My birthday is coming up, and I'll be entering the last year of my 20's. My friends and I always joke around saying "we are damn near 30," and well, at this point, I really am. As I leave twenty-eight behind and enter into this next year of life, I want to reflect on the lessons I learned. Twenty-eight was one helluva of a year, and I'm just thankful that I survived it in one piece because wew chile, it was a lot! That's another blog post for another day, but they say you live and you learn, right? So, here are 8 Things I Learned During Year 28:
1. You Can't Win If You Ain't Right Within - Lauryn Hill asked us "How you gonna win when you ain't right within?" and the older I get, the more I appreciate her for challenging us to think about this. People say "do good, get good," but there's more to life than being a good person. You can be a good person, but it's hard to pour into others when you're pouring from an empty cup. During year 28, I spent a lot of time saying "yes" to people and things that didn't deserve it, which ultimately left me feeling depleted. All this "doing good" for others left me feeling like I had nothing left to give myself. Don't get me wrong, I will always do good and give to others, but I really learned the importance of actually being mentally and emotionally healthy. I made a shift to focus on myself and make sure I was good before making sure everyone else was. It may sound a little bit selfish, but we owe it to ourselves.
2. Never How You Plan - This lesson was inspired by the title of Jerreau's "Never How You Plan" album. I love this album, plus he's from my hometown (Columbus, OH)! On January 15, 2018, I thought I had my 28th year of life all planned out, but guess what? NOTHING went as planned. They say "man plans, and God laughs," and boy I must've been a comedian at age twenty-eight because God was cracking up at all of my plans. He hit me with the “so you thought that’s how this was going to go? that’s cute. :)” I learned that I need to accept that things won't go as planned and to trust God because what the plans I made for myself weren’t it! But guess what? Everything worked out for the good, and I’m glad God canceled the plans I had for myself because His plans were way better.
3. Love Yours - J. Cole said "no such thing as a life that's better than yours," and he didn't lie. In the midst of my plans falling apart during my 28th year of life, I found myself scrolling Instagram wishing things were a bit different. I constantly had to remind myself that you may think you want someone else's life, but there's someone out there that probably thinks they want yours. It's easy to get caught up in the highlights and with what people choose to share with the world, but you never know what's really going on. Trust me, I know - folks thought I was out here living my best life, but deep inside I wasn't truly happy and found myself in the house crying most of the time. Despite everything, I learned to love my life for what it is because it honestly wasn't that bad. I am very dramatic, but still everything isn’t what it seems. Which leads me to the next lesson I learned...
4. What’s For Me Is For Me - In the midst of my life falling apart at age 28, I remembered these words that I wrote across my 2018 vision board: what’s for me is for me. This was a reminder not to stress over things beyond my control. What's meant to be, will be. And if it doesn't work out? Then it's clearly not meant to be. That failed relationship? That trip I didn’t take? That job I didn’t get? That party I didn’t attend? WAS NOT MEANT FOR ME (at least at that moment of time in life). I also stopped trying to breathe life into dead situations, and I learned to accept this truth. It made life so much easier and peaceful. What God has ordained for you, will be for you and nothing or no one can mess that up.
5. Take Care of You - The older I get the more I realize that self care is important. I mean, I am damn near 30. I learned that if you don’t take care of you, nobody else will. Simple things such as leaving a party early to go home and take a hot bath and read a book can be considered self-care. I spent a lot of time neglecting myself at the expense of others and foolishness. I decided that I didn’t want to be that woman running rugged with bags under eyes and in shambles. Towards the end of the year, I started making more time for myself and the things that actually make me feel good, and I have no regrets. Only you (and God) know what you REALLY need, so treat yourself and take care of you.
6. Choose Happy - Happiness is a choice. It took me a minute to come to this realization. Often times we rely on people and things to make us happy, but happiness is really a choice. You can have the world and be unhappy - just think about all of the rich people and celebrities who have everything but are so depressed that they take their own lives. During year twenty-eight there were so many mornings where I woke up in my apartment full of material items with the sun shining and no cares, but I was unhappy. Finally, I remembered a motto from one of @DaniNirvana’s SoulCycle classes I took in LA: Choose Happy. I had to choose to be happy despite what was going on or how I felt. Even when things went left, I started making the decision to still be happy in the moment and going forward because who doesn’t want to be happy?
7. Check On Your Friends - THIS! I’m glad my friends and I are at a point where we can admit that “no, I’m not ok today,” but it wasn’t always this way. I prided myself on being the friend that always reached out to others, but realized the same efforts weren’t always reciprocated, especially when I needed them the most. In those moments where I decided to cancel plans, stay in the house, and be a recluse I would get texts asking WHAT I was doing, but never HOW I was doing. We all get caught up with our personal lives and routines, which is fine BUT do not neglect your friendships. The moments where you don’t hear from your friends are usually the moments where they need you the most. It takes five seconds to send a text message or make a quick call just to see how someone is actually doing. A pastor at a church I attended said “the clown makes everyone smile, but who makes the clown smile when they need one?” This hit home. Check on your friends, especially the strong ones. They need it the most.
8. Go to Therapy - So this is probably one of the few plans that I made during my 28th year of life that actually worked out (besides keeping myself alive LOL). I made a goal to go to therapy, so I could get a better understanding of my life and make myself a better person. Going to bi-weekly therapy sessions has been life changing. It’s such a liberating feeling to be able to talk to someone about your experiences, thoughts, etc. and sort through them. I feel like my generation is doing a good job of destigmatizing the idea of going to therapy since more and more people are going without shame. My therapist helped me do everything from get over a bad breakup to encouraging me to launch this blog to helping me map out future career plans. If you haven’t been, GO!
Overall, my 28th year of life was full of a lot of life lessons. Although some of these lessons seem simple, they were a reality check that impacted my life tremendously. I have a stronger sense of self, and I’m emotionally and mentally stronger as a result. Although being twenty-eight was no walk in the park, I’m grateful for all that it taught me, and I’m excited to see what twenty-nine has in store. Cheers to another year of life!
Moment of truth: I tried to tie all of these lessons to a song, but that didn’t happen mainly because I was supposed to write this post last week. Instead, I literally just wrote this while sipping rosé at the 40/40 Club bar in Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport as I wait for my flight to Disney World for my 29th birthday tomorrow. The goal was to have it done before my birthday, and although I didn’t do it on my initial timeline - I still technically got it done before my birthday, but lesson learned: STOP PROCRASTINATING! I need to do better this year, and I will.