The two young ladies were huddled together, holding on to each other for dear life. No we weren’t outside in arctic weather but rather in a conference room filled with professional sistahs. My split second decision to break away from an acquaintance and make a beeline for them was definitely not instinctive but rather a God-thing.
Introvert self-talk begins. Smile with your eyes Delphine. Reach out your hand. Give proper eye contact and add some soprano to that alto voice of yours. And then connect. What happens next is yet again a God-thing.
The young ladies had shared earlier to the group that they were just out of grad school. Infants. First real job in the professional world. Toddlers. And scared to be in this great big world about ready to make yet another career move. Preschoolers. So I know they were nervous as hell to be in a room of accomplished women who were there–not to embark on their first journey, but some on their third or fourth. You’re talking married for 20 years. Going through a divorce. Just got married. How does a 23 year old complete with all of that?!
I took less than ten minutes to say what I wish someone my age would have told my younger self back then. I had to first tell them my age. Because apparently being shorter and appearing younger doesn’t carry as much weight as a greying woman in four inch heels. Le sigh…
Disclaimer. I’m about to be 41. Yes I don’t “look” like 40 (whatever that is) but I do have one gray eyebrow to prove it and a morning backache that makes me think twice about wearing heels these days. Lol!
To my younger sistrens I say …
Don’t be intimidated. Seasoned Black women are a force to be reckoned with. You put us all in a room and gale force winds begin to swirl while animals scurry about. A mere turn of our heads and the room is at attention. A slight head tilt and the world moves on its axis. Remember when the black male anchor said “This is an earthquake” and ducked for cover? That was no earthquake! That was a black woman walking in the room. Head high. Hips swaying. And what?
It’s like I read their minds because the head nodding commenced and they were like “Yeah, so many of you are like…wow!” Black sistrens have that effect.
Lean in and learn. We’ve got some years under our belt younger sistrens. Don’t hesitate to acknowledge (and all hail respect that). Then decide what you want to glean. One of my mentors is a 71 year old retiree. We met on the job. I would take every available free moment of my work day to just hang out with her. She was on that Bal Harbour, Coco Chanel, Hermes status. I’m on that whatever I can get at Burlington Coat, Marshalls/Ross/Target, and Macy’s Clearance sales status. But she never made me feel like a second class sistah.
Once I got past the facade that others tripped over when they first met her, we became fast friends. I can call her anytime, bounce some ideas off of her and check in as needed. She helped me refinance my home. She helped me message my approach to my husband without getting into a huge tete-a-tete. She’s a wise soul with a take no prisoners attitude. I love her!
We want to learn from you too. Youthfulness is refreshing. It signifies all things new. Aging tends to take us from a place of motion to stagnancy. For those seasoned chicks who have some more living to do, we know that relevance doesn’t come from talking to our 40-something year old friends all the time. I have some girlfriends who are younger than me doing some crazy, sexy, cool things with their lives right now. I’m always inspired by younger women (at least the smart and forward thinking ones) who can teach me a thing a two. No, I’m not interested in learning a new dance from you but I would like to know more about IPO’s, the latest productivity app, or leadership movement that’s right around the corner.
Younger sistrens, you’ve got a lotta learning to do. Don’t be afraid to step out, spy out the land, and make those intentional relationships happen. As long as your motives are right, God will make room for you to grow.