After twirling around the sun 30 times I officially have three decades under my belt. That’s 30 whole years I’ve been alive. A part of me is in absolute shock that I’m even this old because in many ways I don’t feel old at all. I mean, just last week someone was like, “Wow, you’re going 30? I would have never guessed.” I was thinking to myself, “Me either sis, me either.” Shout out to my parents for not only creating me but also blessing me with stay young genes. But nonetheless, here I am: breathing, in good health, loved, and wiser. 

 I am grateful to be in this realm, surrounded by many people whom I love and love me back. I’m excited to see if the thirties hype is all that it’s cracked up to be because aside from a few aches and pains (which I will attempt to minimize with plenty of yoga and a conscious diet), and maybe a few grey hairs (that I can always dye), I’ve heard that some super care free, happy, and liberated times are ahead.

 Leading up to my earth day I naturally did a lot of reflecting on all of the many chapters.  Also, anyone aware of my recent travel disappointments can imagine how devastated I’ve been to usher my birthday in with so much Murphy’s Law. I never anticipated such a rough start to a new chapter but that’s what The Universe/ Higher Power saw fit, so I had to roll with that punch.  Although it still stings, I have to use ALL of my experiences as lessons. I think there were some valuable ones that I’ve gotten since which, by any means necessary. 

From early childhood where we have our innocence and an extremely keen imagination, to the teenage years where we get to be a bit naïve and oblivious but also a bit more independent and vocal, and then the infamous twenties, where we really start awakening to who we are and begin to develop ourselves genuinely, it’s been nothing but a ride. Each phase was beautiful and I was lucky enough to experience each one of them healthily. I am forever grateful.

 So many experiences! Losing teeth, sports days, field trips, sleepovers, wetting the bed, parties, trips, playing outside with my brothers, summertime, puppy love, my first period, getting breasts, first kisses, MSN, pulling missions, graduations, losing my virginity, celebrations, lessons, laughter, meaningful friendships, tears, death, birth, becoming, etc., etc., etc. I could go on and on and on some more. But here I am smiling, feeling full because everything I mentioned, and then some, with all of the in betweens and unmentionables, sums up my life so far, and I feel content.

 Specifically highlighting on the last ten years, I can truly say that this is the end of an era. Twenties were everything; fundamental for the soul. From the moment we are born we are learning and unlearning who we are. Something about the twenties brings things full circle and into perspective, for me anyway (everyone’s allowed to have their own personal experience for sure)! So much exploration of our inner beings, our minds and our bodies, happens in our twenties. You get the freedom you always dreamed of. Everything you thought you knew, you begin to question officially --- love, religion, race, politics, education, class, culture, customs, opinions, life, death, sexuality, worth, etc. I’m not saying that this doesn’t’ happen in other stages, but there’s something special about it happening in the twenties.

Then you finally reach your thirties and you’re just ready to let go of anything that doesn’t serve you and be the unapologetically authentic version of yourself. I feel like it’s where you get to combine all of the good parts of each phase to move forward with. Man, if this is 30 I can only imagine how wise and carefree 40’s, 50’s and so forth can be with the right steps and experiences leading up to them. For now however, I will focus on where I am presently, while I still have my youthfulness and vigor. Nothing is promised and although a heart that loves is forever young, our bodies do age and I may not physically be able to do certain things later on in life that I need not put off now.  I want to make a genuine effort in continuing to live my best life while I can because the goal is to have as little regrets as possible.

By the time we learn to live it is already too late.

Louis Aragon

With that being said, I want to share some important lessons I’ve learned so far. Of course it won’t be everything because the list is really endless but in my most recent reflections, here are some key points I’d like to say:

Learn to love (TF out of) the skin you are in, literally and metaphorically.  You are a supreme being. Our bodies are wonderlands and they put in overtime to make sure that we are here, in hopes that we are making the most of this lifetime. I genuinely love who I am inside and out, a lot, but know that I am still learning how to love myself even more. This is life work and it is necessary. I know there's still plenty of room for me to love on me even harder, and there’s room for you to love on yourself more wholesomely too. Our imperfections do not decrease our worth, if anything our unique flaws add value to who we are and there will literally never be another YOU.  So learn to know your worth (like you know your angles), then continue to add value to it. People will treat you according to how you treat yourself so the difference between thinking and knowing is vital. Self-love is cultivated… not wished.  

To all of the beautiful melanin kings and queens out there specifically, being black is a privilege. There is so much richness in the tone of our skin. And although our history has in many cases prevented us from realising or acknowledging our worth, beauty, and power initially, if you do the work, you will realise just how paramount you really are.

