Year of 31: Thirty-One Things I’ve Learned

Year of 31: Thirty-One Things I’ve Learned

31 Things I’ve Learned…

I can’t believe it’s been a year since I published my I Fell in Love piece.  It was a blog post dedicated to me embracing 30, entering a new decade.  Another birthday has arrived and I’m looking forward to31 years old blog the year of 31.  At the beginning of the year, I made a choice to focus on two things: my health and finishing my masters.  I must admit I nearly put my business on the back burner.  I wanted to pour everything into my business but I had to pour into myself first.  I am so thankful I took the beginning of 2017 to care for the most important person in my life: SELF.  As I enter 31, I want to share 31 things I’ve learned over time.  I’m in a good space.  Are things perfect? No.  Do I fear some things happening that I cannot change?  Yes.  Regardless of the ups and downs, these are 31 things that will let you into my world.  31 life personal life lessons.  Rather these lessons were learned through positive or plain ole cried my eyeballs out moments, I’m truly thankful.  I am grateful to see 31…

  1. Never fear growing old. 

    Many of my classmates, friends, and even relatives never saw 31.  I use to fear growing old.  I thought I would be one of those women who would hide their age.  I will shout my age to the mountaintops rather it be 31 or 61.  No day is guaranteed and honestly, not even a minute is guaranteed.  There isn’t even a guarantee that I’ll be here to publish this post when I turn 31.  Never fear getting old.  Even if you have not accomplished what society thinks you should have accomplished by a certain age.  Be grateful to see another year.  We must embrace what some will never have the chance to see the very year you’re celebrating…

  2. Things will happen in it’s own time…

    Timing is everything right?  I look back at how I thought my life would turn out.  Of course there are things I still desire but I choose to be in a place where I refuse to settle to please people or even friends who do not actually spend 24 hours a day with me.  I have made mistakes but those very mistakes made me.  They made me stronger.  They made me wiser.  You cannot always rush timing.  When you rush it, you only end up in a situation you will later regret or event resent.  We will not always get it right on the first try or even the third try.  This does not mean we quit.  Things will happen in the right time.  The right time is exactly when it happens.  I’ve learned to embrace the timing of life…

  3. #XXXXGoals aren’t real…

    Rather it be relationship goals, squad goals, or whatever you appear to see, I learned more than a few years ago that everything we see that shines is not gold.  Do I look to others as inspiration?  Of course!  However, I know that I must create my own goals.  Sometimes we canLive the life you desire become so caught up in wanting what someone else has that we don’t appreciate what is before our very own eyes.  Let’s be real.  There are so many people faking on social media or simply holding it together so people won’t discover whatever they’re selling isn’t authentic.  Regardless, I have learned that I don’t have to go out of my way to prove their dishonesty or uncover their truth.  Likewise, people will have their opinion of you, of me.  Create your own lane.  You never know what a person has to do to stay through, or maintain, to keep those #goals.  You may want his/her life but could you truly handle the hardships and struggles they had to endure to get to their level of success today.

  4. Screw what you looked like in high school. 

    Okay, maybe this one isn’t for everyone.  I wasn’t necessarily the prettiest by the popular guys standards in high school.  Did I have guys who liked me? Of course! However my dad was not having that (lol).   I still remember when he jokingly threatened my high school classmate when he thought he was trying to flirt with me.  Funny thing, that made the guy and I actually talk more because that was not what he was trying to do.  For all my “ugly ducklings”, first of all, YOU ARE NOT UGLY.  You are wonderfully made.  You are beautiful rather one person sees it or not.  You are worth everything you desire.  Make yourself feel beautiful each day.  I love the woman that stares back at me in the mirror.  Is she perfect by society’s standards?  Probably not.  Do I still overthink every outfit?  Yes (lol).  But, I’m perfectly imperfectly in love with me.  And if I see a cute guy, I’ll smile.  Be confident in yourself.  

