Island Soul City Dreams

I love New York, but my heart has a Caribbean beat. It pulsates to the traditions of my people. Attuned to the rhythms of this City, I stay West Indian to the bone. I reflect. I analyze. I speak my mind. ~ I Keep it Irie ~

My Mid-30s Crisis: Happy Birthday To Me

My sister Sancia seeing me off at the airport in Barbados. Happy birthday sis!

My sister Sancia seeing me off at the airport in Barbados Jan ’13. Happy birthday sis!

I had a melt down two days ago. Two days before my 3*th birthday. I’d awoken from a nightmare where a dear friend had told me, “You’re over-the-hill, girl, you’re old.” Just a week ago, I had discovered my first grey hair – of all places at the front of my head – and that sent me into a panic. Ever since I turned 30, or perhaps as early as 25, I’ve been in a state of denial about aging. Sure, there are those times when I embrace my age and experience, but for the most, I simply cannot believe that I’m already this old! Where did the years go?

Not long after I awoke and tried futilely to make sense of my dream, as customarily every morning while still lying in bed, I reached for my iPhone and checked emails, WhatsApp messages, Twitter and yes, Facebook. The first thing that popped up in my news feed was a post from a former Columbia J School colleague. She was expressing gratitude for “the well wishes.” I was clueless, so I checked her page to find out what the good news was. A photo of her and an equally attractive male greeted me. They were sitting against a picturesque background, holding up wine glasses and even from the screen of my iPhone, the rock on her left fourth finger was blinding. The caption read, “She said ‘Yes.’” The photo comments confirmed her engagement. I found myself saying out loud, “Awwww.” Excitedly, I too wrote her a congratulatory note. I felt genuinely happy for my “friend.”  No sooner had I posted the message, I felt the fountain well up and next thing I knew, I was bawling.

“Why can’t I have that kind of joy too?” I asked myself. Then started the pity party. All of a sudden I felt totally unaccomplished in every sphere of my life. I’ve chosen the profession I love – journalism, but I’m still seeking my dream job or at this moment, a full-time position. Freelance journalism can be quite a headache! I’m also overdue for publishing my first book. I love children, but apart from six godchildren, I have not given birth to any of my own. I have yet to build the house I’ve designed in my mind; I still rent an apartment. I still have to watch every penny I spend, hardly ever for a want, always for a need. Plus, goodness knows most of my money go toward paying off student loans. And while over the years, I’ve been to at at least 30 countries on three different continents; I still can’t afford to go on the vacations I’d fantasized about in my more youthful days. In fact, apart from going home to Barbados twice this past year, it’s been a while since I’ve traveled internationally for leisure.

I started thinking about all the things lacking in my life and the fact that all of my close friends around my age are married with children, or in committed relationships, and have successful careers. In those moments, I felt like I had nothing and no one. Added to that, I was about to be even further into my 30’s in two days. Surely, this was not where I had imagined I’d be at this stage in my life. Through my tears, I wrote an email to a confidante and mentor in Barbados with the subject line: “Please Call Me.” In the text, I explained that I was having a terrible bout of depression and needed some encouragement.

Every minute is precious: Enjoying the last day on the beach in Barbados before returning to New York.

Every minute is precious: Savoring the last beach day in Barbados Jan ’13 before returning to New York.

Within five minutes, Trevor called. He asked, “Did you wake up in your room this morning?” I answered, “Yes.”

“Was the ceiling there?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said. Then he asked, “Was the fan there?” I started to laugh as I realized where he was going. His questions were in response to the following signature attached to emails sent from my iPhone:

“When I woke up this morning I asked myself, ‘what is life about?’ I found the answer in my room. The fan said ‘be cool.’ The ceiling said ‘aim high.’ The window said ‘see the world.’ The clock said ‘every minute is precious.’”

My friend asked what was the source of my misery and admitted that he’d sensed some of it the last few times he’d seen me in Barbados. Well, on the relationship/children front he clarified. He thinks I’m pretty confident and otherwise “have it together.”

