My 23rd Birthday & Lessons Learned Along The Way
Hello Beautiful People!
Last Friday I celebrated my 23rd birthday! It was a beautiful day filled with some of the most lovely people I know and I couldn't have asked for anything more. For the past four months some friends and I have been holding intimate dinner parties with some of the women that we cherish most. This month we decided to hold the gathering on my birthday and it gave me so much joy to spend the day with such beautiful women! Most years I just decide to go out to a fancy restaurant in the city with some of my close friends and celebrate that way, but this year I really wanted something intimate. I was over the idea of getting all dressed up and making my birthday some big show. I'm not saying that anything is wrong with huge birthday bashes and getting dressed up. Those kind of birthday's are fun too, but in this time of my life I just wanted a day that mirrored what my heart's been longing for; good conversation and love surrounding me. So that's exactly what we did and it was bliss.
Even before my soireé began I had been pondering on what are some of the most important lessons I have learned during my 23 years of life. It wasn't easy and I ended up having a drawn out list of over 35 things, but through Friday's dialogue I was able to narrow it down to the top 23.
1. In conversation, listen with your heart and then speak. – I hate being in a conversation with someone and you can tell that all they’re thinking about is what they’re going to say next. Dialogue is not about who has the best response; it's about being present.
2. Everyone doesn’t deserve to know you on an intimate level. – There are levels to friendship. I am so picky about who I expose myself to. Just because someone is interested in being my friend does not mean that they automatically have the title. Friendship should be earned and held to a level of respect once it is acquired. Pretty sure this revelation came once I realized how amazing I was. (That’s not me being cocky, its just real.) If someone doesn't know how incredibly valuable they are then friendships will always be hard to discern.
3. Forgive everyone. - I have come to the conclusion that no one is actually worth me raising my blood pressure over. Like…no one. I once heard someone say, “Expect nothing, but appreciate everything”. This lesson has saved me years of unnecessary grief.
4. Don’t be afraid to tell your hairdresser what you actually want. – I could have saved myself a lot of bad haircuts had I just said something! Also showing your beautician a picture of what you want is always better than trying to describe it to them. Trust me.
5. Water makes you glow. - I use to not like the taste of water, but once I started adding lemon and/or apples to it there has been no turning back. Plus, being dehydrated feels horrible.
6. Be aware of people who only talk about themselves. - #SomethingAintRight
7. Every day doesn’t need in agenda. - Relax and let the some days take you where they may.
8. If you’re not doing something that scares you at least once a week you’re not growing.
9. You can have more than one mentor. - A couple of years ago, I remember asking the Lord to send me a mentor, but He actually ended up sending me several! I now have women in my life who I look up to in specific areas of my life (i.e. relationships, entrepreneurship, and family).
10. Learn to be alone with God in complete silence. - The first couple of times it may be strangely uncomfortable, but silence can sometimes speak the loudest. I started to realize that the constant need for music in my "quiet time" with the Lord was actually just an amenity to make the experience more comfortable for me. But God loves those moments that we think are "awkward silences" and through it we give Him a chance to speak directly to our hearts without having to get past those unnecessary barriers.
11. If your mom and dad are still living (regardless of your past with them) love them well.
12. Be generous to random people. - I honestly just find it comical when people get thrown off from random acts of kindness. Doing something as simple as buying a coffee for the person standing behind you or asking the person who's servicing you how their day is going can have a bigger impact than you know.
13. Quality over quantity. - I was recently cleaning out a friend's closets and realized that she had the exact wardrobe that I want to have in the next couple of years. Not tons of random pieces, but just amazing, quality essentials. So I'm building my wardrobe in order to tear it down Eventually I want to get rid of all the pieces that aren't serving me well and live a life that mirrors the clothing line Sincerely Tommy. #Someday
14. Always wake up two hours early. -I don't know about you, but I enjoy the process of waking up. Mind you, I use the word process. I know that I like to lay in bed for a good 20 minutes before finally getting up to making myself breakfast. I've grown to know what routine works for me and I hate rushing.
15. Confront problems head on. - When I was younger my mom would call it "walking into the eye of the storm". People try to avoid conflict, but most of them don't know that the eye of the storm is actually the most peaceful. As uncomfortable as confrontation may be, dealing with the problem is a lot better than dancing around it.
16. Take on a hobby that helps relieve stress.- Painting, running, swimming, kickboxing, writing, etc. Everyone needs an outlet!
17. Reading is a lot more fulfilling than Netflix.
18. Know new friends. - I got this one off of Instagram from the talented photographer Eric Michael Ward and it resonated so well for me. I have learned to keep my circle tight, but I love meeting new people! I learn so much from my relationships. There are so many dope people out here, y'all! Also, don't sleep on social media. I have met some of the most creative and raw people through my DM's.
19. Music is alive. - I have learned to be very careful about what music I listen to and when I listen to it because it has the power to change my entire demeanor. I have to filter my playlist based off of what I'm going through in life. If I'm trying to heal from a heartbreak I'm not going to listen to sappy love songs and Adele. I honestly think that it keeps me down longer than I should be. Same thing goes for days when I'm feeling great. I'll probably listen to Mariah Carey or Kirk Franklin, but even then I have to monitor what songs I'm meditating on. For example, if I decide to go out one night and all while I'm getting dressed I'm listening to Woo by Rihanna, most likely my mind is not gonna be on having a good time with my girls. Ya feel me? Just an example, but you get where I'm going with it.
20. Have friends that are smarter than you.
21. You do belong. (Click here)
22. Give yourself a time out. - These last couple of weeks after going through my surgery have been really hard for me; especially just knowing when to sit down. I'm not use to being still, but I've had no other choice and it's kind of awesome. I've had to cancel multiple coffee dates and decline a lot of invites, but at least I'm not over straining myself. Saying no is ok.
23. Embrace the comeback. - Comebacks in the movies are always so inspiring to me. You see a person who's been defeated, but then they have a second wind of energy and they use that last bit of strength to defeat the bad guy and all is won. Well it's real cute in the movies, but when its real life it is not so fun. Today I ran for the first time since my health scare. It was so rewarding to know that my body was able to do it, but it was kind of disheartening to know that I'm not at the same level that I was before. However, today as I got off of the treadmill I accepted my limitations. I accepted the fact that I am not where I once was, but the process to get back there will be embraced. This same principle can be used for other areas in life.
I hope that you all have a fabulous rest of your week and check back soon for another Letter to Sisters! :)