I’m not old. I’m getting older, but I’m not old. My friend, Jesse, told the kids at church that I was 30. Fortunately, none of them believed him. Unfortunately, they countered with the fact that I couldn’t be 30, I was definitely only 17. I don’t know which I’d prefer.
I like the age I am. My birthday falls after all of my friends so they’ve all experienced turning my age by the time I actually get there. Some of them were mildly distraught about being on “the other side of 25”, but I had no problem making that leap. It’s kinda nice to be out of your teenage, early twenty years. You’re a little more stable.
Emotionally (aka you’ve found out who your people are and you’re keeping them.)
Physically (aka you’re done with the freshman fifteen and you’re maybe eating healthy every once in awhile).
Mentally (you’re set in a career and you know what you’re doing with your life on most days)
Financially (aka you’re a little less “downtown homeless” and a little more “chic hobo”)
Maybe it’s just me. Or maybe it’s just silver linings. But, I like it here.
I’ve been reflecting on the lessons I’ve learned in my 25 trips around the sun and I’m not claiming that they’re profound. Mostly they’re anything but. I find myself learning new lessons all the time, things I hadn’t thought about before, discoveries I hadn’t made about myself before. That’s one of the beautiful things about aging. You continue to grow. So here’s my condensed list of learnings.
1. It is okay to not be okay. Embrace it, live in it, dig into it, figure out why you’re not okay and how to fix it. Life isn’t perfect, people aren’t perfect. And that’s okay.
2. Travel. Travel when you can, where you can, near or far. Sometimes going to a birthday party down the road can be as much of a cultural experience as traveling across the world. (Those of you who know what birthday party I’m talking about, that one was for you) You will discover more than you could ever know about yourself any other way when you travel. I promise. It will change who you are and how you view the world.
3. Mind what you eat. Balance it, not too much or too little of any one thing. And include ice cream every once in awhile. Never completely eliminate the ice cream.
4. Find people who are different than you and spend time with them. People from different cultures, people from different socioeconomic backgrounds, people from different religions and races, people with different views. You can learn a lot by not being around everyone who is exactly like you.
5. Butterfingers are the best candy bar. Hands down. There is no comparison. (This was more of a personal understanding, but it’s the truth, so I thought maybe someone could glean from it)
6. Pray. Every day. Thank God for everything He’s given you. Turn your cares over to Him. Quit worrying about it. Just spend time talking to your Creator.
7. Protect your skin. One word: SPF. Well, it’s not really a word. More like an acronym. But you get the point. Sun screen. Use it. Bathe in it. I hate to sound like a public health announcement, but your skin is the largest organ you have. Take care of it.
8. Water. Drink lots of it. It’s good for you. Don’t question it.
9. If you see something good in someone, say it. Recognize people for how great they are, how happy you are to have them in your life, or maybe just how cute their shoes are that day. People you know, people you don’t know. Add some sunshine to the dark world. Be appreciative. Be happy. Love others. We need more of that.
10. It is okay to ask for the things you need. This is the most important lesson I’ve learned this year. There is nothing shameful about admitting that you are lacking in some way. Maybe you need time, maybe you need a hug, maybe you need space, maybe you need someone by your side, maybe you need support. I have always been the type to want people either to anticipate my needs and magically meet them. Or the type to fight to do things on my own, without the help of anyone else. But, people can’t know what we need, they can’t know our struggles, unless we verbalize that. We need to ask and seek out the things we need. We’re humans. We weren’t made to do it all on our own. Lean on someone. Share your burdens. You’ll feel better when you do.