So I did it, I made it to 40 years old. Here I sit, healthier than I have ever been, stable, hardly any complaints, old...Dear Lawd, have I aged. What I love most about this moment is, I am happy, content and alive!To my 14-year-old self - You will love snowstorms, winter rain, and white Christmases. To my 18 year-old-self - That number doesn't make you mature, your experiences will open your eyes to the world around you. It will be beautiful!To my 21 year-old-self - I am so proud of you — your drive to live independently, your apartment, living on your own - no roommate, a two bedroom, fully furnished apartment, managing a cosmetic counter at The Bay after college, working your way up. You will enjoy working at Holt Renfrew and celebrate that career move into the Corporate Buying Office at The Hudson Bay. That salary will make you cry with joy. There will be setbacks and delays, but by God - you will always be independent.To my 30 year-old-self - You will live debt free, count the continents you travelled, the countries and revel in the experiences. You will appreciate how cultured you are, the extraordinary friendships you have preserved. Your friends will find comfort and an unlimited amount of food and alcohol in your home. You, a South American born child, Caribbean Queen, will marry in East Africa, learn to sing in Swahili and perfect many Kenyan dishes. You will buy your first home and move up professionally.To my 32 year-old-self - Quitting cigarettes cold turkey will prove that your willpower is healthy. You will receive two, total hip replacements - successfully. Some people will believe it's a disability, but you will be proof that being bionic is a strength. You will play mas for miles on them thighs.To my 36 year-old-self - You will have a Son, Miles, and that will be your most significant accomplishment. Your marriage will end. You will not be sad but accept the fact that people grow apart and you will never settle for unhappiness which lasts over six months - you have a strict limit. You will sit in the presence of Lawyers, as they sign and draft your separation agreement, while you worry about making it home in time to pick up your 1-year-old from daycare. You will have to cover your mortgage and daycare fees on your own and guess what - you will be fine. You will be happy every morning you watch that baby smile and reminds you that he loves you. You will buy your first car and learn to drive it. You will map your future goals as you sit with your son in Paris, France. You will smile and feel more confident with yourself.Your son will wake up in over 11 countries before he turns three years old. To my 39-year-old self - That last year in the '30s, you will enter your first roller coaster of a (less than one year) relationship, which will try to triangulate you, try to break your self-esteem and smear you behind your back. The Narcissist from Hamilton, who threatened to make your child motherless - will hate everything good about you, lie about you- It will fail because you are confident, outspoken and you have always removed yourself from anything that fails to offer you respect, happiness, and healthy growth. You will be tested, you will question yourself, you will improve yourself and months before you turn 40, you will be stronger than you were twenty years ago. Your divorce will finalise on paper, your accomplishments will continue to grow, and your family and friends will be your strongest allies. Everything that wasn't meant for you, will not be present in your life three months before you turn forty. You will not be perfect, but by God, you will be open to significant improvements. Your greatest accomplishments will be your son and the fact that you can cook/bake most traditional Caribbean dishes. I lost my Uncle to Cancer a couple of weeks ago, and that experience reminded me to respect the life we wake up to daily, never take it for granted. The universe will always serve karma, and you better make sure yours are there to make you a better person - never bitter. When people show you who they are, believe them and never settle for less. Know your worth. Be authentically you! I thank God and the spirits of my Ancestors who protect and guide me daily. My wish is to live for another 40 years, so I can write to my 40-year-old self, stating - "You old hag, you managed to write at this age."Thank you, to all those who made me stronger. I love you and appreciate you.
photos by Anthony Gebrehiwot