14 Things I’ve Learned in My 31 Years of Living

Today marks the 31st anniversary of my existence on this earth. So far it’s been a pretty eventful ride. 31 years of life, laughs, side eyes, every black girl hairstyle imaginable, the highest of highs and downs lower than Jay-Z’s street cred score the moment he agreed to be photographed naked while cradling his wife like she was the last burnt corner of macaroni on Thanksgiving Day (which if you’re lucky enough to nab, you never let go). While life for me has certainly been no crystal stair, it’s also been an incredible journey of self-acceptance, love and learnings, all bound together by a promise of grace that has been delivered upon each and every day.

And since this year has decided to move faster than the time it took for Rosanne to exit stage right, in celebration of my birthday, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on key life lessons and words of wisdoms I’ve learned and affirmed this year.

  1. Have a Go-To Spiritual Routine

Church on Sundays, affirmations in the mornings, yoga, mediation before breakfast, whatever it is, have a sacred something that aligns you and gives you peace in the midst of chaos. Personally, the bible app and the devotional Jesus Calling have been godsends, particularly on busy days with little time for extended talks with Jesus. These also help me feel a little less heathen-like for my worldly ways.

  1. Learn to Say No Without an Explanation

This is a tough one, particularly for those of us who have a tendency to say “yes” to every living, breathing thing. However, when I do implement this wondrous word, the results can be best likened to the exhale Jill Scott took at the end of Why Did I Get Married? It’s truly freeing, for real. Now the things is, when you say “no,” mean that ish because people will try you. You’ll get hit with “why,” “what happened,” and “how come,” but remember, you said what you said. You owe no one an explanation for your actions or decisions, particularly the ones that will bring you peace.

  1. Have One Ratchet or Just Plain Stupid Television Show You Watch Faithfully

Listen, Little Women: LA is a great show. My 600-lb Life deserves an Emmy. Black Ink Crew is a great piece of art. You can’t be woke all of them time and ratchet TV is the perfect remedy when you want to doze. It’ll also point you to other amazing people who also secretly watch these shows while munching on Golden Oreos.

  1. Cherish the Hearty Laughs

I absolutely live for a good laugh. I’m not talking about a chuckle here and there, or “LOL” in a text. I’m talking about those gut-busting, head back, eyes watering, cathartic releases of joy. I’ve always said, a man who can make me laugh is a man I’m going to marry. If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that laughter is food for the soul, and we’re starving without it. Life is filled with some terribly shi**y moments so when you have a second to step away from depression, anxiety, work, relationship drama, if only for a second, take it and let out a laugh.

  1. Get Real Friends

Who has time for fake love? Maybe it’s onset maturity but I find myself having less and less time and patience for people who aren’t authentically involved in my life. Happy hours, lunch dates, birthday parties, if I’m hanging with you it’s because I genuinely want to. If I’m not…*shrugs.*

  1. Move Your Freaking Body

Apparently the older we get, the more energy and skipped Weight Watchers meetings it takes to get the weight off. Be your own #BodyGoals, whatever your size, and make time for physical health. Heart disease and high cholesterol ain’t cute.

  1. Have a Person

If you don’t have one person in your life that you can dance like this in front of, than you’re severely lacking. I don’t have a BFF (sadly I was far too quiet growing up to make true friends as a child, which we all know are key BFF bond forming years), but I do have people. People I can be authentically me around. People who see the good, bad and everything in between and still rock with me. People who know just how many camera phone angles and filters it took to get that IG shot (likely because they took the photo) but “like,” comment and publicly hype you up as if it’s their first time seeing the pic. People who I piss off continuously but because they love me, we’re forever cool. People who I know will serve as unofficial aunties and uncles to my children, and will play a key role in my wedding. People who I can goof with, vent to, dream with, share confidential information and do anything else reserved only for the VIPs in your life. Find these people, cherish them, laugh with them, love the heck out them, and keep them close.

  1. Don’t Settle for Bad Sex

Pretty self-explanatory here.

  1. Be Nice

So today in the middle of grocery shopping, an elderly white woman taps me on the shoulder and asks me where the bar soap is. My first reaction was to tell this woman I am not employed there, all black folks don’t look like the help and Joy-Ann Reid is innocent. Instead, I take a second, remind myself that I’d still like my spot in heaven near the Whitney Houston performance stage and I help the woman. It cost me nothing and meant so much to her. So much so, that she offered to buy my groceries. Be kind. Our president may be an eternal ass, but you don’t have to be. It’s a privilege to be in a position to help someone else, so don’t abuse that power.

  1. Manage Your Money

No one likes adulting but we have to do it. Broke ain’t cute and neither is living paycheck to paycheck. Save, invest, tithe, budget, pay your student loans and do whatever else you need to do to manage your finances.

  1. Don’t Compromise for Love

I knew a woman would swear until tomorrow that she’d never date a man with kids. Well along comes Tyrone with his big d**k and Brady Bunch and she decides to give it a try. Fast forward five years and a wedding later, and sis is miserable AF and fully entangled in some Love and Hip-Hop type baby mama drama. I don’t know the day nor hour but I’m confident love is coming, for me and you. And because it is (dear God, preferably before I’m menopausal), I refuse to compromise any must have qualifications for future bae. If you want an educated man, then hold out for an educated man. If you want a man with good teeth, than stop entertaining advances from toothless Tom and go get you a Crest commercial brotha. Know what’s flexible on your list and what’s not; and be confident in sticking to it. Your future, happily married self will thank you. 

  1. Spend Time with Old People

The stories, laughs and lessons you’re going to get are unparalleled. Also, friendly reminder, if we’re so lucky, we’ll too be AARP members who drive with both hands on the wheel while doing 30mph on the highway.

  1. Remember, You Are Who You Are, and That’s Really as Good as It’s Going to Get

That nose, body, hair texture, laugh, personality — it’s all you boo. God made you who you are for a reason and he’s not in the business of making mistakes. 

  1. Give yourself a break.

You’re trying. You’re doing it. You’re going to get it. Beyoncé wasn’t built in a day and neither is your career, snatched body, relationship, bulging bank account, life goals or anything else you’re striving to attain. Don’t let the social media hype fool you. Behind the Instagram posts, folks are grinding, hustling, some even struggling to turn their dreams a reality. I’m a firm believer that success comes to those who work and wait for it. If you’re doing what you need to do, making sound decisions and living a Christ-led life, the universe has no choice but to return on your investment. Be patient. Whatever “it” is for you, is coming.

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