Dear Issa Rae,

I will shamelessly admit that as soon as Insecure premiered on HBO, I religiously planted myself in front of the television to ensure that I never missed an episode. As soon as the season was over, amid my laughter and tears, I ran to the library to grab a copy of Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. Yes…ran.

I found myself unable to put the book down, reading it from cover to cover in the span of one day.

There have been many times in my life when I’ve felt out of place. As a woman of color, I’ve tried to carefully tread the waters of simply being myself in a society that has not allowed the space for me to see my daily experiences presented in the mainstream.

I’ve looked at myself through the lens of others, wondering how they perceive me, and have attempted to fit a mold.

I’ve paused at my reflection in the mirror, and crafted prepared responses to a series of situations and interactions to feel control over my life. Disappointed friends and questioned relationships, trying to find myself in the midst of nagging insecurities. Stumbling over my own two feet many times in this dance of life.

Not fitting in because I didnt know the latest slang or dances? Yup.

Feeling sick to my stomach about the possibility of group interaction because of my introversion? Been there.

Dealt with trying to embrace my natural hair while others asked questions about its texture out of both curiosity and ignorance? All the time.

You’ve touched on each of these memories with wit and humor, allowing me to laugh at my mirrored experiences and let go of the shame that once entangled my self-esteem.

I realized I am not alone.

You’ve captured the essence of every day life, not as something that’s special or niche in mainstream media – but as an integral part of it.

Although I love to indulge in my fair share of the high-stakes drama in other shows that highlight strong Black female leads, Insecure focuses on lived experiences that are authentic and raw; capturing that relatable element: we are not alone in navigating the confusion of being twenty-something Black women.

From First to Awkward Black Girl to Insecure, you’ve defied the character-driven stereotypes of Black women depicted as angry, mother figures, sassy, hard-headed, and a combination of these. Instead, you’ve introduced us to varied representations of people of color and have capitalized on the complexity and depth of the human experience that make us all more than one-dimensional.

By putting the narrative of Black women into the hands of a Black woman, you are amplifying voices that have been absent for so long.

Issa Rae, thank you for showing me that it’s okay to not take myself too seriously, and for allowing me to laugh at the moments that once seemed unbearable. They were actually the moments that defined my humanity.

Thank you for teaching me that although I am flawed, it is not a detriment, but rather a part of what makes me uniquely and beautifully human.

You’ve shown me how to be unapologetic and authentic in my truth, even when it doesn’t equate to the standards of those around me.

I’m now able to define my awkwardness as it is, claim my identity and find purpose in what it means to lean into discomfort and grow through life.

In finally seeing a reflection of my experiences on the television screen, I’ve learned to stop comparing myself and to hug all of the fragments of my being that I once turned away from.

I’m in tune with my vulnerability and accept myself.

Awkwardness and all.

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