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Hey sis, let me let you in on a little secret: I had to grow into my confidence.

I didn’t always wear my crown, nor did I recognize myself as a princess, so you can definitely understand that I stumbled into my queendom. Unlike many of you, I didn’t grow up in the era of #BlackGirlMagic, #GirlPower, #Feminisim or even healthy and strong friendship dynamics being driven into me through award shows, female empowerment performances, social media channels and fierce female mentors. Truth be told, I often put myself in compromising situations that challenged my character, faith and, most importantly, my queendom.

Looking back on it, I see I didn’t care enough about me to see my value. I never trusted my authenticity and voice. If I did, I’m sure it would’ve saved me years of being fake and putting myself in unnecessary situations. I believe people who truly love themselves have no problem denying entrance to anything or anyone that doesn’t add positivity to their life. This was a lesson I didn’t learn until my 28th year of life. And mind you, I just turned 29 in February. I'm still unlearning a lot of things that shaped how I live, love and even parent my son, Zion.

You see, on this journey called life, we go through specific stages that are meant to build or break us. However, a spiritual person understands there’s a blessing in every lesson.

“Arika, what do you mean?”

I mean, everything that is essentially tearing you apart outwardly is building character and integrity within. Rid your thinking of if it’s right or fair, and accept the fact that it will make you better. Operate from the perspective that there is no testimony without the test.

Although life’s mistakes have a way of making us feel as though we’re unworthy, you must understand you are deserving of all things good. I can’t imagine what some of you may be going through. Daily, I experience stories regarding some of your situations that clinch my heart. Can I let you in on a little secret? It does get better; the light does come in, whether you believe me or not. There’s an entire village of fierce female warriors rooting for your success, happiness and well-being. You can have the desires of your heart because you are brilliant, brave and beautiful.

The journey isn’t about becoming so you can stunt. It’s about blossoming into everything you were created to be so you can educate, inspire and shine for the next generation of fierce females. So pick up that crown sis, I'm rooting for you.