How does it go? A little older, a little wiser? Well yesterday was my birthday and I’m indeed a bit smarter today than I was a year ago. You live and learn. I could go on and on with the quick fix proverbial snaps about the blessings that come with age, but instead I’ll just break-down the five lessons I’ve learned about life, maturity and becoming a grown ass woman.
1.) It’s Ok To Say No: Really it’s more than okay to say no, it’s essential to know when to use this two-lettered word! You’re tired, not in the mood and don’t feel like painting the town red with your grrrls, having sex, or attending yet another gala fundraiser? Just say, “no, not tonight.” The world will not end, your friends will still be your friends (if they really are down for you) and your man or your woman will still love you. From November to April I go into hibernation mode. I like being in the comfort of my 1-bedroom apartment when it’s cold outside and find myself turning down invitations to dance and dine often. Initially, I felt like my friends were going think I was an anti-social crab and wouldn’t ask me out again, but they always do. They know me and most importantly they respect my decision to stay home because they know I’m not rejecting them, I’m honoring myself, my body and my needs.
And it’s also all right to turn down a job offer, a gig or a project that you feel doesn’t recognize your full scope of talents, skills and vision by the responsibilities required and certainly by the compensation being offered. Don’t say yes and get stuck and feel miserable for months, if not years, doing something that doesn’t honor or satisfy you. As much as I’m looking for and desire a cool gig right now, yesterday I got an offer, on my birthday ironically, that was not a good fit financially or professionally. After much consideration, I graciously told the rep no thank you, hung the phone up and exhaled. That sinking feeling in my gut lifted like heavy fog over a pond in the dawn’s twilight. In saying no to that offer I know deep down inside I’m saying yes to a greater opportunity.
2.) Embrace Your Flaws: I’m so not a fan of the dark circles under my eyes. I think I’ve tried every concealer on the market to hide and disguise the little buggers that try to energy-sap my look, making folk think that I don’t even get the six hours of sleep I manage to nab every night. And even though I just discovered the most amazing concealers by MAC, I don’t sweat the circles any more. I can’t tell you how often I will leave my home without so much as a smear of NC 45 under my eyes. In gettin’ grown, I also grew tired of all the fussing I did over what I perceived to be beauty shortcomings. Maybe two or three years ago I stepped back from my massive makeup caddy, put my brushes down, and said enough, this is me and I like me just as I am, dark circles and all. Yeah I had to get my life around that and can I tell you how liberating it is.
3.) It’s Ok To Say Yes! The older we get the more apt we are to get into a routine and do the same old things over and over again. It’s easy to be a creature of habit, but it’s hard like gel tips to be random, different and spontaneous. This past fall a friend sent me a Living Social deal for salsa lessons. I had talked about learning salsa for two years ever since my semi-debacle at El Nacional in Havana in 2010, but never followed through with lessons. This time though I decided to accept the offer, sign-up and said yes to learning something new and mostly to facing my fears of feeling awkward in front of a group of people. I felt like nothing could beat the embarrassment I had when the salsa dancer in Cuba selected me to be his partner. After 25 seconds of dancing he looked at me, and with such great disappointment said, “Oh no mami, I just knew you knew how to salsa!” And yes, I felt like such an oddball those first couple of classes and yes, I wanted to quit, but I kept at it because I want dudes at some point in my life to not only think I came out of the womb salsa-stepping, but to see and believe it too. Instead of heading to Red Rooster on Saturday nights, I was in the studio practicing my steps and turns. I met new people, some of them very cool and it just gave me a zap of energy and newness that I didn’t even realize I needed.
4.) Tricks Are Made For Kids: Have you ever heard of the saying you can’t hustle a hustler or prank a prankster? Lesson #5 reflects that sentiment. As a grown woman I don’t expect men to play tricks on me. Be upfront and direct. You want a relationship? Cool. You just wanna get your freak on. Ok, cool. But don’t say you are down for commitment when you can’t even commit to returning a phone call. Oh you lost my number? You dropped your iPhone in the toilet? Your baby mama had drama? Your conference call went over by two hours? Talking out of both sides of your mouth at the same time may make you a headliner at Ringlin, but grown women don’t have time for shell games and hat tricks. Like Linda Womack sings in “Baby I’m Scared Of You:” “Stay away if you got games and tricks for me/ I want a man that means everything he says/ And not a boy full of play/ Pulling rabbits out of his hat everyday.” Say word!
And tricks aren’t only played by men. Some women need to cut it out too. Don’t tell me you read my blog if you’ve never been to my site. Don’t get mad at me for not asking you to hang, when you never ask me to go anywhere. Don’t say you are going to show up and continuously make-up a ton of excuses about having cramps, a headache, a pimple, or a bad hair day. I know it happens, but it doesn’t happen every single time you put your foot in your mouth. Take a hint from my first lesson and just say no, stop fronting and your lips and Louboutins should never have to meet. Lies, the oldest form of trickery, can be sniffed out by grown folk who’ve been around the block more than once. We’re not 26 anymore! This isn’t new.
5.) Get Your Bow Down On! In a time when reality shows and social media have become nothing more than vanity platforms, the need for humility can’t be stressed enough, but if you got it going on, then being a lil’ cocky is cool too. I think especially as women we feel we have to downplay our talents, our achievements, our looks, ourselves. Recently when Beyonce debuted “Bow Down (B*tches)”– the song and corresponding artwork had almost everyone in a tizzy. How dare she? Why does she need to say that? Who does she think she is? Welp, she is one of the most successful performers in the world, she runs her own multi-million dollar company, she’s a mom; and she’s a philanthropist. Conceit and arrogance is celebrated when our male counterparts get their swag on. We applaud Jay-Z, Lebron James and Kanye West when they get their boast on. Muhammad Ali can float like a butterfly and sting like a bee and say to his critics, “All of you suckers bow,” and be hailed as The Greatest, but Beyonce is a stank beeyotch for telling her haters to bow down? Give me a Beyhive sexist break! As with everything in life there needs to be balance, of course. Stay in your lane and yes, be humble, but don’t be afraid or worse, feel guilty, for being bold, confident and arrogant. If someone has a problem seeing your crown and respecting your highness, it’s quite alright for you to let them know that you are a queen. Remember, you’re grown now and have the scars to prove that you’ve earned the right to tell your haters to get back, take a knee and behold.