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“Most people don’t grow up. Most people age. They find parking spaces, honor their credit cards, get married, have children, and call that maturity. What that is, is aging.” – Maya Angelou

I’m 30. I’m 30 and I can’t work out how to rotate a picture smh. Anyway, that’s Mr Man and I on my birthday.

I can’t believe it though. 3 whole decades.

I remember walking to school by myself for the first time on my first day in grade one. I was wearing a green polo neck jersey with my still-so-new-it-was-stiff uniform, my Bata school shoes and my rolled down snow white socks. It was misty and I blinked rapidly to avoid the imminent flood of tears. I was nervous and scared and it felt like the long, misty walk to the guillotine. *sigh*

That was 25 years ago.

It’s amazing how much we grow and learn as the seconds; minutes; hours; days; weeks and years tick over. Before we know it, it’s the turn of a decade in our lives and we set forth into the next one.

I have learnt that while life is ticking past, there are a few things you need to always have in your survival kit so I thought I would share 30 of them.

1. God.

So many things happened in the past 3 decades that can not be explained by anything other than the presence of a supernatural being in my life. From the moment I attempted to come out of my mother’s tummy and the doctors got it so wrong that I was born completely paralysed down the entire right side of my body… (my grandmother says I was an ugly baby lol) even my right eye was closed. With the help of a mum who wouldn’t let me favour using my left side and physio, you can only tell that something is wrong with my right side if you know about it or when I’m really tired and my right eye droops and I default to favouring my left.

2. Comfort is the enemy of progress/ The grass is greener…sometimes.

This should really be under “God” because recently, my dream job came a-knocking. I kid you not. In this era of retrenchments and economic downturns, a company found me online and called me then proceeded to offer me a job. Everyone was telling me it was time to move on and I knew I should but comfort is the enemy of progress. I was reluctant to even send out a CV. I prayed for financial breakthrough and growth but I didn’t actually want to do anything drastic or that would result in drastic change.  I wanted to stay in that job that was ok, that paid ok and that I had become ridiculously good at because it wasn’t that hard. A raise wouldn’t have hurt but I wasn’t going to ask for it. I was ok with my salary. Instead, I got a multinational company, a better salary, a position that demands the use of every brain cell I own 16 hours a day, has made me question my degree and qualifications and some pretty awesome perks. Granted, I collapse into bed exhausted everyday and sometimes in tears most days but it’s worth it.

When I really think about it, i realise it’s important to always keep in the back of your mind the possibility that the grass may indeed be greener on the other side. This applies to boys as well, which brings me to my next point:

3. Love yourself enough not to settle for unhappiness. 

Whether it’s a boy; a job or a service provider… when the negative outweighs the positive, it’s time to “hit the road Jack.” There is happiness out there with your name on it.

4. Wear sexy underwear. 

Your confidence will love you for it.

5. When buying shoes, it’s comfort first.

Not everyone is meant to wear sky high heels. They are only sexy when you walk like Naomi Campbell in them. It’s just sad when you walk like a new born calf.

6. Take care of your skin. 

It’s the one thing you have no choice but to wear everyday.

7. Be unashamedly you.

It took me a long time to openly embrace the things that make me me. I love sitting on the floor. I love eating pap/sadza/ugali. I like walking to places. I don’t enjoy crazy parties. I love museums. I spend hours in the mall doing nothing in particular. I like lots of sugar in my tea. People will try to shame you for who and what you are. Always remember that you gain nothing by listening to them and changing, but you forfeit yourself. That’s a stupid deal to accept if there ever was one.

8. “Only fools learn from experience. The wise learn from the experiences of others.” 

You don’t always have to learn from your own mistakes. Sometimes, the wiser thing to do is to learn from those around you. You don’t have to learn from experience that unprotected sex usually results in HIV and/or pregnancy and/or any other myriad of issues. There’s enough evidence floating about. Same goes for quite a few things in this life of ours. Be smart.

9. Treat everyone with respect. 

The carguard. The cleaner. The boss. The husband. The friend. Look at people when they speak to you or you to them. Smile at people. It’s amazing how it will change your life.

I learnt this by accident some time ago. I kept bumping into a youngish man in the two main malls in my area. He went out of his way to greet me each time and I just said hello in response. My response was more of a reflex than good manners. After a couple of months of repeated encounters I became wary of him. Why did he single me out to greet me each time. Once I caught him out of the corner of my eye running to catch up just to say hi and leave. He never said anything inappropriate. So one day, as soon as he said  hi, I said, “i apologize for this. I see you often but I don’t know who you are.” His reply humbled me. “You don’t know me sister. I never told you my name. I used to be a carguard. You parked in my section one day and I greeted you. You answered me so nicely and you looked at me and smiled I felt like a human being and it touched me. It really touched me sister.”

I didn’t even remember him but he remembered how I had made him feel. Remember that thing Maya Angelou said about people remembering feelings? It made me wonder how I made the people I ignored feel? I never forgot him.

10. Not all grown ups are adults. Just as not all old people are wise. Sometimes, age just shows up all by itself.

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The surprise birthday cake that was waiting for me when I came back from my birthday getaway (story to come). There was another one but people dug into it before we could take a pic. I also failed to rotate this. *sigh*
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