Yesterday, I turned 29.
I’ve been on this earth for 29 years and I think I’m finally getting the hang of life. Reading back on some of my previous writings, both here and in my journals, and reflecting on where I was, gives me a lot to think about. The journey to 29 has not been an easy one and it hasn’t always been fun, but I’m here, living out my last year as a twenty-something. It’s like New Year’s without the fireworks. I still have cake and champagne though.
Like most years before it, I sat down to come up with 29 truths I’ve learned in my 29 years. Unlike most years, I came up with way more than 29 because apparently I’ve learned a lot. Ironically, much of that learning took place over the last year. If there were things I thought I knew, the last year of my life served as confirmation.
So…here we go.
29 Truths On My 29th Birthday
1. YOU have to believe you are enough. No amount of coaxing, advising, or back-patting from other people will do. If you don’t believe you’re enough, none of it will matter.
2. Things will happen that you will never understand. As a person that seeks to understand everything, this is a hard pill to swallow. I’m an INTJ through and through and to know that there are things I can’t and won’t master because they are not meant to be mastered or understood is almost too much to bear. Almost. But that’s life, right?
3. There is a such thing as intuition.
4. There’s a difference between nice and kind. I wish I had learned this as a child because it would have saved me a lot of pain, heartache, and humiliation.
5. It’s okay to be vulnerable. Again, another lesson I wish I had learned as a child. To be vulnerable is to be human.
6. It’s okay to be strong.
7. It’s okay to be difficult. Can I tell how long it has taken me to be okay with being “difficult?” There were many days of “Why can’t I just…?” “If I wasn’t so…” Man, whatever. I am difficult. I am complex. And it is what it is.
8. If you’re always trying to fix yourself, you never really get to know yourself. See point 7.
9. Everything doesn’t need a reason. I try to search for meaning in every single aspect of my life. Sometimes I can find it and other times I can’t. Sometimes, though, things just happen. There is no rhyme. No reason. Just happenings.
10. You are not defined by your titles. Mom. Wife. Daughter. Employee. Student. Writer. None of that shit defines me.
11. Embrace mistakes, but don’t cling to them.
12. Very few people, if any, really know you. Take comfort in that.
13. What you feed is what will grow. Talent, negativity, your mind, your body. Feed it and it will grow.
14. Things will always get better, but they won’t stay better. This may have been the toughest lesson for me to learn. I’ve always been one of those destination people. “When I get my degree, things will be better.” “When I lose this weight, life will be better.” Destination, destination, destination. The fact is, there is some truth in that. When I got my degree, things got better because I could demand more money. Unfortunately, I can’t speak on the weight loss thing just yet, but I assume that some things will get better with that as well. That said, they won’t stay better. Happiness and contentment are not destinations. They are fleeting. We grow, change our minds, our hearts change, as it’s a part of life. If we refuse to live until we’ve reached whatever pinnacle we’ve chosen, we should just settle in for a life of disappointment and sadness.
15. A life well-lived will involve risk. It just will.
16. Timelines are just a suggestion. Life takes time.
17. There is nothing honorable about staying in situations that don’t serve you. I used to think my dad was awful and judgmental as hell when he would advise me to “find somebody that can do something for you” in my Daddy voice. He would say, “Why are you with him if he can’t do nothing for you?” Silly me, I thought it was about money and material things. At 29, I know it’s about more than that. Time and energy will not be wasted on people, situations, careers, etc that don’t serve me. I’ve been in more situations than one where the other person was the only one eating, while I sat there starving. There is no honor in that.
18. The “shit sandwich” metaphor is one to live by.
19. You have to invest in yourself, your talents, your dreams, your goals. Nobody else is responsible for this. See point 1.
20. Spend your time and money on your values. Do you value travel? Spend your time and money doing it. Do you love reading? Spend your time reading and your money on books. Simple.
21. More is not always better.
22. You can live wholeheartedly as a dichotomy. Hot and cold. Body and soul. Real and imaginary. Warm and aloof.
24. There is no shame in falling apart. Falling apart gives you a chance to reassess and rebuild.
25. It really is all about your network. I completely slept on the importance of having a strong network, both professionally and personally. Everybody needs someone (or a few someones) with reach to get shit done. Now that I’m at a point in my life when I’m ready to go forward and prosper, I’m realizing that it’s 10 times harder because I’ve always existed as an island. I didn’t reach out to people, connect, offer a hand, or even show them that I existed. That was a mistake. And now I have to fix it.
26. Write it down, write it down, write it down. Whatever it is, write it down!
27. Motherhood is complicated and hard and beautiful.
28. Multiple streams of income are LIFE. Life, I tell you!
29. You cannot change people. Period.
Until next time,