  5. There’s more to life than high school. 

    In high school, my parents were pretty strict (with reason of course).  They just wanted the best for me.  They knew there was more to life than high school.  They knew the importance of establishing oneself and getting off to a good start.  For the not so popular kids, do not worry about popularity.  Just do like most and reinvent yourself in college (lol).  But seriously, there is more to life than high school.  Friendships will change.  Some will remain intact and some will grow distant.  Don’t get so focused on being the popular or cool kid that you forget that when you walk across that stage, the world sees you as an adult…

  6. Children don’t come with a manual.  

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we were all born with a manual that would describe our unique personality and how to best raise us?  Children do not come with a manual.  You have to forgive and even accept your parents for doing their very best (or lack thereof).  Parents are not perfect and neither are we.  Be grateful for the love they showed by even caring that you were out late or when you didn’t do something that was asked of you.  For those who unfortunately had some crappy parents, begin the healing process.   Your mom or dad may never accept the lifestyle you choose to live.  They may never accept you…Begin the healing process for yourself, not for you parents.  Sometimes hurt people hurt people.  Does it excuse what a parent may have done to you? Of course not.  The healing and forgiveness is for you.  It’s so you can sleep at night and find some sort of peace.  The honest truth is that sometimes parents are trying to find themselves while raising their children.  They have pain that you wouldn’t even begin to imagine.  They’re figuring out life just as we are…

  7. Don’t force yourself into something you’re not ready for. 

    I’m glad to be in a place where I can step away from something that may seem like what I want but I know I won’t be happy.  I never was the girl who wanted five kids.  My closest friends know sometimes I even wonder if I want children.  I won’t force myself into something I’m not ready for.  If it’s meant to happen, it will happen in the right timing.  For now, I’m glad to have learned to unapologetically love me prior to bringing a child into this world and birthing my behaviors and mannerisms, and even my fears unto a child.  Don’t force yourself into anything you’re truly not ready for.

  8. Stop apologizing for living life the way you want too. 

    I stopped apologizing for not wanting what others wanted.  I don’t apologize for wanting to accomplish certain things before I shift my life.  I won’t apologize for being that girl who can read with you, pray with you, encourage you, and even twerk with you.  I’m a woman of many facets and passions.  I no longer apologize for not living up to everyone’s expectation of the “preacher’s daughter.”  Do I still recognize I have an image to uphold? Of course!  However, I allow myself to explore every aspect of my own personality unapologetically.  Stop letting people who don’t finance you or feed you dictate every decision in your life.  As I get older, people who have known me since high school or even my earlier years in DC have witnessed my change.  I am accepting of myself, flaws and all.  I won’t apologize for the life I chose to live.  I can’t hold my mistakes against myself forever.  I can only say I’m sorry.  I choose to move on and accept me, every part of me.  

  9. Take care of you first. 

    Health is wealth.  Wealth is health.  How can you enjoy the fruits of your own labor if you’re continually tired, exhausted, or sick?  At the beginning of the year, I took a drastic measure to gain control of my health, my diabetes.  I did not apologize and will not apologize for putting my health first.  Taking care of self is so important.  As I’ve always said, how can you save the world if you’re drowning?  I knew that I would drown if I didn’t take care of me. We often take our health for granted.  Our youth is the perfect time to practice good habits that will follow us into our adulthood.

  10. Relationships end. 

    Remember that guy or girl you were super in love with?  The one you just knew you’d marry? Yeah that one.  Relationships end.  People grow apart.  The guy who you walked away from may have married the next woman but maybe he was the one before the one. Don’t give up on love.  However, you have to stop holding on to people who don’t want to be held.  Stop trying to maintain a relationship for the sake of Facebook.  You know he or she doesn’t fulfill you but you don’t want your friends to see you “fail.”  Stop tossing your happiness to the side to maintain the peace.  Relationships end.  Let them end.  Let that man walk away.  You walk away.  Once you’ve given someone multiple times to get it together, more than likely, they aren’t.  Either accept that, accept what they are doing, or chose you.  Is it easy to walk away from relationships?  Of course not.  I know children can make the dynamics of walking away even harder.  However, in these 31 years, I’ve seen a lot when it comes to relationships.  I’ve had intimate conversations with friends and maintaining a relationship can sometimes be a full-time job.  Is it worth it?  Yes.  However, when you’re working hard at that job and seeing little  reward, consider turning in your resignation letter…

  11. Friendships end.

    There will be friends you thought you’d grow old with and your children’s children would be best friends.  Friendships end and sometimes they’re like seasons.  The beauty of seasons is they come back.  Do I wish I had every single friendship I had at 21 now?  Yes, however, I’m perfectly okay that some of my friendships have changed.  Not all of my friendships ended on a negative note.  We sometimes simply grow apart with the very people we love.  Sometimes we’re just in different spaces.  I love my friends with children but I don’t have any children so I understand their schedules have limitations that mine does not.  I do my best to maintain contact but I never take it personal if we go extended periods without communication.  Friendships unfortunately will end.  Sometimes because of a simple miscommunication.  You may have needed your best friend but she couldn’t be there for you because she needed you.  Even if you part, she can still be in your heart.  Respect the friendship you once had.  Respect each other’s deepest secret.  And sometimes, you may have to take the high road because she may not do the same.  Everyone isn’t meant to be in our lives forever…

