27 Lessons For My 27th Birthday
In therapy I have come to embrace duality as a way of life. For me duality is also a powerful and positive reclaim of the “two-faced” badge that most Gemini’s are honored with. But I’ve spent some time finding ways to honor my flexibility (I prefer that over fickle), my ability to honor my opinion, and all while understanding the perspective of others. Duality has been the unspoken theme for my 27th year on earth and has brought me so much wisdom and knowledge in 2018. I wanted to share 27 lessons on Love, Work, Passion, and People with regards to duality.
Lessons on Love
1. Therapist Love
I’ve had three therapists, all who served a different purpose at different stages of my life. My current therapist and I are a match made in heaven. She gets me and I’ve never felt more seen. My therapist has helped me to be my full self with myself. Before I’m comfortable with others, I must be able to accept myself, first. The Lesson: No one has to live with me but me. So, I must accept all that I comes with me.
2. Quality Time
In 2016, I read “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and learned my love language in order of importance:
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
This year I began communicating my need for quality time to friends and family. To some this was no surprise and others unfortunately could not fulfill this need. But I learned a lot from the process and understanding how I want to receive love. I jokingly say to my loved ones, “all you have to do is spend time with me and talk to me”, dats it! The Lesson: I learned how to be vulnerable and clearly communicate my needs to loved ones and when I don’t, everyone loses.
In high school, I was heavily influenced by The Tyra Banks Show and I had the epiphany that I wanted to mentor young girls. After high school, my living was so unstable that I could not offer the consistent support necessary for a mentee. This hurt me and I spent many years feeling guilty that I didn’t have the stability to be a mentor. Fast forward to today, I’ve changed my perspective and decided to pour myself into my teenage nieces, who I absolutely adore. The Lesson: What I couldn’t do then wasn’t lost on me, it was not my time. I had to forgive myself for what I thought I should've been doing because I was growing up myself.
Lissssseeeeeeeen, family will always provide me with reoccurring soul lessons to last a lifetime. This year, I unearthed compassion to aid in forgiving family who did their best in raising me. I also learned that reliving my childhood trauma didn’t always heal my wounds but extended the lifespan of my pain. I was finding comfort in the familiarity of my pain and elongating my healing process. The Lesson: At some point I have to learn the lesson and move on. In order to heal, eventually I have to let go what’s hurting me so much. If not, I’m just rehashing my daddy issues with every therapy session and no real progress.
To iterate what I shared in my post, “I’m Not the Strong Black Woman You Think I Am”, I have leaned into my value on nurturing relationships. This year, I solidified bonds and got to know friends more deeply. The Lesson: I have to be OK with the relationships that grow and the ones that don't. It’s OK if a friendship I thought was for life was only for a reason, season, or lesson. (Side note: This lesson is HARD. I have gotten physically sick from relationships ending). Moving forward, I want to find better ways to cope with the pain of losing a girlfriend.
This deserves its own post, but this year I've learned to love my body in a whole new way. I had to listen to it more carefully than I have in the past. I experience a lot of sexual discomfort, pain from ovarian cysts, chronic fatigue, chronic headaches, and more. I’ve had a sense of my hormonal imbalances for some time but not because a doctor treated me for it, but because I decided to pay more attention. The Lesson: I’m more comfortable with doctoring myself and I’m learning by listening to my body and asking questions. What feels right and what doesn’t? What do I instinctively gravitate towards? What does my body reject? Not only is my life at risk if I don’t listen to my body. But the life of my children and women who can learn from me are also at risk.
As mentioned above, the things I’ve learned about my body thus far deserves its own post. But this year, I did The Master Cleanse (aka Maple Syrup Cleanse) where I drank 6-12 ounces of a lemonade mixture (water, lemon, maple syrup, and cayenne) for 10 days. The Lesson: If I can drink lemon water for 10 days (no solids), then I can do anything.
When I moved to Philadelphia in 2009, I fell in love with vegan food by introduction of Philly’s black vegan community. I knew that if I can cook vegan like they do in Philly, then I can be a vegan. But I didn’t switch my diet and for years my body screamed at me for me it. Since Philly, I felt deeply connected to the black vegan community ( Ty’s Conscious Kitchen and Alkaline Vegan Girls) and incorporated vegan meals into my every day diet. After years of not listening to my body, 7 weeks ago I finally switched to a exclusively vegan/plant-based (no animals) diet. The Lesson: I will no longer allow the short term pleasures of mac and cheese and the immediate satisfaction of beef burgers to please me. I didn’t stop eating meat and cheese because I don’t like the taste of it. That is not my narrative. I stopped because I don’t like what it does to my body and how it makes me feel.
