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What My 20's Were and What My 30's Will Be

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It’s the start of a new decade, with a new age bracket to mark on surveys and questionnaires. I have now entered my 30’s, a place for cholesterol screenings, achy lower backs from sleeping in the wrong position, and annoying little lines right around the corners of my once-smooth eyes. I’ll be honest, I’ve been trying not to think too much about this new decade for some time now, but more recently I’ve decided that in the spirit of turning 30, I’d be better off embracing it. After all, along with turning 30 comes greater maturity, clarity and wisdom…I think. As I reflected on my own personal changes from 20 to 30 on the eve of my birthday, I scribbled down one sentence on a piece of paper: “What My 20’s Were and What My 30’s Will Be.” Here is my list for how I'll be changing some things up as well as a few characteristics I'm planning on keeping the same. 

  • My 20’s were a time to be selfish - to focus on finding my place in the “real world”. Now in my 30’s … I’ve decided to stay that way. But selfish in a way that serves myself and my goals – I’ll be more intentional about how and with whom I spend my time. I’m learning to say "yes" to the things I want, and "no" to the things that no longer serve a purpose in my life. In my 30’s I’ll spend more “selfish” time with my closest friends and family while getting to know this new decade (and hopefully less awkward) version of myself.
  • My 20’s were for self-doubt, comparison, and a severe lack of confidence (in all areas of my life – physically, mentally, emotionally, personally, and professionally). My 30’s, though some days will be easier than others, I’ll learn to let these heavy things go, to remove them from my shoulders so that I may walk tall, confident, and tread fearlessly in the direction of my dreams. I will no longer doubt the woman I am, the woman who is doing her best to create the dream life she deserves.
  • My 20’s were for feeling the need to “figure everything out” and the idea that there is some sort of life timeline that I need to be following. I thought I would pick a major in college, stick with it until retirement, and in between get married, have kids, and a mortgage all around the 30-year mark. I envisioned my life falling perfectly into place on the factory-setting timeline that life dictates women in their 20’s should be on, with each box checked in the correct order. (Here’s your reminder to come up for air, as I’m sure you’re doubled over in a laughing fit right about now.) My 30’s are for throwing every preconceived thought like this one into a mental garbage can, and thriving in the life I was always meant to live – the one where I’m actually a million times happier than the “ideal” life I believed in back in my 20’s.
  • My 20’s were for learning. Whether those were life lessons or ones at a desk in a classroom, I was studying, absorbing, and gaining wisdom. While I don’t see a desk, chalkboard, or textbook in sight these days, my 30’s will continue to be for learning, listening, and growing.
  • My 20’s were for hating my body, ridiculing it, asking for it to be something else, or like someone else’s. That nonsense stops in my 30’s. This body has legs that have happily skipped to many a girl’s night, and a smile with small, thin lines starting to appear at its corners from laughing so much. Why is that something worth hating?
  • My 20’s were for meeting new people. My world became exponentially larger by going to college, traveling abroad, and bouncing from place to place and apartment to apartment for jobs early on. My 30’s will be for checking more countries off of my bucket list, while simultaneously putting down roots in a small home just outside of city limits. My 30’s are for having both roots and wings.
  • My 20’s were for constant worry. Whether it was about other people’s thoughts, a job, a relationship, or whatever, man, could I worry about it. My 30’s will be for recognizing this cycle when it starts, and crushing it right on the spot. If I can pray about it, or work on it, then why should I waste my time worrying about it?
  • My 20’s were for learning to ask myself the tough questions in life – are you happy? In your job? Your relationship? Is this what you want for yourself? If not, what do you need to do to make a positive change? My 30’s will be for recognizing that the tough questions never stop, and perhaps grow even tougher right along with the girl who’s asking them. If you’re not asking yourself the tough questions in life, then what are you doing?

My 20’s were great. My 30’s will be greater. I will find a way to live out my dreams and build a life I don’t need to escape from on weekends. It will be a decade for growth, for not apologizing, for letting go of guilt, for building confidence, and never, ever settling for anything. Altogether, cholesterol screenings are an infinitesimal price to pay when you find yourself lucky enough to grow another year, and to enter into a new decade. And no fine lines will ever run as deep as my belief that this decade will be a surprising, joy-filled, and beautiful one for the books.

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