6 Life Changing Lessons I Learned by 35

16Last week I celebrated my 35th birthday. It’s hard to believe that three and a half decades have come and gone. A small part of me looks at my aging body and longs for the days when I could sneeze a 6 pack and fart quadriceps.

However, the better part of me basks in the lessons I’ve learned along the way and how much better a woman I’ve become. I’ve learned to…

1. Do it scared. In my teens, my friends’ mother, who was always happy and playful, once turned from a residential block onto Route 110—shooting straight across two lanes. My friend shouted, “MOOOOMMMM!!!” as I laughed hysterically. Her mother said, “ I’M OUT THERE!!…I’M OUT THERE NOW!! SOMETIMES YOU JUST GOTTA GO!” Since then whenever I take a risk in life I say that to myself. I translate it to mean, sometimes you have to take the risk and think about the consequences later. Often we’re only one risk away from the lane we want to be in.

2. Fall in love with yourself. The last few years have been particularly challenging but it’s recently culminated in the accomplishment of a major goal. Since then my life has not only been easier, but I find myself passing the mirror like, “Girl! LOOK! AT! YOU!” I might look all kinds of raggedy at the moment, but I think, “If I weren’t you, I’d want to be!” I’ve even joked with friends that I’m becoming a bit of a narcissist. Every day I want to lean in and look a little more. Who can be mad at that? If I’m not loving myself, nobody else will either. Better yet….when I do love myself this fiercely I’m never more attractive to people.

3. Pick your battles. There are some arguments worth fighting. For example, if someone continually disrespects you—and you’re sure “disrespect” is their intention, you have just cause to insist on fair treatment. However, in your romantic relationships and friendships, choose not to fight every battle. In escalated anger you can say things that destroy relationships, as well as people stop hearing you because they write you off thinking you always make noise.

4. Friendships have cycles. You have a particular journey in your life, as do your friends. At some points you may separate. It’s painful, but what you don’t realize is that there may come later points in your life when each of you are not only more relevant to the other, but have more to give each other based on what you’ve learned when your paths diverged.

5. There are more fish in the sea. It’s tempting to cry (and you should) when your heart has been broken. Trust me, I’ve had many a day. However, in those states, part of our despair is that we feel like our lost loves were our only chance at that kind of love. Nope. Not true. Many more opportunities, with quality suitors, will present themselves (as long as you too are a quality suitor). So, cry for lost attachments, but not because you think you’ll never find another.

6. “Never make someone a priority, that sees you as an option.” These are one of those says that make me feel like saying, “PASTOR, PREACH!” and I don’t even go to church. I used to dole out unearned affections and make friends as well as lovers a priority when they very clearly saw me as an option. Guess what though? People have to earn such affections. Moreover, they want to earn affections. People don’t appreciate things that haven’t worked for. So, stop giving yourself away for free!

 Share some womanly wisdom in the comment section below. 

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