Are You a Woman or a Grown Girl? Jill Scott Breaks Down the Difference!

Are You a Woman or a Grown Girl? Jill Scott Breaks Down the Difference!


Newlywed Jilly from Philly is in the building, touring the country with her fifth studio album, which, for her anyway, carries an unusually short title, “Woman.”


“I’ve been waiting to get here for a long time,” the R&B goddess and actress told Essence. Jill Scott is known for speaking  candidly on being a woman and mother to a 6-year-old boy, Jet, who she brings with her to the studio and on the road, and credits for contributing the most to her growth.

Jill, who finds it important to associate with older women, believes that we have to earn our stripes. What that looks like differs for each of us, but it’s clear that some juicy experiences and hard-earned lessons saturate the musical meanderings of this avid observer of “people, life, and things,” who aptly calls herself, “a journalist who happens to sing the reports.”

Hearing this artist shed light on what being a woman means to her made me fall back, sit up, then put pen to paper.

“I’m holding myself to another level of accountability,” Jill said on a Breakfast Club interview. “I used to blame whoever for hurting my feelings. [Whines] They were wrong, they did that to me. Hey. You chose that person. You accepted it. You went for it. You bit into the apple. You bought the wooden nickel.”

Jill challenged me to woman up and create a self-help exercise of my own. So, I reflected on a person I felt wounded by and turned the same finger in on myself that I have been using to cast blame. And somewhere in the process of my finger becoming a mirror, I graduated from my victim status to being a purveyor of my own destiny— cringing all the way to self-empowerment.


To begin, I wrote a paragraph dissecting my anger into its many moving parts, breaking down all the feelings I associate with this person, and why. It felt even more poignant when I started addressing this person directly, almost like writing a letter.

I felt disappointed when you…I felt humiliated that you…

wants to harm her. She needs to feel safe. According to Essence, at a recent sold out show at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark she told the crowd with a grin, “Shout out to my man for ironing my clothes today. He’s my partner and holds me down.”


This prompted me to then draw a line down the middle of a sheet of scrap paper and write my personal wants and needs on each side. At first, it was easy peasy. Sure, I want my carrot cake on the daily, but what I really need is to exercise every day. I want to sleep until 10 a.m., but I need to rise at 8 a.m to handle business before my toddler wakI felt disbelief when you…

I felt disrespected by you when…

By the time I got it all out of my system, the paragraph had taken up  half the page. Then, in a second paragraph, addressed to myself this time, I began every sentence with, I hold myself accountable for, and let the pen wag it’s way all the way down to the bottom of the page.

I hold myself accountable for not being more forward about _____.

I hold myself accountable for not asking more questions about ___.

And lastly:

I forgive you for__________________.

I forgive myself for_______________.


Rinse, and repeat.

During her candid Breakfast Club interview, she added, “I’m grown. I’m going to say what I feel. What I believe. I’m going to use my wisdom to impact someone younger than me, or the same age.”

Since her first album, Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds, Vol. 1, dropped in 2000, in which she comes out lyrically swinging at another sister for trying to steal her man in “Gettin’ In the Way,” and entreating a love interest to join her on an epic traipse through the park in “A Long Walk,” Jill’s been through some things. While holding down her dual career as a musician and actor, she’s been married, divorced, watched her father slip into the clutches of dementia, and married again. And while she admits that being a girl is an “awesome, crazy, wild and beautiful experience,” she believes that being a woman is much more “fulfilling.”

Jill Scott North Sea Jazz 2012

“Grown girls make their decisions on their life based on what they want, not what they need,” she asserts.

Jill then went on to share that she needs her ace. A partner. Somebody to participate in her life, understand what her life needs, call her out respectfully, and treat her with a level of mutual respect that says to her that there’s nothing in this person that es up and tyrannizes my day.

But when it started getting into relationship territory, it got sticky, more difficult to differentiate want from need. For example, do I really need a partner who reads books, or is that just a strong want?

Two pages of overlapping wants and needs later, at the end of the exercise, I felt a dual sense of clarity, while still holding a bag of questions that only the art of living can answer. And does admitting that I’m still figuring it out make a woman of me, or a grown girl? Le sigh. If only it were that simple. The versus that so often separates two extremes is as complicated as we are.

“Women look at what they need more than what they want,” Jill continued. “Am I choosing a fabulous pair of shoes, or am I choosing a healthy meal? Am I choosing this house I can’t afford or am I looking to live within my budget?”

To Jill, being an official woman is about making decisions with the big picture in mind.

“Ain’t I a woman?” Sojourner Truth once asked.

Damn straight, I am. But that doesn’t mean that my inner girl still won’t climb a tree or two, and cry when she falls.

-Samantha Thornhill

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