Do not dim your light for anyone, not even yourself. It seems like a simple task but you’ll be surprised how often we tend to act smaller than we really are, sometimes out of fear, and sometimes to make other people feel less guilty for not being in their full light. We all encounter individuals who do not want us to be our best but we must be our best anyway. You will also have moments where you are afraid of your own greatness. Fear less and be fearlessly you. It’s good to be considerate of other people’s feelings and it’s also okay to be afraid of your power but neither of those reasons are a good enough excuse to play small when you only really get one shot. All staying small does is continue the cycle of mediocre. Every time we step into our best selves and take risks that grow us, we break chains of fear and encourage those around us to do the same. There’s nothing any of us can do for the next person that hasn’t yet, or may never reach their full potential so no playing small to bandaid any one else’s lost dreams.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Marianne Williamson

The cycles of life are endless. Just when you think you’ve mastered a mindset, life will test you and show you that you still have much to learn. That’s just how it goes. It seems like two steps forward and seven steps backward but it’s really always forward when you’re applying yourself. Journaling has shown me over the years that our thoughts and experiences are the nothings that are not new under the sun. I’ve had epiphanies and learned lessons that I thought I was learning for the first time until I looked back on an old journal entry where I was literally having the same thought for a similar  or totally different situation, or from a whole other vantage point. It’s kind of like I feel I’ve learned so much and I’ve come so far in my growth  but at the same time I also feel like I barely know anything at all. That’s just how it goes. But somehow we feel wiser and more equipped as we are disciplined in life school to tackle the ebb and flow of life. We’re all just out here winging it, taking flight and letting our hearts lead us to the next adventure. We won’t always get it right but the silver lining is our choice.  No matter how much I’ve changed and evolved my worth has always been high . It’s all about allowing the evolution to continue to add more, never take away. 

Tribe is everything. This structure may look different in every person’s case ,whether blood relatives or not, or maybe a combination of the two,  at the end of the day the people you surround yourself with and depend on for support are so important in every aspect of your life — physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  In many ways we’re all looking for people that complement the vision of life that we want for ourselves. Yes, we ultimately must have our own backs but being alive and completely alone would be pointless, you definitely need others. Who you choose makes a difference in your quality of life. Always go where you are celebrated. You will never fully thrive if you do not. Pay attention to who brings out the sunshine in you, who consoles you when it rains, and who makes you rage like a thunderstorm. Pay attention to how people resolve issues with you. Pay attention to how people talk about you to others or how they try to make you feel about yourself. Pay attention to who is honest and supports you. All of these things matter. Relationship in any form takes work; you have to choose people worth that effort, who understand just as much as you do, the true purpose of someone’s presence in another’s life. I am grateful to know some DOPE human beings. Just vibrant, sincere, pure souls that put a smile on my face at any given moment, inspire & encourage me, spread good vibes, and keep it as real with me as I do with them. I hope to continue to foster healthy relations with individuals.  

We are only human. You will mess up. You will be wrong. Others will mess up. Others will be wrong. We fall down, we get back up. We’re not perfect. So don’t beat yourself up when you make a mistake or someone else disappoints you. Simply adjust accordingly. We all have the capacity to be the bad guy in someone else’s version of the story or the hero. Ultimately never take things too personally or too seriously and find that balance that exists somewhere in between expecting perfection and allowing things to simply be as they are.

Practicing what you preach is the most effective way to get people’s attention. Say less and just “be” more. Your life will speak for itself. People are paying the most attention to how you carry yourself and deal with your situations and other people, more than anything else. When it comes to your religion, personal beliefs, truths, or philosophy (however you care to define it), your life is your testament and those who resonate with your way of life will naturally be drawn to you. Conscience is ultimately a personal experience. Be solid in whatever you use to navigate through life and use as comfort with life’s many unknowns. We are all searching for meaning and we must respect everyone’s process without forcing our own on them. 

Mind your damn business. The Indian proverb says to never judge a man until you’ve walked two moons in his moccasins and the truth is, there will be plenty of shoes we will never wear or walk in. So don’t question the path that someone else is taking. Rather, simply make sure you are stepping in the right direction for yourself. None of it really matters anyway because we are cyclic and adjust our perceptions based on our experiences. It’s really true that there are some things we can never understand until we go through them ourselves. It’s very humbling to undergo an experience you once  may have judged another person for in the past, then do the exact same thing they did, now understanding why they did that very thing. Life’s hilarious like that, making us all endure different things which help us to relate to others, allowing us to grow sympathy/ empathy.  Besides, we need to learn to spend less time worrying about if the next person lives up to the life we feel they should be living, and focus on whether we are living up to who we are supposed to be. 

