Close-up of a young woman with her eyes closed

by Norissa Williams

At 22—during my first year of grad school—as class ended and a few classmates and I casually walked toward the cafeteria, a classmate turned pointedly in my direction stating that her friend was looking for a black female model to pose naked for the cover of his book. With a face I’m sure was priceless, I silently said, “…And what does that have to do with me??” She finished, “I told him about you. I think you’d be perfect.”

Mouth open, caught between shock and indignation and, “OMG really? You think I’d be worth seeing naked?? *flips hair*” I answered quickly with an emphatic, “NO,” despite her claims that my face wouldn’t be visible, I’d be curled in fetal position, it’d be a side angle shot and I’d be compensated $200.

Though my, “no,” was based on a complicated chorus of voices from my professional, religious, social and philosophical selves, the main reason—and most distinct voice—was that of my 12 year old self, “OMG no, in a fetal position people could totally see my rolls.”

I laugh now as I approach my 34th birthday and consider how I’ve evolved. Twelve years later, though I would consider my professional aspirations (because I mean who knows, I may run for office one day), I might accept that challenge.

While I don’t have Kim K’s booty, Kelly Rowland’s new breasts, and gone are the days when I could sneeze and form a 6-pack, there is an inner confidence that I now possess that says, “stretch marks, c-sectioned belly, breast feeding ta ta’s and all, this is me.”

I mean…I do still have the occasional panic when my dear friend wants to face time and I’m like, “What?! Why?! I look all kinds of crazy right now!” And don’t get me wrong, there should be no expectations of me trotting down 5th Avenue with nothing but stilettos, but I’m so much more self-accepting than I used to be. I have life experience to thank for that…

Some years back, on a visit to the home of a man with whom I had been spending time—during a casual chat—he stopped, held my hand, leaned in and expressed that though he thought my face was attractive and had intense feelings for me, he wasn’t sexually attracted to me. He did not like my body…

For a while I would run past the mirror—not daring to look at myself—until one day I realized he gave me a great starting point to have a chat with myself about who I really am and the reasons anyone should want me.  In this reflection, I evolved.

Similarly, with the approach of each birthday I become more pensive about my life; where I’ve been, where I am and where I’m going.  Then on the actual day I refer  to the goals I’ve set for myself the previous year. I mark progress, commend myself and refocus on those goals yet to be accomplished. Each year I’m filled with great humility in awe of this seeming mystery of life—and gratitude for the growth I’m afforded with the resources the universe has offered me. I press on knowing the best is yet to come.

The 20’s can be said to be a time of finding yourself, clarifying your voice and forming your identity, while the 30’s are a time for building—finances, career and family—and, “doing you.”

For me, both of these are fun truths…

 Frugalistas: I would love to hear an instance of something you said, “no” to, that you would say, “yes,” to now…

[info_box type=”alert_box”]If you want to practice self-care, you have to care for your finances.  My book, The Happy Finances Challenge, is designed to help you learn to make money decisions that will lead to long-term financial happiness in just 42 days. [/info_box]

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