I just passed my 35th birthday on 7/7. I know… I know I look so young but here we are, a fully grown ass woman (no matter how immature I feel). With the age came a certain amount of wisdom based on experience. When I think of wisdom I think of those lessons that keep showing up for you over and over. Hopefully, at some point, you get the lesson, pin it on your heart and get to share it with another person who needs it. There are a few lessons that I had to pin on my heart over the years.
Be careful who you share your joy with. Not everyone is “Happy for you”, even if you think they should be. Your first thought is haters, right? Nope. It’s not that simple. There are people in your life the love you, support you and wish you well. But sometimes when you’re doing a little too well and maybe things are not shaking for them – they get sour. I have had it done to me and I have been on the sour end once or twice too. Life is not fair and even if you gave away the exact formula, you cannot duplicate good fortune. Don’t take it personally and protect your peace. Actual joy is priceless.
Run your own race. I spent a lot of time thinking about where I was in relation to my peers and, to be honest, I have always been a step behind. When everyone else I knew was ready to drive, I was happily getting carted around by my mom. When everyone else was talking about marriage and babies, I was being shady about people “ending the party too soon” (I had to apologize for this recently). I am never ready and because of that, I would fall into the trap of trying to keep pace. Don’t do it. All the things you are meant to have will come to you when you’re in the space to handle them and they come quickly. You can finish the degree and get the big job in the same year. You can meet the man, get married and preggo in 15 months. Don’t worry about it – just put your head down, work hard and make sure you can maximize the opportunities when they come. (what good would it have been for me to meet this amazing man if my view of marriage was still that he was here to kill my vibe?) Timing is EVERYTHING.
If you value it, do it now. I love to play this game with myself where I ask myself “If you won the lottery, what would you want to do with the money?”. I love this game because it really speaks to where my head and heart are at the moment. If my answer is “to start a mentorship program” but I am not doing it on some small scale right now, it’s either bullshit or I am not prioritizing the things I say are important. My point is don’t wait until the stars line up just right for you to go after the big goals. What can you be doing right now, to live the life you want? If you want to be a writer, write. If you want to travel, start small. If you want to help seniors, pick a few and start a monthly practice of taking over some meals and talking to them. You have to start taking control of your own narrative while you can. You are not guaranteed another day of life or the good health to do things later.
Just because you can do it all, does not mean you should do it all. I do not know where black women got the notion that we have to be pillars of strength for everyone to use and abuse. I am not even sure if this is just an “us” thing, but I over it. I am over at work when other people think I should “speak up for the group”, for the men in my life that feel like “oh, she got it” … even strangers… Nah. I am delicate, I need care and I am going to ask for help even when I think I can handle it because I can.
Be your whole self. You have heard this one before but this was a hard-won fight for me so I am shouting it from the rooftops. I don’t know if its this post 30 vibe or what but I am more myself than I have ever been in my entire life. If I could go back and tap 16-year-old Lisa on the shoulder, this is what I would tell her. It only sounds like “blah” advice until you look back and see how much self-editing you were doing to assimilate. As a black woman in America, you start out trying to be easy to digest for white people, men, black people, family, and if religious…church people. Respectability never saved anyone’s life. Find space where you can live a full life and get back to your own baseline. I heard a poem recently that said “We are trying to save ourselves and in the prcoess, you get saved” *snaps*, save yourself, girl.
I could go on but these are the five on top of my head and heart right now. What lessons have you had to learn the hard way as you’ve gotten older? Comment below.