  12. Make money moves. 

    Shout out to Cardi B! (Lol) But seriously,  be careful with the credit card debt. I wish someone would hack into my credit card accounts and magically erase my debt.  I wish I made better financial choices when I first moved to DC.  I wish I said no more and saved more. Be smart with your money.  Find a balance. You can miss a happy or two.  Happy hours have been around for years.  They aren’t going anywhere.  You don’t want to get into your thirties and have nothing to show for your hard work and the stress you’ve been through.  Make money moves.  And if you’ve messed up, get back on track.  I’ve messed up but in the very mess, I’ve learned to build up.  Make smart money moves.  

  13. Own something to call your own.

    I bought my first home at 26.  I bought it on a whim but I knew as I continued to earn more in my career, taxes would continue to go up.  I needed a tax write-off and I wasn’t trying to have a child.  Own something of your own.  Gain your independence.  It feels good for something, even if its an apartment or a car, to be your own.  You want to feel that sense of accomplishment when you can say this is mines.  I bought this.  It doesn’t have to happen when everyone else says it should happen.  Be wise but don’t be afraid to have something of your own. 

  14. It’s okay to change your mind.

    There were so many things I thought I wanted.  The very things I was okay with I no longer support.  The very things I once was against, I may actually support.  It’s okay to change your mind based on your own life experiences.  Don’t apologize for changing your opinion or view on something or someone.  Changing your mind is actually brave.  You’re saying I might have gotten it wrong.  I didn’t realize that there were other options or the one I selected may have worked but is no longer working.  We are human and allowed to change our mind…

  15. Everyone won’t like you.

    I’m not everyone’s cup of tea.  Some will just dislike me off principle.  I’m truly in a place where I gives zero “insert inappropriate words here” about someone not liking me.  Why so harsh? I’m not.  I think some of us spend too much time thinking or discussing insignificant people or people who we’ve shut off from our lives.  If you can’t tell me directly you don’t like me and address it, I won’t sit for hours discussing you.  I’m not everyone’s cup of tea and I’m completely okay with that.  Everyone isn’t deserving of my mental energy.  I rather be making money moves.   Accept that you won’t mesh with everyone.  It doesn’t mean they are a hater or anything of that nature.  We just won’t vibe with every person we meet.  That is okay.

  16. Everything isn’t personal. 

    People have their own issues.  Not everybody hates you.  Not everybody is a hater.  Some people spend so much time proving a hater wrong that they forget it’s their own life to live.  Some people just aren’t in the position to cater to your ego.  It’s not personal they are tending to their own issues.  There will be people who simply want to help you.  Every critique is not personal.  Everything negative comment isn’t coming from a place of hate.  Some people simply see a greatness inside of you and they want to help you bring it to the forefront.  Sometimes our growth is within their critiques. 

  17. Learn to walk away. 

    This one was hard but in 30 I didn’t expect such a major shift in my personal relationships. Do I wish I could have worked a few things out? Of course, but I’ve learned to walk away. Learn to walk away from that situation or that man that no longer serves you.  I’ve also seeen people in my circle walk away from someone they loved.  Did they want too? No? Did they try everything they could? Yes.  We will hurt people but staying when you really aren’t happy will only hurt them worse.  I’ve learned that walking away does not mean I love you in any less.  My emotional well-being is so important.  I have so much other things that occur in my life that I simply cannot rescue everyone.  Some people have to rescue themselves.

  18. Crappy moments will happen.   

    There will be momentnts that will come out of left field.  Life can be crappy sometimes.  It’s just the game of life.  I’ve literally, in the past two weeks, received news that had me on my couch, knees in chest, crying.  Crappy moments will happen.  Life will knock us right as everything is going great.  This does not mean that you don’t allow yourself to enjoy the good moments in life.  There’s this quote by Brene Brown that has stuck with me a long time- “Joy is the most vulnerable emotion we can experience.  If we can’t experience joy, we start dress rehearsing tragedy.”  I can’t promise that everything you go after will simply work out with no bumps on the road.  I can’t promise you that you won’t lose someone who meant the world to you.  I can tell you that you can choose to be accepting and choose to be happy through it all.  

