There is a lot for you to hear about the world out here.
Dear younger me,
I am so happy for who I am. I am grateful for every good step that I took back then, but also for the wrong steps. The world is full of opportunities and chances. The only thing you need to do is grab them. Some things will probably be different from your expectations, but trust me, you will make it and everything will work out.
Do not be hard on yourself. Keep it simple and focus on your dreams and goals. I would love for you to know something about these. It is ok for dreams to change as you grow up, but sticking to a goal is the best option. I had dreams of being a doctor, a pilot, or a lawyer. As time went by, I set my goal to become a lawyer, and that is what I am today.
As you grow up you will have friends. They can be your parents, your siblings, or your colleagues at school, people who are younger than you, older than you, or your age mates. They will all have different comments and thoughts about you – there are those who will be negative about everything and those who will be positive about everything. These positive thinkers are the people who will encourage you, and help you grow and move forward. As you grow, be the second type of a person. It will not only help you personally, but will also help other people.
Dear younger me,
Giving away your hope and determination never ends well. Be the type of a person who does not give up. Do not cave to the negativity of a thing, give yourself courage to adapt and make it with all the challenges that you meet in life. However daunting they might be, keep your hope that you are going to overcome them.
About relationships: not every man who says he loves you, loves you for sure. Make decisions while always thinking about the outcome to yourself and your dreams and goals. Understand that there is love and sometimes there are disappointments. Don’t let disappointments drag you away. Be strong and responsible!
This is so important… You should know that you are growing up and will become a beautiful lady in the future. As you grow up, there are changes that you will experience in your body. They might be surprising and stressful, but do not be afraid of the changes. Whenever you start recognizing changes in your body as a young girl, be sure to express that to older women around you. They will help you understand and feel normal. When you become curious, write and ask these people to give you details on what will happen.
Dear younger me,
The world has a different perspective about you as a girl. Be strong and believe in yourself. You will find people who are supportive and believe in girls’ power. There is another group of people who believe that girls are weak and dependent, and that they cannot stand and speak for themselves. Be the strong girl that everyone will look up to. Be the girl who helps the other girls to see their value and potential too.
As a human being, you are going to make mistakes in your life. Be a person who can accept her mistakes, but work to grow and not to repeat your mistake. Follow the Swahili saying “kutenda kosa sio kosa kosa kurudia kosa.” This means making a mistake is not a mistake, repeating the same mistake makes it a mistake.
As you grow older, work to be better, grow each and everyday, see and grab opportunities, be a helper, think of who you want to be in the future, and start to create that environment now. One more reminder: as a girl you need to love yourself and understand yourself. I wish you all the best.
Chonge Tukwa is a Mentor with the Kisa Project and a former Mentor with Binti Shupavu, which are leadership and life skills programs targeted to secondary school girls in Tanzania. She graduated from Makumira Secondary School where she was a stand-out Kisa Scholar herself. She earned her bachelor’s degree in law from Mzumbe University in 2017 and joined the Binti Shupavu team in January, 2018. She was promoted to Kisa Mentor in January, 2019. Chonge enjoys movies and traveling with friends.
“I really admire her kindness, how she respects us, and the way she puts on decent clothes…. keep on having a good heart, keep on being like you are, and do not change.”