The One Obvious Lesson in Your 30s: Community

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As I’ve navigated my 30s, one blessing has become increasingly apparent to me – the importance of community. It’s something I’ve rarely taken the time to reflect on deeply until now. Since celebrating my birthday over a month ago with a couple of close friends, I’ve felt remiss for failing to share a blog post about this truly joyous and memorable occasion. For the past decade, documenting my birthday reflections and expressing gratitude on my blog has been a ritual I’ve upheld without fail each year. It serves as an opportunity to pause amidst the constant busyness, count my blessings, and yes, shamelessly show off my carefully curated outfits.

This year, I am a bit tardier in continuing this annual tradition, but rather than berating myself, I’m choosing to extend grace. Other priorities have rightfully taken precedence in recent months, so I’ve decided to backdate these thoughts surrounding my birthday to their rightful place of importance.

Outfit /, Imaged captures by Valeo Photography

My birthday fell over a month ago, and I made the incredibly meaningful decision to visit Nigeria for the first time since departing the country in 2017. In hindsight, it was undoubtedly the best choice I could have made for myself. For years, I’ve prided myself on being self-sufficient – someone who can get by on quick hellos and surface-level check-ins. However, this visit powerfully challenged that detached approach. Spending quality, undivided time with the people I hold most dear illuminated how vital it is to be intentional about nurturing those relationships through consistent presence and investment.

After seven long years away, I returned to a community that showed up for me with profound enthusiasm and care. The affirmations began as soon as I landed, with my dad insisting on picking me up from the airport himself. Once home, I was greeted with a steaming bowl of my favorite oha soup – the ultimate comfort food. My brother ensured I had internet access to remain connected, while my darling sister, despite her overpacked schedule, went above and beyond to guarantee I had everything I could possibly need for a comfortable extended stay…and I truly mean everything.

But the highlight was undoubtedly my intimate early birthday dinner with fifteen of my nearest and dearest, some of whom I had only given forty-eight hours’ notice. The fact that every single one of them cleared their schedules to celebrate with me was humbling and filled my heart with joy. For the first time, I grasped the deeper meaning behind hosting these types of communal gatherings. I felt so profoundly honored, valued, and enveloped in love. As we age, it becomes increasingly evident that the genuine, enduring communities we cultivate emerge from the long and short-term intentional relationships we build over time.

Exploring the Delicate Journey to Joyful Expression in my 30s

In addition to the warm companionship, my recent birthday celebration gave me the opportunity to lean into one of my longest-standing passions: fashion. Beyond the superficial fact that knits are experiencing a renaissance of popularity this season (both figuratively and literally, as evidenced by the numerous looks gracing fashion week runways), styling myself in a feathered knit dress for my birthday carried far deeper symbolic meaning. It served as an outward expression of the internal priorities I’m focused on nurturing throughout this decade of life.

Over the past few years, the cadence of my days has often felt segmented between the competing demands of work, academic pursuits, and other responsibilities. As a result, actively taking the time to honor milestone moments like my birthday has become part of a personal ritual and opportunity for self-care.

But selecting something as seemingly frivolous yet personally meaningful as a feathered dress for my birthday allowed me to tap into decades’ worth of cherished passion for the art of fashion. More than simply keeping abreast of trends, this artistic outlet has long been a source of profound joy, creative fulfillment, and self-affirmation for me. So while my knit feather frock embodied very au courant aesthetics, it transcended sartorial aestheticism. It materialized my intention to honor the delicate journey of purposefully nurturing the pastimes, communities, and experiences that imbue me with a sense of lightness, liberation, and ineffable bliss – quintessential ingredients for a joyful, balanced existence.

I collaborated with a Nigerian indie designer Enny Oh! to put this ensemble together. The look symbolized my dedication to holistically prioritizing the types of nourishment that will enable me to flourish and experience sublime contentment throughout this new third chapter. And what better way to memorialize such an ethos than by quite literally adorning myself in featherweight splendor?


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