September 18th: 24 Things I Learned on My 24th Birthday

24 Things I Am Celebrating

IT’S MY BIRTHDAY! (September 18th)

Okay, now that you are aware of what today is, I must forewarn you of two things: one, this’ll probably be the longest blog I will ever write on this site and I pray you read it all the way through…and two, it’ll probably be the most impactful.

Why? Because today I’m revealing 24 things I am celebrating.

Seems small, but let me tell you why it’s so BIG for me. These 24 things I’m celebrating today are immensely special because I realized that I’d never really given myself enough credit for all of the things I’d achieved…

Like most others, I’m hard on myself. All my life I wanted to be perfect, or something close to it. And if I wasn’t, I was quick to give myself a harsh mental lashing full of self-perpetuating feelings of disappointment, dissatisfaction, and how much I “hated” the way my life was.

The problem with that mentality was that I was never satisfied. Even if I just so happened to accomplish a goal, I was beating myself up on how much time it took, what I did wrong, and worried my mind of all the things I shoulda, woulda, coulda did better.

And LORDT was I Angry all the time.

Angry because I felt like I’ve been used, abused, and allowed it to continue on for so long. Angry because I never had the courage to speak up for myself, to defend myself. Angry because I kept my mouth shut just to keep the peace. Angry because I always had to be the bigger person in most situations. Angry because I gave myself to people who were unworthy of my time. Angry because the people I thought I could trust, end up being wolves in sheep’s clothing. Angry because I’ve wasted my time in places and for others, with no return on investment. Angry because the people I love lie to me. Angry because I had people smiling in my face, pretending they care and don’t. Angry because people I love have stolen from me (literally and figuratively). Angry because I am often misunderstood and judged by people who don’t know me (and think they do)…Angry because people talk about me behind my back yet claim they like me. Angry because I don’t know how to forget the way people have made me feel…angry because I don’t know how to forgive and let go…angry because I don’t even know where to begin with healing and forgiving…Angry because shit, I just don’t have my life together.

It seems like yesterday, I was sitting in my college counselor’s office, relaying all the awful things that have happened and how I feel I have lost complete control of my own life. I had been having extreme anxiety attacks, so much so, it was taking a toll. I was skipping class (or showing up disrespectfully late), depressed, and eating my life away (and gaining so much weight) gurllll *inserts palming face emoji*.

Good thing though was, my counselor was understanding, attentive, had reintroduced me to journaling my thoughts daily and empathized with me. She had once said:

“Jasemine, you are very hard on yourself dear. Granted, you have been through so many things that a lot of your peers have not been through so it makes it very hard for you to open up to other. But, I believe you need to give yourself more credit for how far you have come and where you are now.”

At that moment I did not fully grasp her words, I mean, credit for what exactly ma’am? I’m barely holding it together, and I feel like I’m falling further and further away from where I want to be. Please do tell what I deserve credit for? Nothing in my life had felt worth celebrating or acknowledging for that fact.

Fast forward to a year later, I was a fresh graduate with scarce job opportunities, no one was checking for me, and I was still lost about who I was and still, ANGRY and BITTER AF.

A month after graduation (Jan 2016), the same week I signed my name on the dotted lined contract with a publisher, all in hopes of getting my life together as an author, I was moving out of my plush apartment due to financial uncertainties and onto a friend’s couch. Again, ANGRY AF, thinking that somehow, someway, maybe my life would get better now that I was about to tap into my dreams and become someone I wanted to be.

Life smacked me in the face again and again. I mean if it wasn’t one thing, it was another, and a girl couldn’t catch a break.

I was writing and dropping books back to back…but when I took a peek at my bank account, let’s just say things weren’t adding up and I was still strug-a-ling, living on friend’s couch, and wondering if my dreams of become a bestselling author were far out of my reach.

Luckily, I was hired on from an intern position to a full-timer. I began bringing in more money, stability, and eventually moved into a two bedroom with a roomie. Yet still, I wasn’t happy. To save you all a year’s worth of heartache and relieve some stress from having to go into full detail of the happenings that I’ve endured during that year of 2016 up into this very moment–I’ll just say that it took me losing that job and my stability last month for me to FINALLY realize what my counselor had tried to convince me all those years ago.

Today on my 24th birthday, I’m like “Hell yeah, this girl right here needs to be celebrated for every damn thing!”. Because in all humility, I have no idea how I am still here and still so eager to show up every single day in this harsh but beautiful world. I cannot comprehend in words on how I still have so much hope for myself even when everything around me does not seem to align with my deepest aspirations and ambitions. The jury is still out on the verdict on how I’m able to still keep on keepin’ on and not succumb to giving up.

