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Solange Knowles Perfectly Captured the Challenges of Growing Up

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Solange Knowles wrote a powerful essay reflecting on how the challenges she faced while growing up made her “stronger and more wonderful.”

In an essay to her younger self for Teen Vogue, the singer delved into the difficulty of her teenage years, noting that she lost her best friend to gun violence at 17, and within a year gave birth to her son. “You will be terrified, and it’s ok that you don’t know what the future holds,” Knowles wrote. “Some people will count you out because of the decision you’ve made to bring another life into the world so young, but you made the decision out of love and will live with the decision in love.”

Knowles also touched upon about the impact of having strong role models in her life, such as her mother Tina Knowles, and a community of other black women who instilled in her the idea that she could do whatever she wanted with her life. “They break down all of the archetypes and stereotypes that you see of black women on TV and in magazines, so you don’t trust those anymore,” she wrote. “You thank them for re-writing the script before it was ever etched in your memory.”

Ultimately, Knowles acknowledged that all of her experiences have shaped her into the woman she is today. “There will be pain, there will be doubt, there will be beauty, there will be the unknown… But most importantly, there will be you,” she said. “And you will feel good about who she is and who she is still becoming.”

Read the full essay at Teen Vogue.

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Write to Samantha Cooney at samantha.cooney@time.com