“As you get older, you become more comfortable in your skin and comfortable in saying no to things…I’ve also learned that saying no is just as valuable as saying yes. It’s something that, I think, comes with age and really having a sense of your self-worth. And then you make choices based on that.” Meghan Markle
Our families, social communities, and societies at large nurture and play a pivotal role in shaping us. We put stock in the belief that with age and life experience come wisdom. For the most part, this is true with glaring exceptions in current world affairs.
In wide generality, our elders achieve an exalted space because of what they have lived through and survived, for what they have sacrificed and endured, for the points of their life that are worthy of celebration. We learn from them in order to be better and not to repeat the same mistakes in life.
However, there is another side to the social contract of familial hierarchy. While we celebrate the matured age, we, in turn, inhibit young people from expressing themselves because of their lack of life lessons and their innocence. Some have grown up with the old school way that “children are to be seen and not heard,” which muted self-expression and restricted inclusion in “grown folk” discussions. You had not earned the right or freedom to take an idea and bring it to fruition or use that voice to form an opinion. The very notion of developing one’s self-worth (as a child) was an exercise only to be undertaken at a certain age and/or once living on your own. No one debated if right or wrong, this was simply the way of life.
Old ways sometimes need to be retired. In the case of someone like Michelle Obama who praised her parents for letting her have a voice at an early age, she treasured this freedom for the person she has become. In similar fashion, we see in Meghan’s life, at eleven years old, her activism to take her grievance to Procter and Gamble regarding its sexist slant in an advertisement. What a powerful example of social activism and self-awareness at a young age. That transformative moment of who she was becoming did not occur in a vacuum.
Meghan’s critical thinking and ability to take a stand and say “no, that’s not right” didn’t develop in one day. This young girl had been nurtured and loved in a way that encouraged her to have an opinion, to have a voice, and to use it in a way that benefited more than herself.
We can thank her parents (yes, even him) for opening the windows and doors to give her voice and soul room to breathe and grow. We’ve seen and heard of Queen Doria’s influence on Meghan’s sense of charity and life’s purpose and Meghan’s references of happier times with her father when he was proud of her successes.
Walking such a definitive path of social responsibility and mindfulness from childhood into adulthood is more than commendable. This is her vocation born from her young soul and mentored under the wisdom and guidance of her elders and “life” teachers.