So, it feels a whole lot of weird to be writing this, but…
HOLY CRAP I’M 30 YEARS OLD.
I’ve been talking about turning 30 for YEARS. So many years, in fact, that last year, at a birthday potluck at my apartment, my friend Eva gave me a gift and a card that explained that her journal (the gift) was all about introspection and your 30s are a great time to figure out who you are and where you’re going. I turned to her and said, “Eva… I’m 29. I won’t be 30 until next year.” We had a good laugh because she said, “I seriously thought you were turning 30 because you have talked about it so much in the last few months!”
The truth is, I did talk about it. A LOT. I wanted turning 30 to be no big thang. I mean, it’s just a number. It’s just 30, right?
But the truth is: turning 30 is a big deal.
It’s not a “OHMYGOSH WHAT WILL I DO WITH MY LIFE I’M NOT MARRIED I DON’T HAVE KIDS WAH BOO ME” big deal. It just is a big deal because God has given me 30 amazing years full of ridiculous laughter, some serious heartbreak, and a whole lot of love mixed up in it all. I’ve been reflecting on what 30 means to be for the last few weeks and I wanted to share 30 things I’ve learned over the last 30 years.
(By the way, 30 doesn’t look like a big numbers until you write it eleven times in just a few paragraphs and a title. It’s like a fake number to me now. So I guess I’m a fake age which takes all the steam out of actually turning 30. Mission. Accomplished!)
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- God’s God and He’s got it. Seriously. This sound cliche and all, but at the very foundation and core of my soul, I believe in the absolute truth of God and the Bible. Hook, line, and sinker. It’s not a lie, it’s not a pretty fairytale — it is legitimate truth and reality. God is who He says He is and He does what He says He will do — and that includes waiting on you as you have to figure out life and throw the world aside it find Him. I am so thankful for His promises and the reminders of Him that my friends gave me over the years and He waited for me to wake up and realize that it was Him who was calling me after all.
- Read the Bible. If you believe or don’t believe, even if you’re uncertain — read it anyway. Read it and ask questions, and don’t stop until you get answers. His truths and promises are in there and He’s given it to us as a guide. And if you don’t believe, then know what you don’t believe. Don’t let silence be your only argument.
- Live the questions now. I read this as part of a quotation once and it has stuck with me. Do not be passive with your life. If you don’t know something, life your life in a way so that you can find out the answers. Don’t settle for something because that’s what you’re told to do. Wrestle and seek until you have lived the answers into being, and then, live the new questions that come.
- Say I love you. Say it a lot. It never gets old. I love telling my family and friends that I love them because I do, and you know what? I want to show God’s love to this world, and if I can’t tell the people to whom I am closest that I love them, how can I show the world?
- Love passionately, even if you know loving means risking loss and pain. I will never look back on my life and think, “Wow, I wish I hadn’t loved that person.” Is it hard to look back and see friendships that have ended or people who have left? Yes. It’s terribly hard. But it is never so hard that I think, “I wasted my time there.” Each person I’ve loved has changed me and shaped me and taught me a lesson about what it means to be a human being and a Christian.
- Wear perfume every day, not just the special days. There’s some silly little email that was circulated around years and years ago when people sent those spam emails and it’s true. I don’t spray it on just when I’m going out. My Clinique Happy makes me happy and you should feel the same way. Don’t look back with regret at a bottle of perfume gone bad from lack of wear. Wear it and love it!
- Laugh hard and laugh often. I laugh every single day. I’m (ahhh!) 30 years old and I have laugh lines near my eyes and where I have baby dimples. I thought once upon a time it would bug me to have those things, but you know what? I’ve lived a relatively happy life and I’ve experienced so much joy. It’s that joy that has helped to sustain me during times of struggle or heartache. Those laugh lines are proof that even in the broken moments, I have found reason to go on.
- Laugh at yourself. It’s hard to do, but life is never so serious that you should take yourself too seriously. I find that if I can laugh at myself, I a less apt to be worried about others laughing at me, which means in the long run, I don’t care as much about whether people like me or not. Do I want to be liked? Sure! But I want people who love me as my goofy, dorky self, and if I can laugh at the (often ridiculous) things I do, then I’ve got a thick skin and I can find people who can love and accept me as kind of a weirdo — because I accept myself as a weirdo.
- Accept challenges. Do the hard things. Seek them out, even. If I only ever did easy things in this life, I’d be doing what everyone expected of me. Life is hard and I don’t want to cop-out by skipping over the things that make me uncomfortable. The hard stuff is hard but here’s the thing: it’s called scaffolding. You’ve gotta get out of your comfort zone in order to grow. And the more you grow, the more difficult the new things you try should be. I don’t ever want to be totally comfortable — and neither should you! Life your live so that there is always some aspect of it that pushes you.
