After six years of blogging toward 30, I’m almost there. Tomorrow, I reach this milestone that I thought was so huge when I was 24.

It has been a decade of figuring out who I really am, what I want to do, and who I want to be. I had to figure out how to adult and take care of myself. And now, how to take care of someone else. It was almost a full decade of figuring out how to really love and know someone else. It was figuring out how to really love and know myself.

And it required a lot of trial and error. A lot of change.

When I look back on the past decade, I’ve lived in 5 cities, and at least twice as many dorm rooms, apartments, and houses. I’ve traveled to four continents, somewhere around 20 countries, and met countless people along the way. I’ve lost friends and made friends. I’ve had not only several jobs, but several career paths – all abandoned for a volunteer ministry in Purpose Coffee and the occasional consulting work, stuck in between feedings, diaper changes, and naps. I’ve struggled. And succeeded. Fell on my knees in desperate prayer, and then again in overwhelming thanksgiving.

From sorority girl, to single in the city, to business woman, to farmwife, to stay at home mom. Just when I hit my grove and think I’ve got it figured out, life seems to change pretty drastically.

Through all of this change, I’ve learned a lot about myself. And maybe a little about life in general. As I look back on my 20s, here are some of my biggest lessons learned:

Everyone struggles. Your 20s are hard. No matter what path life takes you on in your 20s – whether you’re married with 3 kids, divorced, single, working, not working, still in school, living on your own, living with your parents, living with three other people in a single bedroom rental – it’s a tough decade. Even though it looks like your friend or that person on Facebook has it all together – I don’t think any of us really do yet.

I heard a theory once that if we could put everyone’s life on a clothes line – with our struggles and joys honestly spelled out – and you could go pick whichever set of circumstances you wanted – we would all go back and pick our own.

So just because you don’t have it together yet, it’s not worth it to beat yourself up – or to pretend like you actually do have it together. Embrace the mess. Be truthful and vulnerable. Connect with people who are right there in the middle of the mess with you.

You lose friends; you make friends. I’ve hurt people, and people have hurt me.

I’m sorry. That we couldn’t communicate. That we didn’t have compassion for one another. That I held onto anger or resentment. That I wasn’t a bigger person.

I’m sad. That we drifted apart. That our friendship ended. That I don’t even know the person I used to care so much about.

But I’m thankful for the season you were in my life. You impacted me, taught me things, shaped who I am today.

I wish we were in a place to just put it all behind us. But, it’s also okay that we are different people now. And sometimes the damage is irreparable – and that’s life.

I’m thankful to start a new decade with only fond memories and no more hard feelings.

There’s power in asking for what you want. This was one of the most important things I learned. In my early 20s, I spent so much time trying to figure out what other people wanted that I often forgot to think about what I wanted. And even if I did know what I wanted, I wasn’t brave enough to say it.

I finally worked up the courage to say what I wanted at work, in terms of responsibilities, hours, and salary. And I said it. Put it into the world. And they said okay. And it came to be. Hmm, that was easy.

Since then, there has been such empowerment in figuring out what I want, saying it, and making it happen. Whether it is through prayer, sending positivity into the world, or making a concrete plan to make those desires come to fruition – knowing what you want and saying it is half the battle.

I can’t force it. Piggy backing on knowing what I want…. I’ve also learned that I can’t force myself to want something. My head can know something is the best choice, but if my heart doesn’t want it, it’s not happening. (For example – I know that exercising is really important and the best choice for my health now and in the future. But my heart isn’t having it. And I cannot force myself to do it.)

So many of my 30 before 30 goals ended up not being in my heart. And they so didn’t get accomplished. I didn’t even try. And that’s okay – I learned something about myself in the process.

And at the same time that I didn’t accomplish so many things, I accomplished a lot in my 20s. When something is in my heart, I suddenly have all the self-discipline and determination in the world. It will happen.

As I conclude this tumultuous decade, I’m proud of what I have accomplished and of the effort I put into learning, experiencing, working, traveling, loving. I’m at peace with what didn’t come to be. And I’m so thankful for the many blessings I’ve had along the way and the help and support from friends and family.

I’m not particularly excited about being 30 tomorrow, but I’m really happy my 20s are coming to an end. I’ll start 30 tomorrow knowing who I am, confident in my marriage, with amazing friends and family beside me, and so thankful for this little life I lead.

Cheers to 30.

Cheers to 30.

 

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