Dear young man,
I know. I know that you are hardly ever given your flowers before it’s too late. I know that your good deeds often go unnoticed and are under appreciated, that they are more often than not deemed your obligation as opposed to a testament to your character. I know that you live in a world that appreciates what you have more than it will ever appreciate you as a human being. I know that you are hardly ever commended for being strong, hardly ever called a “strong, young black man” because you are expected to be inherently so by virtue of being a man. I know you live in a world that seldom cheers you on, one that never really roots for you. I know that you now live in a world that tends to villainize you before it even knows you, that you are only this young, yet you are already silently shouldering the expectations of many.
I also know, dear young man, that you aren’t inherently strong, that you too, just like everyone else, are learning on the job. I know that sometimes you too are tired of being strong, of being expected to be strong. I know that sometimes it all gets too much for you, that you get overwhelmed by the expectations placed on your shoulders, that you get worn out from everyone expecting you to be this or that. I know that on some days, it takes you hours to muster up the courage to get out of bed and face the day, that on some days, you too just want to crawl up into a corner and bawl your eyes out. I know that sometimes you too would like to be asked how you are really doing and be allowed to openly list out everything that is wrong. I know that sometimes you wish you were seen as a human being before you were seen as a “man”, that sometimes you too just want to be heard, to be seen. I know that sometimes you wish that you too were given room to be afraid, to be confused and lost, to be hurt and disappointed, to not have it together…
And so because I know, here are your flowers. Here are your flowers, you strong young man. You are a wonder to behold. I am in awe of your strength to keep going when no one is cheering you on, your strength to be your own cheerleader to show up for yourself when no one else does. I marvel at your strength to feign a smile, to feign being okay when you aren’t because that is what you were taught to do. I am amazed by how you are able to prop up all the pressure heaved on you without murmur, without ever complaining. I am amazed by your ability to handle by yourself all the things you do not talk about, all the things you feel you are not allowed to talk about.
For all that and more, you are an absolute king, young man. You are a king when the world loves you; you are a king when it doesn’t. You are a king when they see all that you do; you are still a king when they don’t. You are a king when you get it right; you are a king when you butcher it. You are a king on the days that you do amazing things, you are a king on the days that you do not do anything productive. You are a king just because you keep going in this world that is often unkind to you. You are a king just because you are here, because you are still trying. You are a king just because you are…you.
You too, young man, are allowed to feel. You are allowed to feel everything as it comes, to be sensitive. You too are allowed to be afraid sometimes. You are allowed to not know exactly what you are doing or where you are going. You are allowed to make mistakes and learn from them, to be messy. You are allowed to grow slowly. You are allowed to not have everything figured out, to not have everything together right now. To put it simply, you too, young man, are allowed to be human.
You are of great value. You too are of inherent value. You are of value regardless of what possessions you may or may not have. That is not where your value lies. Your true value lies in your being a human being, irrespective of what anyone else tells you . You are worthy. You too are worthy of love simply because you are human. You are worthy of a love that is patient and kind to you, a love that sees and hears you. You too deserve to a love that cherishes you even on the days you are difficult to love. You are worthy, young king. You are worthy of it all. You are seen. You are heard. You are loved.
And above all else, all your dreams are still valid. You can be anything you want to be in this life. And I’m cheering you on every step of the way. Keep going at it, young king.