I would argue that this has been the most challenging and rewarding year of my life. Filled with peaks and pits. This summer I have felt a shift. About what I want, who I am, and where I’m supposed to be. I’ve had a lot of time to think and it’s made me appreciate of what I’ve been through and look forward to what is to come.
In reflecting back on my 20s, here’s what I would tell that girl navigating her 20s now that I have the gift of hindsight. These are the things that I want to share with with other women, things I hope I can continue to tell myself, and truths I will one day pass along to my daughter. So at 29, here are the 29 truths I’m taking with me into my 30s.
1. “Don’t let what he wants eclipse what you need. He is very dreamy, but he is not the sun.” That infamous scene on Grey’s Anatomy where Christina tells Meredith what a gifted surgeon she is and not to give that up at the expense of only building Derek’s dream. I love this. Build your dreams. Pursue your passions relentlessly. A guy that doesn’t foster your dreams while building his own (and vice versa!)…we need to talk.
2.“Real love doesn’t run from its home.” I read that somewhere. You should never have to chase love. Plus, you don’t want anything that’s not yours.
3. It’s always easier coaching from the stands! Take heed. People will tell you to do things that they themselves would never do. And not necessarily from a place of malice. Do what you believe to be right. And what feels right for you may not feel right for someone else. That’s okay. You are the only one that has to walk in your shoes.
4. You can’t give what you don’t have. This is true of love, resources, time, energy, etc. You have to be the best version of yourself in order to be generous with these things.
5. People will always have their opinions about you. The good news is, is that their opinions about you don’t matter. Your opinions about you, do! You can’t control what other people think about you. What they say about you. What they say to others about you. What boxes they put you into. None of that is your business. And making it your business costs too much. And quite frankly, we have other things to be doing. Like being girl bosses.
6. Risk the ocean. You can’t get the reward without taking the risk. Fear is normal. And healthy in some instances. But letting it keep you prisoner is where it’s dangerous. You may put money into your business and lose it. You might love and get your heart completely shattered. That’s part of life. We all want a return on our investment. But there will never be a return on an investment not made. Build community and relationships with others who, too, are willing to risk the ocean with you. Who aren’t afraid to ride the waves with you. They won’t let the sea overtake you.
7. “Speak to that ‘thing’ in your life until what you see becomes what God said.” Steven Furtick, one of the most gifted orators of our generation, in my opinion, talks about this. About speaking life and hope over things. And the power of that. I remember a few years ago telling myself on the way to work that one day, Relics would pay my rent. I didn’t know how it was going to happen, but I just kept telling myself it would. It did.
8. Share your story with others. And not just the victories. But the defeats too. Obviously within reason…you don’t need to air your dirty laundry. There is a line. But what I’m learning as I get older is that usually what I’m struggling with, one of my girlfriends is struggling with/struggled with that same thing. And that there is healing that comes from being open with others. But hear me carefully. Unless it’s a trusted confidant, wait to tell certain things. Wait until you know why certain things happened. Because that’s where there is real power- sharing the bad and the lesson learned. Don’t tell your story prematurely.
9. The thing that scares you. The thing you feel insanely passionate about. The thing that you don’t mind waking up to do. Yeah, do that. Sometimes, the world will sell you the cookie cutter version of success. Go to school here, major in this, intern there….and there’s nothing wrong with that. I have my bachelors and my masters. I am an educator. I wholeheartedly believe in post secondary education. But I also believe that success is whatever you make it. And when you’re doing what you love, I truly believe that money will follow.
10. You are the head and not the tail. Above and never below. You are bold. Strong. Fierce. More than a conqueror. Completely dangerous to the kingdom of darkness. You may have to remind yourself of these things every day. You may need to repeat these things until you believe it.
11. Travel. Just go. Buy plane tickets instead of buying things. The experiences with new people, places, and cultures as well as leaving your comfort zone is so beneficial.
12. I’d rather have nothing of nothing than something of nothing. Jaime Primack Sullivan talks about this. I love love love her Facebook page. She talks about how sometimes women will stay in crappy relationships because they feel that having something is better than nothing. And she goes on to say that something of nothing is still nothing. I’d rather wake up in the morning single than wake up with the burden of knowing that the man I’m doing life with doesn’t deserve me. Been there, done that. The former is so much more freeing.
