Since being a little girl, we've all heard the saying that "With age, comes wisdom."
However, it's only recently that I've begun to see this wisdom unravel within myself in regards to my romantic relationships.
In finally gaining the perspective it takes to someday claim wisdom, I've found the "aha" moments to be the most thrilling part of the experience because in the most eloquent way, it screams: "Not with the shit. Not today."
It's indicative of me finding, nurturing, and centering in on my grown woman because, as my parents tried to tell me time and time again, "I don't care how old you are. You're not grown. 18 is not grown." And although this speech normally served as a friendly reminder that I'm not too old to catch a beat down, it can seamlessly be applied to here too.
Being grown is a mindset, not a number and it means embracing my readiness to be a reflection of that in my dating life and those who I attract.
Nonetheless, I'm able to recognize that my seedlings of wisdom are still so newly planted within that it doesn't have many petals to pluck from. Have I learned a little something? Of course. But I'm still too young and yet old enough to know that any knowledge gained during year 25 cannot begin to compare to that of the women who have come before me. The real gritty and honest wisdom lies amongst the matriarchs in my life and likely yours too.
If you talk to most matriarchal figures, they have found a certain peace with the events that take place in their lives -- good, bad, and ugly. They can sit and talk to you with just enough bias to impart big wisdom upon you, knowledge that your young years could never touch without guidance. It's as comforting as it is insightful.
I asked 10 black matriarchal figures, who have likely experienced love, heartache, and healing to pass down a solid piece of advice for us younger women. Here's what they had to say.
"Make sure who you want and what you want is right there from the beginning. If you meet someone that you have to remake, then keep walking. Be picky. How you start out with a man is how you end up; If you start out allowing a man to take advantage of you and walk all over you, then that's how the course of your relationship will go. So, I've made sure I was the dominant force in all of my relationships."
"Always listen to your inner self. Seek someone who has the same core values and expectations in life that you do. No one will be perfect, so identify anything that really bothers you and ask yourself if this is something you can really live with without compromising your values. Never think that you can change someone's behavior."
"Select someone who enhances your life and is able to extend your knowledge base and makes you feel beautiful and important."
"Don't allow any man nor woman to lower your self-esteem. At all times, know your self-worth and don't lose yourself to the first man who says those three charming words. Education and knowledge are the key to becoming a strong black woman. But, most of all love yourself first."
Willie Mae, 91
"Know who you are and find out who they are. Meaning, you know yourself before meeting someone, but do all that you can to find out who they are before moving forward."
"Always be open and honest with each other. Make sure that in the beginning you tell one another what you're willing and not willing to do. Never allow a man to tell you what you can and cannot do. Never let him have that power. Regardless of if you're married or dating, always have something in your name..."
"Be sure that should anything happens, you can stand on your own – never depend on no man."
"Falling and being in love is absolutely wonderful. Sharing your love with someone else can add another dimension to your life. But, we must be careful not to lose our sense of self, our self-respect and a sense of balance in the relationship. Above all, however, we must never feel incomplete without a significant other. Independence is a wonderful thing!"
"Don't just run after someone you're so in love with, make sure they love you too. That means they take care of you, comfort you, and protect you. Always be willing to ask for forgiveness, be humble, sweet, and kind. Speak softly and think about what you're going to say before you say it, because once you say it you can't take it back."
"It's three places to find a good husband -- at work, at church, or at school."
"They say that because if you find a husband in one of those three places, you'll usually know someone who knows something about them, whereas if you meet someone in the street you may not know anything about them."
"Make it last by not stepping on each other's toes, we both have our own activities we enjoy doing and support each other."
"Be friends first. Don't fall in love too fast."