Next month I end the first full year in my thirties. It’s been a year of learning more about myself and becoming more comfortable in my own skin then I’ve ever experienced before. As I look back at this year, I decided to look back further at things I wish I knew when I was even younger. I know, everyone does these things, but I wanted one for myself to not only recount, but more importantly to look at how far I’ve come and how far I have left to go.
Don’t comprise your beliefs and opinions because you think others won’t agree or that it will hurt them. I found myself constantly editing my words when I was younger. I was so concerned with offending someone else that I didn’t express my true opinions. The reality is I wasn’t having honest conversations. By editing myself I didn’t have genuine relationships with those people. I’ve learned to just say what I feel – of course tactfully depending on the circumstances, and guess what? Most people aren’t offended by my opinion and if they are, we can have a rational discussion about it, and if we can’t then perhaps it can turn into a learning experience for both parties. If it can’t then you just have to agree to disagree. You can’t please everyone. Someone will always disagree with you and that is okay.
Not having ever been in a physical fight does not make me weak. I had a cousin who would relentlessly tease me about being a “love not a fighter”. Yes, I’ve never been in a physical fight – and I don’t care to be in one. But just because I haven’t been in one doesn’t make me weak, it means I’ve chosen not to take it there. A physical fight doesn’t necessarily make a person strong. My life experiences, my relationships, my loved ones, and my own will are what make me strong. I have no desire to prove I’m strong by punching someone in the face.
When someone (especially family) teases you “out of love” it’s okay to tell them to stop it. I had a male cousin who just loved teasing me about my big nose and my dark skin when I was around 12 or 13 – he was ten years older than me in case you’re wondering. And I stood there and took it; awkwardly laughing only to cry into my pillow at night. I let that bother me so much that in my twenties when someone I loved called me a “coconut” or made fun of my nose, I reverted back to that awkward pre-teen stage. I let her bully me and erode my confidence because she was family and someone I cared about, I let it slide without standing up for myself. Yet, the great thing about getting older is that your confidence grows with experience. I’m okay with my nose and I love my dark brown skin. Never will I let anyone put me down “out of love”.
The biggest lesson thus far is one I think a lot of women in their thirties can relate to – it’s okay to not have reached X milestone by X age. Whether it’s career goals, marriage, children, financial, just because others have something at your age that you don’t doesn’t make you abnormal. Essentially this lesson is – don’t compare yourself to others. An aside to this is what people share on social media is usually their best moments (of course!) – you don’t see the 3am feedings or the fights and rightfully so. Stop. Comparing. Yourself. To. Others. is what I would have told myself countless times when I was younger.
I am me. I am unique. I love myself. I have so much growing and learning to do, and I’m so looking forward to the journey of my thirties.