7 Things No One Tells Black Girls about Their 20s

A while ago, I read an article about Drake making it to “The Forbes Five: Hip Hop’s Wealthiest Artists” list with a $60 million net worth at the age of 29, and then I remember reading about 11-year-old Mikaila Ulmer who landed an $11 million contract with Whole Foods to distribute her natural lemonade and —

What in the hell am I doing with my life?

I’m days away from 30 (years old, that is), and I think I’m supposed to be rich by now. I think I’m supposed to have my dream job, achieved all of my goals, and I’m sure my bucket list should be just about finished. In fact, I’m almost certain that I should be able to buy real fancy things and drink champagne for lunch, be best friends with Oprah and Shonda Rhimes, and have regular brunch dates with my beeches on the patio of my castle that’s hidden in the woods.

But, nah.

I was under the assumption that by 30, I was going to have my shit together. Because when you’re young, that seems like such an attainable goal. When you’re 15, 15 years seem like enough time to make sure you’re living it up proper. But here we are at 29, and I can’t help but wonder what happened to my dream career, my castle, Lady O and Auntie Shonda, my brunch and my fancy things. I think I’ve been robbed — bamboozled. Because nobody told me about this. They didn’t tell me:

1. That you won’t have your shit together by 30. You won’t. You just won’t. YOU WILL NOT. And if you do (have your shit together), then high fives to you and sweet baby Jesus. Because you are the exception. (And, by the way, why is 30 the age? Why do we aspire to 30? Why does time expire after 30? That’s not even half our life span. Why not 50? Why can’t we have our shit together by 50? Someone needs to make that a rule.)

2. That you need to #seesomeworld. Generally, black people aren’t encouraged to travel. Yeah, we might visit a neighboring state, go a little further for a family reunion, but a lot of us haven’t seen anything outside of our neighborhood. Getting on a plane? Yeah right. Venturing abroad? Oh hell naw. Who knows what the hesitation is to get out into the world, but the good news is that this idea is going away. So travel. Go to a different country. See your state. Hell, explore your own city. Take yourself out of your usual surroundings for a while, and it will do wonders for your soul. (And this is even better for girls, who tend to accidentally place boundaries on themselves. Sometimes being in the sky is a good reminder that it’s the only limit.)

3. That if you have kids, they will change your life so hard. These little boogers are true love personified, but they also give you an infinite amount of heart attacks, stress you out beyond measure, cost a shit load of money, bother you endlessly and snatch your entire social life. They’re cute but damn…

3b. That if you don’t have kids, they will change your life so hard. Because your mama and your mama’s best friend and your grandmama and your auntie and your married-with-children friends will all be asking you when you plan on having them, as if they’re asking you what time it is. (Timelines need not apply in the development of new human beings.)

4. That the people who you started these 20s with may not end them with you. We like to think that our BFFs are really that, but in reality, some of them ain’t and it’s hard to face that. Get your lessons out of these people, and if they’re headed to the door, let them go on about their way. Don’t hold on to people who can’t withstand your storms or who bring you too many. Because the parties will be way more lit once you weed out the phonies.

5. That sometimes, things just don’t work out. Or they don’t work out in the way you intended. Life happens and that causes things to take a left at any given moment. You get laid off from your dream job. That first venture as an entrepreneur didn’t pan out. That man you posted all-up-and-through your social media dropped you for a bald-headed scallywag. Be prepared for the unexpected and embrace it. Give it a big juicy hug, treat it like bae. Everything happens for a reason, but your reaction to it is what determines your success.

6. That you AIN’T Superwoman. I want to highlight, bold and put this in bright red font just to make sure this is clear. Don’t believe the hype. This whole notion that black women need to strive toward perfection, make all the sacrifices, give loyalty freely, hold it all together, do every-single-thing for every-single-body with some sort of extraordinary strength and never waver or ask for help ALL THE TIME is a lie. Yes, we’re magic. Of course we’re mixed with brown sugar and spice, gun powder and gold. But me first. You say, “Me first,” and miracles happen. We can do everything, but we don’t have to obligate ourselves to it, nor do we have to set unrealistic expectations based upon other people’s needs. We all take pride in the Superwoman/Wonder Woman archetype, but the last time I checked, wasn’t nan one of us from the Amazon with impenetrable bracelets, a Lasso of Truth or an invisible jet. Don’t kill yourself trying to keep that “S” on your chest.

7. That the road to discovering yourself is not easy or fast. You will not “find” yourself before 30. In fact, you will not “find” yourself at all; you will have to work hard as hell to create yourself and the life you want. Creating is not easy. And it takes time. I’ve been on this planet for almost three decades, and I’m just now figuring out what the hell I’m doing here. Just. Now. How many mistakes could we avoid if we knew that you don’t figure life out until you’re at least three decades in? And if you think about it, you’re really only in your right mind for about five of those years — the five before you turn 30. So, essentially, we’re 5-year-old adults. And so I figured that although I’ve been bamboozled about the realness of these 20s, I can’t go wrong by acting like the little grown kindergartner I am because one day, I’m going to have to get my shit together — for real this time.