Photo via: Oprah.com
Whether she’s making Golden Globe history or taking care of her Academy of girls, there’s no doubt that Oprah Winfrey continuously sets and breaks her own standards of Black excellence. And although she is considered among the wealthiest people in the world, her journey began with humble roots. Born on January 29, 1954 into rural poverty by way of Kosciusko, Mississippi and was raised by her grandmother. After a tumultuous life during her early childhood, Oprah would go on to achieve in ways that many could not have imagined.
But even with all her excellence, Oprah still faced times of uncertainty and doubt.
Back in 2012, the media mogul took to her own magazine to write a letter to her younger self. The result? A beautiful reminder that we all can learn from: the power of loving yourself and following your purpose.
“Dear beautiful brown-skinned girl,
I look into your eyes and see the light and hope of myself.
In this photo you are just about to turn 20, posing outside the television station where you were recently hired as a reporter. You’re proud of yourself for getting the job, but uncertain you’ll be able to manage all your college classes before 1 and arrive at the station by 1:30 for a full day’s work. Even so, your biggest concern is how to manage your love life with Bubba. Yes, you are dating someone named Bubba.
On this day you’ve brought him to the station to see where you work, hoping he’ll be proud, too. He seems less than impressed. The truth is, he’s intimidated. You don’t know this, though, because you can see yourself only through his eyes. A lesson you will have to learn again and again: to see yourself with your own eyes, to love yourself from your own heart.
You’ve spent too many days and years trying to please others and be what they wanted you to be. You will have to learn that the wounds of your past—rape, molestation, whippings for ‘stepping out of place,’ and not being allowed to show anger or cry afterward—damaged your self-esteem. Yet through it all, you’ve held on to a belief in God and God’s belief in you.
That will be your single greatest gift: knowing there is a power greater than yourself and trusting that Force to guide you.
The trajectory of your life changed the day you answered the call from Chris Clark, the news director at WLAC-TV. Your response was ignited by the words of your then-favorite Bible verse, Philippians 3:14. ‘I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.’
Knowing there is a ‘high calling’ is what will sustain and fulfill you.
From where I sit now, viewing your journey, there are few regrets. Only months before this picture was taken, you wrote a poem about a ‘woman becoming.’ Even then you understood that success was a process and that moving with the flow of life and not against it would be your greatest achievement.
Love you deeply,
If you could send a letter to your younger self, what would you say? Each month, we’re writing powerful messages to kids everywhere with our Because Of Them We Can Box. Learn more about it here.