Dear 26, thank you, next. No, but really.
Today is my 27th birthday and if I'm being honest, I've had a lot of anxiety within the past few days leading up to this day. Five years ago, I pictured 27 looking quite different. Shoot, even 6 months ago I envisioned this birthday looking completely different than it does today. But that's okay. I won’t dramatize the last 365 days and say that they were absolutely horrible because they weren’t, but I will say this: year 26 was a wild ride. It actually started off pretty great then slowly took a dive, but that’s life, right? In this past year, I formed new friendships and repaired old ones, met academic milestones, stepped out of my comfort zone several times, became a dog mom and traveled to places that I’ve always wanted to go. I view every experience as a lesson and 26 taught me many.
Here's some of the things I learned:
1. We make plans and God laughs.
Actually, I'm pretty sure God cackled and laughed until He cried at all of the plans that I made.
*inserts upside down smiley face emoji* This year I made SO many plans for the future and God got me all the way together. I will never try to be the orchestrator of my life again. This leads me to lesson #2.
2. I’ve learned to just take a step back, slow down, and go with the flow. Be present, live in the moment and ride the wave.
3. I can sometimes be TOO honest and overshare (I like to call it word vomit). It goes along with my value in honesty, transparency, and authenticity, and it can be both a blessing and a curse. I’ve come to realize that I have to be more mindful of the appropriate time to disclose information to certain people — I'm working on it.
4. It’s okay to need help and lean on others.
This was a big one for me, but that’s what your support system is for and I am nothing without mine.
5. I can be a lot – I have a very strong personality.
Someone once said that I have a polarizing personality type in the sense that you’ll either love me or hate me – there’s rarely an in between and I couldn’t agree more. It’s just one of those things that makes me unique. Not to say that it’s a good thing or a bad thing, just something that I acknowledge. Sometimes I have to tone it down a bit, and I’m still navigating how to do that in certain spaces.
6. I’ve become very comfortable with walking to the beat of my own drum and going against societal norms.
Seriously, screw these arbitrary societal norms about love, dating, sex, and relationships. We live in a world where it’s still seen as taboo for a woman to take ownership of her body and sexuality, and I can boldly say that I am not here to fit into the world’s little box of how it thinks I should navigate through the world, as a woman or as a Black woman. I say we should all be a bit more sex positive and mind the business that pays us. Oftentimes, I see that girls are taught to be a certain way so that we can attract men as partners to marry us and I’m not in the business of doing that. Why are girls taught and groomed to be wives and mothers from a young age but boys aren’t? Who says it’s even the norm for a woman to aspire to marry and mother children? That’s not every woman’s goal and I’m also not into conforming to particular societal norms, especially when it comes to my happiness and autonomy. Having a family is something that I've always wanted, but becoming a wife and mother are definitely not #goals of mine. My #lifegoals include becoming a psychologist, having a successful career, being a good person, making a difference in the world, and being happy. Whatever happened to instilling values like that into our children and adolescents? (okay, rant over)
7. I'm learning to practice more self-compassion. It's so true that we are our biggest critics and I'm learning to be a little easier on myself. This includes letting go of my need to always be in control of things.
8. I don’t have to change for anyone and I won't.
This was a tough lesson that I had to learn this year. I've found that you'll come across people that like the idea of you but not really who you truly are. The days of compromising my happiness and authentic self to appease another are over. Now don't get me wrong, I would definitely consider someone’s advice or guidance if my actions and behaviors were detrimental to my health and well-being, but I have finally reached a place where if you don’t accept me for who I am, all of my flaws inside and out, then I am in no position to change in order to receive approval or acceptance from you. Be you and the people that genuinely love you and rock with you for who you really are will stick around.
9. Comparison is the thief of joy. Everyone has a story, so don't get caught up in someone's highlight reel.
10. “Protecting your peace” isn’t as simple as unfollowing people on Instagram or burning sage. It can involve cutting off dead relationships, friendships, etc., or removing yourself from situations that no longer serve you and that can be difficult and painful. This past year I had some relationships end that I thought would last forever but in the end, it was for the best. I am at peace.
They say with growing older comes wisdom and I can definitely see the growth within myself over this past year.
Solange once sang, "they say I changed, but a pity if I stayed the same," and I truly feel that.
I share these points to say that no one is perfect, and we are all a constant work in progress.
I no longer hesitate about going after the things that I want.
I am no longer afraid to make my needs known and leave if they aren’t being met.
I am learning to truly love and embrace the good and not-so-good aspects about myself.
I have reached a new level of self-awareness and am on a path of self-discovery.
Although it doesn’t always feel good and can get real uncomfortable, I am just riding the wave, trying to enjoy the journey. So, here’s to another year — growing older and wiser. I’m grateful for the lessons and experiences, for they have shaped me into the wonderful chaotic masterpiece that I am today. I have a long way to go but I am changing for the better. I strive to do things that make me happy, showcase authenticity and exude nothing but love, light, and peace.
The great Maya Angelou once said, "you may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them." I am choosing to not be reduced by the pain and negative experiences that 26 brought me. I am manifesting great things for this next chapter of life and I can’t wait to see what 27 brings.
Do something fun for me today.
Peace, love, and blessings,