The holidays and new year always brings with it thoughts of days past, nostalgia for good times, but more importantly, the lessons learned through those trying and troubling times. 


The new year always sees us recapping and recounting the year.  This year is unique because not only is the beginning of a new year, but the beginning of a new decade.  


And WHEW!  What a decade the last one was.  



Both this past year and the decade at large saw me going through so many changes.  The decade began with me being a care-free SoCal girl, unaware of the upcoming twists and turns the rollercoaster ride of life was about take me on.  Within this last decade, I uprooted my life; moving from a place I never thought I would leave.  I lost my dad to Pancreatic Cancer, as well as other friends and acquaintances prematurely and too soon.  I also lost friendships and relationships due to timing, growth, and many other life circumstances.  I’ve laughed, partied, cried, danced, created art, and lived life.  I felt insurmountable pain and fell to extremely low depths.  Among many things, I’ve faced assault, depression, and overt discrimination, and survived.  I also soured to heights and achieved things that I never thought I would.  I exceeded career expectations within the Cis-Caucasian world of apparel-manufacturing, and left to forge my own road and build my own table when I didn’t see a seat at the current one.  


The past year was the culmination of one hell of a decade.  A wild, rollercoaster ride in an ongoing journey.  The past 10 years gave me so many lessons, but there were some that stood out more than others.  Some lessons I had to learn over… and over and over.  Some lessons I am still learning.  


Here are 10 lessons I am bringing into this new year:  


1.     Who you start with is not necessarily who you end with. 


I am a true romantic at heart.  Part of my romanticism is believing that all friendships and relationships will last forever.  Especially when I put my all into them.  But the reality is that people change and grow (some don’t).  And I’ve grown and changed as well.  Ten years ago, many of my friendships served as a benchmark for where I was at the time.  And I thought I would carry those friendships into the unforeseeable future with me. But life happened, and I soon realized as my own life began to grow, change, and transform, I realized that those friendships weren’t as monumental as I had thought.  While I’ve been blessed and fortunate enough to have friends where our journeys and growth have moved along together.  Many I have not.  Many of those friendships from 10 years ago, while great in nostalgic, fantastical tales, aren’t compatible with who I’ve become as a person.  I tried to hold on to those friendships and bring them along, but most were simply rocks weighing me down, and holding me back from the growth and personal self-work I needed to do.  


2.     Some things last a lifetime, while others are for a season and a reason.  And both are okay. 

Jobs.  Friendships.  Love.  Hell, even clothes and outfits. We tend to pay remorse to things that don’t last, instead of celebrating its season and the lesson that it may have provided or the purpose it served.  Because my believe is that those things that last a season are meant to deliver you to that next season.  


3.     You will not be the hero in everyone’s story.  Including some of your own.  


Life is not black and white.  And part of that is knowing that there will be many times you will be the bad guy and the villain, regardless of your efforts.  There will be some times where you are actually the bad guy.  Other times, however you may merely be painted as such.  Other people’s idea, perception, and version of you is their baggage to hold.  All you can control and manage is your reaction to it, and the lessons you take from it.  


4.     Have fun.  


Life is TOO DAMN SHORT, and people take it and themselves too seriously.  Life is the journey, not the destination.  Enjoy it, and yourself.


5.     Trust your gut. 


Too many times my gut has told me something and I go against it because I think that I can outthink my “gut”.  I think that with farfetched reasoning and excuses that I can prove myself wrong.  And more times than not, my gut is proven right.  Usually at my own expense.  


It is important that we pay attention to our intuition; as it often feels things before our minds do.  Paying attention and acting on it can save you the grief and pain of those otherwise hard-learned lessons.  


6.     Self-care is vital to a healthy life and lifestyle.  


I spent myself working to the point of physical and mental exhaustion, to the point of putting myself in the hospital.  I thought I had to work harder and tirelessly for success, when in reality it’s the balance of work plus self-care and good mental health practices that creates success and a positive lifestyle.  


7.     Check yourself, but don’t wreck yourself.


Checking my own toxic behavior, regardless of the source.  I learned the importance of not just being aware of my negative behavior and destructive patterns, but also finding the root and true cause of it.  I learned while some of my behavior were inherited, generational curses, other was defensive and self-destructive.  While working on myself, I also had to learn to take it easy on myself and not beat myself up.  


8.     Never feel bad for the love you give. 

This is a lesson that was hard, and continues to be hard.  I tend to love people hard.  And when relationships and friendships have ended, I tended to always regret the free-flowing love I gave and extended.  I would come out feeling used and depleted.  I had to continuously tell myself that the outcome (or outcomes of prior outcomes) shouldn’t affect my heart or make me hard.  This lesson also taught me the important lesson of balance.  In order to not feel personally depleted or drained, I had to learn how to practice balance, and not pouring my complete self into someone.   And that love that I keep hastily giving away; learning to keep some of that love for myself.  


9.     You can be smarter, better, and more talented, but you will still have to work three times as hard for a quarter of the respect, credit, and recognition (and that’s fucked up)

We all wanted to believe that there is a level playing field that we all exist on.  That the world is just and fair and if we work hard, we can achieve anything we want.  

I also lived under the guise that my work ethic, performance, and talent would propel me to success.  I believed that working hard would push me to the success that I desired, and up to a certain point, that was true.  But the further I got in my career, the more I realized that identity politics and intersectionality played more of a role in upward mobility than I had ever thought.  As I progressed with my career, I was constantly plagued with overt transphobia and blatant misogynoir.  In a professional, corporate world I was having to fight and prove my prowess, skill and ability moreso.  While my peers could be mediocre and excel ahead, I have to be exceptional and excellent.  I have to go above and beyond my stellar work ethic just to be considered and thought-of.  I realized that regardless of my professional path, I would have to forever fight systematic institutions that discriminate and oppress black trans women such as myself.  While some would’ve easily crumbled under the reality of the unjust society, I used that as fuel that drove my passion, my work ethic, and continued drive.  Like an athlete who knows that the game is rigged, I’m still in it to win it.  


10.  If you’re truly poppin’, you’ll always be lit. 

No explanation needed.