Remembering Your Own Self-Worth
Growing up, I loved reading about things that were different than my own experiences. At the same time, I wanted to be seen. We need to read stories about characters who share aspects of our identities. When I was a 19-year-old girl who had just fallen for another girl, I searched for representations of love like mine. Now, I get to write my own stories and make sure they get out into the world.
It took me a while to come up with a title for my new novel. It was originally named Ocean Beach, after an important setting in the story. But we wanted something that would convey more emotion, and we finally settled on We Are Okay. In the context of the story, those three words take on different meanings and significances. But in pursuit of broader conversations, let’s look at it this way.
It’s easy, sometimes, to think of ourselves as less than worthy. As less than okay. This is true for any of us. And it’s especially true for those of us who receive the messages—whether overtly stated in speeches or hidden in the subtext— that we don’t matter quite as much as others do. That we are a little—or a lot—less worthy. That we deserve less protection, or more scrutiny.
What I want for all of you is to be sure of your inherent worth. I want you to know, You Are Okay. We all are.
If you are an immigrant or have family in another country: You are okay.
If you are a person of color: You are okay.
If you are gay or lesbian or bi or ace or demi or pan or any of the new and beautiful vocabulary we’re developing to talk about how we love: You are okay.
If you are a refugee: You are okay.
If you are transgender or genderqueer: You are okay.
If you are a survivor of sexual assault: You are okay.
If you have been bullied or harassed: You are okay.
If you face challenges with your mental health: You are okay.
If you navigate life with a disability or illness that others can or cannot see: You are okay.
If you are Muslim or Jewish or any other religion that makes you a minority in the United States; that makes you feel unsafe in your place of worship: You are okay.
If you are a person with love in your heart and the willingness to listen when your fellow Americans tell you that they are afraid, even if they may not look like you or act like you or believe in the same things as you do or have the same piece of paper that says that they have the right to be here—and you do listen, and you ask questions, and you use your voice to advocate for them: You are okay.
I am not saying that anything is going to be easy. It is not. But no matter what, hold onto your worth. You are one of a kind. You are part of a bigger world. You are worthy of love and protection, and sometimes people will fail you, but you are strong enough to be okay in spite of it.
By Nina LaCour, author of We Are Okay.
We Are Okay is also Clover's March Book Club pick! Read along with us? Grab the book here and let us know what you think!