  19. Celebrate your wins.

    We can be so focused on the next chapter of our lives that we don’t celebrate our wins today.  If you’re like me, you may not even tell the world of your wins.  Celebrate and appreciate everything you have accomplished up to this point.  Life is a continuous journey of accomplishment and disappointments.  The goal is to master how you handle disappointments while making accomplishments.  

  20. Don’t dim your light for others.

    I was that girl who never wanted to make others feel bad if they hadn’t accomplished what I accomplished.  I knew that I had opportunities that some wish they had.  I know that I’m blessed.  In that same breath, I know I worked hard to be in this position.  I no longer dim my light for others.  Am I humble?  Yes, my friends are always quick to say she acting all humble right now.  I really am and I don’t feel like I have to say I’m humble.  I’m just grateful.  I know that everyone won’t get the opportunities that I had.  However, that does not mean you don’t create opportunity.  When those opportunities come up at work to shine light on the good job or projects you’ve done, don’t sit on your accomplishments.  Don’t dim your light so your coworker doesn’t feel uncomfortable.  You are deserving.  Go after those opportunities.  Create them if you have too.

  21. Everyone that claps for you isn’t cheering for you.  

    Disappointing right?  Everyone that smiles in our face isn’t necessarily happy for every win.  Some people are happy for you as long as you don’t have more than them.  You can’t let that get in your way.  Sometimes in the midst of telling everyone our goals, listen carefully to those disguised as friends.  You can’t share your goals with everyone.  Find that core group of friends you can trust.  Everyone that claps for you isn’t cheering for you.  It’s not always personal.  Some people dislike what they see in you because they wish they had the courage to do the very thing you’re doing.

  22. Stop trying to change people. 

    I learned a long time ago I am not a mechanic. Potential is great but do you actually like their current version.  I am not here to change you.  I will walk away before I overly exhaust myself trying to change a friend or a significant other.  Now, I didn’t always do that.  I have exhausted myself trying to help people work through their issues.  The honest truth is that is it is rewarding to see the change in people. However, I can’t make you want to change.  I learned to walk away from people who simply weren’t trying to change on their own.  Quite frankly, you don’t have to change for me.  As much as I may love a person and want them to be the one, I just can’t force any person into something they are not.  We just may no longer be a match, rather in a platonic sense or romantic.  It doesn’t mean I love him/her any less.  It just means that I choose to protect my energy, my space, and my mental peace.  

  23. It’s okay to cry.

    And boy have I had some on-the-floor crying sessions.  I made some terrible decisions.  Terrible!  (lol) People hurt me and I did some things that karma kicked me right on down.   I still remember a year I felt like karma would never end!  I had men lie to me, friends lie to me and more.  It created a mentality that probably wasn’t the most healthy.  I had a mentality for a while where I’d hurt you before you hurt me just out of protection.  I had years where my health was on the decline.  Years where the health of loved ones weighed on me.  Years where I took care of everyone but me.  It’s okay to be sad about what’s going on around you.  It’s okay to release those tears.  Release those fears.  However, after you finish crying, you must make the changes you can and accept those things that are in the past or inevitable to occur.  Keep fighting.

  24. Forgive yourself. 

    You will hurt people, intentionally and unintentionally.  I inflicted pain just like it was inflicted upon me.  Some people still may not know some of the things I’ve done.  The truth is I can’t  back and undo any of those things.  I can only apologize and hope that both of us find peace.   My dad always says you can’t cry over spilt milk.  Let it go.  Forgive yourself, even if they never forgive you…  

  25. Love yourself…

    Love your flaws. Love your awkward nose or that unique birthmark.  Love you.  Flaws are just imperfections trying to be perfect but they are imperfectly perfect.  I have embraced the remnants of acne that lay on my skin. I have embraced the my random emotional outbursts are what makes me unique.  I embrace that I’m not typical when it comes to certain things.   We must love everything that makes us- us.  Do we sometimes have to change?  Of course.  Not every flaw is a positive.  Love who you are today but embrace the woman or man you can become.    

  26. You will fail.  

    This one is hard right?  I was talking a good friend about what she wanted to accomplish in the new year and I was sharing some of my own goals.  We both talked about the need or desire to want things to be perfect before we start.  While you wait on perfection, someone else is getting started and doing the very thing you want to do imperfectly.  We will fail.  I think that in the new year or as I continue forward I want to be more transparent about my own failures.  So often, we hear or see people’s wins but few tell you that what they won this year they lost last year.  The very honor I’ll be getting in the next few weeks I didn’t actually get selected last year.  My first interview for a external promotion was terrible! No, terrible.  I know they wanted to get off the phone as bad I did.  How did I completely bomb a telephone interview.  Man, it was bad.  People will see where I’m at in my career now and how well I do in interviews.  I perfected my art of interviewing.  However, I failed at a few interviews to get where I am today.  One failure, or even forty, does not make you a failure.   We will not always get it right.  Perfect your craft along the way.

