At the youthful age of 63, Iyanla Vanzant has so many words of wisdom and life lessons that every teen, twenty-something and thirty-something need to live by
Please read below excerpts from her interview with XONecole
How do women learn to be okay with being by ourselves and not needing the validation of a man?
Being by yourself is very different than being with yourself. “By Yourself” is when you feel the lack, the separation, and the deprivation of something or someone else. Being “with yourself” is when you’re taking the time to get acquainted or reacquainted with who you are and the life that’s flowing within you.
How your life unfolds is determined by the choices you make. I had three kids by the time I was 21, two at 19. I didn’t want that, but I didn’t make choices that would have kept me from being in that situation. I didn’t get married because I wanted to, I got married because I grew up in a time where its bad enough to have one baby out of wedlock, how dare you have two? So let me marry the first ‘Boo Boo the Clown’ that comes through and wants me. Then I had to spend thousands of dollars to get out of that. It’s all about choices and decisions and not allowing outside pressures to push you in a direction or make decisions that don’t honor who you are. Not everyone wants to have a baby [mama] at 22 or even 28. I certainly didn’t want to have one at 16, but I didn’t make the right choices.
Culturally, one of the things that helped me when I was unfolding as a woman were my sister circles. There were four of us and we got together and talked. Two of us had kids, one of us was in college, and the other was as lost as a shoe, but we all supported each other through that. I would tell young women gather within your age group and have three or four sister friends. Come together not to pressure each other, but to share how you’re doing and how you’re feeling.
What would you say to yourself in your 20s, 30s and 40s that helped you be as confident and content with yourself now that you’re 63?
I have to take it even further back to my teens. I would tell my teenage self, ‘have fun, stop taking everything so seriously, and don’t tie yourself down to anyone or anything unless it’s moving you towards your vision.’
In my 20s: “What’s your vision boo?”
You have to have a vision for yourself and for your life. It’s not necessarily about what you’re going to do, but who do you want to be as a woman? Having that vision will help pull you forward.
At 30: “Just do it and stop complaining.”
The kids, the work, the babies, make time for yourself and just do it.
40s: “You have arrived!”
Because you’re not really a woman ’til you’re 40; everything else was busy work! Now you’re getting ready to move into the fullness of who you are, pay attention because you matter. You’re gonna sweat but you matter!
Now at 63, I feel like I’m 20. At 20, I thought I knew everything and at 63 I understand I don’t know anything and I’m okay with that. When I see myself in my children and my grandchildren I say, ‘you look good on other people,’ they’re doing what I taught them. And I don’t have anything to prove to anybody so I can do what brings me joy. I’m no longer disturbed by the things people say about me, and the good news is I’ll probably forget half of it anyway (laughs). Read 67 year old Ayo Iroche Life Lessons
How do you find your purpose? When you speak of having a vision and having a plan, if you don’t know what you want to do, how do you know what God is leading you to do?
Doing, working, and purpose are three different things.
Your purpose isn’t for you; it’s for other people. Teaching, healing, leading, loving, nurturing, those are “purposes,” not “I’m going to be an engineer with a PhD from Harvard.” That’s work! You have to get clear about the difference. You’ve heard this saying before, “what would you do for the rest of your life for free?” What are you good at? What brings you joy that you would do whether or not you got paid for it? That’s your purpose. Remember that your purpose and what you have to do to make a living may be two completely different things.