1. Self acceptance.
I spent most of my late teens and 20s feeling like a failure because I had these highly ambitious expectations for myself. By the time I was 18, it was clear that I wouldn’t accomplish a lot of those goals and it shattered my world. Rebuilding an image of myself as someone I never expected to be – never wanted to be – was daunting for me. Embracing all of me has been a struggle, but thirty years of life has shown me how phenomenal I am on my most basic days.

2. Life is for living, not merely existing.
My grandmother had both legs amputated this year, and our family made the difficult decision to place her in a nursing home. Despite our undying love for her, we could no longer care for her in the way she needed. I am witnessing her life slowly deteriorate, and I am also witnessing her strength and will to live and not just exist despite the circumstances. So much of what my family has weathered this year with my grandmother has made me value the things beyond going to work and going home. I want to have good stories to tell my nieces, nephew, and their kids. When my life is reaching is final days, I don’t want to dwell on all of the things I missed in life. Much of that is why I stopped waiting for others a long time ago; I’ll go on a solo adventure in a heartbeat.

3. People are multifaceted.
I didn’t quite comprehend this until Fidel Castro died, but it makes sense. There seemed to be a 50/50 split between those who despised him and those who loved him. I’ve been to Havana and I’ve seen the effects of the Castro regime. I’ve seen the effects of socialism. Upon news of his death, I reflected on how I felt – how I was supposed to feel. Should I rejoice that the evil dictator was dead or should I mourn for the man who loved his country so much that he overthrew the Batista government for it? It made me realize that good people can do bad things. Bad people can do good things. Humans are complicated creatures and we all have our Achilles’ heel.

4. I have trust issues.
Thirty years of life has taught me to show skepticism toward everyone, and I hate it. I hate that I allowed enough people to betray me to the point that I don’t even trust myself with judging someone’s character. I’m taking small steps to build a healthier level of skepticism by allowing people to earn my trust with time and consistency, but I have a long journey ahead of me. There must be some balance, and I’m understanding that there will always be a risk of being hurt because people are not perfect.

5. I can’t do it all alone.
My mother birthed two children, but I felt like an only child because my brother was ten years older than me. Since he was uninterested in all of the girly things I wanted to do, I found contentment in my own company. As a result, I have always been fiercely independent, but I’m learning that some things in life require the assistance of a friend or family member. I’m making a greater effort to stay in contact with the people I know and love.

6. There is freedom in not giving a fuck.
I sleep well each night without caring about other people’s opinions of me and what they are doing with their lives. While the rest of the world is in a tizzy over every situation that occurs, I’m a peace with not knowing and not caring about something I have no control over anyway. The art of minding my own business has worked well for me – keeping me stress-free and wrinkle-free.

7. 30 isn’t a milestone.
I see so many people speaking on 30 as if it is the mark of adulthood. I don’t see it that way at all, but I expect to see continued growth and the ability to make better decisions than I did in my 20s.

8. I spit fire.
Don’t get burned. In the astrology world, I’m known as a triple fire. My sun sign is Aries (cardinal fire), moon sign is Sagittarius (mutable fire), and rising sign is Leo (fixed). That brings a lot of energy that can be too hot to handle and too feisty.

9. A life plan isn’t necessary.
I hate the questions about where I see myself in five years, but I understand the concept. It’s checking to see that someone is a planner, that they are interested in stability and growth. That they aren’t okay with simply being stagnant and inconsistent. That they have potential. I hate potential as well. Here is what I am right now. I’m living minute by minute and going with the flow. That’s okay.

10. My plan for my life and God(dess)’s plan for my life are two different things.
I don’t even know why I even bother planning. This isn’t where I planned to be at age 30, but I’m here and joyful.

11. I don’t deserve.
Listen, I’m not special by any means. Many women who come from where I’m from are currently living a less than stellar life, and it could have been me working a dead end job, depending on government assistance, struggling with multiple children with multiple fathers that did not provide. But grace, mercy, and favor.

12. I can be genuinely happy for someone who did me dirty.
If that’s not growth, then I don’t know what is. I don’t forget about trifling acts, so for me to see someone doing something great, and to be able to enjoy seeing that without even thinking about the pain he/she caused me? Baby, I’m maturing.

13. What brings the next person joy may not bring me joy.
I’m genuinely happy to see my friends have babies, buy homes, build homes from the ground up, start businesses, go back to college, and obtain doctorates. I also understand that doesn’t have to be my life plan. I’ve experienced home ownership and didn’t really enjoy it. I don’t need to experience motherhood to know that’s not my ministry. I, as a woman, do not find the value in traditional marriage.

