40 is kind of a big deal. Hairy too.
There’s everything you imagined about adulthood stacked against who you’ve actually become. And then there’s the big yellow brick road ahead—who you still hope to be when you grow up, before mother nature really decides, Fc it I’m through with this human experiment. 🙈
Turning 40’s been wild. I never imagined life past youth. When I was a kid, the chances of a black South African boy dying before age 60 were 43%; make that 29% for girls like me! I lost my dad in his 40s. And countless family long before that.
Ok, Magogodi. It’s a fcn Birthday–where’s the Celebrating Life part at?
That’s just the thing. There’s so much I’m grateful for. And so many lessons have come with my 40 years on earth. I won’t give you the whole laundry list, but here’s some real shit I want to pass on that may be useful on your own yellow brick road:
1. Be You
I still remember wishing I had a different name in the second grade. There was Bianca ahead of me, with a huge smile and sharp teeth. There was more than one Romy, but the most beautiful and popular girl in our class with wispy blonde hair and a shyness to her charm was Romy. At 6 or 7, it wasn’t hard to figure out that “Magogodi” was the odd one out in a game of, Which one of these doesn’t belong?
But the thing is, at 6—I belonged to my dad. And that dude was proud! Especially of that name, his momma’s. Aint no way in cold hell I could even blurt out what I felt. So I answered to anglicized versions of Magogodi. Till I hit 18. Something finally clicked. My dad was gone.
And this name was what I had reminding me to whom I belong. And that I’m 1 of 1.
As are you. Maybe the biggest gift of age is loving the you, a younger you once wished was different.
2. You Are Enough
I can tell you exactly where I was and what I was wearing when I first heard these words spoken for me. NYU graduation at the President’s House. Dark blue jeans and a top that made me feel like the shit. Except that these words broke me. Because in just 3 words, they pierced past all the BS I’d been fed. First as a black girl in South Africa. Then as an immigrant to America.
The wildest ponzi scheme is how many of us go through life believing we have to “do/achieve /prove something” first to be worthy of being here. You don’t. As you are. You’re enough.
3. Be Here Now
About 5 years ago, I picked up Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth. If I could reach through this screen and hand you a copy, I would. That book rebirthed me. And gave my spirit an ocean-wide quench I didn’t even know I was that thirsty for!
The most potent takeaway is the Power Of Now—Right this second. In this breath. Which, another one of my fav teachers Michael Beckwith likes to say, Is happening right now. You can’t breathe in the future or past. You also can’t be alive anywhere but right here, right now. Anything else is death.
4. Do You
Nice African girls don’t curse. Fuck that. Good respectable woman don’t talk about their money lust, indulge their sexual fantasies or fess up to their abortion stories.
I was such a good girl growing up.
In some ways, I’m still unlearning all my own patriarchy-bound BS. And every bizarre left turn I’ve taken—going back to school “to write” 👀, saying yes to a white dude😝, getting a dog 🙈—every decision that’s been about doing what felt most real and honest to me, has been 💯 worth the bother. And helped me understand the only rules I really care about are the ones my soul has written for me. Everything else is trash.
5. It Ain’t Over Till
One of the songs I rocked HARD in my most depressed days was Beyonce’s Schoolin Life. The beat is fire and the Queen stays dishing LIFE. But what really hit me was this:
“Stop living in regret, baby, it’s not over yet
And this is for them chipper somethings
That’s high on life, baby, put me on your flight!”
We’ve all got Should’ve/Could’ves. But here you are. Right now. Stop living in regret.
It Aint Over Yet 💃🏾💃🏾💃🏾😎
6. You’re not here to fix All the Things. But Your Being’s Gotta Make a Dent
Talmud: there’s some battles you’re never gonna finish. That’s cool. But just cause you’ll never see their finish line, doesn’t mean you’re free to quit.
I was raised by people who gave their lives to a struggle that marked their birth and early death. Still, they fought. Still, they imagined better for me. Expected me to win that fight against white supremacy. Not today or tomorrow, but through our collective Being, because each of us was here and bothered to make a dent.
7. Do It Anyway
Look. You’re gonna have that fear no matter what. They’re gonna talk shit no matter what. So what are you made of, in the end? We all fall. Life’s taught me the real failure is staying down. Giving into any kind of fear. I do my damndest to not live small.
8. Divine Time
It took me 6 years to finish undergrad. Not cause I was faffing around, but because in this country, no matter how smart your ass is, education is a business. And when I couldn’t pony up, my school was like Bye, Felicia! 🤯😕That shit crushed me. So much of my life was wrapped up in this immigrant dream. Plus, the whole being alone and a foreigner in America thing.
Yup, it took a hot min, but I figured it out. And learned one of the hardest lessons to embody in a culture that worships youth and pretends dreams pop out of microwaves:
Trust Divine Time. Everything is happening for you. But it can only unfold in Divine Time, not when you want it. Not when the government expects it. Divine Time. Trust.
9. What Matters Ain’t In The Headlines
Like loving yourself. Like making dinner for your family. Like sending flowers to your sweetheart. Or making a birthday card cause you don’t have flower money.
Life’s funny. All the throw-away moments that never make the IG reel are precisely when life’s happening. And the things that truly matter—how deeply we love and how easily we give grace and how fairly we fight—these moments don’t make the headlines. Which makes us think the stock exchange and inflation rate and Bidens approval ratings matter most. That’s nonsense. Fc gas prices and your fancy degrees and what you wore to your 40th (ok, that last one matters! 😝🤣)
What matters don’t always glitter, but believe me. ✨Thems the Golds. 👌🏿
10. Whatever You Feed, Grows.
Real time lesson loading… And just here to remind me to Keep Going, building this Antiracist engine that could. Cause whatever you feed, grows. Whatever you’re pouring all your days and energy into, that shit is multiplying. How you think the Gram and Trump and BitCoins got so much clout? Someone’s feeding those monsters👀!
So let me ask you this—What do you wanna see grow?
One more thing. The Universe’s Got Your Back! Always.
And esp through these long emails, I got you too.