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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

29 Lessons for 29 Years

Once again we've come a full year. And what a full year it's been.

A few days ago, I celebrated my 29th birthday. The last year before I cross a decade-threshold our culture deems important and scary, though I don't know why.

Once you get through those swirling years of your early twenties - breaking the habit of treating your job like schoolwork, navigating friendships that are at best distant, dating the wrong people and spending the wrong money - the late-twenties, if you're lucky, can be a season of sophomoric confidence.

Which really is the most fun, isn't it?

This time last year, my child was still just a promise. A bright hope. The thought of him (I didn't even know he was a him at that point) was tethered together with anxieties large and small. Pointless and very, very verified. For the first time in my life I was nervous for the parts of life I didn't know to be nervous for.

Sound loopy? A little scattered? Yes, there's much of that, too.

This time last year I had a different job, we didn't know who our president was going to be, and the hardest part of my day was trying to get through it with one(ish) cup of coffee.

As I watch my child grow, I realize a lot can happen from week-to-week. A tiny human can realize the functionality of his hands (or what a great snack they can be), a properly timed sermon can turn your world upside-down.

For those moments, and the rest that have seemed to fizzle and pop over the last year - like champagne - here are 29 lessons I've learned for 29 years.

1. Gratefulness can repair a multitude of sins: selfishness, worry, fear, doubt, regret, jealousy. The minute we get after grateful in our lives, the minute we can truly start living fully.

2. If you spend more waking hours with your work colleagues than you do with your family, you better get to loving them, too.

3. Maternity leave is a gift. Even if you don't get paid for it, if you can, take the twelve weeks. You will never regret it.

4. If you're planning on returning to work and pumping after you've had a baby, register for all the pump parts. Bottles, flanges, the little yellow thingies (so descriptive, I know). All of it. Otherwise you will spend a small fortune on backup parts, or bottles to give to your caretaker.

5. Just because something -- a diaper change, an email, or a meeting -- isn't done the way you think it should be done doesn't mean that it isn't being done well. Step back. Shut up. And let someone else learn and grow.

6. If you genuinely need something, ask. It's always better to be frustrated with a "no" rather than a "never knew."

7. No matter how tired, how emotionally fatigued, how confused or strung out you are, you can always go one step further. You can make it through to the next day.

8. Having a baby is difficult. And the friends who have patiently made time and listen to struggles in the midst of their own pregnancies, new babies and all the life transitions that entails are the true MVPs.

9. Asking for help is not a sign of defeat or taking a shortcut. No one is keeping score, and no one benefits from making yourself a slave to the way you believe things should be done. It's a sign of maturity and wisdom when you can let go, recognize that someone else may have a better idea. And you should be secure enough in your own worth to step out of the spotlight for the common good.

10. Wear a blazer. It really does make a difference.

11. Stitch Fix is almost always worth the investment.

12. Just because you mute or unfriend someone on social media doesn't mean you're deleting them from your life. It's okay to remove people from your online world. Life outside the digital world goes on - and guess what? They likely won't even notice.

13. At one point or another, what you have is what you wished for. Try to remember that when you're tempted to look ahead or think that the grass is greener.

14. On a similar note, try to remember how badly you wanted the things in your life that you're mostly likely to complain about.

15. If you fall short, pray, breathe, ask for forgiveness if you need it (hint: you always need it), and get back up.

16. It's not a crime to say "I don't know."

17. If you're tired, angry, sad, stressed, annoyed, or hungry, drink a glass of water first.

18. Don't go to bed with makeup still on your face. You're officially too old to neglect your skin.

19. When you're listening to a friend, let a space of silence fall. Let them finish. Allow them the privilege of coming to their own conclusions.

20. Don't wait until you're skinny to chase after your dreams. Seriously. Don't wait for the better, thinner version of yourself to start working on your goals. If you want to be perfect before you begin, you'll never start.

21. Just like "there's room for everyone on the nice list," there's room for everyone to find success. Someone else's success does not equate to your failure.

22. Learn from the successes of others, of course. But more importantly, learn from their failures. And from their failures learn that their successes didn't come consecutively.

23. It helps to see the "nos" in your life: the rejected articles, the missed opportunities, as simply "not nows." Not as debilitating marks on your character, talent or your calling.

24. The same rule (23) applies to your pant size. Your value is not marked by a number on a tag. Sometimes that number might be higher than you're comfortable with inside your own skin. It doesn't make you a second-class human.

25. In a world full of hurt and hatred, don't be the sort of person who argues about how the dishwasher should be loaded.

26. If at all possible, in marriage, in friendships, in motherhood, in work and in your relationship with yourself: be where you said you'd be when you said you'd be there. Keeping your word is a lost art.

27. If you want to receive grace, first give it freely.

28. Operating anything out of anxiety or fear of losing control, in work, creativity or personal relationships, shows.

29. The world seems less hopeless the less time you spend reading Facebook comments.


Ariella said...

I found your blog on Blogger through our mutual interest of coffee. ;)

I love the idea of making a gratitude list/things you've learned. My 31st is coming up and I've always been a fan of birthday resolutions. Similar to New Years but only for your "birthday year" instead of the new year. My last one was to focus on praying and writing more.

Brett said...

Coffee is a BIG interest. Currently sipping my third cup of the day ;)

I thought about doing a 30 before 30 list! I just love them, as long as we're not crazy about checking the items off and giving ourselves grace for falling short.

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