This Is 29

Today, I am entering the final era of my 20s.

Thank God for a new year. I certainly look forward to new and exciting experiences, opportunities to impact change, more time to experience the unseen – more time to travel the world.

I have been dreading this for a long while, but, I have slowly learned to embrace my age.

Truth be told, I had stopped celebrating my birthday when I reached a quarter century. What I found was that I had to accept the process of getting older. Research shows that even late in life, potential exists for physical, mental, and social growth and development. Ageing is an important part of all human societies reflecting the biological changes that occur, but also reflecting cultural and societal conventions.

I grew wiser with age, more beautiful, more resilient and learned to appreciate more and complain less.

To celebrate my 29th birthday, I would like to share 29 lessons I have adopted thus far:

1. Happiness is a choice: For the past few months, persons have been telling me I look so happy and I have an extra glow. I have chosen to celebrate life, have more fun and try new experiences. Life will never be easy. Instead of focusing on all what went wrong or is not going as planned, I choose to be grateful and happy. I allowed myself to purge, then decided that once I let go of the negative thoughts, I can grow. I also started reading a book by Valorie Burton,’ happy women live better.” And I am re-evaluating myself.

2. Give more, take less: When you give willingly, you are saying, here you go – be free and embrace this gift. When you give to others, a part of you feels like you made a difference

3. Kindness is the key: I have learned that the nicer you are to people the better the mood you will be in. Some people are angry for reasons beyond their control. If someone is unkind, still reciprocate with kindness.

 4. Attitude matters. My level of emotional intelligence has increased significantly. Things which would easily upset me no longer bother me. I am learning to tailor my disposition when dealing with difficult people and situations.

5. Opportunity does not wait on you: You will always encounter opportunities where you will have a small window to make a decision. I have had many opportunities and I grabbed them.

6.Take care of yourself: I used to have bad eating habits; I would give in to my indulgences and eat based on my mood. Eventually, this habit affected me and I caught a case of gastritis. Now I have to be very mindful of when and what I ingest.

7. Love comes naturally: It is hard to pinpoint someone and say “I am going to love this person. You might be physically attracted to them, they may exert all the socially accepted characteristics but your heart just doesn’t beat for them. Do not force it, and you will know when you find love. Love is simple and does not take away too much for you.

8. Denial won’t help: I was once in love with a guy and did not let him know. I was hiding it for too long and accepting behaviours which I knew wasn’t healthy. I learned not to suppress my feelings and set my expectations.

9. Forgive yourself: We’ve all made decisions which we’ve regretted or didn’t tell anyone because we were ashamed. We are left with open wounds that takes years to properly heal. We should not be too hard on ourselves. I’ve learned to forgive myself for things I did which I wish I didn’t do.

10. Peace is more important: You have to lose to win. Walking away from potential confrontation can save you stress and unnecessary personality and ego issues. I have been in situations where I accepted wrong when I was in-fact correct just for peace of mind.

11. Gossiping is your worst enemy: William Shakespeare, Othello said that, “he who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed.” The saying posited that defaming someone’s good name is worse than stealing their purse. This resonated when I was on the receiving end. I stopped spreading rumors and propaganda in an effort to protect someone’s name.

12. Take challenges: There will be times when you will be faced with challenges that you cannot seem to overcome. Nothing good comes easy. Embrace the struggle and persevere through every difficult situation.

13. Slow down: I do not know how to emphasize the seriousness of slowing down, not being overzealous, try to take one day at a time and embrace each stage in our lives. When we rush, we lose sight of the priceless childhood and young adult memories. Working 24/7 with no spare time for neither family nor friends may seem exciting at first but in the end, you end up empty.

14. Keep my circle small: If you have one or two people who are down for you and love your multiple personalities then hoorah. I have a small circle of friends and I am grateful for it. No unnecessary arguments and conflicts among us. We understand each other and know our highs and lows, our triggers and stressors.

15. Follow your instincts: There is a weird feeling – this inner voice which tells you whether to do something or not. You know your instincts. If you have an uneasy feeling towards someone or something, trust your gut. Chances are you are right.

16. Expect disappointments : I have had many high expectations from people in multiple situations during my life.  I used to be enthusiastic about situations which have turned out to be disappointments. But, I moved on and learned from it.

17. It’s alright to cry: I cried when I could no longer tolerate the pain. But sometimes, I just could not cry. I have experienced several lows during the last 10 years, cried a lot, laughed too but mostly cried. I also realized that crying helped with the healing process. So when you feel like letting go – cry, be honest with yourself. Let it out.

18. Family is important: Where would I be without my family. My immediate family (friends included) have been the back-bone of my success thus far. They have always supported me, listened to my ideas and picked me up when I fell. I thank God for having them in my life.

19. There is no such thing as a free lunch: Everything activity, good and or service has a cost whether it’s tangible or intangible. You may not be the one incurring the direct cost but it is being covered elsewhere.

20. Love yourself first: I get compliments on a daily basis about my beauty. There is no beauty standard and if you succumb to internationally proclaimed ideas of what is beautiful, you will be insecure. I’ve learned to love my body and if I am not happy with a part, I simply exercise. I fell in love with my natural hair, my melanin skin, thick calves and bright eyes. When you love yourself, you show others how to treat you.

21. Comparing hurts: We’ve all compared certain aspect of our lives to others. We noticed them and see that they are progressing and we are stagnant. This creates jealousy. Everyone’s journey is not the same, and I should be content in my season.

22. Take solo trips when you can: I took a solo trip to four islands in 2015 and omg; this was one of the most invigorating experiences of my life. I met long lost family and reunited with childhood friends, made wild shopping decisions, swam with dolphins and tried new experiences.

23. Try new things even when your friends chicken out: We have the need to indulge in new experiences by sharing with others. What if, you cannot find someone with similar interests? Will you suddenly give up or attempt the adventure on your own.

24. It’s alright to change direction: When I first decided to study economics the intention was to work at the Eastern Caribbean Central bank. Then half way through, I lost the desire. I added a minor in management studies and gained some interest in marketing and organizational behavior. I still enjoyed economics but new ideas floated my brain. 5 year later, I am pursuing my passion to helping people become more marketable by improving their circumstances, providing tips and helping small businesses to grow their brand.

25. Save for rainy days: I had a point of financial famine in my life. I had needs and no way of getting them. I placed myself in this situation by being careless about my spending patterns. It really taught me the value of saving and of controlling my impulses.

26. Commitment is key: If you are constantly changing to please others, then you will eventually get lost. Have your own ideologies and commit to a cause. What is your goal? I wanted to accomplish things but failed to commit and I struggled. The moment I began to commit and push, I was able to improve.

27. Virginity is meant to be broken: Not what you’re thinking. There is a first time for everything. But there is nothing new under the sun. Do not feel bad for not trying something that is common among the masses. You can pop your cherry anytime.

28. It’s ok to be platonic friends with a person of opposite sex: Today, it seems that being close friends with someone of the opposite sex means that you two are lovers. But I believe it actually helps as a woman or man. I consult my close male friends for advice whenever I am attracted to a guy and to decipher authentic interest versus someone who wants to hit and run.

29. Be your number one fan: I am intrinsically motivated. I will be in a corner cheering for myself saying “You can do this Merlinda, you go girl, you’re winning !” I encourage myself. This is why it is important that I maintain more positive energy in my environment to help fuel me.

If you can resonate with any of these, please feel free to share in the comments below.