Turning Dirty 30: Why This Birthday Matters So Much To Me

Leave a Comment


On Thursday, September 17th, I will be celebrating my 30th birthday.  When I wondered about this birthday milestone in my earlier 20s, I thought that I would be depressed and saddened to see it arrive and to have my 20s behind me.  The feeling that I have leading up to Thursday is elation – I cannot wait to be a 30-something disabled woman.  I wanted to share my joy on the RYV! blog because turning “Dirty 30” means more than most would understand.

Why Every Moment & Birthday Counts, Especially This One

My Grandmother (“Big V”) told me that the doctors predicted that I would only live to be 4-8 years old because I had OI.  They gave her this grim figure to possibly prepare her for my young death due to them not knowing how OI would affect my health and mortality.  I cannot fathom the thoughts my Grandmother had when she was given this news, but being a woman of faith, she knew that the doctors did not have the final say about my life – the Almighty did.  My Grandmother would tell me growing up that she prayed for someone to come along after my Grandfather passed two years before my arrival; I truly believe that I was a gift to her, and she to me.  My Grandmother poured so much of her love, compassion, and energy into me unconditionally and unapologetically that I am forever indebted to her, and that drives me to make her proud of me for as long as I live.  

Understanding that you were suppose to die many years ago gives you a different perspective on life.  I find it purely ironic that my name is somewhat of an omen to the way I live my life, and is still here.  My Grandmother wanted me to have part of her name, which is where the “Vi” comes from.  I always thought that my mother just combined my Grandmother’s name with “Melissa” to make Vilissa, and that my name did not have meaning.  It was not until I took a course in college where we had an assignment to look up our names that I realized that my first and middle names had meanings that fit me perfectly.  The name “Vilissa” comes from French origins, meaning “To love and cherish life.”  My middle name, “Keosha,” has three meanings – “Lovely,” “Gorgeous woman,” and “One that possesses beauty.”  

Learning the meanings of my names conjured up the famous Shakespeare line from Romeo and Juliet:

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

(William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, II, ii.)

A person’s name has the ability to define them before they have the opportunity to share their personality and talents with others.  I firmly believe that my name has played an imperative part in my essence, along with every experience I have had.  I truly do cherish every moment; the little things that people do or that occurs unexpectedly warms my heart tremendously.  I not only see the beauty within myself, but also in others, especially those who do not think they are worthy or special.  Each day I have been on this Earth has been a blessing because I defied the odds – I am still here, still alive, still working towards my purpose.   With each birthday, I understand this more and more, and my upcoming 30th has thrown that truth directly in my face.  

Reflecting on the Past 30 Years of My Life

On my personal blog, I decided to write a weekly post about the 30 life lessons I have learned.  This blog series started late February, and will end on Thursday.  Each week, I discussed lessons that either occurred in my younger years, or ones that came about recently that I felt would make a great life lesson topic for the week.  Doing this series made me realize how much wisdom, knowledge, confidence, strength, and resilience I have gathered in my 20s and earlier years; invaluable hardships, truths, and blessings that have shaped me into the woman I am, and still becoming.  I would not want to be younger than 29, almost 30 because of the realities I endured – I am who I am because of them, whether good, bad, strange, or confusing.  Though I will miss saying that I am a “20-something,” I am looking forward to being 30.  I look forward to people realizing that I am not a kid anymore; I have experience under my belt, and should be taken more seriously.  

Photo on 9-7-15 at 3.49 PMBecoming a “30-something” also means that I have more responsibilities to take on and ponder when it comes to being proactive about my health and quality of life, continuing to figure out what I want out of life (career, marriage, motherhood), and establishing my independence further.  Right now, I am transitioning in many of these areas, and I know that that is perfectly okay.  I do not have to have it all “finished” – the progress I am making is at the right pace for me, and I am comfortable in owning that.  Writing the life lessons series made me take pride in what I have accomplished so far, and have yet to see come to pass.  Though this transition and new life decade has uncertainties, I know that I am properly equipped to handle whatever obstacles or surprises that awaits me.  

Final Thoughts

I do not think that I have ever been this excited about getting a year older, but I am.  I am determined to make my 30s memorable by taking more vacations, “rolling” outside of my comfort zone, and taking better care of my star player – me.  I have been blessed to see this birthday milestone, and I want to fully soak up every ounce of living the Almighty wants me to do.  Leaving my 20s is not the end by any means; this is the beginning of a great awakening for me as I prepare to wheel through the 30s door.  

As I have been saying over the past couple of months:  Dirty 30, I am ready for you.  

Shameless moment:  I created a gift registry on Etsy for those who may want to help me celebrate my big day.  There are still a good deal of items on the list – everything is under $25, with most items under $15.  

All items are to be mailed to the RYV! address:  PO Box 1286, Winnsboro, SC 29180

Here’s the link:  Vilissa’s 30th Birthday Gift Registry

(Featured headlining image:  Created on Photofunia.com.)

About Vilissa Thompson, LMSW

Vilissa is the Founder & CEO of Ramp Your Voice!, an organization she created to establish herself as a Disability Rights Consultant & Advocate. Ramp Your Voice! is a prime example of how macro-minded Vilissa truly is, and her determination to leave a giant "tire track mark" on the world.

Leave a Reply