There I was with my morning cup of tea, thick black lineless notepad, and blinged-out black pilot pen, amid hundreds of women. There were mothers and daughters, best friends, sorority sisters, small business partners, White women, Latinas, Asian women, natural-kinky haired women – it was truly a diverse bunch. We were all gathered to learn one thing: how to create the change we believed we could make in our homes and communities.
None of the women gathered at the conference believed they were incapable of creating social change. None of the women — regardless of size, shape, shade, or age — believed they were not worthy of their purpose. They all wholeheartedly believed they were put on this planet to fulfill their dreams.
As the conference progressed, I went to various sessions, listened to various speakers, and met all kinds of women. What was most encouraging to me was interacting with so many women who were living passionately and intentionally. This included 20-year-old entrepreneurs, 43-year-old politicians, and 67-year-old CEOs. These women were not dissuaded by how old they were from going after what they wanted from and for their lives. They did not believe they were too young or too old to use their skills, talents, and experiences to live out their dreams.
As I sat there listening, jotting down ideas, I also wrote at the top of one page of my notepad: “Just keep swimming.” It’s a line from the movie Finding Nemo. These women, from young to old, reminded me that as a 28-year-old, I have to just keep swimming on the path to my dreams to always remember that age aint nothin’ but a number. There are times I have to trust the knowledge of my purpose and turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the dangers of doubt and worry that creep up on me. The idea that because I am a particular gender, race, shape, or age that I won’t be able to accomplish my dream is a negative thought that I have had to rid from my mind. These women reminded me that I’m not too young to start a business, to seek out a top administrative position, to call politicians about legislative decisionms, or to challenge media messages that degrade any culture.
All you need to pursue your dreams is determination. My grandmother went back to school as she neared 50. My mother started undergrad at 41 and at 53 is more than half way through her doctoral program. At age 17, Gabby Douglas made Olympic history by becoming the first African-American female to win all-around in gymnastics. Cicely Tyson has an acting career that spans from 1958 to 2012 and she is 79 years old. Ida Keeling is a 95-year-old woman who started running marathons at age 67 and still runs them today, setting records in her age-cohort.
Whatever your goal or dream is, I want to remind you to just keep swimming. Whether you are reading this and you are 23, 37, 49, or 68, keep on going. Resist the temptation to limit yourself, especially because of your age. You may be too old to wear booty shorts or to run errands at the mall, but you are never too old or too young to believe in yourself or to fulfill your purpose.