Girl, when I tell you the journey of learning to celebrate yourself is not an easy one, I’m for real. More especially when you feel so unworthy, undone and unaccomplished in so many ways than one and you think about it daily. But on my special day today, these are the things I am sticking my chest out, holding my head high, stretching my arms out to the sun and boldly celebrating:

  1. LIFE first! Because I am still alive, breathing, seeing, feeling, hearing, I celebrate.
  2. I am celebrating me, myself and I dahling and the marvelous woman I’m morphing into as each second of the day passes.
  3. I celebrate me, the girl who used to be shy (and in a lot of ways still is) and play small due to it, until one day was awakened, and since, has had the courage to stay true to herself, even when it wasn’t trendy.
  4. I celebrate the woman who has become so positioned in her purpose to deeply impact her world that she no longer has any care to live up to anyone’s faulty expectations of who she should be.
  5. I celebrate the woman who is learning to speak her truth boldly without the need to discard pieces of herself to make others comfortable.
  6. I jump with joy that I fully understand what living a life of surrender means. Accepting what is and letting go of what was, and most importantly, having FAITH in what WILL BE.
  7. I celebrate the girl who has had countless unsettled thoughts that granted her many sleepless nights, panic attacks, and eating binges and yet, now knows peace even in the midst of a storm.
  8. I celebrate that I’m still standing, crown slightly crooked with missing jewels and a rustic shine, but still looking beautiful as ever. I celebrate that I’ve learned to stand when everything in life wanted me to stay down.
  9. I celebrate that I have chosen to sprint after my dreams, and I’m growing closer to them each and every day.
  10. I celebrate the woman who relentlessly refuses to give up on love and is eagerly fighting for her fairytale romance despite many fuckboy encounters, disappointments, fallen tears and heartaches in pursuit of it.
  11. I celebrate that my hardships have not hardened me and left me in a “sunken place”. I celebrate that my hardships don’t define me, won’t stop me but have made me all the more softer and kinder.
  12. And because of that, I celebrate that I am enough, in whichever way that I show up in this world and that nothing will ever take away from my enoughness.
  13. I celebrate that I am learning what patience is, and most of all, what patience towards self is and showing compassion to myself when I need it most. To also axing out things that do more harm than good. That do not serve her well-being on the silver platter…
  14. I celebrate me, the woman who radiates so much light, by offering herself, her thoughts to the world and becoming more vulnerable. I’ve shared so much of myself with the world in hopes of it resonating with others…and it has. For that, I am grateful.
  15. I celebrate the hurting seven-year-old me, who never got over finding out she was adopted and different. Who decided then that being different was some horrible thing and lived her life believing it to be true, but now EMBRACES the fuck out of her uniqueness and her individuality. I celebrate the woman who had grown to know that this difference is her POWER.
  16. I celebrate how the timid little girl who never liked looking in mirrors, stressed about her weight, lost follicles of hair trying to be someone who she wasn’t–has beautifully transformed into this brave young lady, fiercely supplying herself with good lovin’, who is also firm in who she is that she is completely comfortable in never conforming. She’s the girl I’m most proud of.
  17. I celebrate the woman whom no matter how undone she may be, how untogether her life may be—she still has the courage to see beauty in the process of everything gradually coming together. Even if her goals seem to be moving like molasses, she’s chosen to trust the process.
  18. I celebrate the woman who is no longer so hard on herself but approaches life with a new found sense of optimism, hope, love, and encouragement.
  19. I celebrate the woman who said, “fuck you” to her comfort zone and dares to do all the things that frighten her.
  20. I celebrate me, the woman who has learned to listen to her heart and intuition because she knows her heart is the key that provides her with wisdom and guidance that her thinking mind could not comprehend.
  21. I celebrate the woman who has chosen to always be quick to forgive but never forget to set herself free from feeling trapped like a bird in a cage.
  22. Therefore, I celebrate the woman who often believes she hasn’t done much with her life but will never truly know the number of lives she has touched through her existence.
  23. And I give a celebratory standing ovation to the woman right here, sitting in my seat, currently typing this message, who through the worst has become her best, remained unshakeable even when her world shakes, and fought through wars that nobody could ever dare to live through. But this woman still lives, and I celebrate her immensely!
  24. Last, but certainly not least, I celebrate all the books I’ve published (ones that were successful and those that weren’t), all the new-found author friends and readers I’ve gained, the RL/in-person friendships I still have (and the encouraging words they share, the listen ear they give when I want to whine, and the love/support they give freely), the many lessons and business teachings I’ve inherited, and not losing sight on who I am and who I’m destined to be. Flaws N All baby!

 

Jasemine Knowles