Dear Iyanu ‘Lawrence’ Folashade,

Happy birthday, It’s you, me seventeen years on from today. I’m sure you, or no one for that matter, wants to read a letter on their birthday; so, I’ll keep this short. I have come to appreciate your innocence and your impulsive and sometimes chaotic tendencies. You are curious, intrigued by the complexities of everyday reality. You see, feel and dive heart first into the unknown, and now, it’s only right I afford you the freedom you deserve. The freedom to communicate, not only what you see, but what you feel.

The memories of self-harm: depression, anxiety; the sleepless nights in search of the will to live. Our thoughts, bleak, riddled with fear – we act out, subscribing to the labels of the crude, loudmouth, rebellious comic. And It was in our actions that we found comfort. Comfort from the pain, the neglect, the trauma – our truth. We did what we could to be seen, but, rarely for who we are. And without our audience, we felt alone, separate, disconnected – a feeling we no longer try to escape. The boisterous, aggressive, but funny yute who captured everyone’s attention – that’s us. We are the victim of divorce, sexual abuse, and homelessness. The young black boy, subject to neglect, physical and emotional abuse. Man, our pain sure as hell carved out one hell of a character.

I said I’d keep this short, and so I’ll end things here. Through acceptance of our character’s pain, his trauma and suppressed truth, we found understanding. And, with understanding came freedom. Freedom to do whatever, however, and whenever we please, and with freedom, came discipline. Discipline to enforce practices that alter our reality, or rather, the perception of our reality. It’s a lot to take in, i know. But, all i ask is that you enjoy your eight birthday; live, laugh and learn, and be present as you experience another day.

I know damn well I will be.