My birthday is this week and I think it’s a big deal. It’s not because I think I’m a big deal; I think birthdays are a big deal generally. Every other holiday is about somebody else or something else; whereas the anniversary of the day you were born is all about celebrating you and life.
Many frequently say how precious it is to be alive; but it seems like most folks don’t truly “get it” until after Henry throws his back out doing a Que spin with his old college roommates, or Jackie is prescribed diabetes medicine, or Frank’s cholesterol numbers are higher than his 401K balance, or the famous singer whom we’d been crushing on since 7th grade dies. It’s only then that folks understand that this living gig could truly end at any moment.
It can; so, I live accordingly.
- I dance like no one is watching. I truly dance. I am so confused by these parties where people get dressed up in the best that their Macy’s credit will allow, to then merely stand around on heavily corned feet, in too-tight shoes, and having a boring conversation about the drought, while some DJ plays ol’ skool hits. Why? Dance! Always take the more fun option.
- I don’t sweat the ones who dog me. There will be people who will judge you. Accept it just as you accept the farts after you’ve over-indulged at Taco Bell. Haters are a fact of life and you should wave them away or act like they don’t exist. You ultimately will not regret eating those Tacos. Relish them. People spend too much time caring what people think. The only people you should care about are the ones who got out on the dance floor with you or the ones who shared pitchers of margaritas with you at the last Taco Tuesday. Those people think that you are awesome even when you decide to change your hair, marital status, or job. Stick with those people — they are your people. When they criticize you, you know it comes from a place of caring and concern, not jealously or insecurity.
- I’ve learned to say “no” with lots of ease and very little guilt. I used to be that person who made it, or tried to make it, to everybody’s everything. I quickly learned that people who never have done – and never will do — anything for you have high expectations of what you should do for them. Screw that! Also, I realized that when I say “yes” to one thing that I really don’t want to do, simultaneously I am saying “no” to something that I really want to do. Before there were so many things in life that I claimed that I didn’t have time for: writing, exercising and reading to name just a few. But I now do since I’ve cut doing things that I felt obligated to do but didn’t want to do (club meetings, fake friend’s events, and boring parties where nobody dances).
- I’m clear about what matters to me. Unconsciously we oftentimes live our lives based on somebody else’s value systems. We go to church three times a week because someone told us that is what had to be done to be a good Christian. We volunteer in clubs or our kids’ schools based on how much others volunteer because we don’t want to look bad. We kick ourselves for not attending an event that we see pictures of on FB without reminding ourselves that we didn’t want to be there. There is nothing wrong with your girlfriend’s value system because she never misses a sorority meeting; but there is nothing wrong with yours if you’d rather sleep late or rearrange your closet. You can’t do everything, so you should do what matters most to you.
- I realize that I’m simply not that important. I used think that it was a big deal when I didn’t make it to certain social events or didn’t work the extra hour. Guess what? Every party went on without me. And not to be morbid, but I have worked in organizations and at companies where people sadly have passed away. Guess what? The companies did not close, not a minute of work was missed, and business proceeded as usual. You are extremely important to only a handful of people. Allocate your time accordingly.
Live. Live by your standards, your dreams, your priorities . . . every day. Honoring your authentic, unique self makes every day a celebration of you — kinda like your birthday.
My intention is for Black people to love themselves and each other. It sounds somewhat silly, I guess; but oftentimes my people are overwhelmed with negative images, bad news, and stereotyped characters about us. I’d like to flip that script. I’d like to remind us, as often as I can, how incredible we are. Read more