Tomorrow I hit a milestone – my 30th birthday. I’ve tried to determine exactly how I feel about turning the big 3-0, and haven’t really been able to wrap my head around it. At times, I’m excited. Everyone says that the 30s are a great decade. You know who you are and are finished trying to figure it out. Other times, I think that 30 seems way too adult for how I feel. But what I have been able to figure out, is that I’ve learned a lot in these 29 years, 364 days, and some odd hours. I’ve decided to dedicate this post (and the subsequent one) to 30 things I’ve learned about myself and about life (I wanted to call them morsels of wisdom, but I think I’m still to young to be considered “wise”).
1.) Coloring is one of life’s simplest and purest pleasures. I can’t describe the sense of calm and happiness that occurs when I pick up a crayon and begin filling in Cinderella’s gown (or Winnie the Pooh “hunny” pot). It just makes me feel good.
2.) Needing 8 hours of sleep (or 7 or 9 or however long it may be) does not make you a loser. It makes you functional.
3.) Food is so much better when enjoyed slowly. As tempting as it is to wolf down a slice of cheesecake in record time, I appreciate it so much more when I take the time to savor each bite.
4.) Peer pressure doesn’t go away just because you’ve left high school. That’s not to say that peer pressure is always wrong. At times, peer pressure has led me to do amazing things that I wouldn’t have believed I could do otherwise (becoming president of my sorority, teaching at a public school, riding the Rockin’ Roller Coaster at Disney World). At times, it still sucks. I’ve learned to take it as it comes and have enough faith in myself to make the right decision for me.
5.) Make decisions for you. Just because it’s right for someone else, doesn’t make it right for you. And just because it’s right for you, doesn’t make it right for everyone. If I go to happy hour and feel like having a Shirley Temple instead of a beer, I darn well am going to order my Shirley Temple!
6.) Be content with who you are. It doesn’t do any good to wish to be someone else. I know that I’m a terrific person (not to say I’m without fault, I have many, in fact). Wishing that I had a bigger house like this friend, a higher paying job like that friend, or a baby (like apparently everyone I’ve ever met and am friends with on Facebook) only brings me down. It’s much better to focus on who I am and why I’m glad to be me.
7.) Be content with your body (as long as it’s healthy). I’ve done the I’m-too-fat-and-must-lose-weight thing for far too long. Within the past year, I’ve really come to accept that I’m not meant to be a stick figure (in fact, I’d rather have some curves), no matter what the cover of Fitness or Shape or whoever seems to want me to believe. As long as I’m healthy and take care of myself, I’ll be fine.
8.) Marriage is work, but the rewards are incredible. I love my husband more than anything, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t times when I think, “What have I gotten myself into?” To make a marriage work, you have to do exactly that – work at it. Knowing that you are in it together and you can’t imagine your life without that person, makes all the work worthwhile.
9.) Making plans is a good idea. I am a planner. I list dinners for the week, I know what I’ll be doing Friday night on Tuesday, and have the upcoming vacation on a payment schedule. But…
10.) Things don’t always go as planned. When I got married (one month before I turned 25), I thought for sure I’d be a mother by this birthday. Not so. It takes a lot of faith to accept that no matter how much I plan, I’m not really the one in charge.
11.) I’m not in charge. Big lesson. (And I don’t think I can really, honestly say I’ve fully learned this one yet.) There’s a bigger plan out there than the one I have concocted in my head. Faith in God and His plan for me is what will help me find peace with that plan (though I still kind of wish He’d give me a clue…).
12.) You shall not covet your neighbor’s ______. It’s so easy to fall into the “keeping up with the Joneses” trap. When I find myself getting a bit jealous of someone else, I remind myself of all of my blessings, and how I’d never want to be anyone else.
13.) Companionship rocks. (I debated how to word this one, but I think this is truly the best way to do it.) Whether it be a spouse, a group of girlfriends, coworkers, parents, siblings, or a pet, being with others always puts me in a good mood. Life is meant to be shared, and it’s important to take the opportunity to make connections with others.
14.) My time is valuable, and it’s mine. I’ve spent far too much time trying to do what I thought I should and neglecting the things I actually want to do. I’m allowed to stop reading a book if I don’t like it (it’s not high school anymore; no one will be testing me over it). I can go see Captain America, not just because I love popcorn and my husband wants to, but because I actually like super hero movies (enough to know that every Avengers movie has an extra scene at the end which maybe 10% of the audience stays to watch). My time, my choice of how to spend it.
15.) A cold glass of chocolate milk can go just as far as a good glass of wine. It doesn’t have to be alcohol to make you feel good.
So there you have it, the first half of my life’s lessons. Stay tuned for the second half later this week (not tomorrow, as I’ll be using my birthday to enjoy dinner with my family). If you happen to think of me tomorrow, I’m accepting positive any birthday karma you’d like to send my way.