#SWW: A Conversation with Esther Richards

I’ve known her all of my life, considering she’s my youngest sister. Navigating our twenties is HARD, but it can also be worthwhile. Although born and raised in Brooklyn, Esther is a recent college graduate from Clark Atlanta University. She’s currently an after-school teacher. When she’s not teaching you can find her singing her heart out and making plans to be in the South. Cheers to claiming self-worth as a normalized check-in routine, for her and her village/community.

How do you define Self-Worth?

Self-worth to me means knowing who you are. It means spending time daily to analyze the things you feel and using those observations to deepen the connection between your body and soul. It means not letting anyone or anything (including words) hinder you from being your genuine self. It means not needing anyone or anything to validate you because you are sure of who you are. It means that I am allowed to speak up for myself to anyone and not feel bad about it and not worrying about them not liking what I have to say. It means confidence and standing in my truth.

Has this current definition of self-worth affected your relationships (platonic or intimate-all forms)?

Yes. It has caused me to not give so much of myself, especially if it is going to have even a small negative effect on me. I remember that after I started this journey, I had a conversation with my best friend. I was going to D.C. and he asked me if I should even take the trip because if I didn't go, I would save some money. I told him that I was taking the trip regardless because I felt like it, and he said, "Okay. I was just trying to help." I replied, "I get it and no disrespect but I got it." He felt offended and basically went off on me a bit. It was funny to me and still is to be honest. We talked it out, and he realized that he had no reason to get that upset, but he did get upset because I had never spoken to him like that before. He was totally right...I hadn't. And it was because I was in a different place back then and we were in a situationship/relationship then so I was more cautious about how I spoke to him. As I started to figure out more who I was, I became more genuine about what I was feeling and I wasn't fearful to speak my mind to anyone, even family and best friends. 

In moments where your worth is questioned (externally & internally) how do you re-affirm yourself?

I pray, first and foremost. Then I journal and write down how I'm feeling and analyze the feelings, then I write myself some affirmations and also reaffirm myself while looking in the mirror. I also play music and sing some songs because that always makes me feel better. 

Are there any women who constantly provide a well of tools & reminders for you to draw self-love from where you’re running low?

My sister, Samantha (welcome back!), and two of my best friends, Sabreen and Tish. 

How would you prepare your 15-year-old self to embrace your current perspective about measuring her worth?

I would tell her that she does not need the attention of the "cool kids" or of boys to validate her. If she is not good with the "in crowd" it is okay. It is better to have a handful of friends who truly value and appreciate you than it is to have a lot of "friends" who only want you around when it's beneficial to them or when they can get something out of your company. Start the journey of figuring out who you are now, hold on to your findings, and never let what anyone says or does make you think you are less than who you are. You are a beautiful queen who is worth more than good and your worth is not wrapped up in the words, feelings, or ideas of others- not even family members. 

You are an artist. Does self-care/self-worth, the measurement of them both, show up in your work? If so, how? If not, is that intentional?

Now it does more than it did before. I have been on this self-worth/care journey for a while and I’ve also been starting to be intentional on how I take care of myself. I sing ALL THE TIME and I have never really tried to take care of my instrument that well because it seemed like nothing that I affected my voice negatively. But as I got older, it did start to affect my voice. So now, I’ve been more proactive about it: drinking more water, not yelling and straining my voice at work (I work with children), honey and lemon juice and TEA (it’s always been my best friend). I wrap my neck when it's cold, and I have other routines that I do to preserve my voice.

I also exercise more and make sure I stay healthy because the way that you eat and the way you take care of your body affects your instrument as well.