Hi There :)
Over the past month or so, I’ve been preparing myself for turning 35. And of course, everyone around me is freaking out on my behalf. For whatever reason, as it got closer and closer, I became more and more comfortable with it. 30 was my favorite year but I am pretty certain that this may be the best one yet.
There is a sense of awareness and confidence within me that is sometimes so overwhelming that I find myself constantly trying to help others feel the same about themselves (thus the podcasts, Zen in a Jar, and the column-writing). Of course, I did not reach this point overnight. I was once a bit of a self-centered shit show in many areas of my life-some areas I am still feeling the aftershocks from. But, as always, I am thankful for those experiences because I am not sure where or who I would be without them. So without further ado, here are some life mantras and habits I picked up along this 35 year journey that I hope you find useful too. Some areas I will expand on but most are self-explanatory.
I live my life as the personification of fucking Black Girl Magic and here’s how:
Self-care is non-negotiable. It is not a sin, it is a necessity. Go to the spa, get some rest. Say no to events. Take off work. Go to spin class/yoga/boxing. Do nothing all day. Learn a new language.
Be self-aware. Know who you are and own your shit. It’s okay. No one is going to die if you admit weakness. Just be who you are. There is no greater relief for me than when I can tell people how awkward I am-and that I am clumsy AF. It was far more stressful to try and hide my clumsiness or “act normal” when I’m in public or around new people. And people are less likely to go into shock when I fall down the stairs or on the sidewalk.
Confront your blind spots. Once we get the self-awareness going, it’s also important to confront your blind spots AND then address them. A blind spot is a mindset or behavior that you either choose to overlook or can’t see-yet it hinders your growth as an individual and often impacts your interaction with others. You know…the ugly parts of ourselves that we don’t want to deal with. Most of our loved ones and close friends know our blind spots-they’re sort of the “elephant in the room” about us. I will elaborate on this in another article but if you’d like to know more about it, check out the Johari Window.
Have at least one REAL friend. You need someone around who is honest with you about what you’re wearing, saying, doing, gaining, etc. My BFF and I are pretty blunt with each other when we are being ridiculous so, for me, it keeps me aware of my blind spots. Oh, and having a southern mother and grandmothers helps too. It may hurt sometimes every time, but they can help you present your best self to the world.
Don’t be afraid to tell people to get the fuck out of your uterus. For a while, I would dread being around my family and certain circles of friends without a friend or my significant other because I had to constantly answer questions about my plans for children and being reminded of my age. What would affect me wasn’t the fact that I didn’t have children yet, it was more so the feeling of shame that people would try to project onto me. I would leave places like “I didn’t feel bad about myself until people started telling me I should” and that’s not okay. It got draining at times because it wasn’t a primary concern for me, internally. Now, I don’t think people do this to be rude, but it comes across that way when it’s redundant. If the only value that people find in you is your ability to keep a man and/or have children, shame on them. Not you…. Which is why I started comfortably and confidently asking people to get the fuck out of my uterus and you know what? It actually died down. Believe me, when the time comes, I’ll let you know or it’ll be on facebook. Or something.
Expand your circle. If you are the most interesting, well-traveled, motivated person in your circle, you need to expand your circle. Identify areas in your life that you’d like to grow in and find people to introduce you to those things. Don’t be intimidated by things you’re not experienced in-just experience it.
Maintain a ZERO TOLERANCE policy for insecurity. Insecurity is truly a waste of time and energy. I do not tolerate it in relationships, friendships, nor within myself.
LOVE people for who and where they are. Your friends have flaws and so do you. Placing unrealistic expectations on people upsets no one but you. Remember the blind spots we talked about? Your friends are dealing with yours. A technique I use is placing people in boxes:
For example, there are friends you can expect to attend functions and friends who flake. Know that the friend who flakes may be in a different space in life with different priorities. Don’t hate them, just extend the invite with YOUR expectations in check. You have no idea what people are dealing with. It costs nothing to adjust your response to things.
Do NOT trust a person who actively doesn’t like Beyoncé. (I’m not talking about those who are Beyoncé-agnostic…just the “anti” folks. Think about what she embodies-she truly slays in a male-dominated world industry, controls the narrative of her career/personal life and does not speak up on issues that don’t concern her. She simply focuses on her craft. And slays that shit. Who could not appreciate that? I’m being slightly facetious but truly if you’re anti-Beyoncé (at the top of your internet lungs), think about what Beyoncé triggers within you that makes you dislike her and work through it. We’ll be here to welcome you on the other side.
