Have you ever wished that someone had told you ahead of time how a problem could be avoided? Do you feel like no one understands where you're coming from? Now there's a blueprint that can offer you comfort, motivation, and real solutions. When Yasmin Shiraz launched Mad Rhythms, a hip-hop magazine aimed at college students, she visited youth organizations and colleges across the country to teach young people how to effectively pursue their dreams. Drawn to Yasmin's confidence and determination, young women in particular sought her opinion on topics such as body image, popularity, dating, sexuality, child-parent relationships, and social and academic pressures. Yasmin could easily speak to those issues. She struggled with many of the same concerns when she was younger. Inspired by the common threads connecting each generation, Yasmin developed The Blueprint for My Girls to help young women discover who they are, develop a sense of self, and stay positive. In the book, Yasmin pairs her personal stories with 99 "expressions" designed to help readers deal with situations they may not feel comfortable discussing with friends and family. Each expression is accompanied by exercises to help readers progress on their journey. Staying real without being preachy, The Blueprint for My Girls will be a solution giver, a problem solver, and a friend in need for generations to come.
When I was growing up as a teenager in America I had insecurities. I had dreams that I didn't know how to chase. And I had experiences with family, friends, school, and boys that I didn't understand. I wanted to tell somebody what I was going through but I didn't think they would understand. So I began writing about these things in my diaries. Somehow writing them down helped me to deal with them, solve them, and even get past some of the confusion and hurt. In college I faced tougher, more complex problems. Again I turned to my diaries. Jotting down my experiences in my journals has allowed me to look at what I was going through and to be real with myself. And through that process I repaired my self-esteem; I learned to aim high. And I got stronger. I'm still learning, and my journal remains a constant listener, problem solver, and confidant.
After graduating from Hampton University, I founded a college-circulated hip-hop magazine called Mad Rhythms. I visited several campuses to talk to college students about entertainment careers. At the end of my lectures young women came up to me to share their problems. Many of them were suffering with the same insecurities I had experienced, struggling with being misunderstood, dealing with family crises, and having problematic relationships with their boyfriends. They always asked for my advice. After these one-on-one discussions I went back to my hotel room and thought about the kinds of challenges that each young lady was facing. When I returned home I began searching through my old diaries for some of the answers. I figured I had survived many of the same issues; maybe my diary could help them find some answers. That's when a light went off in my head. I needed to write a book for my girls -- girls who are facing dilemmas, need advice, and need to talk to somebody, just as I did.
Have you gone through something and wished someone had told you ahead of time how the problem could be avoided? Have people given you advice that you didn't realize was wrong until you felt it was too late to do anything about it? Have you felt isolated and alone in dealing with problems, like no one could understand where you're coming from? If you answer "yes" to any of these questions, then The Blueprint for My Girls will offer you comfort, motivation, and solutions.
I've separated the book into three phases: Foundation, Composition, and Fortification. Each phase contains various expressions that can assist you with analyzing, handling, and resolving challenges that come your way so that you can develop into a strong young woman. I've included my personal testimony on every page. Some of these diary entries were painful for me to share. With others, I was an outsider looking at how the people around me were behaving. All of these testimonies guided me in becoming the person I am today.
You may not relate to every entry, but there will be many that you can relate to. When you are going through an experience and need a source of strength, flip through the book again and see how I handled similar challenges. I've also included a testimony section with exercises that will help you get real with yourself regarding what is happening in your life. Learn from my mistakes. This book was written for you about your experiences, your trials, and your triumphs. This book is my journal from me to you. Use it as a solution getter, a problem solver, and a friend in need. My best hope is that reading about my experiences will help empower you to make the best possible decisions of your life.
Yasmin Shiraz is the former publisher of Mad Rhythms magazine. She is also the founder of College Entertainment, Inc. and president of The Signals Agency. Her website is www.yasminshiraz.net. She resides in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.