Anyway, he’s not the type to lecture. He’s usually very forthright, thoughtful and always offers sage counsel. Even if it sounds like a cliché, he told me to be proactive; to do something about the issues I have control over and to simply accept what I cannot change. Then feeding my palate for delectable music and to further brighten my spirit, Trevor sent me a YouTube video of Wynton Marsalis – Jazz in Marciac 2009. Between the pep talk and an hour of sweet sexy “recorded live” vibes of Marsalis, the warrior in me was revived. I spent the rest of my day aggressively job hunting and doing what I most enjoy – writing.

Yesterday, Trevor called to ask if I were feeling better and what I thought about the music. “I loved it, ” I said, “I ended up replaying it twice. Yes, I am much better, thanks. I’m feeling very grateful.” Shortly after I hung up, I logged onto Facebook, where again some news greeted me. My friend, Julie, whom I’d previously mentioned on this blog and featured her photography, had just posted some lovely photos of her mom. Clicking on one, I  discovered that she had died a couple of days prior. Heartbroken, I wrote Julia a message of condolence.

In that moment, the quote from my email resonated stronger than ever: “Every minute is precious.” It does not matter what I do not have. What matters is this moment, this hour, this day, giving thanks for another year of this blessed life that God has given to me. What matters is using this precious time as best as possible to live the best life I can. And honestly, that’s just what I’ve been striving to do all these 3* years!

P.S.: Happy birthday to my sweetheart sister Sancia, who was born on my 4th birthday. I love you sis! xoxo

~ I Keep it Irie ~

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30 thoughts on “My Mid-30s Crisis: Happy Birthday To Me

  1. One of the main reasons I enjoy reading your posts is to hear about the places you have been, people you have met, experiences you have shared, relationships developed and so on. You’re so passionate about everything; from love, to music, to cooking, to writing, etc. I guess it’s that same passion that keeps you striving for more, but be careful not to let it cloud your past or present; you’ve done quite a bit of living and accomplished quite a lot in your 25+ years.

    • Thanks as always for reading Gareth and for such insightful and kind sentiments. Yes, sometimes it’s challenging not to lament on what’s absent from our lives instead of focusing on our blessings. I continue to work on doing the latter. One love.:-)

  2. Fatou on said:

    I have always seen you as this confident (rightfully so!) and accomplished person. I think you have done a lot in your life and have had much success, even if not in the traditional way certain people think of it. I am proud of you and have always looked up and esteemed you got doing what you love and enjoying your life. Please remember this: all things happen for a reason, and in their own time. But we all have these days do my dear its okay to color all days yellow, and save one for black, as long as you color the next one yellow. Happy birthday Queenie :-*.

    • My dear Fatou, thanks for your continued support and love. You’re absolutely right about everything happening for reason. It’s a hard, but necessary pill to follow. I will indeed remember to “color my days with yellow”. Thanks again and one love.:-)

  3. Thanks for sharing this, Maquita. I have a friend who was/is feeling similarly. Very intelligent, Ivy League degree, mid 30s, ‘between jobs’ and feeling unaccomplished and unhappy. I told her the only way she will move forward, and be able to convince other people that she is worthy of the opportunities she wants is to believe she is worthy, and ACT worthy – dwelling on short-comings does not help one do that. I think it’s a great idea to take objective stock of your life – be honest about the goals you wanted to achieve but haven’t. But then also be honest about the goals you HAVE achieved, and be honest about the fact that so much of life is beyond our control. And while that is part of the frustration, it’s also part of the beauty 🙂 Trevor gave you great advice – don’t let disappointment become paralysing – get cracking on the things you CAN do, and accept that there is much you can’t. And embrace life’s surprises!

  4. P.S. -Y.O.L.O. and as far as I can see you doing a pretty good job….Keep shining girl:)

  5. Jahnesta on said:

    Happy Birthday, Beautiful! At 3* you are educated, fit and still youthful. You have a lot going for you. You have traveled the world and still have plenty time to see more countries. I wish you a zillion more birthdays filled with joy and love. God will bless you with all the things you desire in life when the time is right. Enjoy your god kids. At least you can drop them home when they’re being bad. Lol

    Keeping it Irie,

    Jahnesta

  6. Raseedah on said:

    I love reading your blogs and glad you wrote this piece, I am sure a lot of your peers will relate to it. I too am very much in denial about my age and I have 3 more grey hairs than you..lol
    One thing I always tell a friend of mine, (about where she is in life) is to never gauge your accomplishments to that of your friends. We are all on our own path to greatness; you can’t pen your life story based on theirs. Enjoy your birthday M and savor all your achievements, thus far.

