For a long time, I was not okay. I thought I was. I thought that every relationship fell apart because of other people. I thought that no one understood me or saw me clearly. I thought that one day someone would finally “get it” and we’d be together forever.
It never occurred to me that the person who didn’t understand me, was me.
My 20’s were spent in a haze of depression, anxiety, and bad choices. I was looking for someone to tell me that I was good enough, that I was worthy, that everything would be okay. I hurt myself over and over and over.
My 30’s have been spent figuring out who I am, what I want and need, and what I have to give. I still make mistakes. I still hurt myself sometimes. But this decade has been about me learning how to heal and what it will mean to thrive.
I’m 39 and thinking about my 40’s. I’ve been excited about being 40 for a long, long time. 40 seems to be when black women bloom, when we stop taking everyone’s shit and go full on auntie and I cannot wait. I want that. Being able to say, “Look child, I am 40 damn years old”, feels like permission from the universe, God, and my ancestors to be fully, wholly ME.
I have 90 days until my birthday. I’m so close to this thing that I have wanted for so long. And it feels like that all over my life. We are so close to having our house the way we want it. So close to my business being sustainable and nourishing. So close to so many goals in so many ways that my body and spirit just want to push, PUSH through and be there already.
But that’s not how time works. So I’m taking this time to build slowly and intentionally. I’m thinking things through. I’m putting my wants and needs center stage and filling myself to overflow. Begin as you mean to go on, a man once said and so I am. I am creating a foundation for 40 and beyond that will allow me to stand, to grow, to soar through whatever comes my way.
It’s so much work. That’s the part that we don’t talk about when we’re sharing those self-care memes. It takes intention. It takes hard conversations. It takes a lot of saying no so that you can say yes. Stepping up and taking the reins of my life has been terrifying and exhausting.
What if I say what I need and want and everyone leaves? Or they hate me? Or I somehow damage my children by needing something more than them? What if I say what I need and want, go get it, and I’m wrong?
What if I say what I need and want, and I get it, and I’m happy? HOW THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO LIVE BEING HAPPY?
It is time to make friends with fear. It’s time for me to be okay being afraid. This life, this both/and life that I’m living has room for fear and joy to coexist. I have room for that. Fear can come sit by me, so can love. Joy can chill here in my living room and sorrow can have a place at my table. Abundance can perch on the roof, watching the sun rise with Hope. Tragedy and Loss can sit on the back porch having a beer and talking about absent friends. Silliness and Fun can dance around Work and Responsibility, teasing them and slowing them down. Creativity and Boredom will probably sneak down into the basement to make out. You know how they are.
I will make room for all of it, for all of them. And I’ll bitch and whine and complain and revel and spin and laugh and giggle about all of it, all of them.
Forty is coming.
And I’m not running from it.