It’s no secret that recently I’ve been going through a few things. Life, as I like to call it. And when life happens, the natural way of a human being is to confide in and search for resolutions in their nearest and dearest. You know, friends, family, partners and so on.
Now I’ve never really thought in depth about why I call on the ones I do, besides my mutual love for each one. So the real question is why? Are these people great problem solvers? Do these people listen to my problems without judging? Will these people love and respect me regardless of what decision I make regarding my problems? The answer to all of these is yes, but I recently discovered another reason why I call on the select people I do and why it is so important.
Now today I was at a fitness class at my local leisure centre and during the sweat-fest, I overheard the teacher reference the lady to my left as the birthday girl. Class finishes and I wait for the lady to emerge so I can wish her a happy birthday. I ask her if I heard correctly that it was her birthday today and she exclaimed yes! “I’m 60 years old today!”. As I consciously picked my jaw off the fall and reverted my eyes back into their original home, I wished her a very happy birthday, explained how she didn’t look even half as old as she’d just turned and before I knew it the conversation was flowing.
We spoke about all things fitness, theatre, retreats, ethnic background and work. Exchanging stories on what we both do, I vaguely touched on work. But as soon as I finished my last sentence, this older black woman, a complete stranger to me until this point begun to advise me on not letting people get me down and rising above those who may not like you because you are likeable. The irony. I had given this lady no detailed run down of the mishaps I’ve faced of late but I guess the look on my face spoke a thousands words on my behalf.
We stood and continued to speak, me explaining how people will do everything in their power to bring you down if they one day wake up upside down in bed and decide they Just. Don’t. Like. You.
We spoke about what the people of our individual countries would say in relation to this and she told me in her country, they would say and I quote:
“You today. . . Them tomorrow”
We went on to part ways after an exchange of a few more words, another happy birthday wish and a parting hug. On reflection of the conversation with this stranger, I begun to think about the importance of surrounding myself with older women. Not just this perfect stranger, but when thinking about who I had called on the most in recent times of need for some life advice and guidance, it became clear that older women were actually who I had been turning to. A lot.
In the form of my oh-so-wise mother, my super smart and logical older sister, a recently gained friend and other older women who I had crossed paths with. Now as a young woman trying to make her way in life, I live for the gems dropped on me from those more experienced and of course women who have been through what I am yet to go through. My mum has always been someone to drop jewels on me and my siblings, even as a child. There are so many things that I live by till this day that she taught me throughout my wayward teenage years and although we didn’t have much growing up, she always gave us something way more valuable than currency.
A time before a friend of mine sent me an interview of Jill Scott, the soul songstress, and told me to listen in on the major keys she was dropping. There was plenty she said that I wrote down in the notes section on my phone as things I could incorporate into my life and one of the things she said that stood out was this. She said she loves to surround herself with women that are older than her because they have amazing stories to share. And that resonated so deep within me. There is nothing more empowering than hearing an older woman tell her story of pain, hurt and anguish and hearing how they came out the other end a survivor. Stronger, wiser and successful.
Just look at the stories of Maya Angelou. Constance Briscoe. Oprah Winfrey to name a few.
These are all stories of women who have experienced life and hardship in a variety of ways, and not only do they have so many lessons to teach those still trying to figure their way out, but they have also been highly successful in their respected fields.
As a twenty-something year old woman, it’s important for me to pick up the jewels left behind by the women ahead of me, interpret and use them in my life accordingly so I too can leave my own jewels behind for the generational girls behind me to find and do the same. This continuation of picking up and dropping jewels will ensure that females everywhere will only go from strength to strength in years to come and our daughters, granddaughters and greats will keep the legacy of the awesome women before them alive!