If Only You Knew
By Natalie Henry
Subconscious writes a letter to assure Natalie of the doubts she has about her self-worth.
Life isn’t what you thought it would be. No late night high school parties. No teenage love affairs. No sleepovers to gossip about school drama. No making stupid mistakes that you would regret in your 20s, and later laugh at in your 40s. Just home: waking up, logging on, and falling asleep, just to do it all over again. It’s different, it’s hard trying to live life with only four walls, a laptop, and a window. One with sunlight flickering through but not quite the light of life. Just you with yourself. Just you with your thoughts.
If only you knew that texting “lmao” while having a mental breakdown doesn’t show mental stability. Saying that you’re fine when you’re not doesn’t help anyone. If only you knew that people can’t read your mind like they do in romcoms. It’s a fantasy; one that would’ve been magical to have but shouldn’t be relied on. I know it’s hard to let people in when you still get the same sorry result for a friend. The ones who barely reach out. The ones who are over obsessive with what you do. Even the ones who completely switch personalities on you. Trust me, I know, but if only you knew that your true circle is on their way. The circle that inspires one another. The circle that will be there no matter how far you go. The circle that will make you happy without causing you to suffer first. That’s the circle that you’ve been waiting for. I mean no one can quite top myself, but if only you knew.
If only you knew that during the wee hours of the night, when you lie awake wondering why you have no one to talk to, that I was right there; that I was always there. If only you knew that the value of conversation with others is just as important as communicating with yourself. You don’t have to wait to tell someone your regrets to reflect, nor wait to share your achievements to celebrate. I know the satisfaction of sharing those moments are adoring, but sometimes the only person you need to talk to is me. I know what you’re thinking before you even say it. I know what you’re feeling before you even acknowledge it. I know you, so why can’t you trust me?
Instagram says you’re pretty but if she had your lips, your hips, your hair, your flare, she would be just beautiful. She is light skinned; a fair looking lady who would be “just beautiful.” But if only you knew that loose curls aren’t good hair. Light skin may be desired by society but you are my desire, my entity, my greatness, my beauty. If only you could look past your tall awkwardness, covered with various shades of melanin, topped with your kinky hair, just to see that beauty. Seeking your allure through all the world’s madness makes you incredible. The strength it takes may be immeasurable, but if only you knew that you were born with that greatness.
If only you knew that love and happiness doesn’t come from another, rather yourself for others to build upon but never for them to plant. Loving yourself starts with assurance. You know that I always tell you that you’re bright and beautiful. But you’ve always taken little regard simply because you’re not assured of it. You don’t believe me? Why? Is it because you’re blind to your beauty and intelligence, or is it because you don’t know how to hold your head high with such assertiveness. Well… let me tell you what I see. I see an amazing young lady whose drive carries her to great lengths. Who goes after anything she wants. Who always looks for ways to improve, not only for herself but others too. She has inspired many, close and afar which she may not even know, but I do. I know that she’s sweet. She’s kind. She’s smart. She’s beautiful.
Everyone has demons that they’ll spend a lifetime fighting. Grades will slip, friends will come and go, self-worth will even leave you in the darkness. Your demons will forever be, but it’s time you stopped fighting. It’s not your fight nor is it mine either. It’s about our spirit shining light on the parts of us that’ve been dark for years. An equal and opposite source, exceeding the power of such negativity. I’m not telling you to forge happiness, I’m telling you to be with me. When we’re together, there’s no division between good and bad; just us. Is that enough for you? Just being with me? We could sparkle and shine like diamonds. If only I could be your rock like you are mine. The force that’s so valuable that you can’t live without. But if you only knew, if only you knew.
I’ve always depended on others to be happy and through this pandemic where other people aren’t an option, I’ve had the chance to explore the relationship with myself. One night, I imagined hearing all the things that I’ve always wanted to hear. Then I explored that dynamic by saying those things to myself. I soon realized how unsatisfied I was hearing those things come from me. In a way, it sounded synthetic and ungenuine, and that’s where my inspiration sparked.
Natalie Henry is an African-American poet, writer and author of her award-winning memoir, “It was Me and You." Her sole drive as a writer focuses on unpacking the memories of her life, the standards of society and her imagination of what could there be in this world. From the young age of 7, Henry has been a self writer, loving writing for the true feeling of it. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Henry unpacks her niche in writing as a high school girl. She continues to explore various styles and genres as her love for writing grows infinitely.