Diary of a Poet: Entering my 30’s

Growing up, turning 30 is something I rarely imagined. I was seeking an escape hatch out of the torment my life felt like for so long, it was hard to imagine myself at 30 and thriving, as everyone I speak to has mentioned since my 29th birthday a few weeks ago.

Arriving at the dawn of my 20s, I think about what I could have told my younger self. You finally get to see more than your neighborhood and all the disfunction. You hold on to the happier memories you’ve made throughout the years since you have finally gotten away. You don’t get humiliated anymore; she sings along when she hears you sing. There were so many moments in my life where I wanted to revel in the simple pleasures the TV screen portrayed. The imaginary family my mind would make. I found myself in constant search of an escape.

At some point in my life, I wanted to crawl out of my skin and fly myself to the moon, maybe when there were dinosaurs and I would be the only human, and we would live in harmony. These are what my daydreams looked like in fifth grade, every time they landed on my report card as something to improve on. I found out this was disassociation and anxiety, among a slew of other things, many years later. Therapists attributed it all to trauma that was out of my control and now I am tasked for the reminder of my life to undo it. Since then, I’ve been trying to rewrite my brain into something brighter and more fulfilling. I am doing my best to stay the course but being strong sometimes feels heavy and exhausting. With the temperature of the world around me and the result of what I consider a failure in humanity, it is hard to sustain in a crumbling infrastructure.

For as long as I felt injustice in the way I was treated by so many different people, I took up the motto: treat others how you want to be treated. As with all things it was a struggle in my earlier years while trying to figure out my place in the world with people and places and things. Unfortunately, I am the enemy in many stories, and I have done my best to make the things I can right, but I cannot undo hurt feelings and I am guilty of this. Much less frequently now, guilt was my loudest determiner of my compulsive nature — negatively or positively — no matter how much of myself I had to sacrifice. I use my “no” and provide no further explanations more often than anything else, but not doing so was a significant barrier early in life. See, when most of your view of the world is built from the lens of someone who has been through a far greater hell than you, the hell they give you is a little bit lighter, but all the same, demons are sharing the oxygen with you and them and everything else. Despite this, I did my best not to become that and sometimes failed. I learned early on sorry does not count for much when you allow chaos to dictate your every move.

There were so many moments when growing past my misery was impossible to imagine. Somedays, although I have worked hard to claw my way out of it, my vocal cords feel tied in a knot because all they want to do is scream over broken earth to make me feel less broken and the future clearer. I don’t think there is an absolute solution for the little girl who wanted to feel safe and sound, but the reprieve has been romantic. I have cultivated a world where beauty is truly what drives me and what I am constantly chasing after, whether that be the ocean or the mountains.

I have learned so much in the last few years of my life I will carry forever and can attest to meeting someone that has shown me beauty in a new way. I think she will be the brightest point in my memoir. It’s crazy to think when I was 11 years old losing my friends, being bullied and finally looking under the bed or couch of the family dynamic, I thought it would absolutely destroy me and for a long time it was the precursor to everything. I am finally cutting this unwanted misery from my world and painting in color and not black and white. I think entering 30 is the most exciting point of my existence because I plan to touch my earth and feel freer.

I think we all find ourselves in this state of what am I doing on every birthday but especially the ones that signal the end of an era. I spent my 20s falling in love with myself and others. Reflecting on who I want to be in my life and how I will succeed and fail upward. It has allowed me to paint different perspectives and cry a lot but wow the freedom I have carved for myself so far will be my legacy and I am satisfied with that. I move with love and care in my heart, for myself first and foremost, because I’m always treating people how I deserve to be treated and that is without pause. As always, move with love in your world, heart and spirit.

Bryana Saldana is an Afro-Latina poet born and raised in Orlando. Saldana had her first published poem through “Women Who Roar.” Saldana’s pronouns are She/Her/They.

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