do it tf anyway.
One of my fondest dreams since the tender age of five was to become a poet, and pen my own books. So instead of waiting for this grand opportunity to fall out of the sky and define me, I decided to create my own opportunities, starting with writing my very first poetry collection, Water Comes First. It took the whole entire year of 2017 to write, gently reminding me to be vulnerable, open, honest with myself, and ultimately, the world about who Maya truly is. This is the woman that I created for myself, that no one can take away in any shape, way or form.
Achieving my dream, and coping with poetry has unleashed a rush of healing and self-love that I have never experienced before, and I know in my heart that this is only the beginning. As a result, I’ve become at peace with giving and receiving healthy love. My family, friends, and boyfriend have showered me with beautiful and genuine support. It’s pushed me to elevate my mental, emotional, and spiritual health in ways that I’ve never had to courage to do, and allowed me a safe space to speak my truth. I am becoming deeply rooted, or, grounded in my reality. A flower blooms only when she goes within, and takes her time to grow. She honors every stage, never rushing the process. She explores her depths
One of my favorite quotes by the brilliant late Audre Lorde is this:
“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.”
That is the moral of the story that I hope to impart with others on this complex, beautiful journey of womanhood. That you must be your own, first and foremost. Not your institution, society, or even your loved ones’ idealistic image of you. In most cases, people admire and want to be around your most authentic self, anyway, because you’re then vibrating upon the frequency of who you were created and meant to be.
What makes you passionate? What makes you ascend to your highest self and give true love to yourself and others? What grounds you?
I don’t know what my next move is. But I know what my dreams and desires are, and that I will return to college and finish strong. I owe that to myself, those who believe in me, and my ancestors. All I can say, is that I am ever thankful for this renewal. I am deeply rooted, I am actively healing, and in due time, I will blossom like never before.
I truly believe the same for anyone who should hear or read this piece.