This isn’t what I originally planned on writing for today’s post. Actually, I was supposed to post last Friday, but last week was my 61st birthday, Mardi Gras, and National Drink Wine Day, so I ended up recovering on my sofa, lounging lazily while nursing a headache, and lingering among the memories floating in my head.
On my Instagram today I posted about my travel memories of warmer climates. But what also emerged from my residual celebration fog were thoughts of lessons I’ve learned in the last decade. Lessons we all should learn in our 20s, 30s, and 40s.
1. Being different is good. Silent suffering is not.
Like any true Aquarian rebel, I have always been different. Marched to the beat of my own drum. Didn’t follow the other sheep. Quirky. A not-shy-but-needing-her-space-to-recharge introvert. Now, I embrace and revel in my different-ness. Hell, my personality tests all equate this non-conformity with vision and creativity. Ha! But in my 20s, I wanted desperately to conform, and cared mightily about what other people thought and said about me. I hadn’t yet entered my current midlife Whatever, Bitch period. In my 20s I struggled silently with depression and zero self-esteem as I finished grad school in Chicago, worked a bit as a fashion and print model, and got some of my freelance writing published in various local newspapers and magazines. My internal battle was completely undercover. Never discussed (black folks didn’t really “do” depression or therapy back then). Never known. That is until spiraling bouts of Percocet-popping and overdoses made it undeniable. Oops.
2. Happiness is deserved.
In my 30s things were going well. After becoming the first black and youngest VP and officer of the oldest independent PR firm in the country, I left to start my own tiny, local practice. It was doing well, winning some little awards, and snagging larger and larger accounts. I finally got pregnant with the help of fertility treatments, and realized my dream of becoming a mother. I was married and living in a nice house on a street I never thought I’d be living on. Everything was great. So of course I had to blow it up because I did not deserve to be that happy. I knew something bad had to happen so I figured, let’s just get it over with because I can’t stand waiting for the shoe to drop. Why do we think we don’t deserve abundant happiness, when simply giving ourselves permission to accept it is all we need to do? Now, I’m accepting every drop of happiness and am joyful AF.
3. We are good enough.
In my 40s, as the mother of a school-aged child with dyslexia, I wanted to learn more about how children learn to read. I thought about going back to school, but my inner critic kept telling me I wasn’t good enough, wasn’t smart enough, wasn’t focused enough to start over and learn something completely new. I did end up going back to grad school and getting a second master’s degree as a straight-A student, but that inner critic continued to tell me I wasn’t good enough to actually change careers and take a job actually teaching children. I wasn’t good enough to be able to make it as a now-single mom on a 60-percent lower salary. I wasn’t good enough…I wasn’t organized enough…I didn’t know enough…I wasn’t patient enough…I wasn’t young enough to start teaching other people’s young children. What the f*ck was I even thinking? Oh yeah, and there was the swearing thing, too. But I did ultimately decide to teach, because I was good enough.
Now I’m trying to learn all kinds of new stuff in my 60s, as I wrote about here. I may or may not be good at everything I’m trying to do, but now I know I am good enough to try anything I want to do.
Travel is one of those things, and I’m so much better at it now. I thought I’d share my photos from some of my favorite over-50 trips:
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