If I’m honest, there are only a few things in the world I love more than a good book. If you haven’t heard by now, Gabrielle Union’s We’re Going to Need More Wine is fire. It’s bold, risky, beautiful and captivating. Like fire, it’s capable of burning you - in the best way, of course - a time or two. It’s just that honest. What I love most about it though, are the nuggets of wisdom that demand readers’ attention. Though there were way too many truth nuggets to include them all, here are some of my favorite Gabrielle Union inspired life lessons.
“Maybe one day, when I’m a real grown-up, I will wear my hair natural and I won’t contour my nose. Hell, I’ll just be me. And hopefully people will accept me the way I am.”
Easier said that done, right? But not matter how difficult is may seem sometimes, we’ve got to master this - consistently. Take a moment to think about and I mean truly think about all the things that make you amazing. Are you fashion-forward? Witty? Full of joy? An encourager? A positive thinker? Are you about your business? Focused? Determined? Are you analytical? A problem solver? An amazing mom? Organized? An activist? Community leader? Servant? These are all fabulous qualities - worthy of love and admiration.
You are fabulous - even on your worst days. Even when your make-up is sloppy and your hair is a mess. Get this. You. Are. Still. Amazing. So go ahead and love your fabulous self. Sure, you haven’t fully arrived. Neither have I. The growth journey never ends but you can always celebrate your progress. Love yourself. No contour, Botox or perfection required.
Take the highroad. Not matter how difficult it is. It changes lives.
“I see you, Mom. I see what you are doing for these kids, and how you keep them together. I give you respect, because nobody is going to give you praise for doing what black women have done forever, raising kids who are not their own.”
This section was so powerful. In it, Union talks about watching her mother go through a divorce and how despite her own pain, she took and still chooses to take care and love children that are not her own. Besides, what good is there in causing innocent children pain?
Whatever situation you’re facing, taking the high road is never easy. It’s long, exhausting, selfless and often overlooked and lonely, but it has always been worth it. It is still worth it. It changes lives and in doing so, it will change your life too. Take it. No matter how difficult it is. Your future, mature self will be so grateful you did.
P.S. Black Girl Magic has always been real <3
Trust your instincts.
“I ignored my instincts. Part of that was the racial component of where I lived. I was very aware of how my coworkers and the people in the community viewed black people. So my instincts said, ‘Run. Run. Run. This is a bad situation.’ But my racial solidarity and my “good home training” as a “polite” woman said, ‘Stay put. Don’t feed a stereotype. Don’t be rude.’”
Always, always, always trust your instincts. They are almost always 100% accurate. I won’t go into the details of Union’s rape but sometimes, womanly instincts trump “good home training,” and being “polite.” Follow your gut. You’re feeling what you’re feeling for a reason. Trust that feeling. You won’t steer yourself wrong.
Be thankful. It can always be worst.
“Now I can appreciate the care with which I was handled. Now, I know it rarely happens that way. And it really rarely happens that way for black women. I am grateful I had the experience I did, wrapped up in the worst experience of my life.”
No need to get fancy here. There is ALWAYS a reason to be grateful. If you don’t think so, take a deep breathe. Thousands of people around the world can’t do that. Some can’t because they’re dead and gone and others can’t because a machine is breathing for them. Enough said.
Therapy saves lives.
“Group therapy was the only place I could feel “not crazy.” I was around other young people with the same stresses I have, the same fears and triggers.”
Let’s be honest. We’ve all been hurt. We’ve all been betrayed and we’ve all been done wrong by someone. Those experiences leaves scars. Therapy helps us heal and there aint nothing wrong with that. Never be ashamed of that which helps you heal.
The color of and amount of #melanin in your skin do not represent your value, worth or level of #blackness.
“So let’s aim higher than merely talking about it. This cannot be a group hung of women validating women. Men must mentor girls as they grow into women, guiding them to find their own validation so they don’t seek it elsewhere in negative ways. Tell your daughter or niece she is great and valued not in spite of who she is, but because she is exactly who she is. Because dark skin and Afrocentric features are not curses.”
As beautiful as our skin is, we are not defined by how light, dark and pigmented it is. Vow to validate a young girl’s beautiful skin today, but don’t forget to validate all that she is, beyond her skin, as well. She is multifaceted, complex and captivating. Make sure she knows it.
Parenting is hard. Step-parenting is harder. But if you are one, do the work anyway and love it. You will grow because of it.
“That’s my advice to you stepparents out there. Whatever it is that you are, be consistent. You can’t be the cool, permissive hippie one day and the disciplinarian the next. And to all current or potential stepmothers: unless the mother is dead or in jail - and even then - it’s just a mistake to even try to scoot in her place. No one wants their mother replaced, whether she’s Mother Teresa or a serial killer.”
Parents, grandparents, foster parents and stepparents guide, mentor, coach, encourage, empower, uplift and love. And do it consistently. Wishy washy people are hard to trust. Your influence matters, even when it doesn’t seem like it.
Know what makes you happy.
“You can’t even think of ten things that make you happy,” she said. “What made you think you were ready for marriage? How is someone else supposed to make you happy if you don’t even know what makes you happy?”
Find out what makes you happy. Then show others what you need. No one can be what you need if you don’t know. Take some time and write out your “what makes me happy” list.
Refuse to live in fear.
“Sookie made me promise to tell you not to act out of fear. I can only add that you can be scared to death, as I’ve been while sharing these stories with you, and do the thing you need to do anyway. Here’s to us being afraid and doing it anyway.”
Screw fear. It’s a waste of time. Recognize it and then move past it. You have things to do and the world is waiting on you to do your part.
Sharita Hanley is an emerging writer with a passion for Middle Eastern Cultures. A self-dubbed Modern Scribe, her writing encompasses everything from travel writing to healthy food entries to ethnographic narratives to personal essays to poetry to blogging to case studies to business proposals to random musings.