Monday, April 8, 2013
20(ish) Lessons Learned in my 20s
Today I turn 30. I'm an introspective person and have spent some time reflecting on this milestone birthday. I'm slightly sad to say goodbye to my 20s for a number of reasons. I will always look back on this decade of my life with tenderness and much affection, because so many of the lessons I've learned and people I love have come into my life in the past 10 years.
So in the interest of encouraging any who will read this, and in the interest of being introspective, and honestly, mostly for my own enjoyment, these are some of the lessons I've learned over the past 10 years, in no particular order.
1. There is a Steel Magnolias quote for every situation in life. Shopping? “the only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize!” Don’t know what to say to a grieving friend? “I don’t know how you’re doing on the inside but your hair is just holding up beautiful.” Feeling confused? “I don’t know whether to scratch my watch or wind my butt. “ I could go on. You get the point.
2. I don’t ever, ever (ever) want to guilt someone into acting a certain way. It’s fake, and what's worse than false motives? Would you want to hang out with someone who’s only with you because you’d made them feel guilty about it? I’d rather be by myself.
3. The older I get, the less I say. When I was younger my response to wrongdoing or rudeness was a sarcastic retort. I am learning that for the most part, silence is best. It doesn’t feel great but that whole don’t-sink-to-their-level thing is actually pretty true. Which leads me to my next thought…
4. My parents are/were/will be right about pretty much everything. I don’t think that needs any further explanation.
5. Some relationships can’t be saved. I hate it. But sometimes the healthiest thing to do is open my closed fist and let a relationship go. You can still love someone from a distance.
6. Not every relationship is forever. Yuck. I really hate this one. There are people I thought I could not live without who are no longer in my life. It hurts, but it didn't kill me. Sometimes you don't have a choice, because you can't make someone be your friend. Sometimes you have to make the choice yourself, which is not easier by any stretch.
7. Life happens in seasons. My seasons have been clearly defined as I have lived in 5 different cities and three different states since high school. But make no mistake, nothing is permanent. This is both good and hard.
8. Sometimes I find myself feeling terrible about life, depressed, sad and lonely. And then I realize that I have forgotten to eat lunch. I say that to say, hanger is a real thing and it's important to know yourself and your own body.
9. I need alone time to function. I’m a textbook extrovert, energized by people. But eventually I need what I like to call, “a minute.”
10. I need to be around people. I can handle no more than 24 hours of alone time before I start talking to the couch cushions for company.
11. If you ask God to make your desires the same as His, you will feel like a spoiled child when He does just that. It’s pretty neat.
12. God almost never speaks to me in the same way more than once. He has given me a literal sign, He has spoken through His word, He has spoken to me through music and prayer and other people. Sometimes He uses the same means but almost never the same specific way.
13. God sanctifies us in different ways. For me, growth happens most and best through trials and difficult times. Interestingly, I look back on these wilderness moments with great tenderness. My wounds and resulting scars are more precious to me than I ever could have imagined.
14. Experience trumps education nearly every single time. Some of the wisest people I know never went to seminary or even college for that matter. But they have a lifetime of experience walking with Jesus; therefore, I can learn much from them.
15. I learn the most from people who are nothing like me. That seems obvious, but so often we gravitate to those who look/act/sound like us; I love the fact that some of the most meaningful relationships in my life are people I never would have expected to be close to.
16. Absolutely everyone is insecure about something, and no one is as perfect as they seem on the surface. This levels the playing field when I feel paralyzed by my own insecurity. It also makes me more compassionate.
17. The quirks that bother me in other people are oftentimes the same things I am guilty of.
18. When you’re little you think “being a grown-up is awesome!” and the adults in the room go “grumble grumble work grumble insurance grumble taxes” and make you think it’s no fun. But sometimes being an adult is awesome! Sometimes you really get to do whatever you want.
19. I’ve found that when I’m in a bad/sad/depressed mood, the quickest way out is to help/minister to/encourage someone else. The hard part is choosing not to sit down and wallow in the sadness. (I’m not talking about clinical depression here, but the occasional blue moods that we all sometimes get.)
20. It is what it is. I say this a lot. I find it helpful when I'm in a situation I would like to change but can't, or if I'm dealing with difficult emotions or frustrating circumstances. It gives me permission to feel what I'm feeling in that moment.
21. God can be trusted. He's tested me in this and continues to give me opportunities to trust Him for more and more. God has proven Himself faithful and sufficient over and over in my life.
22. The only good in me is Jesus. I have a friend who says this all the time and the longer I walk with Him and experience the failings of my own flesh, the more I know it's true. Really, legitimately, completely, I'm a total mess apart from His redeeming work in my life.