Sza’s Ctrl album is a masterpiece and beautiful depiction of a young woman coming to terms with, and taking control of, her own healing.  While the album has many stand out tracks, it ends with one of the more talked about cuts:“20 something”. The song is an exploration of all the angst -riddled, will I or won’t  I get my ish together and finally find the happiness that I deserve, every single 20 something can relate to. If you haven't listened to it yet, I highly encourage a run through.  While I’m no longer in my twenties, I was still taken aback at the accuracy of some of the songs’ lines. At 31 ½ (yep, still count the half, too) a lot has changed for me since entering my 30s, yet, a lot hasn’t, and that’s worth examination. 

I’m not sure the age you get it all figured out – I thought that age was 30 because by 29 I’d checked all the boxes of what a successful 20-something should look to have accomplished:

Great Job/Career v
Long-term relationship where we discussed the future
Nice car (oh hell yes)
Disposable Income (YASSSS)

Yet, even accomplishing all of that, I still felt that something was missing.  That missing thing sent me on a quest shortly after my 30th birthday. Now two years later, a successful life as an entrepreneur, an ended relationship that never should've been, one that was almost everything and a whole lot of introspection – I’m feeling all kinds of angsty.  The big questions still remain, but mostly this one is resounding: How does one make time for a life in the midst of trying to make it in life?  The circumstances may have changed from my 20s, more stability, more confidence and better balance, but a lot of things remain the same.  I’ve had this conversation with my friends a lot more recently than at any other time I can recall. As most of us transition from one phase of life to the next, whether it’s meeting up for weddings, celebrating new milestones, moving across the country, or in some cases the WOLRD or commiserating over breakups (usually mine), the talk always turns to "What are we doing with our lives?"

When Sza sings “How you ain’t say you was moving forward?”  to the ex she’s longing for, the youth she misused, and herself – I feel it in my chest. 

Everyone I know, including two of my exes, is getting married, having babies or both, and I’m over here trying to decipher algorithms and reach metrics.  I spent my youth chasing greatness, often times at the expense of relationships I really cherished with people I might’ve grown to love in time had I allowed myself to.  I’m not naive about why things didn’t work out either, right person wrong time is still the wrong person, but when does not wanting distractions become a distraction? I had to ask myself that question recently and like most things I wasn't really ready for the answer: not wanting distractions becomes a distraction when it prevents you from achieving the type of soul stirring intimacy you want on the sole basis of "not having enough time".  

Honesty hurts when you’re getting older

Self-examination is a thing I didn’t do enough of in my 20’s.  Had I done the work then, I wouldn’t be sitting here with a mountain of previously unresolved emotional baggage and so many questions for the universe, myself, my ex(s)… the women I loved too much… the ones I didn’t love enough.  I’m 30 something and more confused than ever, probably more so, because now I am armed with the weight of knowing I could have done better for them and myself, but didn’t.

How could it be? 20 something, all alone still…Ain't got nothin', runnin' from love…Only know fear

How is it that we have become the most technologically advanced civilization, yet can’t quite seem effectively communicate and articulate our emotions? We have become a society of situationships and almost relationships; if I learned anything from music, it’s that ALMOST DOESN’T Count (thank you Brandy). Sza’s honesty in these lines struck a chord deep within me because I spent most of my 20s posturing that I didn’t need love to be happy.  I told myself the accolades were enough; convinced myself the book released after learning of an ex lover’s engagement, the two-year deal I signed on the eve of what would’ve been our 4 year anniversary, and more recently, the company launched in the wake of a bitter breakup, were enough to satiate me.  How many times have I done this? Too many to count, but Sza calls it out for what it is: fear… of the unknown…of being happy…of not having anything to strive toward.  You get hurt enough, you close yourself up and off; what a tragedy it is that the people who hurt us get to move forward in peace and at ease leaving behind withered remnants afraid to fully love?

  Weird, took us so long to separate. I feel, it's permanent like a riptide, this time

The truth is, none of us know what we’re doing and turning 30 doesn’t come with a magic pill that suddenly makes life make sense.  People you love will leave, whether by choice or by force. People you love will disappoint you.  You will disappoint others. There will be failures you don’t think you can recover from and wins you never see coming. You will cry, hurt, laugh uncontrollably, sob inconsolably, and be caught making that annoying cry face on more than one occasion – probably on the same day and probably at an inopportune moment. Sh*t happens, but shift happens too… if you let it.  In fact, turning 30 can resolutely throw you into a crisis, as it did me, when you realize that you don’t have any more time to play around.  While my friends have all, it seemed, resolutely figured their stuff out, I’m just now starting to do the work I put off for way too long as I chased greatness in my career.  What I’m uncovering is that the 20 something who had all her ish together, really didn’t know anything at all, and that’s okay.  To be human is to recognize the great opportunities that exist to manifest the life we desire.  For a 30 something still trying to figure it all out, I’m thankful for artists like Sza who provide such raw and honest dissections of themselves, because it enables us to do the same. 

But God bless these 20 somethings (and 30 somethings)

What I would say to Sza is the same advice I would give to my 20 something self:  slow down, baby girl. You’ve got time so go all in on yourself, dreams and love.  Don’t allow fear to keep you from the things you want or people you love because the pain of regret will never outweigh the fear of being hurt (trust me I know), and finally – learn to forgive yourself as early and as often as possible.  It sounds cliché but learning to love yourself is an act of rebellion and to that, I say be rebel every damn day.  Be thankful for your 20 somethings and embrace the 30 somethings with your head held high and heart wide open.