Solange Knowles reflects on becoming a teenage mother in a powerful new letter to her younger self.
In the letter, penned for Teen Vogue, the 30-year-old singer opened up about the “fear” and “triumph” she’d face as well as how she’d have to cope with constant negativity from haters along the way.
“There will be fear. a lot of it. there will be triumph. a lot of it. there will be constellations you want to reach for but can’t put your finger on. you will trace them like the scars on your body you got from trouble and the times of your life. you will take the long way to get to these Orions. the long way will become a theme in your life, but a journey you learn to love,” she began.
“You will dive head first without looking into phases that you are certain of who you are,” she continued, before detailing her eccentric evolution. “Some of these stages include: the dance-is-life (aka “this leotard is my second skin”) phase. The Bible-thumping-church-camp phase (which coincided and contradicted with the Fiona-Apple-fan-club-president phase). The Nas-aficionado-brown-lip-liner-and-Vaseline phase. The Rasta-vegan-thrifter-who-is-determined-to-marry-Brandon-Boyd phase. The football-player’s-girlfriend-who-wears-braided-blond-highlights-and-swears-by-capri-pants phase.”
Meanwhile, when it came to combating haters, Knowles revealed that confidence is the best weapon. “When you go out into the world feeling confident in who you are and what you reflect, young folks will call you names and grown folks will call you names,” she explained. “It’s ok. one day you will name yourself, and that name will belong to you. it will not be the ones they ordained: ‘crazy, ugly, attention-seeking, weirdo.’ ”
Of course, the negativity didn’t cease as she entered adulthood. However, according to the mother of one, she’s discovered different ways to cope. “I really hate to tell you this, but sometimes you will still get called these things as an adult, except you will actually embrace some of them,” she wrote. “You will learn that these are just words. words that only have power if you choose to give them power. every once in a while they will hurt, but you will choose to turn those words into a symbol of beauty.”
Elsewhere in the letter, Knowles reflected on the toughest year of her life — which included the death of her childhood friend Marsai Song and the birth of her now 12-year-old son, Daniel Julez.
In 2004, Song was killed in a drive-by shooting. In October of that same year, Knowles and now ex-husband Daniel Smith Jr. welcomed their son. Both events are memorialized with angel wing tattoos on each of the artist’s wrists.
“Seventeen will be the hardest year of your life,” wrote Knowles. “It will grow you up almost immediately. you will lose your best friend whom you love so much to gun violence in a single moment, and give birth to a new one within a year.”
“You will be terrified, and it’s ok that you don’t know what the future holds,” she explained. “Some people will count you out because of the decision you’ve made to bring another life into the world so young, but you made the decision out of love and will live with the decision in love.”
Learning to love herself and how to “empathize with and forgive those who may have taken a bit of that pure love away” is something Solange said she learned through motherhood.
It’s also something she no doubt learned from her mother, Tina Knowles Lawson. “She is a wonder,” she wrote of Lawson who ran a salon when Knowles was a child – which she built from the ground up. “You realize watching a woman balance being a supportive mother, building a successful business from the ground up that was started in her garage, and giving back to the community will make you feel invincible and like the word ‘no’ is just an echo in the universe that you’ll never know.”
She added, “You often take her for granted, but you know with every joint in your bones that she is a phenomenon and you strive to make her proud. you should thank her out loud more, too; tell her you value her. roll your eyes and your neck less. it’s not as cute as you think. tell her you appreciate all that she does, for she makes the impossible look effortless. she surrounds you with other black women who do the same. you study them, and will constantly think of all their stories, their beauty, their strife and their stride. they break down all of the archetypes and stereotypes that you see of black women on tv and in magazines, so you don’t trust those anymore. you thank them for re-writing the script before it was ever etched in your memory.”
In conclusion, Solange dished out a solid reminder that while no one’s journey is alike, nothing, not even fear and the unknown, is forever: “There will be pain, there will be doubt there will be beauty, there will be the unknown. There will be so many moments of joy and delight that the whole universe will feel painted in hues of amber and wonder. There will be times you are so sad you can’t lift your head. And there will be times you are so happy that the sensation of life knocks you down.”
“But most importantly, there will be you. a whole, whole lot of it. and you will feel good about who she is and who she is still becoming,” she signed off.