Black Thought: @Me: A Letter To Myself About Taking Up Space

Danielle Young is the content queen. A beloved and trusted voice in the media, she will always make you laugh. You may know her from her candid and viral red carpet clips; her powerful sit-down interviews; her way-too-funny, honest pop culture commentary; or from her viral interview series, “Real Quick”; or her hit show,”The Danielle Young Show.” Not only does Danielle shine as the talent in her videos, but her production skills make her the Beyoncé of Black AF viral video content.

Dearest Danielle:

You are indeed to whom this concerns. You’re in the midst of a happiness so deep, you call it joy. And even though you know this joy is from God themselves (I truly believe God is a they), It’s hard for you to trust it. You want to, but you question it. Do I deserve this? Should life be this easy? Why me?

Why not you?

I know you’re used to struggling and coughing up ashes because you’re constantly having to rise out of them; but all of that continued rising beyond every obstacle that could derail even the most steadfast of feet, 10 toes down and all, has gotten you here—in joy. And you can trust it. It’s yours because you’ve earned it. Trust it. I think it’s endearing that you’re learning how. 

You’ve carried your weight around literally and figuratively your entire life, so you’ve gotten used to just how heavy it can be. And whether it’s you making the weight look effortless or the fact that your demographic is invisible to most, it’s almost like no one knows the strain of the weight you’re carrying. And if they do acknowledge it, then sis, it’s your own fault. So you felt the need to shrink and not let them know how tired you were from lugging it all. Most of it didn’t even belong to you.

It’s a funny thing, yearning to be seen, but also wanting to shrink. That’s where you’ve spent most of your life, on a confusing and conflicting merry-go-round. You were called mouthy when you were a kid, being warned that your slick and loose tongue would get you in trouble one day. It has, so you shrunk; you became unsure of your own thoughts and whether or not you even matter. 

Those unsure feelings about yourself come back a lot. Why? You’ve been living what you thought were your dreams, especially professionally. You’ve gotten to work for companies and publications you literally used to pray about. But when you showed up as yourself in those spaces, you were often met with bristly receptions. So you taught yourself not to be too loud, too talented, or too anything that would make people uncomfortable with just how large you could be. It was frustrating to watch you dilute God’s gifts.

You learned that taking up space wasn’t ideal because you lost things because of it: friends, jobs, etc. So you edited yourself down. But that never quite worked, did it? Your unique abilities were and are wrapped up in the individual experience of being you. And in editing that, you edited away the blessing of being yourself.

One time, during an interview, your personal beacon Oprah Winfrey told you that we are all here in this life to master being ourselves. That’s it. That stuck. And sidenote, your energy allowed you to be in Oprah’s orbit on more than that one occasion. Now, if that doesn’t show you that you don’t need validation and that you are the validation, I don’t know what does!

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Your dream job became a nightmare, and time and time again, you were forced into shrinking. The shrinking was more than enough to know that it wasn’t your dream at all, but you foolishly held on because of the optics and what you thought was a golden opportunity. But then, you were fired…and the pandemic hit. It was like you were jolted from that nightmare in a cold sweat. And instead of shrinking, you shouted. The muzzle was released and you were able to be your unedited self, but not without trepidation. You created in a way that was unique to yourself and you created the space that you were to take up.

It still felt foreign to take up the space though. But you learned that taking up space wasn’t about just showing up loudly or boldly, but it was about being seen and being so deep into who you are, that who you are is understood; and even if it wasn’t, you don’t have to explain a thing. Taking up space is being true to who you are and who you were created to be. That divine being.

Jasfly, a woman who was gone too soon, once said, “When asked, ‘who do you think you are?’ Answer, ‘whom I was created to be.’” This urging haunts you in a way that allows you to stand in knowing that you are a divine creation here to master being you. There’s no one else who can do this assignment or even understands what it’s supposed to have given.

I was so proud when you took this energy and turned your series of unfortunate events into a flourishing career of abundance. You bet on yourself, and nothing says trust more than that. You’re doing this as the unique being you were created to be—no edits, no shrinking, all mattering. And this joy that you’re feeling, trust it because you are being who you’re called to be. Your joy doesn’t come from anything outside of all that you are. Yes, there is joy outside of you that you’re able to experience, but this joy you’re getting, this joy is from you, from God.

Who do you think you are?

Who you were created to be: Danielle Young. So, master that sh*t.

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