I bet the title grabbed your attention right?
This isn’t one of those posts that you get a list of the things you need to do before your 30th birthday. It isn’t a list of lessons you needed to have learned. It isn’t a list of places you needed to have visited.
Rather, it’s a reflection of where I am in life based on those things.
Essentially, I’m in a place of Reflective Struggle. It sounds nice when I write it that way but my truth is that I’m in some shit, I’ve been in some shit, and it doesn’t look like I’m getting out any time soon. Basically, I have started to wave my white flag in surrender to life. I’ve been busy facing my personal inadequacies as markers of real-to-me success.
By some measures, I’m a success and there are people (who know me personally) who will be absolutely confused by this post. They’ll say, “But she has these things.” And it isn’t about things. This post is about the frustration I felt with not being supported in a way that made me feel like they valued my spirit. It’s about the sorrow I have from feeling like I wasted my time doing things that weren’t for me. I spent years in spaces that didn’t make me happy because that’s what made sense to people on the outside. I accepted jobs that made me absolutely miserable and chipped at my self-esteem on a daily basis to pay bills that a dent hasn’t been made.
I’m the most successful failure I know because I accomplished all of those things and failed at faking happiness.
Since my 25th birthday, I’ve dealt with a constant nagging that I wasn’t living; I wasn’t even existing. I was lost. And it was then that I started to look at the lists. I wanted to see all of the lists and compare them and study them and use them to set my intentions.
My existence became an exhaustive list of To-Do items, many of them out of my reach. It’s important that I share since graduating with a Master’s degree in 2010, I’ve always been poor. I’ve been less than working poor. I’ve been “I’m so poor I’ll never own my name.” I’ve been “check to check” and “I have more month than money” exhausted. I’ve been “What the hell did I go to school for?” weary. Yet I was determined to live by these lists. The result? I’ve lived a pretty embarrassing life since following these “rules”.
And the other day, I sat down in a fit of exhausted rage when I cried tears of frustration because I’m tired of trying.
At 29 years old, I now base my accomplishments on what I’m able to get through during the day. Did I wake up and sing a song that made me happy? Did I talk to someone on the phone? Did I brush my teeth and comb my hair? I feel like I’ve lived if I did those things. I’m so weary I can’t even look at the lists anymore.
What’s the lesson?
Life is the one thing you don’t really get an instruction manual for. If there isn’t anything else you get from this post, take that nugget. There are no “How-To” manuals for this shit and no list will make up for a void of purpose.
You get up. You move. You fuck up. You try again. You don’t fuck up. You keep doing that. That’s life. That’s what you need to get by 30. And 25. And 21. And 18. And don’t forget to dream. The last thing you want to do is what I did – get caught up in the rat race of getting by in life.
You dream. You get up. You move. You fuck up. You try again. You don’t fuck up. You keep doing that. And in the meantime, you smile and make music and dance and love and laugh and cry. But you keep going. You keep doing that.
I wish someone had told me that before now.