My little sister turned fifteen yesterday. Never mind how that makes me feel somewhat decrepit, I’ve been spending more time thinking about the distance from there to here.

It’s not often you get to do that- sit down and reflect on where you were then. But when you do have the time it’s almost bewildering how much has changed and how far you’ve come. When I was fifteen, I was finally on the upswing of high school. I had learned to organize my work, prioritize and maintain a social life. I had my day schedule fleshed out and I was in my groove. Academics, arts, family, church- all the things that make the list of groomed young black girls. I had it under control.

Fifteen was also the age that I finally began to come into myself. I didn’t understand the non-physical connotation of that phrase and frankly having D-cups before any of my peers’ times, I figured I had come into myself as far as I was going to. It was only after overhearing (read: eavesdropping) my mother and aunts talk about how I was growing up, did I fully get what the concept meant.

Over catnip tea and hard dough bread, my mother gabbed on about how I was becoming my own woman with my own style, my own preferences and my own priorities. I didn’t look like a clone among my friends and I’d thrown out the platform Steve Maddens that I’d begged and pleaded for the year before. I was her child coming into bloom and it was a proud moment and somewhat surreal.

Surreal is what I felt sitting across from my sister in the nail salon and watching her slide away on her iPhone. It felt like just yesterday, I was standing in her room painted the Ballet Slippers shade I picked for my mani. Meanwhile in front of me was a young woman picking a coraly shade for her hands and something between a lilac and a fuschia for her toes.

Coming into yourself is a beautiful thing. And I think that when you’re younger it happens almost naturally, you become something because being a child is no longer practical. But what happens when that growth isn’t prompted? What happens when that growth feels stalled.

One of the hardest things to avoid in this grown up life is finding the strength to continually change. One day the dynamic you, you cultivated wakes up and goes through the motions until the sun sets and wakes up and does it all again. You interact with the same people, you coddle them, because the truth is in your next stage they might get left behind. But who are you to stagger yourself for no one else’s gain? By staying behind you don’t do any favors, instead you’ll grow more restless knowing this is not where you belong. Sometimes all it takes is looking back to where you came from to be inspired about who you could be. You’re not a finished product, you have more work to do. And sure that’s hard but it’s hard to keep a soul from getting to its next stage.

Today, remember your soul will never stop growing. Be restless enough to come undone and come into yourself again.

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