When I was a kid I couldn’t wait to get older. It’s not meant to be an outrageous statement, but a transparent truth as I think over the first part of my adult life and wonder where did all of the time go?
As I rapidly approach the last year of my twenties, I wonder if I had learned all that I was supposed to learn and done all that I was supposed to do. If not, I have a lot of cramming to do over the next twelve months.
Every woman I have met in her forties speaks about her twenties like it was “The Idiot Years.” At forty you’re smarter, wiser, much more confident and comfortable with who you are than you were twenty years ago—or at least that’s what I’m told. So why are we so afraid of getting older?
I look back over the last twenty-nine years and see how I have come full circle. I moved from a shy, naïve, insecure, little girl—into a confident, self-assured, smart young woman. So what’s left? As I face more challenges and my life inevitably grows with more responsibility, I see that it is now time to take my newfound wisdom for a test drive. I think I made just about every stupid mistake you could make in your twenties. I maxed out many a credit card, didn’t know the meaning of a budget, floundered a bit career-wise, and dated loser after loser until I finally figured out that the loser was me for dating them. But that’s what being young is about—finding out who you are. And I went through plenty of phases on that journey believe me.
An idealistic phase defined my early twenties when I fancied myself an activist, often demonstrating, and speaking out on a whole range of social and political issues. During my mid-twenties, my creative side was in full force when I wrote and performed poetry, hung out with an artistic crowd, cut my perm out, and let my hair grow natural and set my spirit free. Nowadays I have the perm back, my hair is past my shoulders, I have a conservative job, I live in the suburbs, and I pay my bills on time. So which one is the real me? If I had to be honest, and I guess I do I’d say that all of them.
It’s really funny how experiences define who we are and the wisdom gained from those experiences change who it is that we become. I used to think that it was important to always express my thoughts, but have since learned to choose my words more carefully, my battles more wisely. I wish I had learned that sooner. I would’ve saved a lot of valuable time spent in senseless debates with my constant need to be right. I look back at the overly aggressive nineteen-year-old me and laugh at how much I’ve changed over the last decade.
More than anything, I am reminded of how strong I’ve become. Two years ago, my mother passed away and life as I knew it would never be the same. But instead of sinking into depression, I became stronger in my faith. Her death brought me closer to God and prepared me for what would be my greatest challenge yet—motherhood. My son Isaiah was born last year on my mother’s birthday. Everyday is hectic and a good night’s sleep has taken on a whole new meaning and yet I can’t imagine my life without him. He’s the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me. So I guess it’s true what they say—God never takes more than he gives.
I think that I saw an episode of Oprah or maybe it was in her magazine where she talked about “things we know for sure.” And taking advantage of my twenty-nine years of wisdom or twenty-eight-years, eleven months, thirty days, and thirty-two hours—no point in rushing it—I will share with you what I know for sure. Ten years from now as I turn thirty-nine I’m sure this list will be a lot longer, but for now, this sums it up.
Life is fair, love isn’t. I feel like I’ve gotten out of life what I’ve put into it. Love, on the other hand is a gamble. Granted I have been known to make that leap blindly, and many times it was a shaky gamble at best that mostly seemed to leave me broke.
Secondly, a single woman’s most necessary personal attribute is to be capable. “Handle your business and take care of yourself,” my mother always said. And what good advice it has turned out to be. I can check the oil, coolant, and radiator in my car without breaking a sweat. I am not intimidated by a drill, screwdriver, hammer, or wrench and can program my VCR with ease. I am a woman for the new millennium, strong, intelligent, and capable. I do wonder if when I chuckled at my Nana who once drove all the way home and passed half a dozen gas stations on the way to tell my granddad that one of her tires needed air, if she was the lucky one for having someone to come home and take care of that for her, or if I was the lucky one for feeling capable enough to do it for myself.
Lastly, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. A cheesy cliché it is, but very true. I recently joined millions on the journey that’s uniting all Americans —the low-carb diet. When I first began it (lasting all of five days exactly), I found it too hard to keep up because I always had to think of what I was allowed to eat, which constantly had me thinking about food, thus defeating the purpose of the diet. My failure to plan meals in advance so that they contained the right foods for the diet to be successful ultimately lead to its failure. Planning ahead with simple life chores helps to reduce stress. And hey, who couldn’t use less stress in their life? Now if you’ll excuse me I have to finish peeling the bun off this cheeseburger.