For the last twelve months or so, I was nervous and agitated. Nervous, because the clock was ticking too fast and intensely agitated because it meant saying goodbye to something I did not want to let go of yet: my twenties.
I had so many plans for my twenties. Almost all of them did not happen at all. In fact, it felt like my life slowly turned out to be one big hot mess. No matter how hard I made the plans, it just didn’t work out the way I wanted it to.
Last night, I went to bed apprehensive. Today, I woke up different. No longer twenty-nine, but now thirty years old.
Yes, I felt the difference. Something peculiar had shifted in me.
But oddly, it was not at all what I had expected.
I felt liberation.
Usually, I cry tears of sadness and disappointment on my birthdays. It would just be a yearly reminder that I was nowhere close to where I wanted to be. I’ve hated celebrating my birth date since the day I turned fourteen.
Freedom. Emancipation. Release.
My mom arranged a special birthday celebration for me at Oliwenhuis’ The Terrace. As I entered the grounds, I looked to my left and saw the rolling green hill of grass. I remembered that this is where countless magazine and newspaper photoshoots had taken place.
As I parked my car under one of the trees, I had another flashback: a television program did a feature on me on these grounds; their host did the intro on me right at the front of this former state president’s dignified mansion.
As I entered the building, immediately to my left I recalled right there was a room where I once had my make-up done. It took almost two hours to get ready. I remembered the TV director being annoyed with me that it was taking so long.
I walked through and saw the array of art compositions, I also recalled that I once visited the gallery with the actor’s cast of a theatre play I once did at a festival.
As I exited the building and came to the backyard of the house, another flood of recollections came back:
The same TV program doing different shots of me, shots by the terrace with the sun baking hot on our faces, shots by the ghastly statues, the helicopters that constantly interrupted my conversations with the host so we had to film the shots over and over again.
And another memory popped up once more, in-between the TV shoots and the photoshoots for the media: a simple photoshoot that took place by the fire patio. This time it was different: it was my mom who had taken simple yet effective photos of me long before I became a beauty queen.
Those photos ended up being used for my entry admission for Miss Deaf South Africa, 2009.
I was nineteen years old, on the brink of entering my 20
I remember all these things, all these memories, and I am waiting for that familiar feeling of despair and anxiety to engulf me.
But it doesn’t.
Can it be that I am content as I recall all these things..?
The average lifespan of a woman in South Africa is 67 years. My country has one of the lowest lifespan averages in the world because of HIV and AIDS. If I were to believe this statistic, then it means I have already lived out 44% of my lifespan.
I only have 37 years left; only 56% of my one hundred percent.
I simply cannot waste any more of that time in regret, disenchantment or hopelessness.
Last night I went to bed a twenty-something; I woke up someone different today.
My vision for my 30th year is this:
To create something new every day.
I want to create in such a way as if I only have a short time left to live.
Tomorrow, I am thirty years and a day old.
I will write about the things I am scared about.
I will pass down wisdom, not wounds.
I have a divine obligation to be myself.
I will use my voice, speak my truth, love myself and be myself.
I will be kinder to myself, and then let that kindness flood the world.
I will be grateful for my experiences; they have led me here.
The things I am scared of writing down, the things I dare not even pray – those will be the dreams I will chase.
Wrapped in grace, I will heal. I will carry the lessons I gathered in the previous season into this new one.
It is time to wander off and wonder.
I will belong to myself first. I will speak my truth, tell my story… True belonging doesn’t require me to change who I am. It requires me to be who I am, and that’s vulnerable.
I will have real gratitude and real joy. I am a brave leader and I am not silent around hard things. My job is to excavate the unsaid.
DECLARATION QUOTES BY THE FOLLOWING MARVELOUS WOMEN:
AMENA BROWN | PEMA CHODRON | CARRIE GRACEY | MHN | STEFFANY GRETZINGER | BRENE BROWN