There’s more to life than our twenties. Embracing aging is beautifully frightening as we face the pressures of societal expectations while learning to redefine what it means for ourselves.
When I think back on what I would tell my 17-year-old self, it’s that your twenties aren’t what you think it’s going to be but you’ll end up where you’re supposed to be.
In the Vogue May 2022 cover issue, Rihanna shares her personal journey with aging, timelines and redefining what maternity and motherhood means to her. The 34-year-old business mogul, is someone that many people, including myself look to as an inspiration. In the article she highlights why it’s okay if life doesn’t look like what’s traditionally expected of us . “I always thought it would be marriage first, then a baby, but who the f*** says it has to be that way.” This energy is echoed by CMO of Netflix, Bozoma Saint John in her episode of the Naked Beauty Podcast hosted by Brooke DeVard Ozaydinli.
Sharing why she thinks we need to thinking bigger and step outside of what we think is right for us as women she says let it all go. “Throw away your plans man … you’re so wedded to this idea, this grand idea that you’re not open to the universe to deliver what it actually is that you need to do.” Saint John’s advice is comforting because as a black woman in a competitive career field, whose single but feels the pressure to have stability both personally and professionally by 30 can sometimes feel like a sinking ship.
Throw away your plans man … you’re so wedded to this idea, this grand idea that you’re not open to the universe to deliver what it actually is that you need to do.
On the small screen we are seeing more realistic depictions of what getting your life together looks like. “I just want to fast-forward to the part of life where everything is okay” this line in the series finale of HBO’s Insecure is one that so many people including myself, resonate with and long to make a reality. It’s simple and so daunting to admit, but it hits home. The truth is that the journey to create a life that one actively wants to participate in is truly hard. There’s no right or wrong answers, yellow brick roads or exit stage left options when navigating life. Throughout all 5 seasons of the LA based show, we watched Issa Dee make choices and fall face first into life as she moved through her 30’s.
While I am still 4 years away from that milestone, there’s so much I could say about the girl I was at 21 when Insecure first aired in 2016. I was afraid to speak up for myself! I often allowed other people’s suggestions to be my course action rather than truly listening to my own intuition. I’ve learned that when you don’t know what you want, you’ll go along with whatever sounds like the right thing to do. I was limiting myself and carrying an energy that wasn’t allowing me to think outside the box with what I want my life to look like. Working my first full-time call-center job, making mistakes and just not knowing who I was, I lived a lot of my life not feeling like I was in control of any of it.
I was limiting myself and carrying an energy that wasn’t allowing me to think outside the box with what I want my life to look like
I know now at 26 how to show up for myself in more ways than one. There are many areas of my life that aren’t perfect and could be better. In one specific area — romantic relationships, I’m learning to lead with my heart and not to overthink my way out of feelings, connections and new possibilities.
I’ve realized that you can want something so badly, but still be unhappy with the package it comes in once you get it. We live in a time where we consistently see memes, trending topics and reality television shows like OWN’s “Ready to Love” and “Put A Ring On It” or Netflix’s “Love Is Blind” centred around partnership and “finding the one.”
As a hopeless romantic, it’s easy for me to sometimes forget to zoom out and hyper focus on it. My life isn’t so fairy tale like but on recent travels, I began to recognize myself more. I started to ask my self “What if the love story I’m looking for is the one I create for myself?”
What if the love story I’m looking for is the one I create for myself?
Throughout the seasons of Insecure, we see Issa answer this question by how she takes ownership of her life and trusted her decision making by surrendering to herself even when she wasn’t sure where she was going in the moment. Outside of Insecure, this transitional period is depicted in music and other shows like HBO’s Euphoria.
Rue Bennet’s journey with addiction is an unusually relatable connection for me because while I’m not an addict, I sympathize with the weight of not being able to see past your pain and put it down. The 17 year-old’s journey trying to manage being a young adult, love and an addiction is hard to watch but a look into what it’s like see someone be human, flawed and making terrible decisions but still have the willingness to try and come up for air daily. In season 2, we see Rue unravel at the hands of her addiction. The pain and grief from her father’s passing swallows her whole.
Two years into my own journey with loss, it’s been the greatest teacher for how short life is but also the importance of preparation and building a foundation of self-trust in order to slowly pick yourself back up after being broken. In an interview with speaker and author, Jay Shetty host of the On Purpose Podcast, actress and mother, Lauren London sheds light on what it means to practice application when heeding the lessons in pain and loss. “I had to start really taking to God…I always say like applying it and reading it are two different things, you can read all the books everywhere …you can recite what you read in the book but once you apply it that’s a different ball game.”
Two years into my own journey with loss, it’s been the greatest teacher for how short life is but also the importance of preparation and building a foundation of self-trust in order to slowly pick yourself back up after being broken.
In the soundtrack for the second season, the outro of R&B singer Labrinth’s “I’m Tired” highlights some of what London is suggesting, “Hey Lord, you know I’m trying, it’s all I got, is this enough … Hey Lord, I wanna stay, Hey Lord you know I’m fighting, Hey Lord, You know I’ll find it, I don’t know when or how today … Hey Lord I’m on my way” Rue’s communication with something bigger than her speaks to me because like her it’s how I’ve continued to see myself through and put the pieces together daily.
In the season two finale, Rue’s self-reflection through the eyes of her best friend’s high school play is refreshing to see on screen, because I’ve been there before. “I stayed clean through the rest of the school year; I wish I could say that was a decision I made in some ways it was just easier … I don’t know if this feeling will last forever but I’m trying.”
Rue’s self-acceptance on her addiction, sobriety and decision-making and her willingness to try for a better, healthier life is what 17-year old me needed to hear. 9 years later, like Issa and Rue I’m not sure what will happen but I’m no longer scared to find out. I’m still learning what it means to show up continuously for myself and that I make the choice to create a life I want to live, even when nothing makes sense and its not how I pictured it to be. Everyday I’m reminded that it’s still mine and I just have to keep trying until my life feels right and in alignment with what’s meant for me.