On 30 – Gratitude, Cultivating joy, Being settled and Learning to do it anyway

Friends, your girl is an entire 30-year-old, it’s insane! Well, according to me, I have been 30 since the start of 2021 so technically, you guys have just caught up.

My friend says we’re finally those care-free ladies with hoop earrings and commanding afros, walking around like they own this place or like they’ve been here before and know something that most of us don’t. I am sure you’ve met them – they walk around like they are unencumbered by insecurities, free from the shackles of others’ expectations and speak their minds like they just discovered how to do so. They’ve fought hard to be themselves and it shows. They’re now content in existing as they are – chewing the bones of all the lessons hard earned.

I recently read an article from Florence of Florence and the machine. She had recently turned 30 when it was written, and at the time, she’d been sober for a few years. She details how she basically drank and starved her 20’s away – struggling with both alcoholism and an eating disorder. Florence further explained how she was now thinking through why women seem to be at war with themselves in their 20’s, and how she no longer believes in self-destruction as a means of creativity. Florence, like those 30-year-old ladies, had finally become settled, no longer at war with herself or the world around her. And this is not something that is only reserved for the middle class or the rich and famous. Think about your 30-year-old cousins who walk around like they own the whole damn place. Or those who are always willing to share their faux wisdom about anything and everything – how you should stay away from broke men, don’t let work consume you, don’t spend frivolously, invest (and have no life in your 20’s). They speak as though the 5 or 10 years between you and them is a lifetime, I love them!

I don’t think I am by any means close to being these ladies – I mean, I have barely figured out my life, lol! But I will say this, I am definitely a lot more settled within myself. Maybe it’s something in the air or in the water that does this when you’re about to turn 30, I don’t know. I also know that the me I like, the hard-earned version of me, is taking centre stage. I am led by conviction, even the hard ones. I no longer walk around with apologies ready to fall out of my mouth for existing or looking or sounding the way I do.  I am no longer apologetic about being weird (my friend called me that on her birthday message to me, haha) or being talkative and loud and consuming of space. I no longer want to cower and not wear that bright lipstick so I don’t stand out too much, or don’t apply for that job because my imposter syndrome owns me. Now, I do it anyway. I punch above my weight, and with shaky hands and buckling knees, I try anyway. I mean, I just did a whole GoFundMe for my PhD (https://gofund.me/35bcbe2b), putting my life on full blast! Me?! The extremely private me with no social media, and struggles sharing her struggles, now blogs about her demons and shares her vulnerabilities. Imagine that!

To be fair, my twenties is where all these battles were fought and won. I mean, I JUST turned 30, so 30’s can’t exactly take credit for any of this. But I am excited for this new chapter precisely because of all that I have conquered in my twenties. Because I am becoming the woman of my dreams. A lover of God sharing difficult truths in spite of fear. A pursuer of her dreams, fiercely led by conviction of what kind of work matters and why I choose to opt in, even when those choices are punished by the world we exist in. A devoted (trying) family member, church member, friend and girlfriend. The girl who reads and encourages others to do the same (and is less judgy of none readers now 😊). A traveller and explorer. A lover of art and good wine (my rich friends, I am collecting expensive wine now, so do the most!). A plant mom who occasionally does yoga and is learning how to knit (I still suck). A human no longer bound by expectations of who I should be, what I should want given what I studied or how I did at school or what my peers are doing. A non “girl boss”.  I am settling into the actual me, the me that just wants to listen to poetry and go to a jazz bar or the theatre or an art gallery, and be part of a Christian book club and thrift and blog. Simplicity is the name of the game these days and I am revelling in it. I am starting to chew the bones of the victories hard-earned, and oh how tasty they sure are!

If you are in your 20’s, struggling under the weight of expectations from yourself, family, society or buckling under the yoke of insecurities, keep on trying to choose the hard things that help you to be more yourself. Pray for courage and strength to exist authentically. Have friends that gas you up and push you to be more yourself. And do it anyway. Do it with fear, with trembling hands and buckling knees. When you are rejected and it sucks and it hurts, cry and vent. Then pray for strength to try again, and start the process all over again. When you are accepted and the imposter in you is screaming at you to doubt yourself, don’t give in. Fake it till you make it. Drown out your internal and external naysayers by surrounding yourself with affirming humans who are rooting for you and pushing you forward. And trust the Lord who made you, trust him to help you to be more aligned to how he designed you. I sincerely pray that when your battles are won, you will become the ladies with hoop earrings and commanding afros, walking around like they own this place or like they’ve been here before and know something that most of us don’t.

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