Illustration: Noahamin Taye | @noahamin | Abeba, meaning flower in Amharic, is a symbol of growth | Abeba Series

Since hitting my 20s, every new year has been important to me. I built goals for myself. I promised to start journaling more. I tell myself that I will be a better daughter, friend and support for my circle. I aim high.

This year is a little different for me. I just turned 25 years old in June, and the spirit that shifted through me gave me an unwavering sense of freedom and excitement. I have so many goals this year. My mind, body and spirit are in tune with one another and ready for what’s ahead. I am excited for 2018 and excited for what is to come. I am excited to see the woman I become and embrace the beautiful, new and ever changing person I am.

Here are seven ways to embrace your true #BlackGirlMagic in 2018 and forever.

  • 1. Say Yes

  • "There is no list of rules. There is one rule. The rule is: there are no rules. Happiness comes from living as you need to, as you want to. As your inner voice tells you to. Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be. Being traditional is not traditional anymore. It’s funny that we still think of it that way. Normalize your lives, people. You don’t want a baby? Don’t have one. I don’t want to get married? I won’t. You want to live alone? Enjoy it. You want to love someone? Love someone. Don’t apologize. Don’t explain. Don’t ever feel less than. When you feel the need to apologize or explain who you are, it means the voice in your head is telling you the wrong story. Wipe the slate clean. And rewrite it. No fairy tales. Be your own narrator. And go for a happy ending. One foot in front of the other. You will make it."

    The wonderful Shonda Rhimes said that in her incredible book, Year of Yes. Saying yes is COURAGE. Saying yes is the SUN. Saying yes is LIFE.

    Saying yes and learning to allow yourself to live in who God says you are is the ultimate 'yes' you can make.

    • 2. Live by Faith. Not by Sight. 

Life is full of excuses, but it doesn’t tell you the costs of these excuses. Excuses are making silent withdrawals from your life and passion. Your purpose.

  • Faith not only believes or says…faith DOES. This leads me to the one testimony of my life that I will always stand by: Trust God’s Process.

In James 2 the scripture says, "Faith without works is dead." It’s quite a thing when you live by faith. The blessings overflow; the fire in your spirit can't be contained; your life becomes a testimony. Your heart becomes receptive to the voice of God and how willing and able He is to work in your life. The righteous should live by faith. Faith changes what you do. You connect faith with hope, and then turn that into a seed. Then, you let that seed flourish. How? By trusting God’s process for you. Set your mind to the things above. You’d understand God is your potion. It is impossible for God to withhold any blessings that are meant for you. We serve a God who gives. Receive those blessings. Understand those blessings. Believe and trust that He will always have everything under control. Our role as His children is to be receptive to Him. There is a beauty in knowing that God has taken control of your life. In the season that just closed, I understood that nothing in my life can be done without my trust in God. I saw myself controlling my life and making sure this or that was done perfectly. I only saw myself failing instead of winning. I let the success of my past define who I was. That’s a big mistake we make as humans.

Trust His process. It’s made for you.

  1. 3. Embrace Your Hair 

  2. I made a promise to myself in October. I told myself, "Three months no heat, Naome. Do it."

    I did it. I have never been so proud of myself in my hair journey. It was so hard but I managed to make it through. In the midst of this challenge I made for myself, I learned so many incredible things about my hair. I learned that my hair is one of a kind. My curls are soft. My texture is improving. Most of all, I feel beautiful.

    I have never liked my natural hair. Being an Ethiopian-American, I was always taunted for not leaving my hair out naturally. Throughout my life I always associated my beauty with straight hair — never natural. I admired girls who did their hair naturally, but always said to myself that could never be me. And now. . . it is me. I am so happy with my hair and how I’ve come to embrace the beauty of it.

    Everyone’s hair is different. Embracing your hair doesn’t mean embrace your natural hair. It means acknowledging the beauty in your hair. Every woman of color has beautiful hair. Embrace it. Love it.

    That can mean wearing your hair in box braids, Senegalese twists, Bantu knots, straight, permed, curly, a sew in….girl, HOWEVER YOU LIKE.

    Learn to embrace. I promise, once you learn to embrace your hair, a new sense of beauty… a glow starts forming. And honestly, when you learn to embrace your hair, you embrace yourself.

    • 4. Love Yo’ Self 

  3. Self-love is the best kind of love.

    Hold your heart sacred. As women our natural instinct is to be caregivers — to nurture. Before you do that for others, make sure to nurture your heart. Love your whole being with everything in you. The love from others only gravitates to you when your love for yourself is whole. Your energy — where it goes and who you give it to — is so vital. Choosing one's self is honestly the best love story I can think of. Choose you. Love you. Take care of you.

    Life changes in so many ways when you love yourself. Become the love of your life. It’s a beautiful thing.

    • 5. Create a Memory Jar 

  4. I am SO excited to start a memory jar this year. My line sister told me about this activity and it's incredible. A memory jar, for anyone who isn’t familiar with it, is a jar you have for the entire year. You fill it up with receipts, pictures, wristbands, tickets, souvenirs, notes and other little things you collect throughout the year. At the end of the year you can look back at everything you experienced and revisit those memories.

    Imagine doing that year after year. It’s such an amazing activity to do and makes your memories seem so real. It pushes you to do more activities. Have more fun. Live more life. You realize all the boss moves you've made throughout the year, how much you've experienced and the memories you've created. 

    • 6. Networking is About Giving 

  5. One thing that has let me down time and time again is trying to network with people; they don’t respond to me. People who I have connections with don’t always show up for me, while I always remain consistent with them. Finding a job in today’s society is pretty tough. Those connections are real. The network is REAL.

    I’ve learned over time to stop dwelling on that disappointment of what has now become my realization. Instead, let me use my worth and network to help others. There is no greater joy I have than that which I get from helping others move up in life. This is how we build our tribe. This is how we develop #BlackGirlMagic. Networking is all about giving. Make sure you respond to those emails or messages from young pioneers who want that chance to make it. You could be that one vessel to get them into the door they need to fulfill their dreams. Giving is way better than receiving. Building that community of trust and accountability is so important for women of color.

    • 7. Continue to Win 

  6. Black women are winning. We really are. Throughout the years to come, let’s continue to champion through everything we touch. The #BlackGirlMagic effect is real. Let’s live in this reality.

    Eat good food, experience different places and enjoy the authentic flavor of different cultures. Pray and speak to God as much as you can. Love hard. Love people. Love yourself.

  7. In 2018, stop thinking about what’s normal and start thinking about what suits you. 
  8. Black women are everything.
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