My friends and I always talk about our age and what we've learned thus far and where we hope to be in the future. We ask 26 year-olds what we can look forward to, and offer advice to our 19 and 20 year-old peers. We've basically learned that there's no right or wrong way to be you. We're all writing our our own journey.
In honor of my recent celebration of life I decided to reflect on 22 of the most important things I've learned in life by age 22.
1. I am blessed and highly favored
I am aware and comfortable in my spirituality. I believe in my God and I believe that I am blessed. I recognize my blessings. I appreciate my blessings and my ability to bless others. I grew up in church with an abundance of church family and friends to guide my moral journey. College, my first taste of independent identity, grounded me in my spirituality and knowledge that God will always have my back.
2. My mother is my hero
As I surpass the age my mother was when she had me, I think about her bravery, courage and strength. My moms dedication to her fitness journey and her passion for social work inspires many who know her. She's pretty amazing and I'm glad she's my example for dedication and determination.
3. I am my father's daughter
I meet people on a regular basis that would greatly benefit from hearing my father's testimony. His struggle journey is similar to that of many young black men in our society. His accomplishments may seem unattainable to some who don't believe in themselves and their purpose. It's not my testimony, but it's a part of me. My father worked his way up the corporate ladder with grace and humility while maintaining his phenomenal role as a father and husband, business owner, musician and mentor for many. He is my definition of inspiration.
4. It's my responsibility to believe in my ideas
I don't need validation to believe that my idea is a good idea. It's MINE. Of course it's good. And the more the merrier. After I right it down or say it out loud, I'll have another one pop up in my head. Eventually, I will find the winning idea or inspire someone else's ideation, and then we're both winning.
5. I have my ideas for a pre-determined reason
God created us. Therefore, he is an artist who creates masterpieces. Since we were created in his image, we were made to create. My ideas and dreams have purpose, as do yours, and I believe that God gave them to me to believe in and to follow through with.
6. I am capable
I am educated. I am alive. I am healthy. I am me. Therefore, I am capable of accomplishing anything I put my mind to. Period.
7. Never mix dark + light
The 21st year of life was exciting. Emotionally, mentally and physically. I learned a bit about alcohol. I also learned a lot about energy and the importance of positivity and the choice to be happy. Dark and light energies are really real, and they are chosen by us. I choose light and happiness and I would suggest the same to you.
8. It's O.K. to be lost
Adventure is the spice of life! I've enjoyed getting lost in life because it ultimately gives me a sense of direction. I've found a few of my favorite places while I was lost. In LA, Cape Town, Akron, Atlanta, etc. It's good to be lost. Just breathe through the straw (thank you Ms. Patrica) and keep going.
-S/O to google maps though
9. Hearts were made to break
One of my favorite church song verses is "Break my heart for what breaks yours God". We are human beings made to feel things. Heartbreak is healthy, it means you're still alive. It represents experience and adds to your emotion scrapbook. I now know more about the kind of woman I want to be for my future husband and the kind of man I want in my life.
10. "Stand for something
...or you'll fall for everything" - Pastor Tony
Knowledge is power. Picking a side is good. I like to hear peoples stories and opinions, but it's taken me a little while to form my own. Standing for a belief or an option is a good thing and this lesson is definitely an important one.
11. Believe in a better world
Hope and imagination have saved my sanity so many times. I think these are the things that keep me creative.
12. Create a better world
After I imagine it, I've learned to make a plan and implement it. I'm excited to explore my personal legacy and impact on the world. I want to create media that makes a difference. That changes perspectives and inspires people.
13. Alone time is GOOD
No one will ever know me the way I know myself. I have learned to have patience and understanding with myself and my emotional processes. It's not the most perfect process, but alone time has helped tremendously.
14. Writing to God is as good as praying
Writing, writing, writing, writing. The second best release of thoughts and ideas and emotions for me. When I dedicate time to write about life and write out my prayers and ideas and thoughts, I'm so relieved.
15. It's O.K. to not be O.K.
Like I said earlier, we were create to feel things. I've learned to allow myself to feel, instead of holding back. I used to associate sadness and crying with weakness but that's not true. Sadness is an emotion just like happiness and anger. They happen and they're supposed to happen. Sometimes thing suck, and I acknowledge that, feel that and then choose happiness.
16. The only way I'll know what I'm good at, is to fail at something first
Trial and error is the best life strategy. I've learned that Nike had it all figured out this whole time. If I have a thought to do something, I just have to do it. Then wait and see.
17. There's no such thing as failure, only experience
And after I do it I realize that nothing is ever a failure, it's an experience. Experience is the best lesson.
18. Everyone has a story
Our stories are all different and designed for different purposes. Every once and a while we are drawn to someones specific story and the connections can be pretty beautiful sometimes. Whether the stories are meant to connect for a long time or just for a season, it's still beautiful to learn another persons story.
19. There truly is beauty in the struggle
The struggle comes with experience and knowledge and more pages in your story! Life is amazing, but we can't all be born into wealth or socio-economical privilege. One day I'll have an impressive make-up collection and long healthy curls and a super cute self-created sap day routine. For now, my $0.99 eyebrow pencil and travel size body lotion (thank you Ms. Patricia!) are everything I need.
20. Experience is better than likes
In a time where it seems like every single person around me is 'doin it for the gram' I want to be real. I want to remember the scents and sounds and the feeling of my adventures before I put it on snapchat or Facebook or Instagram. I want to own the experience. Then, maybe I'll put up a cute artsy picture just because I want to.
21. I'm pretty cool
I've accomplished so really cool things in the past few years. At age 22 my passport and resume are actually pretty impressive. I don't give myself enough credit sometimes, but learning that I'm pretty cool has been an important lesson on my self-love journey.
22. There is so much to look forward to in life
IT AINT OVER YET! Tomorrow will be another opportunity to learn and grow and smile and laugh and experience life, and everything that comes with it.