While visiting a piercing shop last week, I sat next to a beautiful chocolate woman with short natural hair. The tips of her hair had been dyed honey blonde and she was wearing an orange Home depot shirt with blue jeans and tennis shoes. Our conversation began with her asking me if my nose piercing was painful and by the time we said goodbye, I was showing her a picture of my new baby girl while exchanging contact information. I didn’t come to learn her name until the very end of our conversation, but for the sake of privacy, I’ll just call her D. This beautiful woman is a mother of five that recently left life in corporate America in pursuit of herself. She shared with me her thoughts on self-image and her desire to live a happy and authentic life. Before cutting and dying her hair, she began to question whether a mother of five and grandmother of a three-year old should be wearing a short cut. She also questioned whether it was appropriate for her to get a nose ring. The culmination of her thoughts was interrupted by the acknowledgment that she was going to do whatever she wanted to do; simply because she can.
We talked for upwards of 45 minutes and within that time, I felt a confirmation of my developing life mantra “live the life you dream of living”. As I shared my journey with her, she made sure to tell me “Do it now. Don’t be like me and wait until you’re 43 to pursue what you truly want. Even if you fail, at least you did it”. While she encouraged me to move forward with my dreams, she also advised that I stop saying that I’m “dreaming” and instead say that I am PLANNING. D said that she has raised her children with the reality that while you can dream, you have to put a plan to those dreams in order for them to become reality.I reciprocated her encouragement when she shared that she would love to begin doing documentaries; starting with documenting the stories of some of people that make up Atlanta’s homeless population.
I was deeply inspired by D’s story. I was in love with the fact that a woman who has raised 5 children was ready to be a real life example for her kids. I was also inspired that a woman that had a nice corporate job with benefits and a comfortable lifestyle, would make the decision to leave it all behind to pursue genuine happiness. D told me that many friends and family members have questioned her sanity but she is only concerned with embracing her authentic self. While 43 is not too late, I’m so grateful that at 26, I’m focused on pursuing my true desires and leaving behind a life that I was living simply because I was seeking acceptance from others. From self-image to major life decisions, we benefit most from life when we choose to live in a way that makes us most content. Being consumed with the opinions and standards of popular society can potentially lead us to living a life that we look back on and regret. I thank this beautiful stranger not only for her courage to live her life to the fullest but the love to share it with a young woman like me. A stranger trying to figure it all out so that At 43, I won’t be dreaming about an abundant life, I’ll be living it.
Thank you D!