Lessons on Work
Partnership is in-between lessons on love and work because its both. My partner and I moved 3 times in 8 months because we were in a bad situation. But we moved into one terrible apartment as a couple and moved out as a unit because the move(s) strengthened our bond. The Lesson: Relationships are work but the rewards that come from a true partnership are infinite. Our teamwork is from years of trial and error, mistakes, hurting one another, learning how to love one another, and also learning ourselves. We can truly reap the benefits of all our hard work because we know how to work as a team.
9. “Rich Dad/Poor Dad”
In September, I finished the book “Rich Dad/Poor Dad” by Robert T. Kiyosaki and I was just 🤯. The author felt like my rich but relatable uncle was schooling me on money. I seen myself in this book and knew where I needed to apply his concepts. I also recognized that I would have to read it several more times. At the time, (actually every 3 months I want to do this) I wanted to quit my job. At some point, resentment arises for my employer and I begin to hate going to work. My dream is to work for myself, so, working for anyone feels like a punishment. This idea from the book that I work for knowledge and not money, stuck with me. It has shifted my perception of work in general and it alleviates any if not all resentment. I’m happier to work because I’m gaining something that will benefit my long-term goal. The Lesson: I work for knowledge, not money.
I’m still working on utilizing money as the tool that it is and not allowing it to work me. The Lesson: Money is a tool that creates short and long-term options for myself.
I don’t know yet what the lesson is for working a 9-5 because I feel I’ve only scratched the surface. But so far, I’m learning to allow my 9-5 to work in my benefit as much as it works for my employer. I can make my time at work more useful than just collecting a check. The Lesson: I utilize my 9-5 to obtain knowledge, connections, long-term relationships, and technical skills. I take advantage of all the training, conferences, and resources my job offers (and pays for).
I expressed a bit how important my therapist is to me (she deserves her own post). But I appreciate our relationship because it transcends race, gender, and age. Sis is invited to my wedding and I consider her a permanent part of my life. Therapy in general has opened my eyes to another type of work thats often unrecognized. The emotional labor of psychotherapy is not categorized as work. But if you’ve ever went to therapy and needed to rest after a session, you understand the work that’s put into it. The Lesson: I will continue to put in the work because I can see the trajectory of my life take a turn for the better because of it. I’m an advocate for psychotherapy because its the mental health checkups we all need.
The term “first-generation college student” is used as a trope for scholarships and entry into graduate school. But when I graduated from John Jay with my bachelor's degree, I wanted to simply celebrate my accomplishment. Yes, being the first of my siblings to obtain a high school diploma is major. But its major despite how its measured up against someone. The Lesson: I want to be proud because I worked for it. It’s important to consider the trials and tribulations I endured but I want to be proud in spite of those hurdles.
Lessons on Passion
In between lessons on work and passion because its both. I commend entrepreneurs with 9-5's or anyone who works a double shift in the name of their passion. There’s a certain level of drive you need to work after work. But I have experienced the pleasure in doing what’s important to me even when I’m tired. The Lesson: When I push past my tiredness and allow myself to lean into the joy of my passion projects. I find that the energy carries into my other work, and even my relationships. I don’t feel like I’m getting lost in the everyday of working because I’m making time for my long-term goals and passions.
For those who know me, its not a secret that I have strong opinions thatI’m passionate about. I find myself shying away from sharing my opinions publicly (specifically on social media). The Lesson: This is more of an observation/self-reflection than a lesson. But even as strongly as as I feel about something, I’m still afraid of being judged for it. Its a crazy thing.
I have been scrapbooking since I was in grade school. But the older I got, the less I did it. This year I tapped into that love and began scrap-booking once again. I feel like a little girl when I sit with my stickers, magazine clippings, with a pure excitement. The Lesson: I scrapbook because it makes me feel good and brings me an indescribable joy that I shouldn’t ignore. Scrap-booking is the hobby that I prioritize just for fun.
