Becoming A Woman

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photography // Coco Dandridge

creative direction // Kiah McBride

I imagine her in quality silk pieces that hug my frame, manicured nails trailing down the length of my body, and locs contorted in some gravity defiant style. She speaks softly but firm, a feminine essence that doesn’t require much yelling or backlash, a gentle whisper that puts out fires before they even start.

An HGTV-worthy home with Pinterest perfect cooked meals, healthy ones that nourish the body instead of deplete it of nutrients. Bed neatly made, every corner tucked, candles lit, flames dancing to the rhythm of the song streaming from a Spotify playlist. I’m dancing with it.

I picture her strong and she’s got it all together. Bank account balance slowly climbing past four figures. No debt, she’s controlled. She doesn’t want more than she can pay cash for. She’s patient and can save up for the bigger things in life.

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She handles conflict with pure finesse. Whenever the dark past tries to creep its way into the present, she commands it back to its place. She’s in control. She doesn’t forget, but she’s evolved, never allowing anyone or anything to knock her backward. She’s only concerned about progress. Lessons become bits of wisdom passed along to those behind her, or those who just haven’t gotten it yet. We all grow at a different pace. Purpose fulfilled.

Love flows effortlessly through her veins. She’s not trying to practice self-love, she is love.  It’s evident in her character, her kindness, her ability to forgive—even if just towards herself.

Yet there’s still a wildness to her, a mischievousness that dances behind her eyes. Playful but just so, you won’t know the full extent of her sexuality until you get close. And she rarely lets a man get close—choosey lover. She laughs loud and dances freely and unapologetically. She may slip a curse word or two. Okay three. She’s down-to-earth, close enough to hit her knees and pray every night.

I imagine her because she’s who I’m becoming. But the becoming isn’t quite what I expected it to be. It’s a constant friction between who I was and who I desire to be—loosing of chains that are double-locked around my ankle. I don’t always get it right—in fact I fail a lot. My temper slips up, my heart hurts, I question myself often, I self-destruct and scoop the ashes back into the bowl to shape and mold again. 10,000 hours of practice in hopes of becoming my best self.

But in the midst of that I’m learning to be kinder and gentler to me. Loving me. Diving deeper into the crevices, exploring the depths of who I am. I wade through the darkness but I don’t stay long, I refuse to drown there. In fact, I embrace it, and let the light shine on it and then shine brighter anyway.

I think that’s truly what being a woman is about. It’s not about perfection. It’s about the journey of becoming. Embracing who you are but never settling for who you could be.  It’s in those moments of success—the small wins that draw me closer to my ideal self—that I smile and say “you’ve got this girl. You’re doing just fine.” My own personal coach in the race of life.