Hindsight

(day 30 of 30 in 30)
I was gchatting with a friend about the bittersweetness tha taccompanied dropping her little sister off for college. We started talking about all the dumb things we did at that age, neither of us having big sisters, or any older siblings for that matter, to guide us along the way. For both of us, there were tons of things we had to learn during those years on our own while growing into women away from home. The general consensus was that we learned a lot, but mostly too late. Learning by failing were really what our late teens and early twenties were all about. We were trying to brainstorm all the advice we could give her baby sister that we’ve come to know as women that we wished we’d be armed with when we entered college. These are a few things I know for sure, a la Oprah.

1.       Not everybody gets to make the trip with you.

I don’t mean the literal trip of leaving home and going off to college or a new city or whatever the circumstances may be. What I had to learn, as I think all young people do, is that not everyone will make it to the end of my life with me. They might not even make it to the end of school or the end of the semester. And that is ok. You will outgrow some people. Some people will change into people that you don’t particularly like or don’t want around or just aren’t good for you. And some people simply don’t deserve to bear witness to how you build your life. That is all ok. And the sooner you figure that out, the more heartbreak you will save yourself.

2.       Good dick is not love.
Lawd, lawd, lawd. Every woman I know has had to learn this lesson. And every single one of us (myself included- twice over) has had to learn this lesson the hard way. It is my hope that one day we raise women who know this intuitively without having to get their heart broken. For now, I can only tell you what I know; a man being good in bed, being attentive, being the first (or only) one to make you orgasm does NOT mean he cares about you. Or your pleasure. Or your health. It means his stroke game is mean. Say a prayer of thanks for the Kama Sutra, and just let it be that. You won’t, of course. But hopefully after being dicked down spectacularly at regular intervals, when you start to get your wits back about yourself, you will remember that I tried to tell you.

3.
      
There is NO SUCH THING as “But I can change him.”
This is a lie. This is a myth. This is a dangerous urban legend that we must stop believing in so that it goes away. Like Sarah Palin. You will never change anyone. Ever. Never. You are not so fantastic that the sheer magnitude of your awesomeness will compel someone to change to suit your wants or needs. This is true of friends, lovers, and asshole professors. I know it seems like your friend was the one to change her cheating boyfriend into a loving husband. But really, this is a coincidence. She just so happened to be around when he decided he no longer wanted to be whore. It has nothing to do with her. No matter what he told her. Or more importantly, what she told you.

4.       No one wants to live a lifetime with your issues.
This is also something I had to learn the hard way. No matter how peaceful our childhoods or easily our forays into adulthood fall into place, we all carry with us some baggage. Do yourself a favor and do the work to unpack them. Because you will be better for it. But also because no one wants to be burdened with the issues you are not confronting. No one. Not family, not friends, not romantic partners. Because just like you, they are trying to get to happy. And after awhile, indignant replies of, “That’s just the way I am!’ to all your wrongdoing are just a pathetic excuse.

5.       The people in your life are a reflection of a facet of you. What are they saying about you?
For the longest, I couldn’t figure out why all the people I chose to confide in about my dreams always wanted to point out what could go wrong to “keep me grounded.” Or why I seemed to be dating the same person in the same manner and over. This dovetails nicely with the point above. I had to come to realize I was attracting them to me, choosing them, confiding in them, because they reflected back something in me that needed to be dealt with. And when I did, those friendships, those relationships, even those business connections that were toxic and antithetical to the life I wanted to create fell away on their own.

6.       You have to decide what it means to you to be a woman.
The greatest gift I ever gave myself was the freedom to define myself as I saw fit. I had an overabundance of ideas growing up about what I should be, what I should think, what I should want, and how all of that should manifest itself in my actions. And whether we like to lend any real credence to it or not, there are tons of ill-informed and ignorant voices chiming in on womanhood all around us every day. For me it started with realizing that the things I was doing because I was told to simply didn’t make sense to me. And in the end, I found freedom in womanhood on my terms. That isn’t to say that it will be a concrete notion. It’s a moving target as you grow and your wants and needs change. But giving yourself permission to define your life, your sexuality, your desires, your actions, your womanhood for yourself? It’s imperative. And leads nicely to…

7.       You need to be clear about your needs because no one else cares.
That sounds harsh. But it’s true. Everyone, especially in your twenties, is searching just like you are. No one is giving up their own search to get invested in you determining and finding your own needs. And it’s not because they are selfish or terrible people. It’s because they are human. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are all the center of our own universe, as selfish as that may cause us to be. The key is defining what you want for yourself, and then filling your life with people and causes and circumstances that fit those needs. Hopefully, those people will be the type to take into consideration your needs as well as their own. Hopefully, the situations you find yourself in will be able to edify you in ways that even you cannot fathom. But if not, you must learn the most important question that you can ask yourself about any person, problem or perspective; does it serve me? Too often the answer is no. Or even worse, you don’t know who you are to begin with to even know the answer to that question. But the sooner you get about the business of being real about what you need (and to a lesser degree what you want) and actually endeavoring to have your life reflect that, the sooner you will be happier.

All of that aside, you will probably have to learn all of this the hard way. And that’s ok. We all did too.

8 thoughts on “Hindsight

  1. Great advice, La. I sat down and told my sister many of the same things. She's 31 years old now and STILL leans mentions the key points of that advices and leans back on that advice.

    I think in a nutshell it's a time where you get to know and understand the real you as you are developing into the real you.

    Your advice brought back many of my own mistakes. I think it is something every woman can relate to when going thru those trying years.

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  2. The college experience (or that becoming your 20s/finding your own way experience, whathaveyou) is such a weird thing — because clearly there are many things that could have helped us all if we had been able to keep them in mind as we careened through it all, and yet how many of us were in a position to listen to anything at that time in our lives?

    Self-definition — and the perspective to be able to see and appreciate your issues, desires, and needs is a tough thing — but it's soo necessary, which is why it is so refreshing to see it here.

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  3. Awesome post, La. I saw a quote from a post that said “no friendship is safe in your 20's”. Man, that is so true. You're growing and finding out who you are SO MUCH and are venturing into worlds beyond “default” friendships and relationships. I'm too tired to type anything else but great post.

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  4. I feel like that moment after Darius reads “A blues for nina” and that woman yells in the club, “wooooo that's alright baby that's alRIGHT!”

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