17. Passion Projects
I often look back on my journals to read how far I’ve come. When I come across ideas I scribbled down, I’m reminded of the same excitement I had conceptualizing them. Just reading my ideas bring me the joy of bringing them to fruition. The Lesson: Just because its out of sight, that does not mean its out of heart. Even when life gets busy, I absolutely cannot, I REFUSE to forget about my passion projects. Those events, business ideas, and dream collaborations are still apart of me. I can be content with not acting on them all but I cannot forget about them.
When I scroll on my Instagram feed, I admire from a far. But it never occurred to me that if I want to be apart of the people, companies, and campaigns that inspire me, I have to say it. So, I wrote an aspiration list that included people I want to work with, lists I want to be on, and places I want to go. The Lesson: Long are the days where I shy away from saying aloud the things I want that seem unobtainable. There’s no such thing. I will be on Forbes 30 Under 30, Black Girl in Om List, Essence Millennial Love Leader, Be a presenter at Summut21, Work with Alex Elle, and Deun Ivory, to name a few.
A follow up lesson to collaborations… When I began planning for My Sista Support, I knew that I didn’t want to do it alone. Once I got over my fear of rejection, I realized that the only thing keeping me from what I wanted was an email. The Lesson: All it took was one email, one simple email sent to potential sponsors. All I had to do was send one email to get the help I needed. I use this lesson for everything now. Its just one email.
20. I’m the Bag
Actually, this is a new one from today and I’m steeeaaaaling it. I love the idea of putting myself on. Not in the way that disregards my network as my support group but in a way that recognizes my value and ability to build from within. The Lesson: Those soft, hard, technical skills, talents, and things I’m naturally good at are a part of my bag. I don’t need more training to get paid. I can start with what I have now.
Lessons on People
I’m a people person so I love learning about interpersonal relationships and how to be a better human. I have a complex on giving because I had to learn how to receive. To me, giving without being able to receive is pointless and people who practice one without the other are draining. Whether I’m dealing with someone who only wants to give or someone who only wants to receive, I cannot deal. The Lesson: Giving without receiving is pointless and vice versa, both are needed for balance. A person should be as willing to give (love, advice, support, guidance, help, a listening ear, silence, conversation, quality time, phone call, undivided attention, etc) as much as they’re willing to receive.
22. People are Assets
“Here we say you’re broke if everybody broke except for you“ -Jay-z, Boss. What Jay-Z is saying goes along the lines of, “my network is my net-worth”. Up until now, I valued relationships as they pertained to my well-being and include the people who will be apart of the village to help raise my children. But I didn’t grasp the concept of people being assets like I thought of a car or home. And I’m going a little off from what Jay-Z meant but The Lesson is: Treat people well. People are more valuable than any material assets.
23. My Spirit Don’t Like You
Man, I have really fought this for a while. The dying people pleaser in me wants to be liked by everyone. But the bold ass 6-year old me could care less. The Lesson: If something in my spirit says no to someone, I listen and take it seriously. There’s no need for an explanation, reason, or justification. Its just, nah!
I didn’t know what boundaries were but once I learned that I didn’t have any, I did a lot of work to learn boundaries. Once I did, I can quickly spot or even feel that someone doesn’t have them. The Lesson: People are trifling, they either don’t know it or don’t care.
There’s a quote I have in my cabinet that says, “when I’m angry is it because of what is happening around me or am I being triggered”? I ask myself this question if something is bothering my spirit for a long period of time. The Lesson: No one is responsible for how I respond to them. No one can determine how their words and actions impact me because no one is inside of me. How I feel and respond to others is my responsibility.
26. Work Relationships
I’m currently reading Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi and he’s expanding my perspective on work relationships. In an attempt to manage my boundaries, I decided to go into work not expecting friendships. This does not mean I can’t build a non-professional relationship or bond with my coworkers. It was more to keep me focused. The Lesson: The purpose of work is not to make friends. If I do, that’s extra its just not the bottom line.
27. Mental Illness
I’m born and raised in New York so seeing people sleep on the train is a norm for me. But post college, I’m seeing the homeless population very differently. I was raised to see everyone as a human being first, but I’m beginning to see things how they really are. They are a lot of mentally ill folk walking around without help. The Lesson is: a call to action or a call for a cultural shift. The way we treat those with mental illness should be preventative, before someone’s mother is roaming NYC shoeless or someone’s grandfather is screaming at the top of their lungs on the 2 train, we should work on preventing this fate.