    • Thanks for reading Raseedah and for your kind words.
      Regarding your comment about measuring one’s accomplishments, I wouldn’t say I or many people simply use our friends’ as a yardstick. But realistically, it’s hard to ignore “growth” or success we see among our peers that we aspire to for ourselves and not sometimes wonder if we’re doing things the right way. I genuinely rejoice in my friends’ triumphs, but sometes I fail to acknowledge my own.

      Thanks for your insight and continued support. One love sis.:-)

  7. Tanya on said:

    Thanks for sharing Maquita! Don’t give up just keep pressing on. All of those things will come in good timing. Happy Birthday and enjoy the day!

  8. Nicola on said:

    I soo enjoy your writing! Really looking forward to the book…
    Ever so often I am sure that we all reflect and find that there are things on our Life’s todolist still not done ….everything in it’s time.

    Have a wonderful birthday sistern! Shaq’s was yesterday and he said ” Mom I’m twenty now thats makes you……….”I’m still holding my ears ’cause whaeva he say is incorrect! lol!

  9. madi ceesay on said:

    Maquita, you are a very intelligent, talented and hardworking young lady, and you must not allow the trials of life to conquer you. The good-paying job, kids and dream house will come one day.

  10. Thania on said:

    Maquita, our paths in life are more than intertwined. It’s more like we live parallel lives. From our days at BCC (in the same program), to our journeys at colleges in America we share the same experience, we love the same group, have many of the same friends and feel the same emotions.

    This blog is no different as I go through the same bout of depression each birthday or everytime one of my friends gets married or has a baby. I have even decided, I am not going to another wedding.

    However like you, I realise I still have a lot to be thankful for and therefore I try to control the things that I can. Those that I can’t I try not to dwell on. I believe God has a plan for people like us.

    To be honest I am not always single and happy, especially since my group of single friends dwindles, but I am optimistic, that my day will come.

    Head up my sister, there are big things in store for us. Love yah chick.

    • Thania, thanks for reading and the encouragement. I’m relieved you can relate! I have some 20 something year-old friends who have been telling me they’re going through similar “crises” and I laugh. I tell them that, they’re like 10 years my junior and that their clocks aren’t ticking as fast as mine lol!

      You’re right, it’s best to remain optimistic, or as I prefer to say, hopeful. Admittedly, there might still be the occasional “down day” but indeed God has a plan for each of us. We just have to learn to accept His will.

      Thanks again sis. Stay strong. Love yuh baaad!

  11. Jason Prescod on said:

    Beautiful

  12. Kelly on said:

    Maquita Peters, I am envious of you! Pursuing a dream that I too shared, you went after yours, I pushed mine aside. Look at what you have accomplished, Columbia J School! I am so proud of you I could bust. Yes, these feelings are very normal, even when we have the job, the husband and the babies, as humans we feel that there is something unfulfilled. The important thing is the ability to shake off those feelings and keep on moving on. Love you, sister! Oh by the way baby, I wish I was as fit as you. The music is great!

    • Awwww, Kelly love you too. Thanks for all kinds words and valuable insight. It has been quite a journey! I do try to be thankful for my blessings, yes, but at times it’s hard not to feel unaccomplished at this age.:-/ But I will keep pushing. Thanks for the support and I really appreciate you reading and offering your feedback. Love and blessings to you and yours sis.:-) xx

  13. it’s always good to have someone in your life who will put it all in perspective for you. happy birthday!

  14. Ann G on said:

    keep on posting my dear. felt the same way at 30 and then someone told me life begins at 40 so i knew i was not born yet. now in my mid forties, i have discovered a new lease on life. i was introduced to some inspirational books……amazing to say the lease. ever wonder if we saw the world through the eyes of children….always filled with excitement and adventure. Also think of everything that happens to you as a reflection of you, so you can learn from everything and everybody, laugh at yourself and thank GOD for keeping you here until this time. Be blest me beautiful nubian sister.

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