Stretch outside of your comfort zone. I live in constant fear of being the big fish in a little pond. There are millions of ponds. Always try new things outside of your box, take on new challenges like degrees, hobbies, etc.
Spoiler alert: Being stretched is uncomfortable.
Follow Your Bliss. Do what makes you happy in life, follow your passions. Don’t be the broken record of “shoulda coulda woulda.” Just fucking do it.
Life is to be lived, not chronicled on social media. Leave that to the 20-somethings.
Follow your instincts or not. When it comes to relationships, specifically:
a. Do not go through anyone’s phone.
b. Do not fight with another woman over a man.
c. Do not air your dirty laundry on Facebook. Save it for the group thread.
d. Skip the relationship memes. Please.
Be vulnerable. Too often, I used to wear this hard-ass exterior and my ego would not let me express pain, regret or sincere apologies. It RUINED many friendships and relationships. In my old age, I find the following phrases extremely freeing:
a. I am sorry.
b. I miss you.
c. I shouldn’t have said that.
d. I am hurt by your behavior.
e. I do not care about this as much as I may have led you to believe.
f. I am feeling left out.
Only accept love that you do not have to chase. When a man wants you, he will move mountains to be with you. There will be no questions. No quarterly “so what are we?” discussions.
Don’t be a martyr. Nobody owes you sh*t just because you’re Superwoman. Be Superwoman because you want to be Superwoman-not for validation or to ensure people feel indebted to you. You will eternally feel slighted. That’s no way to live. (see item #1)
If you are constantly in a state of being offended by people and things, you need to look at yourself.
Partner with someone who is secure. You know, someone who is your biggest cheerleader, not someone who dulls your shine. I do not know where I’d be without a partner who helps me manage my time, helps me with my homework, and provides creative insight and encouragement regarding all the shit I have going on.
Speaking ill of others says more about you than the person you’re talking about. Distance yourself and your thoughts from people who speak negatively about other people-especially unsolicited.
Don’t cry over spilled milk. LOVE and FORGIVE yourself. LOVE and FORGIVE others. I once heard that your 30’s are the best years of your life. Don’t waste them dwelling on shit you can’t change or holding grudges that only matter to you.
Being a mean girl is corny after 30. Don’t be a mean girl.
Don’t be offended by people who imitate you. It’s an indicator that you’re doing well and it’s time to step it up another notch. This has been my official struggle of 2015.
Stop concerning yourself with haters. If you aren’t a public figure, you sound absolutely crazy talking about haters after 30. We all have detractors, but focusing energy on them makes you look insane.
Never apologize for being a complete badass. Being on top of your game normally upsets the insecure. People who are worth your time will always encourage you to be your best self.
What you put in your body is an act of self-respect. Eat responsibly.
Keep your business to yourself.
Sleep with whoever you want. Don’t deny yourself pleasure because you’re afraid of being labeled a slut. This isn’t high school, do what you want. With confidence.
Know when you’re in a relationship and know when you’re just having sex. Dragging out one night stands is weird.
Buy the shoes. Always buy the shoes.
You do not need a large group of friends…but nurture the ones you have. Remember to ask how they’re doing. Make sure that you reciprocate the investment they make in you. Assess the value they bring to your life and vice versa.
Assert yourself at work. Don’t restrain yourself because you’re afraid of being labeled a “bitch.” That’s a low-power strategy for the weak-minded. (With that said-be thorough and know your shit before asserting yourself).
Pick your battles. Every moment that I hear/read something offensive is not the time to react. Every time someone talks shit behind my back is not a free pass to start kicking ass. A grown ass woman understands that what people say behind your back is none of your business.
Know your audience. Determine within yourself what’s necessary to say in real life or online. Determine what’s Facebook rant-worthy and what’s better as group thread material. Think before telling a joke or a story-is this necessary? Does this bring value to the conversation? It’s okay to shut up.
Always bring a gift. Always. Expressions of gratitude are classy AF. Whether handmade or store bought, gifts will always make someone’s day. You never know what people are going through. Make them smile. Do not bring me cheap wine.
Keep your word and be honest, even if it hurts. Being a liar in your 30’s is weird. Don’t be weird.
Okay, that’s all I got. What do you think? Did I miss anything?