Written by Brittany Shawnté
I’m really in love with Orange is the New Black‘s Danielle Brooks (who plays Taystee on the show). From the first time I saw her, I immediately connected to her. One, she was dark chocolate and cornbread fed like me, and seemed so confident in herself and what she had to offer. That inspired me to do the same. Two, she’s so incredibly talented, not only as an actress but a singer too! Three, she stands up for various causes, and encourages other women to love themselves.
But Danielle, like all of us, didn’t always have it so together. We all went through our rough teen years, and would go back and tell our younger selves so much if we could! Danielle penned a letter to her 15-year-old self for Refinery 29, explaining some of the things she wish she knew back then.
Check out some highlights from the letter below!
Why Danielle wished she had journaled throughout her life:
“You don’t know this yet, but one day you will write a book. The writing will be so much easier because you took a little extra time out of your day to journal. And when you get older, you’ll laugh at how boy-crazy you were and how many times you threatened to run away from home.
On doing what you want to do regardless of other people’s opinions:
You really quit cheerleading because of how you felt you looked in your skirt? Okay! Never quit anything again because you’re scared of what others might think of you — unless you become a stripper, only exception. But even then, quit because you want to.
To never shy away from who you are:
“You are different, Danielle. You are not an ordinary 15 year old, and that is okay. That doesn’t make you better or less than anyone. But what you must not do is dim your light. You have a lot of love to give and believe it or not, it is not as easily accessible for others to give the same. People have a lot of hang ups that will make them guarded, but continue to operate out of love. It will always win.”
To cherish your family while you still can:
Keep up with your family. Pick up the phone as much as you can. Reach out as much as you can. They will be the only people that will consistently love you and be there through the good and the bad. Never stop praying for them.
Danielle ends the letter with one final good piece of advice: “One last thing, follow this mantra until your final year: Stay fearless and keep swimming,” she wrote.
I needed to read some of this right NOW!
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