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Getting Grown 

It's my birthday

Listening to Common's "G.O.D. Gaining Ones Definition" the other day, I began to think about my birthday, which was June 13, and the fact that on that date I turned 25 years old. Since it is the famed quarter-century birthday, I thought a little about getting a Corvette but a lot more about my life, my career and what I envision for my future. Do I own a house? Do I have money in my bank account? Am I in the job I want to be in? Am I close to getting married? It's like birthdays after 21 become less about getting your party on and more about assessing you goals.

This 25th birthday has inched me a little bit further into the introspection zone, making me really think about where I have been. I am understanding and coming to peace with how I have lived these years, in terms of both my successes and my failures, and I'm getting firm with what I envision for my future.

It makes sense to begin thinking about these things at 25. The blinders have been taken off and your goals become more realistic. For me, this birthday marks a time to acknowledge my shortcomings and weaknesses and become more aware of my successes and accomplishments. It is a starting point to another year of growth and a time to identify strengths I would like to build on, such as my writing. I have been blessed to have been given the opportunity to live out a passion, and in this next year of growth I hope to take this opportunity even more seriously.

I would like my writing to reach a deeper level -- not just try to entertain readers but also better convey the message that motivates me to pick up a pen. I want to lift our community's conversation to the point where we speak from experience not just from an agenda. I want to break the stereotypes we hold about each other and lazy thinking to the point where we can disagree and not feel threatened.

I hope my writing strikes a nerve in Charlotte, and shows our community that while there are specific issues that may divide us, at the root we must be united in our commitment to universal justice, not the segmented form we have today.

So with the passing of my birthday, I hope you see some change, some growth, and I hope you see a man who is ever more touch with his thoughts, feelings and opinions -- not to get people to agree with everything I write but, more importantly, to inspire others to feel comfortable with their own perspectives.

And what of celebration? That's as important a part of birthdays as introspection. To think deeply doesn't mean you can't party hearty. If you love my columns or hate my columns and want to bring me a birthday drink or some birthday money, you can party with my friends and me on Saturday, June 17, 8pm, at Gilda Bar and Lounge in NODA, 2901 N. Davidson St.

Decker Ngongang, a native of Charlotte, is a financial professional and committed citizen.

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  • On Saturday, Oct. 21, hundreds gathered at Camp North End on Statesville Avenue for Charlotte's first black alternative music festival. We captured some of the bands in action on stage, but mostly we surveyed the grounds as fans, families, vendors and more lounged around the sprawling, colorful Camp North End site. It was a great day of music, food, fun, and sweet, autumn sunshine. (Photos by Mark Kemp)
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