Today closes a chapter and begins another. But as you've come to learn, life doesn't always go as planned. But you've always had an unconventional wit/wisdom about things. So you received your accolades and opted for a road trip! That's my girl...my best girl! So on this day, your graduation day, I've added to a letter first sent to you on your 18th birthday.
A Letter To My Daughter: Janjay Mason (an Excerpt)
Janjay, you demonstrated early in your life that you are made for GREAT things; and I know you will accomplish them. Only believe in yourself and that you can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens you. Recognize those things that you can accomplish on your own and those that you can’t. Seek help during those times.
Dream BIG since sometimes a dream is all you have to hold on to. In doing that, let God guide your steps. You’ll be amazed at what He might have in store for you and what you can accomplish. Believe in who you are and do not allow anyone or any situation in which you find yourself dictate differently.
Conquer the giants that come to steal, kill, or destroy through prayers and with a positive attitude. Having a clear sense of who you are, what you are made of, and what you can accomplish are arsenals for combating naysayers.
I am equally proud to see that many life lessons imparted to you have taken hold: your compassion for others and giving of yourself to the least amongst us; a discerning spirit which has helped you in the choices you make. Let it continue to be your guiding principle; a contrite and forgiving spirit frees you to be a decent human being; having a care for all mankind; your love of God and country; the ability to marvel at all things, no matter how insignificant they may seem.
Continue to hold on to your loyalty and commitment to those you deem important in your life.
Be insightful, introspective, and recognize good and bad triggers in your life. Pay keen attention to yourself and your surroundings. In total, be self-aware. Keep in tune with your intuition-it’s an innate gift of protection. Work on being tolerant of others and their corks.
I am most proud that your unwavering personality stands firmly. You have always held your own and have a strong sense of self. From my experience, those are all qualities of a leader and I pray that God has that in your future.
I like that on making the trip to Liberia, and without prompting you got the message we so much wished you would. You understood the poverty and dire needs of the people. You came to understand the war and the future of Liberia demands attention. Social issues on a global scale became a part of your worldview. Maybe it was the many trips to regions in Texas and Bolivia that first opened your eyes. As such, I am grateful to St. Paul’s Youth and its lasting impression on your life.
Your honest nature in deriving at the truth is refreshing. Continue to hold on to that with doses of sensitivity. Know that there are three sides to every story told and people’s perceptions of who’s right or wrong.
Learn to know people before passing judgment. And when the opportunity to know them does not present itself, refrain from engaging in whatever it is the rumor says. Be mindful of those who spread gossip. The only point is to defame and marginalize others.
Because you are developing a sense of self, you will come to not only appreciate who you are: Janjay Marshelle Mason, a clearly defined African American born of Liberian heritage aspiring to make her contribution to the world, but one who has the kind of respect for herself that will not allow the dramas and toxic fumes that often play out in life to envelope any aspects of hers. To do so, only serves as a hindrance and can cause you to lose focus and become lackluster in your endeavor or even to die to self.
Early on, you enjoyed singing. Keep the music in your heart if not on your lips. It’ll see you through many rough times. Music is an excellent coping tool when life comes at you fast; as are reading, writing, long soothing baths, long walks, a drive to nowhere, watching cloud formations, splurging on yourself at a corner table in a nice restaurant, a nice scoop of your favorite ice cream/dessert, a day at the spa, and simple indulgence like putting yourself together for no reason other than feeling good about how you look. And like Faith Hill, I hope you dance.
Aim high in choosing a career. Being a self-made woman is the best thing you can do for yourself. My own mother (who I so wished you had come to know) insists that it puts you in a position of strength and keeps you from having open palms to your husband at every turn. Aiming high is what gets you to the idea of dreaming BIG. And if you fall short, you at least reached for the sky, sun, and the moon.
In aiming high and dreaming big, be thankful for all your blessings no matter how small. Never look a gift horse in the mouth. Show appreciation in all things. Keep promises-make good on your word and give a definitive “no” when keeping a promise isn’t possible.
On the other hand, there are those who will disappoint or even reject you. Seek God in it and those songs in your heart, keep them going. Remember the sound of music waking you up in the mornings when you were in elementary school? And the many hours we listened to songs on the car radio and on the boom box in your bedroom? Music was everywhere! Keep it that way, my little Bumble Bee.
Take responsibility for your actions…own them-good, bad, or indifferent. And when life’s outcome isn’t what you expect or desire, rest assure that in time, a better situation will come along. Perhaps one that might amaze you beyond anything you’d imagined. But understand you might not always get what you give. Give anyway…without expectation. Not having expectations (a difficult thing at times) saves you a lot of headaches and preserves your sanity while keeping your wits about you.
Always set goals for your life and re-visit them to see how well you’re doing at accomplishing them. Your life’s goals are your personal accomplishments; include a bucket list for living life fully. Aspire to see and experience much. Travel the world and marvel in the wonder that is God.
Your mother Lorrine Mason