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Dear Younger Me

To my younger self:

You are a very fortunate young lady! Because your family loved you and encouraged you to embrace your faith at an early age, you have the beliefs, the standards and the strength to make good choices for yourself. Turn away from bad habits and overindulgences, and stand strong for what you believe, no matter what others are doing.  

Now that you are a college graduate, more opportunities are available to you than were open to women of color from past generations. Be grateful for these opportunities and use them to advance in a career in Corporate America. Remember to be intentional in all you do.

Don’t be afraid to take your leadership abilities and transition into an energized entrepreneur. As you do this, set a standard of ethics and behavior in your business. Then, hire other talented people, so they can excel as well. I know you are a compassionate person. Make it a priority to give aid to those children and families in need. Encourage others to follow you in this path.

You are going to be given wonderous blessings. Be ready to embrace them with acceptance and appreciation. You will find that being a wife will give you a partner who is offering you unparalleled joy. Motherhood will bring love and laughter to you in the most wonderous ways. 

While the challenges you face in your life may seem unsolvable at the time, if you rely on your faith, your family, and your friends to move you forward, all will be fine. 

Jy Maze 

Driven Entrepreneur, Keynote Speaker, Mentor, Philanthropist, Author

Dear younger Amani, 

Welcome to the grand adventure of life little one! Your life will be filled with love. Your mom will be your biggest fan and greatest supporter from day one. She will teach you that anything is possible at any age, that you can be whatever you want whenever you want, and even in the worst of times everything is fixable—or at the very least—bearable as you are stronger than you think you are. She will instill in you a great love for the arts, filling your weekends with trips to the Art Institute of Chicago, gallery openings, music festivals and Friday night hikes through the woods collecting treasures for Saturday night art projects that will serve as inspiration for your adult career in the arts. Be aware that this passion for the arts and your ability to make art will never change regardless of the careers you choose in fine art, the corporate art or the academic art worlds. 

Throughout the winding road of your career, you will land where you are meant to be—have faith that the path you are on is the right path. Though there will be challenges throughout your life, try to think of those challenges as plot twists in your life story rather than failures. You will learn more from these "plot twists" than you will from your successes, so recognize and appreciate the lessons they hold. Strive for happiness and not perfection in life. As much as you will try to chase perfection in all that you attempt in your life, it will not satisfy you the way happiness will. I know what you are thinking, Amani, and no, perfection is not happiness. They are, in fact, two very different things. Trust me on this one. You can be kind to others without falling into the trap of being a people pleaser. Know what your own personal boundaries are and be true to them without compromising your own happiness. Yep! There is that word again, "happiness." Learn it and live it and be sure that you are a source of happiness for others. Give the love and support that has fostered your happiness back to your friends and family through actions as words can sometimes fall short.

Learn to be a warrior and not a worrier because it's never as bad as you think it is. Remember your mother's words, "you are stronger than you think you are." Lastly, romance, yes, there will be a great love in your life; however, be patient. He will reveal himself at the right time, so rather than searching for him tirelessly, relax, have faith and find strength in your own independence for a bit.

I love you, Amani.