A Letter to My Ten Year Old Self

Dear Kalijah,

At this moment, you are only ten years old, having just started your last year of elementary school in Naples, Italy. When you are not holed up in your bedroom reading the latest Lemony Snicket novel from the library, you are playing at the skate park. Much of your time there is spent either rollerblading or trying to work up the courage to skateboard down a miniature ramp. I wish I could tell you that you mastered that skill by now, but unfortunately, becoming a skater girl was not in your genetic coding. As the older version of you, I expect that you are anxiously waiting for me to tell you exactly how your life turns out in the future. Patience was never your strong suit. So, let remind you of who you are and encourage your vibrant spirit.

I know how much the concept of aging terrifies you and that you want nothing more than to remain a child. But Kalijah, you need to understand that growing older is not the worst thing in the world. In eight short years, you will become an adult. You cannot stop that. There is no way to turn back time. These years will become some of your most treasured memories, so you must cherish them while you have them. Keep reading novels and allowing yourself to travel the world within your magnificent mind. Continue to take photographs of your experiences and save every single letter that people send you. I promise you that you will keep them all and that they remain some of your most prized possessions.

I also need you to understand the power that lies within your name. Kalijah Autumn Rahming. Your parents handpicked your name especially for you, meticulously selecting the consonants and vowels that would represent their never-ending love. Your name means “joyful,” which is an incredible representation of your personality. Your heart is full of nothing but love and light that you shine on all who know you. I am tired of watching you let people step all over your name and treat it as though it had no importance. I know that when you were nine years old, you told people to call you “KK” instead of Kalijah. You felt a wave of embarrassment whenever your name was spoken aloud because you knew that no one would be able to properly pronounce it on the first try. I really do understand what you’re going through. It is truly aggravating to repeatedly correct others about something you feel is easy to understand. However, you need to listen to me. Your name is a powerful representation of who you are and if you allow others to mistreat that, you are handing over your power.

You have so much value and were created to contribute so much joy and peace within the world. You tend to ignore all of your accomplishments and instead focus on all the things that you believe you are lacking. Start using a gratitude journal to capture the beautiful moments from each day so that you are reminded of how blessed you are.

Having crushes is a perfectly natural part of life. However, you have a tendency to overanalyze every situation that you are put in. I have noticed that if you believe a man does not have feelings for you, it will crush your sense of self-worth and confidence. In your adult life, you will often feel undesirable and ugly simply because no one has put forth interest in you yet. The key word there, Kalijah, is yet. The best relationships happen when both partners are whole. You are ten years old, so I wouldn’t say you’re quite there yet. Focus on maintaining the healthy statuses of your Nintendogs instead of your relationship status. Spend more time on blossoming your friendships and practicing your artistic hobbies.

Lastly, I want to remind you that you are a beautiful black girl. I remember how painful these years were. Not many of your friends look anything like you. I know how much you feel like you’re the odd one out. Your beautiful rich brown skin is a discomfort to you, rather than a joy. I know about the tears that you’ve quietly hidden into your pillow and of your secret prayers to become a shade or two lighter. It will take you a few years to realize that you were subconsciously chasing unattainable Eurocentric beauty standards. However, the thought processes are harder to rid yourself of. I can promise you that the days do become easier and that you are learning to become comfortable with yourself as a black woman. You will make it through all of your challenges.

Your rambunctious and infectious energy are is so ridiculously special. Never lose that.

I love you, Kalijah Autumn Rahming.

All photos courtesy of Kalijah Rahming

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