Procrastination may work for a paper, but don’t use this tactic for life. Under last minute pressure, we’ve all created some great pieces but when it comes to life, this rule doesn’t apply. I am not saying that there’s a cut off point for changing your life and mindset for the better, but in terms of certain dreams and experiences we have access to, there is. Stop putting things off because you’re afraid or don’t know what will happen next. 5 years will go by so fast, and you will easily find yourself in the exact same space if you do not learn how to take action. Risks are scary, trust me, I know. But we all have to learn to be afraid and do it anyway, whatever that “it” is for you. We regret what we don’t do more than what we do. Life is so unpredictable;  You may not get another shot at certain opportunities once they’ve been presented. And once the opportunity to fulfil your biggest vision is passed on to someone else, you will more than likely only have yourself to blame. 

Patience is how you act while you are waiting. I used to struggle with the idea of having to be patient. I felt like we had no choice but to wait for the things we desire. But I came across this definition and it changed my life for the better. What are you doing with your time in the mean time? Do you have the mindset of expectancy? Are you envisioning how it will look and feel once you obtain whatever it is you’re waiting for? And is the waiting making you better or bitter? Food for thought. 

Love is never your enemy and will never be.  I’ve had my heart broken from relationships and losing loved ones, so I know what it feels like to feel it completely shatter. But I also have watched it repair itself and continue on, beating, learning the capacity of my own strength. People will let us down, life will make no sense at times and we will be left disappointed and hurt but love itself, in all of its forms, never fails. It is patient and kind, it doesn’t envy or boast, it’s never proud. Love will not dishonour you, love is selfless, love is slow to anger and will not hold a grudge or a record of wrong doing (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8  A paraphrase). We may find ourselves questioning many things in this lifetime but love should never be one of them. No matter how many times we are let down, allow love to pick you back up again. Allow love to help you enforce boundaries. Allow love to heal your trust issues and guide you to the therapy you need to feel full. No matter what, love again and again.

Believe in your dreams, no co-signs needed. If we want to be successful we must come to the conclusion that no one needs to understand our vision for it to come to pass. When you know your purpose in your bones, it is enough. Sometimes we share our thoughts with others hoping to get confirmation, or people share their thoughts when we haven’t even asked, but we must remember that the opinion from someone who is not living the life we desire for ourselves should hold little to no weight, especially when unsolicited. Validate yourself and believe in your vision. Purpose is as personal as conscience. Once you come to this conclusion you will find that the lane created for you is so enticing to stay in. 

I can admit that I don't always see the visions that some people closest to me have voiced, so I understand even more that those closest to me may not always see my visions as well. That’s why betting on yourself is so important, against all odds, because if not you then who? Stand in your power. There’s no room for second guessing. 

Remember you will not always be in the mood to do the work but the results that doing the work bring you will be your motivation. Once you get the taste of seeing your hard work pay off and watch an idea come to fruition it helps you to enjoy the background process more. Baby steps will always get you further than no steps so do what you can, always moving forward. And if set backs happen know that a little trial and error won’t hurt you because dreams don’t happen sufficiently without opportunities to tweak them, so no need to rush the process or put unnecessary pressure on yourself. It should be fun more than it’s not. The highs will sustain you during the lows, so no excuses. 

Be grateful, always. There is ALWAYS something to be thankful for, in ANY situation, under ANY circumstances.

Do not undermine the power of thoughts and words.  They play a huge factor in shaping our lives. That’s why it’s so important to speak life and be conscious of what is going on in our heads. What you think emanates in your life. Learn what is worth agreeing to and what should be cancelled immediately. The objective is to notice when a negative thought crosses your mind, when you’re out of alignment, so that you can re-align as soon as you’re mentally ready. It’s your turn to be happy all the time so train your mind to know this. 

You can be THIS and THAT simultaneously. Yin comes with yang, hot comes with cold, happy comes with sad, light comes with darkness, and so on. We humans tend to box people into the category we most associate them with but we should also give people the room to be the complete opposite as well. It’s not fair to expect a person to only be the preferred, more pleasant version of themselves all the time. Different situations will bring out different emotions depending on what’s at stake or the loss obtained. 

This also equally applies from a lifestyle perspective. A person is allowed to be the homebody that knows how to be social when necessary. A woman can be a mother and still have a social life separately. What’s wrong with the person in love with being in nature equally enjoying going out to dance their life away? The list of examples is endless but I hope those meant to get my point will. 

Don’t let anyone make you feel that you, being the sky, means you are only allowed to be sunny, because somedays you will pour down, and it’s okay. Like I’ve already said, we are all human and people just need to mind their own business and worry about themselves. You are both, do not feel obligated to pick a side.

Know thyself. Stay true to your core and walk with grace, honouring yourself always. Get to know who you are because no one will ever know you better than you know yourself.  

You will never be able to experience everything. So, please, do poetical justice to your soul and simply experience yourself.

Albert Camus

Each of us are seeds. Burried to bloom, planted to produce fruit, and pruned to flourish.