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“I don’t mind that 30 isn’t what I imagined it would be because I love where life has taken me”

In Career, Contributors, Family, Finances, Lifestyle, Relationships on July 4, 2014 at 09:25

Susie Dantzig

By Susie Dantzig

 As a child, 30 was old.  Even when I got to college, I thought my 22-year-old RA was old, so 30 was ancient.  A 30 year old was a grown-up, someone with a nice paying job, a house, kids, and a person who others called “sir” or “ma’am.” Now that I am 30, I don’t feel the need to adhere to any pre-conceived notion of what I thought 30 should be. We’ll start with relationships first. I have been in a loving, committed relationship for almost five years. We live together, work together, play together, and have committed ourselves to each other in every way, but we feel absolutely no need to get married, let alone have kids, any time soon. We enjoy having the time and finances to go out to eat where we want, travel, train for races, play in the local orchestra, live in the city. The kids will come, but not for another five years or so, and we’ll enjoy each other in the meantime. I mentioned finances, so we’ll approach that and career status next. I went to a top ranked university and at times I feel like I haven’t been as successful professionally or financially as my colleagues. But I like to remind myself that while those goals are worthy to strive for, I have accomplished so much outside of the office. I’ve run three marathons, I’ve travelled the world, I am in the community orchestra, I have a master’s degree, and I am writing a book teaching children the violin. It might be a while before I rise above middle management at the office, but I love my job and I make a salary that affords me to take care of myself and enjoy the activities I’ve mentioned. I don’t mind that 30 isn’t what I imagined it would be because I love where life has taken me.  Who knows where I’ll be at 40, but if I’m as happy then as I am today then life will be good.

About Susie:

Author of “Val the Violin: A Violin Instruction Book for Players in Pre-School & Up”. Growing up in the D.C. area, Susie Dantzig earned a B.A. in Music and Biology from the University of Virginia and furthered her music education with a Master’s in Music Business from the University of Miami. She currently resides in D.C., working for a performing rights organization. 


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“Growing Pains”

In Career, Contributors, Family, Finances, Health, Lifestyle, Quotes, Relationships, Spirituality on August 30, 2013 at 08:37

By Deneia Yanique

Turning 30 for me has meant change.

Arrogance to humility

From living in black and white to gray areas of living

From hiding from myself to facing myself

A focus from material growth to spiritual growth

From living unconsciously to higher levels of awareness

Turning 30 has meant changing perspective.

Let me explain more.

In my mid 20s I thought I had it all figured out. I had a family, my career as a teacher, well traveled, my ambition and will to succeed. I felt like I had triumphed over a lot and that I deserved all good that would come to me.  I exercised frequently and my health and my son’s health were great. I had a house, a car and all the material things that are supposed to make an individual feel secure and successful. I felt self-important because I was accepted into a Ph.D. program to be trained in my dream vocation as an applied anthropologist. At times I was extremely self righteous and arrogant. My attitude was nasty and I recognize this now.

In my late 20s I decided I didn’t want to be with my son’s father and moved out with my son. I felt I was missing something in my life and also felt bored being in a relationship. Because I was able to survive on my own I had little patience for others who would come up with excuses for why they couldn’t. To this day I am appalled at my treatment of my son’s father. He did everything he was supposed to do as a father and a man and I was not satisfied. Though I do not wish to be with him I feel my words and behaviors could have been more compassionate towards him.

In retrospect, during this time I believed I deserved better and would quickly leave anyone behind who I thought was beneath me. In the end, I wasn’t honest about my weakness but would grab hold of any chance to flaunt my achievements.

All of a sudden at the age of 29, life happened. I was in a car accident, became involved in some legal trouble, and my home was burglarized by a close friend all in a three-year time frame. My income also declined dramatically as my expenses began to increase. I began to feel sorry for myself and wallow in the pain. Even worse, I began to drink alcohol daily.

Every day I would question where did all of this come from? Why me? What did I do to deserve this? I thought I had done everything right. Even worse, I couldn’t even focus on my research. I grew anxious and would spend the majority of my day worrying. My thoughts controlled everything. My thoughts were holding me still. It was a vicious cycle. I would feel sorry for myself, feel bad because I thought I wasn’t focusing on my son like I was supposed to and because I broke up the family, doubted my research and my capabilities, and then would feel even worse once I realized that I had these pitiful psychological problems while others in the world have real, tangible and concrete problems they are trying to overcome. My main question to myself is how can I help others with my anthropology if I cant even help myself? Every day I thought like this, from the time I woke up to when I went to sleep. It was exhausting and extremely unproductive.

Now at the age of 32, I am slowly getting over myself by learning how to tame my mind. I have come to recognize some things about my being. In my 20s I was deeply insecure, fearful and angry about many things, which is why I responded to the world with arrogance. The arrogance hid what I was not willing to face. I knew the first step I needed to take was to be honest about my weaknesses. I did not know it all. In fact I knew nothing at all. My tone and body language needed improvement. My time management and financial management needed to be budgeting wisely. All of the advice I was so quick to offer to my former students I knew I had to apply to myself. In other words I needed to practice what I taught.

Next, I needed to stop feeling guilty about breaking up the “family”. Western society does a great job of promoting the nuclear family as the foundation for a child’s success. As a black male in the United States I was constantly worried about my son becoming a statistic because he didn’t have the “nuclear family”. I had to forgive myself and realize that individuals do create their own reality and this is okay.

Me and Yohannes in one of our moments.

Me and Yohannes in one of our moments.

