I didn’t feel like a real grown up until I was 35 years old. I’m now 40.

Granted, I’ve been “adulting” since I was in college (although carefree in some respects, I worked an average of three jobs all the way through Northwestern while attempting to juggle my modeling and acting aspirations as well as any other side hustles I could come up with.)

We all think we’re an adult at 21, 25, 30 – all the cool milestone birthdays, but for me, I really wasn’t. I was playacting. I was putting on the “adult” costume each day, but I wasn’t embracing who I was evolving into: a real life, unapologetic grown ass woman. And not only was I not fully realizing my potential as a grown ass woman, I wasn’t realizing my full potential a Black Grown Ass Woman living in a society where the majority dons rose-colored glasses on a daily to ignore the cold truth evident to every person of color–that the world is, in fact, far from existing in a harmonious post-racial climate.

We know better.

We know without saying a word that the underlining fire of brutality, injustice, discrimination and good ole fashioned racism can and will rage uncontrollably if not checked properly. Proof: Donald Trump’s entire presidential campaign.

But I digress. Back to the subject at hand. Here’s what I learned about being grown:

When I learned how to express myself fully and completely without fear of being misunderstood or shunned, I knew I was grown.

When I was able to accept people for who they are, and not who they could potentially be, I knew I was grown.

When I no longer avoided conflict, but understood that it is sometimes necessary for positive growth and development, I knew I was grown.

When I discovered that a broken heart is not forever, I knew I was grown.

When I understood that strong women, free from personal insecurities, only lift one another up and never tear down, I knew I was grown.

When I stopped yearning for just a boyfriend, and started wanting a man who would grow to become my best friend, I knew I was grown.

When I learned that being “high maintenance” is not really an insult when you have high expectations, I knew I was grown.

When I finally surrendered myself fully to Christ, I knew I was grown.