14. What people say about me is not about me; it’s about themselves.
Have you read The Four Agreements? The second agreement says don’t take anything personally because whatever people say about you isn’t about you at all. It’s all about them. When people intentionally say or do something negative towards me, I don’t even receive that. That negative energy is a reflection of themselves, and I have nothing to do with it.

15. Never ignore my intuition.
That girl is always right.

16. I prefer experiences to things, but I want both and that’s okay.
In the travel community, a common question is how can people afford to travel. Many people respond with cost cutting measures, and some attack those people who buy Starbucks daily and own designer purses instead of using those extra funds to travel. I want Starbucks and trips to the Caribbean.

17. People only do what I allow them to do and I am responsible for setting the standard.
I listen to stories about people getting ditched on dates, wasting hard-earned money on undeserving family, stressing out about and losing weight over relationships. It is important to control one’s own narrative.

I’m thankful in knowing that I can set up a good foundation with someone, and know when to walk away when things aren’t going the way they should. There are some things people already know not to fix their mouthes to ask me.

18. Alone time is valuable.
It’s necessary to understanding who I am. I require uninterrupted thoughts and reflections on a daily basis so that I can continue to function.

19. Being blessed is a choice.
It’s hard out here, but always choose life and not death. Blessings and not curses. Bend but don’t break.

20. I am my mother’s child.
And it’s a shame. My mother is a good Christian woman who never ate a meal she didn’t pray over first. Although our beliefs differ vastly, there is so much of her that I’m seeing in myself as I get older. Those mannerisms that annoyed me when I lived under her roof are the same mannerisms that I find myself having today.

21. People only allow you to see what they want you to see.
I don’t even waste my energy on jealousy because I know the grass is not greener on the other side. Social media allows people to reveal the best version of themselves. I’m a hot mess, but there are still some things I would never share. My savings account is low, my fat rolls are obnoxious, and my tongue is sharp.

22. I can’t let anyone else tell my story.
When I reflect on my life, I’ve never had the chance to tell my own story. My mother can’t hold water, and she usually tells everyone every detail of my life before I’ve had the chance. When I entered the gifted program in elementary school, she shouted it from the rooftop. When I fell for a fine ass boxer my first week of freshman year, everyone at the nail salon knew about it before I uttered a word. When I was going to fly out of state for a big job interview, my hair stylist had the details about it before I could even mention it. I’m struggling with the fact that my mother cannot know everything about me for this reason. My story should come from my mouth only. No one can tell my story better than me because no one knows my story better than me.

23. Dating me is a luxury.
And it is a luxury in which many cannot afford. The number of men that request parking lot meetups and Netflix and Chill for a first date is appalling. That wasn’t cute in high school, and here I am at the age of 30 now as unimpressed as ever. I’m sitting here with all of this monthly upkeep, and I’m not about to allow any random man in my presence. I’m willing to accept that I can be shallow and materialistic sometimes. Money isn’t everything, but it’s right up there with air and water.

24. I have FOMO.
Fear of missing out has been a recent development in my life. I have this issue where I hate missing events. I try to go to every wedding, funeral, vacation, shower, festival, and conference that I get invited to, but I need to say no more often or I will wear myself ragged. I am learning that the world will go on whether I’m there or not, and if I miss one event, there will be another event like it around the corner.

25. If you charge it to the game, you eventually have to pay the game back.
These wise words came from my line sister. Charging it to the game is a decision to temporarily be held unaccountable for my poor decisions. One bad decision today means a lot more work to correct those mistakes tomorrow. Avoidance is never the answer. I have to deal with my decisions sooner than later.

26. Black women are everything.
Baby, if I was a lesbian, I’d date someone like me. 😂😂😂 We have more sense than everybody, and I will always go hard for black women before anyone else. It’s like our melanin and estrogen brings logic.

27. Health is so important.
I have not cared as much as I should about what goes into my body because I tend to live a daily life of treating myself. Too many people are dying too young from heart-related issues, so I’m going to make a conscious effort of managing what I food intake and activity.

28. I’m only a speck in the universe that won’t change anything.
I’m going to keep living my life to the fullest and quit worrying about the next man because this Earth will be destroyed no matter what I do. Gone are those optimistic days of high school and college when I thought I could solve all of the world’s problems with a twinkle in my eye. This world doesn’t want to be saved.

29. It gets greater later.
I’m looking forward to being in my 30s, but I feel like my 50s are going to be beyond great. I expect it to be everything that Tina Knowles-Lawson and Bevy Smith say it is.

30. I don’t know shit.
Like Sway, I, too, don’t have the answers. I don’t pretend to be well-versed in political science, astronomy, economics, or philosophy. I know a little bit about a lot, but I’m no expert. Life is about learning and growing.

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