Most importantly I realize that I need to develop genuine compassion. The only way I could do this is by having self-compassion. In my 20s I always felt like I had compassion while working with students and members in the community. I offered time and money to causes but in retrospect I realize this was not done in vain. I did these things to make myself feel better and important while at the same time showing others that I was the best. This is what I learned: in order to have compassion for others an individual must first have compassion for self. This is genuine compassion. I cannot offer the world what I am not able to offer myself.

As I write this I am having a revelation. If I want to contribute to this world through anthropology before I die then I need to do the work on myself first. I need to keep my promises to myself and most importantly I need to forgive myself and keep moving. I thank the Universe for presenting these challenges to me because I needed to grow.

Whenever I heard this quote in the past I would often roll my eyes because it sounded too idealistic. At this present moment I understand what it means. “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I am a work in progress.

About Deneia:

New York born, New England educated.  Based in Tampa, FL where she teaches Gifted and Learning Disabled students at the secondary level.  Tampa is also where Deneia Yanique has received training to become a social scientist.  She is current a Ph.D. candidate in Applied Anthropology at the University of South Florida.  Her research focuses on the educational experiences of Black males in the United States and the Caribbean.  In her personal life, Deneia Yanique is a life long learner, a mother, and a part time yogi who enjoys stimulating conversations, good drinks, and a great meal.


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“What list?”

In Beauty, Contributors, Family, Finances, Lifestyle, Relationships on August 9, 2013 at 11:14

By Michelle Fairweather

Michelle Fairweather

Something happened to me during my 29th year of life…I started to feel old. I don’t know when it happened. Maybe it was when I saw the increasing number of grey hairs in the rear view mirror each morning. Maybe it was when I was tagged in that photo that was clearly taken to show my ever-deepening wrinkles. It may have been that fateful Sunday when I realized it was taking me a whole weekend to function after a not so heavy Friday night. Or maybe it was when I found myself realizing that certain body parts who normally enjoyed a rather ‘north’ vantage point had started to migrate south. It could have been when I stopped going to weddings and started attending baby showers and, ever increasing in popularity, divorce parties. It might even have been when my 16-year-old godson, the godson whose nappies I remember changing, called me for relationship advice…No, stop the press, now I remember…The sinking feeling that life was well on the down slide to aging occurred when a good friend pointed out that my days of a 20-something-year-old female were numbered. I won’t lie, turning 30 was horrendous. I put on a brave face and told everyone it wasn’t that bad but really my trained counsellor self was only easing others’ fears, because deep down I was dreading it.

Why was turning 30 such a dreadful experience? It was because something, someone, somewhere was making me take stock of my 30 years and measure them against a ‘list’ of expected accomplishments. I don’t know how this list exists, it’s not written down anywhere, no one tells you, no one hands you a secret envelope that self destructs after reading, and it doesn’t arrive in the mail in disguise as a birthday card. However, let me assure you, the list is very real and it appears to be available in any language. It exists inside every 29-year-old and is screaming out at you with every dwindling 29th year sunset. It’s the list that determines how successful you are. It determines how proud you can be at your high school reunions and it gives you a method in which to measure the productivity of the past 30 years. If you score well you can kick back, relax and hold your head high whilst you blow out those 30 candles. If you score badly, well, huff those candles out before you set the place on fire with the knowledge that you’ve got your work cut out before you get to the next marker of 40.

So, what did I find when I sat down with pen and paper and the list?

Well, in regards to housing I didn’t have a picket fence, I was still house sharing. Under relationships, I noted I wasn’t married and I certainly didn’t have children. I was yet to work in my field of study and against assets, well, even if you let me count my pushbike, I was pretty much asset-less.

So, what section of this mysterious list could I check off? I’ve travelled. In actual fact, I’ve travelled a lot. I uprooted my life at 27 and have lived in three different countries. I’ve seen the gorillas in the mist in the depths of the Congolese jungle. I’ve watched the fireworks over Paris as the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve. I’ve eaten a champagne breakfast in the Masai Mara and I’ve laid in-between two sleeping tigers in a canyon in Bangkok. I’ve stood over the grave of the mighty King Henry and I’ve learnt what a joy blackcurrant and true Irish Guinness is. Last but not least I’ve clocked up enough frequent flyer points to possibly do it all again. Yet, when compared to the list I am left with one measly section marked off.

Who is it that determines what the list should include? Who states what makes a successful 30-year-old? When compared to a mother and a wife who is on maternity leave from her dream job why should I hang my head in shame and feel the need to explain that I had been out of the country for 3 years? Why did I feel the need to uproot my life again at 30 and head home to my country of origin in search of ways to mark more items off the list? Really what I should have done is asked my two 30+ housemates to help me look for the originator of the list. That way we could have sent them a lovely gift basket full of food that they may, possibly, one day, choke on.

My advice to all those 29 year olds…If the positive in your life outweighs the negative, hold your head high and scream from the rooftops that you embrace the wisdom that being 30 brings. When that doesn’t take away the dread, just remember a celebrity such as Jennifer Anniston. At 30 she was still not married, not yet divorced, was childless and had a dreadful haircut? Success is what you make of it. Ignore the list at all costs!

About Michelle:

Born in Adelaide, South Australia to British parents, Michelle grew up with the aim to one day travel the world. When rapidly approaching 30 and after exploring the track farless trodden in places such as Africa and Asia, Michelle settled in the UK for three years. However, when the need to buy furniture and fancy cutlery became too strong, she returned to her hometown to determine if it was still home. A graduate of psychology, Michelle knows this move will not be easy but is excited about what’s ahead on the other side of 30.


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