- There’s always time to reread your favorite books. I once read a quote in a magazine by one of the magazine’s staff members and it said, “Life is too short to reread books.” No way, totally, fundamentally disagree. I have read my favorite books dozens of times and some of those I own in multiple formats (ebook, real book, and audiobook) so I can access them whenever, wherever. Those books are just as much a part of you. So read and reread if it brings you joy.
- Dogs are the best pets in the world. We will never get enough time with them, but like I said in #5, I’ve never looked back at a dog me or my family has lost and thought to myself, “It’s a shame I invested my love in that dog because it’s gone now.” No, I am instead filled with joy as I think about the laughter, slobbery kisses, and snuggles those animals brought to me life.
- Drink a lot more water. Unless you drink only water, in which case, can you teach me how to do that? Because my love for Diet Coke borders on obsession and addiction.
- Read lots of books. You don’t have to read 80 books a year. I’m just weird like that. But reading is so good for your intelligence and your imagination. Even if it’s just a few books a year, always be reading a book.
- Social media can be awesome but do not sell yourself to it. It is an addition and most people are using it for the wrong reasons. Whatever you do, do not compare yourself or your lives to those of the people you see on facebook, twitter, and Instagram. We don’t usually post the crappy parts of our lives (and often with good reason) — so we are only usually seeing a small part of people’s lives. Connect with old friends and with new but don’t let yourself fall into the trap where you feel like you have to document everything online. Live socially, not social medialy (that’s a word I just completely made up, in case you didn’t know).
- Don’t ever let yourself get too busy for your passions. Mine are writing and speaking to groups of people and let me tell you, some of the happiest moments in my life revolve around those two things. If you think you’re too busy — stop and make the time.
- Likewise, be passionate about something! You can’t make the time for your passions if you don’t have them. For me, I love Jesus, writing, and reading.
- If you’re friends with the same person over and over again, you’re doing it wrong. What I mean is this: if your friends all look the same and sound the same and don’t have any variety, it’s time to wake up and meet some new people. Enjoy a diverse set of friends! I love that I have friends from church and college and everywhere in between. My life would be so very dull without their differences.
- Love a band or a musician. Seriously, you should just give in and love Celine Dion, but if you don’t, seek comfort in someone else’s voice. I know so many people who have one band or artist that is their favorite, and it brings them a lot of comfort and joy and rocking good times (also… be careful not to spend 57 in a 45 zone when you’re listening to your favorite. Hypothetically speaking, of course.).
- Smile at people. It bewilders them but it also gives you the chance to spread a little kindness, and goodness knows we have ample need for more kindness in our world. I charge you: bewilder them.
- Make your car payment on time. Or else. Let’s not talk about how I learned this one int he very hardest of ways, but seriously. Pay up.
- Know that your friendships will change. I have loved friends hard (I pretty much love everyone in my life hard… there’s no middle ground in that area for me) and it has hurt deeply to see those friendships end, some almost suddenly. But I know that’s just how life is… some for a reason, some for a season, some for life. All have had a reason, many have seen their seasons end, and there are a few that I’m sticking with for life. Don’t feel mad at yourself if friendships end — I think that’s normal. We grow and we change and that’s just life for you.
- Get enough sleep while you can. I suck at this. But I also know that I require nine hours of sleep if I don’t want to be crabby. I feel the best when I’ve gotten enough sleeps multiple nights in a row. It’s good for your body. I wish I could have convinced by college self of this simple but true fact.
- Spend your money wisely. I’m not saying be miserly and sit on your hoards of gold. Just spend it thoughtfully.
- Invest in people. People are what fill this world, and whether you believe in the same Christian values as me or otherwise, you have got to spend time investing in them. Share your time, talent, and treasure with others. You do no one any good if you live a life where people are left by the wayside.
- Embrace technology but do not let if define you. I love some of the amazing things technology can do, but sometimes it seems to overwhelm me because of my perceived need to have the newest phone, computer, or other gadget. I think my generation is one of the first to not experience great technological advances, but one of the first to experience as much advance all at once that it has. It’s only going to get crazier. So unplug and enjoy life sometimes.
- Live life as thought you’re here. Because you are. We don’t get enough time on this earth, so make it matter while you’re here. There are no second chances at life — once it’s gone, it’s gone. Make your years here matter now.
- Take it easy on yourself. What “they” say is true — we are our own worst critics. Don’t spend your years beating yourself up. Spend your years knowing who you are and finding your value in who He’s made you to be, not your past or the moments where you’ve “failed.”
- Fail spectacularly. I will never advise someone not to fail. Take chances. Make mistakes. Mess up. It’s okay — you’re at least doing something. Fail with passion and succeed with triumph.
- Do not spend your life angry. There is enough anger in this world. It’s one thing to have passion, it’s one thing to be worked up for a cause — but passion and being for something can so easily turn into unrighteous anger. Do not let anger be the ruling emotion of your life because it will only make you hard and bitter.
- Above all else, break the rules.