These words originally appeared on a Facebook post published on October 10, 2018, (my 30th birthday.) Because these words deserve a home outside of my carefully curated Facebook network, I am also publishing to Medium. I have slightly edited this piece to accommodate this space.
Ten Things My 20’s Taught Me
1. There is no formula to this life and absolutes are a lie and a trick of the enemy. The disappointments I encountered in my 20’s resulted from narratives that reinforced this false ideal that certain decisions would always result in specific (positive) outcomes. But my experiences taught me that this is often not the case.
2. To that end, I wouldn’t recommend attending graduate school (or perhaps any school) unless the career benefits, value and earning power are tangible and concrete. Because if I could go back…I honestly wouldn’t have gone back.
3. For me, freedom is paramount and is worth the annoying price of rent. I took my first real breath after moving out of my [Haitian] childhood home at the age of 27.
4. My independence is one of my greatest strengths yet biggest weaknesses. I’m still unpacking whether this is a pride issue, fear of dependence, fear of inconveniencing others or a combination of the three. I started a business in my 20s, but quickly burned out from taking on too much alone. I now understand that I’d probably be much farther along in my creative endeavors if I sought more community and mentorship. I’m always more than happy to provide support to others, but I’m far too comfortable handling my own affairs alone.
5. I never imagined getting married before 30. With all the negative feelings I harbored about romantic relationships, (for reasons) I often questioned how women could find freedom and fulfillment in such an institution. But life always gets the last laugh. My husband and I colored outside of the lines, ran off and got married, much like Cardi B did. (Random fact: her birthday falls a day after mine.) And I’m eternally grateful for what we bring to each other’s lives. We enjoy one another, yet still get to operate in the fullness of ourselves.
6. If I’m ever blessed with children, I really hope to have a daughter.
7. It was powerful to hear Jada Pinkett-Smith put the following idea into words on her Red Table Talk show: “I don’t own anyone.” This concept has transformed the way I approach and navigate every single one of my relationships. Even if I have children, I’ll strive to train them up the way THEY should go, and not hi-jack their destiny by molding them according to MY own selfish wants, desires and comfort zone. As Terry Crews beautifully stated, “It’s impossible to love someone and control them at the same time.”
8. Purity culture is so harmful. I actually look back on my participation in those teachings with much shame and regret.
9. My faith has evolved to a place where I’ve begun to imagine what God could look like beyond what’s traditionally taught in the church and recorded in scripture. Today, I’m no longer afraid to respectfully navigate Biblical text with a critical approach and examine how it’s been (mis)interpreted and taught differently over the course of time nor am I ashamed to ask the difficult theological questions. Because God is God and we are not, I’m confident that God can handle my very questions and observations that might make people uncomfortable. I don’t have all the answers, nor do I ever expect to, but I’m moving away from compartmentalizing and putting God into a box. And I have to admit, it’s been quite freeing.
10. I am my best self when I’m creating.
I wasn’t sure if these words would ever breathe outside of my journal. But I attended a Critical Caribbean Feminisms literary event sponsored by the Barnard Center for Research on Women featuring Erna Brodber and Nicole Dennis-Benn. In this setting, I felt entirely centered, seen and thus empowered to share this work.
My playing small benefits no one.