13. Let it go. Forgive people. Forgive yourself. Move on. It’s exhausting to keep trudging up the past or to hold on to resentment or anger. It’s not worth it. Life is precious…and fleeting.
14. Past failures are not good indicators of future success. Relics of Grace is the second attempt at an Etsy business. I’m glad I didn’t stop there.
15. Be excellent in everything you do. Approach everything with your very best. Whether it’s giving a presentation, blogging, decorating your home, etc. Truly. Take the time and do it well. It has less to do with the aesthetic and more to do with your character. Be a person who does everything with excellence.
16. Give people the benefit of the doubt. We are human. We are subject to mistakes. Error is part of life. Give people the opportunity to mess up and to try again. Be careful when it’s a pattern of bad behavior. That’s not a mistake. That’s a lifestyle.
17. You teach people how to treat you. As a middle school teacher, this couldn’t be more true for me. This is the epitome of some kids swinging from the ceiling in one classroom and analyzing primary and secondary texts like college students in the next. Adults are no different. People will treat you according to the cues you give them.
18. Delight in others. Truly, delight in them. Compliment them. Acknowledge their strengths. Love on them. But be sincere about it. Giving people insincere compliments in exchange for them to like you is tawdry. Be authentic in giving people praise where praise is due. When it’s authentic it’ll come easily. It’ll feel good for you and them when it’s organic. And you are building real relationships with people who love you for you and not because you’ve bought them or won them.
19. Sun Stand Still Prayers. Steven Furtick (I legit love his teachings!) talks about praying sun stand still prayers. Praying bold, audacious prayers. Because when God answers them, you will know it had to be Him.
20. Try new things. I discovered kayaking a few months ago when I accepted an invitation from a friend. I’m glad I did something different. It gives me peace. It gives me distance from chaos or work or life’s to-do’s. It holds a space that I wouldn’t have known I wanted filled if I would not have tried it.
21. Write it down. I have wrestled with the beast known as organization for most of my 20’s. I think I have finally beaten him (or her) in to submission. It’s still a work in progress. But between my Lilly Pulitzer agenda, my Google Calendar (obsessed!), my iPhone reminders, and the Wunderlist app, I think I’m doing okay. These things help me to stay organized and focused!
22. De-clutter your space. I feel that I am most productive and at peace when my home is clean, organized, and there is the absence of the chaos of clutter. Every once in a while, I do my Goodwill hauls. And it clears up so much space. And not just physical space either. But space to dream up and work on new projects, space to redecorate, space in which to put something new, etc.
23. The valleys are real. Life is hard. It is inevitable that we will go through things that will be difficult. And I still struggle with remembering this this from time to time, but the sun does eventually come out to shine. No matter how terrible the storm, no matter how high the waves, no matter how dark the sky…the sun always shines again.
24. Moisturize your face and neck. I need to get better with this, like way better. I’ve heard it said so many times that we take the skin on our face and neck for granted when we’re young. Keep up with a good skin care regime so you still look like you could write a post about being 29 when you’re not. 😉
25. You may bend, but you will not break. Not everyday will you be able to look at this list and feel like you are the baddest chick out there. In fact, there are days where you will feel quite the opposite. Where you feel like everything is crashing down around you. You can’t get it right. You missed your mark. You’re out of time. But like TD Jakes says, “Don’t drown in shallow water!” You’ve come this far. You may need to cry it out, scream it out, whatever…but you will get up again. You will be okay. You will go forward again.
26. Your history does not define your destiny. Where you have been does not define where you will go. Who you were back then, isn’t who you are now. Even if people try to remind you of it.
27. Refuel. Give yourself permission to binge on Netflix, to sit and read all day, to go on the weekend getaway…whatever those things are that get you re-energized. Pausing from the busyness of life will allow you to get back in the game and continue to go hard. Sometimes your priorities need to be prioritized. And sometimes that might just look like taking care of you at the top of the list.
28. There will be days where you feel like a timid, little girl. You’re not! You are a strong woman of God!
29. The best is still yet to come. Our best days are in front of us, not behind us.
To close, let me say this. I, by no means, have mastered this list. I’m a work in progress. Real women are a work in progress! But we continue to move forward as we navigate living life on purpose in this wild and wonderful world. And we do so with grace and grit.