When you’re a little kid, there are some things that seem so far away that you will never have to worry about them.
You know, like turning 30.
When I was a teenager and heard the age 30, I always thought, “Wow, that’s old.” Now, as I find myself days away from turning this daunting age, it still sounds old to me, but it also really doesn’t. I know many people in their 30s (and older), and I never think as any of them as old. In fact, they all seem pretty young to me–30 really just sounds old when I think of me being that age. It’s just weird.
My life at this age is not exactly like I thought it would be when I had that teenager mindset–and that’s probably a good thing. I’m not going to lie: it’s going to be a big adjustment entering this new decade. I mean, even just answering the question of how old I am is going to be strange, because I’m used to starting off with 20, and now I will have to lead with a 30. I’m not quite sure I’m comfortable with that.
My 20s were an interesting 10 years for me–definitely a lot of transitioning involved. It’s also a great period to learn a lot about yourself, as well many life lessons that are highly valuable and that you perhaps weren’t yet ready to learn as a teenager. (But that’s also because you already know everything there is to know when you’re a teen.) Here are some things my 20s taught me:
1. Styrofoam is not microwavable. Sure, some of you probably learned this many moons ago, but it took living on my own and a microwave mess of oatmeal for me to discover that you should not heat items in this material. It doesn’t end well for anyone or anything involved.
2. True friends stay. The friendships you had growing up won’t necessarily last a lifetime like you thought they would. But there are certain people in your life who will always be there for you. Even if distance separates you, or you don’t always get to spend as much time with them as you would prefer, the bonds of those friendships are too strong for anything to break them. When it feels like the rest of the world has turned its back on you, these people never will.
3. Work should not consume your life. Sure, we all have to work to make that moolah, but I found that it’s rather unhealthy when what you do for work becomes your entire life and starts to trump the more important things, like family and friends.
4. People lie. Not everything people say to you will be true. You might be fed some pie-crust promises, and you might fall for them more easily than you would like to admit. But you have to learn to give untruthful people grace and move on, because there are others out there who will offer you truth and trust.
5. Forgive. Speaking of grace, it’s kind of an important thing in life. It’s silly and unhealthy to hold grudges and hatred in your heart. We all make mistakes, and we’ve all been forgiven by the One who perfectly modeled what it truly means to be graceful. So forgive people–you may not think they deserve forgiveness, but you don’t, either, and have been given it.
6. You make time for the things you want to make time for in life. Life is busy, as we all know, and it often seems difficult to balance all of the chaos surrounding us. But, if there is something or someone you really want to make time for in your life, you will find a way. The things that matter–and the people who matter most to you–are worth it.
7. Dance. Always. Whenever you get the chance to dance, don’t let the opportunity pass you by. Who cares what you look like? Just dance. There’s something so wonderful about just being you and dancing without caring what people think of you. And if you feel the need to belt the lyrics to whatever song is playing while you’re dancing, go for it. It’s wonderful to someone’s ears.
8. Be you, because you are wonderful. I always tell my students that I hope they know three things when they leave my classroom: You are valued. You are loved. You matter. The same is true for you, and so you shouldn’t try to be anyone else but the you you were created to be.
9. Love always wins. Love is the most powerful thing in life, and it is stronger than anything we face–any struggles, any hatred, any distractions, anything. So embrace it. Give it away. Live by it. Because it always wins.
There are many more things about this special decade that could actually fill up an entire book, but these are some of the more significant things I feel are essential to note. I’m sure the next 10 years will hold even more truths I have yet to discover, and I look forward to whatever this new era holds. But, honestly, it doesn’t really matter what age describes a person’s time here on earth.
It’s the person within who truly matters most, and that’s a much more defining characteristic than any number.