  27. You will win.  

    Yes, we will win.  However, we must play!  Just like the lottery, granted the odds are not always in our favor, we cannot win if we do not play.  Whatever idea you are sitting on, don’t wait until 2018 to get started. What can you do today?  If you’ve been hammering and laboring at the same goal for a few years now, don’t give up.  Maybe change your approach but your win is around the corner.  What if you quit now right before your win?  Remember I said I was thinking of putting my business on the back burner?  Literally a month later, I booked a conference.  What if I had quit?  You will win.  Maybe not immediately, but you will win.  You got this.

  28. You will get news that you have no other choice but to accept.

    In the midst of our wins, there will be disappointments.  We can’t spend our lives waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Sometimes that news will just have to be accepted.  Remember I mentioned I cried about two weeks ago.  It wasn’t my own personal news but it affected me and will continue too.  However, I choose to embrace today and understand that things may or may not happen.  I’ll deal with it when it happens.  Am I avoiding it?  No.  I just know that even in my fight, it has its limitations.  I can’t consume myself on the “what-ifs.”  It may never happen and that would be even better.  However, sometimes we have to accept the very things we fear.  You do what you can to help the situation.  Change what you can.  Fight was hard as you can.  When you’ve fought as hard as you can, you sometimes have to accept the very things outside of your control.

  29. Chase after what you desire.  

    No person on this earth can want something for you more than you want it for yourself.  Put the work in.  Work smart.  It’s not always about hard work.  Be strategic.  Be vocal.  Chase after what you’ve convinced yourself you do not deserve.  Chase after what some don’t even understand why you’re chasing.  Believe in you.  Fear exists.  Fear is real.  However, sometimes we have to do it in fear.  Do it in uncertainty.  Do it when we do not even know what the result will be.  Throw fear aside.  This is your year.  2017 can still be your year!  You do not have to wait for 2018. Do it now.  Do it today.  Just do it.

  30. Don’t take people for granted.  

    We can become so consumed in our own lives that we forget to reach out to those who mean the most to us.  Don’t take people, rather it be friends, relatives, or coworkers for granted.  Cherish those friends who love the raw, unedited version of you.  Cherish those friends who let you can tell your deepest darkest secrets too without judgement.  Cherish those friends who understand you when you chose not to say anything and they are patient and don’t force you to reveal anything you would prefer not to just yet.  Cherish time.  Time is one thing that we cannot get back and it is not guaranteed.  If you think of someone, call them.  If something crosses your mind, put action behind it.  My mom always said give her flowers while she can smell them.  Give people there flowers.  If I had an unlimited bank account, I’d probably send each one of my friends an arrangement of flowers daily.  I know that even I don’t do as much as I could for my friends but I do not take the love, the moments, for granted.

  31. It’s okay to be vulnerable.

    My theme for 31 is being unapologetically me. It’s about confronting all of my fears and continuing to walk in my purpose.  Will I rid of all of my fears?  Probably not.  However, I will continue to let people in more and allow myself to take imperfect actions.  Just as I encourage clients to step out of their comfort zones, I will do the same for self.  I have an exciting few months coming  up.  I also don’t know what else is in store for the remainder of the year and even next year.  It’s okay to be vulnerable and honest with ourselves.  It’s okay to know that you’re doing everything you can but you still don’t feel like its enough.   Take it easy on yourself.  Making the right decision for our lives will sometimes leave us with a temporary sense of pain.  The honest truth is some of us are fighting against some heavy things.  We have things in our past that will reoccur and we thought we left it in one state only for it to hop a train and show up again.  You can’t make someone do exactly what you want them to do.  Letting go can be hard.  Choosing you can be difficult.  The common denominator is you.  Confront yourself.  You are not destined to be just like your mom, your dad, your sister, or whoever that relative is who didn’t quite ever see their dream into fruition.  If they counted you out, that just means they couldn’t count.  Just because you don’t see an example in your family or neighborhood doesn’t mean its not possible.  We will question our own vulnerability.  We may question our decisions but trust your decisions.   Vulnerability is the birthplace of creation.  Vulnerability is right before the magnificent creation.  I want to create and I intend to do just that in the year of 31.  May it be beautiful…

Happy Birthday to me…

xoxo

-Monica


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