29 Lessons I've Learned at 29: A Collection of Personal Epigrams Thus Far...

Earlier this month, I celebrated my 29th birthday. I have dubbed this year: My year of testimonies signifying my commitment to share more (particularly of lessons learned and vulnerabilities) by way of personal healing, self-evaluation ahead of the big 3.0 and in hope of encouraging someone else as I have often sought to be encouraged this past year. I began this testimony-themed year by sharing my 'salvation story' or the account of how and why I committed to the Christian faith. You can read this HERE

My contemplation on how far I've come this year and all there is to share led me to review my journals. I found an entry which reminded me that in 2012 as I completed undergrad, I had made an ambitious seven-year plan for fulfillment by the age of thirty.  As per this plan, my  29th year was to be "My Year of Preparation"; it was to be the year I became fully 'adult'. Underneath 29 I had put bullet points listing the goals for the year or what being 'fully adult' meant for me at that time. According to that list, as a twenty-nine-year-old I: 
- Should have a healthier lifestyle- a healthy weight, diet, skin care routine etc. 
- Should be getting to solvency, with savings, property, and finally acting on that business idea...
-Should be enrolled in a postgraduate program and establishing myself as a writer and educationalist. 
- Should be setting up a family and preparing myself to be all I needed myself as a child. 
- Should have complete training at church to be a liturgist occasionally and be an active member of a Christian fellowship 
-Should have plans for establishing a youth center like the YMCA in the works

WELL! Let's just say I had some ambition way back then eh? 
I will not be holding myself up to this list, rather I shall think of it with appreciation as it shows that even back then, I knew I had to PREPARE and work on myself to achieve the fulfillment I desired and still desire. I am proud of the younger Monique for having figured that out. 

There's a lot more I've figured out in these 29 odd years and I've coined life quotes from lessons learned which I share in this piece. Consider these 29 original sayings as epigrams to remember me by.

Notes on Living, Loving and Being ...

