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I’m in my 30s now and I think it is true what everyone says, the level of fucks given starts to decline. Maybe it’s the realization that — although you certainly don’t *feel* that old — an entire decade of adulthood is behind you. The idea that time passes — and passes pretty quickly — becomes very real. And you realize that if you’re not careful, you can waste time on nonsense.

Add to that the humbling experiences of pregnancy and motherhood, both very hard to do if you are super self conscious about what others think, and it just starts to set in that some things are not worth agonizing over.

Here are some of those things;

1. I’m not ugly.

I’m done with the ‘Oh my god I’m so ugly what am I going to do!’ agonizing of my 20s. I don’t have time for it… I’m not ugly. I’m actually pretty. Maybe I’m not the prettiest girl in the room, but I don’t have to be. I like my face, I like my body, I’m blessed to be healthy. That’s more than enough.

2. I’m a city girl.

I’ve lived in 3 major cities in two different countries (grew up in Kingston, spent a decade in Chicago and now live in New York.) I think my pattern is pretty much set. And when I tell this to people they ramble on and on about how you get more bang for your buck in the suburbs/the South, how cities are gentrifying and ‘not what they used to be’ for black folks, how they’re dirty and crowded, how the schools are terrible. All of this may be true. I still prefer them over suburbs. *Kanye shrug*

3. Not everyone will like me, and not everyone has to.

This is just how life works. And it’s not a reason to be panicked or depressed.

4. Not all friendships are forever.

Some friendships will last a lifetime, others will last just a season. It can be hard to tell the difference, but once you do, it’s important to make smart emotional decisions.

5. I am a highly opinionated woman. It’s not a bad thing. It’s a good thing.

It’s not my job to make people comfortable by censoring myself. I don’t need to avoid being the ‘opinionated/angry black woman’ to make others comfortable. I have a duty to myself to use my voice. And many of the wonderful things I’ve done in adult life are because I trusted and followed my voice.

6. I’ve done very well professionally and it’s nothing to be conflicted about.

Being bashful about success is not a good look. I’ve been self employed for 8 years. For 5 of those I’ve been primary breadwinner for my family (yes, even when my husband was working a great job.) I’ve done good and there’s nothing wrong with being proud of this success. Humility is understanding that, despite what I’ve done, I don’t know everything and there’s always more to learn. Humility is not mumbling about my achievements to make others comfortable.

7. My gut feelings/intuition/sixth sense are almost always right.

There is nothing wrong with seeking outside counsel, but ultimately my gut is almost always right. I tend to ignore it because it’s usually telling me things I don’t want to hear like ‘Stop being complacent’ or ‘Move on from this person/situation that isn’t serving you’ or ‘Take this risk you’re afraid of.’ I need to listen to my gut more often.

8. I’m probably never going to fit in neatly anywhere.

It hasn’t happened in the past 31 years, so it’s probably never going to happen. Yes, I believe I will always have meaningful relationships and be loved, but I’ll never have a pre-packaged community — like a church, sorority, or workplace — to be part of. I’m a non-religious, tri-cultural (Haitian, Jamaican, African American) black woman who is self-employed. There might never be a neat place for me. And that’s okay.

9. I did a lot of dumb shit in my 20s, but I can’t wallow in it. I have to learn from it and move on.

I got married too young (right guy, wrong time… we’re still together, but not without putting in lots of work), wasted time on toxic friendships, didn’t go to therapy when I needed it, stayed in Chicago too long after I knew it wasn’t for me, obsessed over my professional “competition” instead of focusing on my own projects, wasn’t knowledgeable enough about birth control, talked myself out of pursuing a professional passion, made a horrible real estate “investment”, didn’t grasp the importance of deep conditioning… The list of shit I did in my 20s that resulted in wasted time, money and lots of tears is pretty long. And I used to just sit and feel regret for days, weeks, sometimes months. Now I know that when you make a poor decision you have to mourn it, feel that sadness, do your best to change course, and move the fuck on. Life moves fast, you can’t stay stuck.

Ladies, what are some life lessons you’ve learned?

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noelliste, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop culture and black beauty enthusiast. bell hooks' hair twin...

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10 Comments on "9 Things I’ve Come to Terms with About Myself at Age 31"

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Jennifer
What a great post, thank you very much for that! I turned 29 last week and number 8 on your list is the one that freed me from the angst and endless questions that tormented me for the biggest past of my childhood, i’m bi-cultural speak 3 languages, have lived in 5 countries now and am a hard-core introvert (working on being self employed atm!) so my social life looks nothing like of other’s and of “people my age”. AND I’m a black woman with funky hair living in a predominantly Asian city! Coming to terms with the fact that… Read more »
Nadia

7 out of 9 is all me! Great post! It’s absolutely accurate!

Afri

Love the honesty of this piece, and your writing reminds me of when BGLH was a blog helping us natural newbies to get a grasp on things.
As for 30s, I’ve learnt to let go and let God when it comes to some situations.

Chawn

Man how true is this list. There’s definitely a sense of self acceptance and appreciation that comes with age. Thanks for this good read!

TWA4now

Excellent realization! Mines is…speak up…and stop being afraid. Ask for what I want…and be happy the moment vice a designated time!

Essa
I like #9. Im still in my twenties…soon to be 27. I have an entire list of things Ive done already that were ridiculously stupid. My twenties aren’t over yet, but the pain and mourning Ive endured from those decisions thus far have me being really conscious of my decisions now. I have literally told myself to make better decisions that suit my life, and bring me to a good place. You are so right about the mourning too. You learn from it, but you also end up mourning these decisions. Sometimes they cause a lot of pain,and regret..be it… Read more »
Alison

I’m gonna be 29 this year and if I had to sum up everything I’ve learned so far (but still struggling with lol) in one sentence that would be: “There are no rules”. I mean 2 things by that:
1/ We can be whoever we want and it’s ALWAYS OK, because “there are no rules”.
2/ We have to learn to let go of expectations, because “there are no rules”.

TWA4now

…things change and we have to be flexible with ourselves and in life…ups and downs and move on…..

kerisha

also that you can have it all just not all at the same time. turn 40 this year , just start pursuing a career, had my babies in my 20s except one, that was 3 years ago. its o.k. to march to the beat of your own drum. some may say I did it ass backwards and I used to beat up on myself for those choices, nah not anymore it is what it is.

Rachel

I completely agree with everything in this article! Especially the fitting in neatly somewhere – I haven’t either in the past 31 yrs and that’s quite fine! 🙂

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