On turning 30

Party like it's 1983!

Mm-hmh. Yes. This is it. My birthday. As of today, I am 30 years old.

This milestone can be a fraught one in our culture. Somewhere within the last generation, the age become a de facto benchmark for "having your life together." Are your finances in order? Have you finished your higher education? Have you figured out your career? Have you married, bought a home, borne children, started contributing to your 401k with high risk tolerance?

This approach is stressful. It's also inaccurate. Because to me, the real achievement of reaching 30 is that you lived through your 20s. And no matter how you chose to spend those years, I can bet you took away life lessons that will serve you well in the next decade and beyond.

So in the spirit of using milestones as an opportunity for reflection rather than measurement, I'd like to present to you my unordered list of what I learned in (and from) my 20s, and what I hope to learn in (and from) my 30s.

Ever the prodigy, I learned basic secretarial skills as early as age 2.

What I Learned In My 20s (In No Particular Order)
  • Trust your gut.
  • No really. Trust it.
  • Good relationshops buoy you.
  • Invest in the people who make you feel completely like yourself.
  • Be selfish with your time. It's ok to say no.
  • No one cares about your career. It's up to you to go and fight and work for what you want.
  • Live within your means.
  • You're on your own timeline. Whatever happens will happen when it happens, not a moment sooner or later.
  • Be balanced with travel and time at home.
  • Put down roots, then tend to them.
  • Challenge yourself regularly. Do what scares you, but don't feel obligated to continue it if it's not fulfilling you in the long run.
  • Leave yourself open to surprise.
  • Write regularly.
  • What others think of you is not as important as you once thought it to be.
  • Focus on the positive -- not to the point of naivete, but enough to remove your desire to complain and spew toxins into the air.
  • The house will never be clean.
  • Keep a guest book of your dinner parties.
  • Take pictures.
  • Forgive yourself first.
  • Walk forward, heart out.
  • Pay attention.
  • Be quiet. Make quiet.
  • There's no need for martyrdom.
  • You are in the midst of your life. Enjoy your freedom. Respect your free will. Imagine what can be.
  • Buy clothes that fit you well.
  • Take care of your body, mind, and soul in equal measure. Balance is crucial.
  • You grow into the things you want.

What is a birthday if not a time to take a good, hard look over the edge of the playpen?

Now for its corollary -- what I hope my life will instill in me over the next decade.

What I Want to Learn In My 30s (In No Particular Order)
  • Don't let others' moods dictate your own.
  • Stick to your guns.
  • Keep plants alive (and healthy).
  • Make everyone you meet feel like the most special person you've met to date.
  • Learn some kind of dance move.
  • Own your way through karaoke.
  • Avoid bitterness.
  • Prioritize writing.
  • Accept you can't do everything. Or maybe you can. Find out in the spirit of adventure and be prepared to forgive yourself for failure.
  • Be truly vulnerable.
  • Budget for a housecleaning service.
  • Tend to little projects before they become big ones.
  • Not everything has to be done immediately.
  • Stand behind your choices. Have conviction.
  • Hold onto what the true you feels and knows, and use that self-knowledge, so hard-won, to guide you.
  • Ground your fears in reality. There's enough of those to keep you busy.
  • Let go of past hurts, self-inflicted or otherwise.
  • Stop worrying about what you are not. Accentuate what you are.
  • Act always in a spirit of service.
  • Be generous in all ways and things.
  • Reread old journals.
  • Get published.
  • Stay on top of popular music.
  • See lots of movies.
  • Tell people on a regular basis what they mean to you.
  • Add that little something extra.
  • Travel like an explorer.
  • Be in love with just about everything.

Like this outfit.

That's my list. For people who have reached (or passed) 30 -- what would you add?

Prayer #260: Prayer for the Next Decade

Whatever it brings

Whoever I am

I will be
nothing less
that what You are crafting me to be

and that will be
nothing less
than astounding.