  1. The worst thing about life isn’t the catastrophes, the losses, the pain or disappointments it brings to us all. The worst thing, in my opinion, is that life goes on. It does not stop for us to collect our bearings, regain our rhythm, restore our hope or reclaim our faith. One may lose their entire family, another may lose their only source of joy, yet another the hope which kept them sane; but still life goes on, others live as though the world had not ended had not ended for one.                                                                                                                                                           
  2. You can believe all you want. Unlike Hollywood PG 13 movies, wishes don’t come true by believing alone.                                                                                                                                        
  3. Believe in good, believe that justice will come someday, and right will conquer wrong. But bear in mind that this may happen on the day after you are buried in your grave. And it doesn’t make it too late for there was never a set date.                                                                                            
  4. One of the ironies of life,  I have found, is how we are encouraged to dream grandly as children only to be urged to settle soon as adults- and our souls expand and contract with each compromise and negotiation, weathering away.                                                                                       
  5. The thing about tomorrow? It never has enough hours or the capacity to fulfill all we wish it would, so we always need another one.                                                                                                     
  6. I have found that many people don’t notice my hearing impairment in the course or a conversation. To them, my rapt attention is response enough. And I can talk to at length with one whose name I do not know, one whom I have only just met. Because sometimes we do not need words. Everyone smiles in the same language, everyone understands the tilt of a head, can comprehend eyes welling up with tears and a hand outstretched...or withheld.                                                   
  7. I am still learning not to minimize my pain; the fact that one person is dying of cancer somewhere doesn’t mean I shouldn’t complain over a mild headache.                                                        
  8. Life motto: Always remember as much as it could be better, it could be worse!                                     
  9. We are misled that doing your best and being 'good' will lead to success and happiness. That's a lie. Doing the best you can, working your hardest, being 'good' and all that is acceptable does not guarantee that you get what you deserve. Life isn't fair and that's a fact. Yet, what these things guarantee for you is a clear conscience. Knowing you did your utmost is in a way a kind of innocence. You are innocent of whatever misfortune and unfair outcomes happen despite all you did. That's why I  still try.                                                                                                                  
  10. The big things, like whether I live or die, do not worry me because I have no control over them… what worries me are the things which can be traced back to me, those problems, flaws, denials, and failures that would be as a result of something I did or something I didn’t do                            
  11. Our problems are tailor-made to reflect our weaknesses; we could have what everyone desires but it is the thing we need most that the universe keeps out of our reach                                                    
  12. The best things in life cannot be earned, and are rarely deserved. The best things are simply given… or not. The best things are blessings.                                                                                          
  13. The less you expect, the less it hurts when you don't get it and the more it pleases you if you do.                                                                                                                                                             
  14. When you close your eyes to dream, you are seeing the abbreviated version of the story. You will achieve that dream but it may take longer. You only had so many hours to sleep, so don’t give your dreams deadlines.                                                                                                                         
  15. Believing is hard work. I think it even consumes calories. You can break out in sweat just struggling to believe. I feel my forehead drenched as I try hard to believe that there is a reason for everything. Even this. Even now.                                                                                                                   
  16. You may be a diamond, but  in a land where people do not value diamonds, a diamond is but an ordinary rock                                                                                                                                                  
  17. The people who don’t know they have problems are the hardest to help                                                  
  18. It's not about how right you are, but about how you handle those who are wrong.                                
  19. I have found that people seek love not because it negates all other problems, but because crying feels a lot better when a lover cuddles you or when a sister joins in your tears, a father's belief in you pulls you out of the pit of self-pity, or a child's smile gives you hope. Love isn't overrated.                                                                                                                                                  
  20. More often than not a woman is both her own worst critic and her sole cheerleader.                               
  21. Independence is good. Interdependence is best.                                                                                     
  22. The best way to teach a person to how to love is by loving them when they do not love you, with no expectations of that changing. This is also the slowest and hardest way.                                       
  23. To be lonely is not always to be alone, but to be without. I have been loneliest in a room full of the wrong people.                                                                                                                                      
  24. I think happiness, true happiness lies in not giving a damn. It is to be found in a protective gear attitude that lets everything roll off you like water hitting grease. That's why it's so difficult to be truly happy. We care too damn much.                                                                                                 
  25. Note to self: remember that people love us not because we're perfect but despite the fact that we're flawed.                                                                                                                                              
  26. For a long time, the world measured power and strength by how much you can carry, how far you can throw, the force of your punch… and for this reason, men were always perceived as stronger. But then the rhetoric of amazing strength and power illustrated by those with self-restraint, those with the ability to persevere, endure, empathize and forgive came up and women have been considered as strong for what shit they could take. This isn't black and white. Power and strength to me lie in finding the balance, knowing why and when to forgive, knowing why and when to throw a punch. True power is tempered; the truly powerful have balanced the force of steel and the serenity of dawn.                                                                               
  27. I have learned to appreciate a rejection. At least you KNOW you got rejected. Not knowing, hoping and waiting is a unique kind of hell.                                                                                              
  28. On the days I feel useless, feel like a failure I  console myself by thinking 'at least I didn't hurt anyone today'. I might have failed myself, but knowing that I have done o intentional harm to another in a world where people seems to thrive on being abusive to other living beings seems to me like an achievement. A low bar, I know.                                                                                     
  29. A common idiom goes 'you cannot give what you do not have'. I hid behind this a great deal,  you can't love if you haven't known love right? But I have learned that we can give what we wished was given to us. The vacuum we have known is in itself something to give from.

I hope you have enjoyed my drops of 29-year-old wisdom 😅
Let me know what you think OR drop some of your own life lessons in the comment section!


  1. I feel so elated with these quotes. That is you. Based on my experience, my quote for you is "you are you until you identify yourself as you without any interference".

    1. Thank you Rev Mary! I appreciate your reading and I love that quote. Our identities are so often drawn up by other people and circumstances that we really need to work at identifying ourselves without interference!

  2. I like this one best: You may be a diamond, but in a land where people do not value diamonds, a diamond is but an ordinary rock. I hope you will be discovered soon.


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