Teen Vogue/Ryan McGinley

In her cover story with Teen Vogue for the Music issue, Solange Knowles shares an open letter she penned to her teenage self about life, love and everything in-between. Thelma Golden, director and chief curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem contributed the letter’s foreword.

Check out a snippet below.

“A LETTER TO MY TEENAGE SELF” by SOLANGE KNOWLES

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.

you will dive head first without looking into phases that you are certain of who you are.

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.

at the time, you are searching. seeking in every corner and pocket of the world for who you are. take your time, baby girl. there’s no rush to get there. you will sow each of these chapters in the land that you become. you will see bits and pieces of them scattered into the skin you grow into. you don’t have to figure everything out now. time will reveal itself. i promise you.

sometimes you push these phases to the max, and 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. 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.”

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. 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.

Read the full letter here.

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