I’m in my 30s now and I think it is true what everyone says, the level of fucks given starts to decline. Maybe it’s the realization that — although you certainly don’t *feel* that old — an entire decade of adulthood is behind you. The idea that time passes — and passes pretty quickly — becomes very real. And you realize that if you’re not careful, you can waste time on nonsense.
Add to that, the humbling experiences of pregnancy and motherhood, both very hard to do if you are super self conscious about what others think, and it just starts to set in that some things are not worth agonizing over.
Here are some of those things;
1. I’m not ugly.
I’m done with the ‘Oh my god I’m so ugly what am I going to do!’ agonizing of my 20s. I don’t have time for it… I’m not ugly. I’m actually pretty. Maybe I’m not the prettiest girl in the room, but I don’t need to be. I like my face, I like my body, I’m blessed to be healthy. That’s more than enough.
2. I’m a city girl.
I’ve lived in 3 major cities in two different countries (grew up in Kingston, spent a decade in Chicago and now live in New York.) I think my pattern is pretty much set. And when I tell this to people they ramble on and on about how you get more bang for your buck in the suburbs/the South, how cities are gentrifying and ‘not what they used to be’ for black folks, how they’re dirty and crowded, how the schools are terrible. All of this may be true. I still prefer them over suburbs. *Kanye shrug*
3. Not everyone will like me, and not everyone has to.
This is just how life works. And it’s not a reason to be panicked or depressed.
4. Not all friendships are forever.
Some friendships will last a lifetime, others will last just a season. It can be hard to tell the difference, but once you do, it’s important to make smart emotional decisions.
5. I am a highly opinionated woman. It’s not a bad thing. It’s a good thing.
It’s not my job to make people comfortable by censoring myself. I don’t need to avoid being the ‘opinionated/angry black woman’ to make others comfortable. I have a duty to myself to use my voice. And many of the wonderful things I’ve done in adult life are because I trusted and followed my voice.
6. I’ve done very well professionally and it’s nothing to be conflicted about.
Being bashful about success is not a good look. I’ve been self employed for 8 years. For 5 of those I’ve been primary breadwinner for my family (yes, even when my husband was working a great job.) I’ve done good and there’s nothing wrong with being proud of this success. Humility is understanding that, despite what I’ve done, I don’t know everything and there’s always more to learn. Humility is not mumbling about my achievements to make others comfortable.
7. My gut feelings/intuition/sixth sense are almost always right.
There is nothing wrong with seeking outside counsel, but ultimately my gut is almost always right. I tend to ignore it because it’s usually telling me things I don’t want to hear like ‘Stop being complacent’ or ‘Move on from this person/situation that isn’t serving you’ or ‘Take this risk you’re afraid of.’ I need to listen to my gut more often.
8. I’m probably never going to fit in neatly anywhere.
It hasn’t happened in the past 31 years, so it’s probably never going to happen. Yes, I believe I will always have meaningful relationships and be loved, but I’ll never have a pre-packaged community — like a church, sorority, or workplace — to be part of. I’m a non-religious, tri-cultural (Haitian, Jamaican, African American) black woman who is self-employed. There might never be a neat place for me. And that’s okay.
9. I did a lot of dumb shit in my 20s, but I can’t wallow in it. I have to learn from it and move on.
I got married too young (right guy, wrong time… we’re still together, but not without putting in lots of work), wasted time on toxic friendships, didn’t go to therapy when I needed it, stayed in Chicago too long after I knew it wasn’t for me, obsessed over my professional “competition” instead of focusing on my own projects, wasn’t knowledgeable enough about birth control, talked myself out of pursuing a professional passion, didn’t grasp the importance of deep conditioning… The list of shit I did in my 20s that resulted in wasted time, money and lots of tears is pretty long. And I used to just sit and feel regret for days, weeks, sometimes months. Now I know that, when you make a poor decision, you have to mourn it, feel that sadness, do your best to change course, and move the fuck on. Life moves fast, you can’t stay stuck.
Ladies, what are some life lessons you’ve learned?