This post is an excerpt from Twenties Unscripted: A Journey of Womanhood, Writing, and Relativity. The full essay is available in the book, which is currently available for pre-sale here.
You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot – it’s all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive. Dr. Maya Angelou, 1928-2014
You made me a phenomenal woman before I even had any semblance of curves or any inkling of wit or any ounce of strength. You made me a phenomenal woman before I learned how to define womanhood for myself, before I labeled myself a feminist, before I learned to demand respect from both men and women alike. You made a phenomenal woman long before my body had stretch marks or my ego had bruises or my heart had scars. You made me a phenomenal woman when I was just a little girl, hooked to your poems yet so unaware of how they would later speak the rhythm of my life.
You made it OK for me to be a caged bird long before I knew I was caged, long before I would trek through the sort of mud in life that would make me feel like a prisoner in my own body.