She always had the type of voice that made you want to cry and hug God at the same time…an effortless perfection.
Anita and I met in 2003 when I joined the Augusta-based youth performing arts ensemble, Creative Impressions. I was singing for fun, but even then she was following her destiny. Back in July of this year, Anita published an open letter to her 16-year-old self on Facebook, a letter of support, pride, and faith to a younger self who was timid and desirous to project the fullness of her spirit from her lungs and mouth, and reach hearts and ears around the world. Anita followed that difficult, faith-filled path all the way to New York City…and writes this from the confidence of a woman living her destiny every day. This is republished with her permission.
By Anita Purcell
Off the top of my head, if I could go back and tell my 16-year-old self some things, I would say:
1. You’re still going to be nervous, insecure, and afraid when you get here. Do it anyway. Sing anyway. Teach anyway. Be you anyway. Being afraid is not a reason NOT to do something. There will be people who think you’re good. You won’t want to believe them because you know all the mess ups in your head. Stop stressing. Believe them.
2. You’re going to make mistakes. And then keep making mistakes. You won’t be able to predict the future either way. So take risks. The reason some opportunities are called risks is because there is a big margin for error, and room for failure. Take ’em anyway. You will always learn and grow from every experience whether you call it a success or not. And even if you step out into the Red Sea, and the waters don’t part, you can step back! And then the worst you’ll have is a wet toe. Trust God, your faith, your gift, your education, and your conscience to make your choices. Walk on water. You will float more than you will sink. And either way, Jesus is right there with you. But you will not grow if you do not GO.
3. When you do make a mistake, own it, take responsibility, ask for forgiveness, and then change. Don’t wallow in self-pity or get stuck in what you should have done or what’s wrong with your brain for even doing it. Accept, Learn, and Grow. Don’t be so hard on yourself if you don’t get it right or don’t hear God correctly. Some of your obstacles will actually be blessings in disguise. To put you in the right mind frame for your next opportunity.
4. Love is real, and more is coming. It’s not a joke for you. It’s a part of your ministry. Loving others as you do will bring you incredible joy but also intense pain. Not everyone will love you back ( but most will! Yay!) Not everyone will take your advice. Not everyone will understand your choices, who you love, or how you love, yet some of the same people will gravitate to you because of your compassion for others. Love them anyway. You must keep God first, and take care of yourself second. Do not lose yourself in trying to save the world or please others. But this does not mean to be selfish or love anyone less. In everything there is a balance to be struck. There have always been people around you who love you and will remind you of these priorities. Listen to them. And thank them. You are never actually on your own to deal with things, even though it may feel that way sometimes.
In a lot of ways I still feel like the 16 year old girl in the first pic with the black headband. And I feel like I still look the same too, but It’s been 11 years. Now that I say it, its really not that long, but man do we grow in those years!
Listen to Anita sing below: