I've always been in a hurry to grow up. When I was 13, I lied and said I was 15. When I was 16, I lied and said I was 18. Once I made it into my twenties, I began to round up as soon as I was within six months of my birthday. I've spent so many summers telling people my false age that last summer, I completely forgot that I hadn't already had my birthday, and was very confused when October rolled around. I wasn't sure if I was turning 28, or 29, or 30.
I've been idly thinking about 30 off and on for the last couple of years, but it's really ratcheted up since January. What have I accomplished? What have I learned? How have I made the world better? What do I have to show for my time on this earth? I think perhaps these questions are resonating particularly deeply with me because my mother only lived to be 40. I pray I'll outlive her, and I probably will, but by how much? Life is so short, and so precious.
And so, on the occasion of my thirtieth birthday, here are thirty things I've learned about myself, life, the universe, and everything:
1. It is okay to ask for the things you want in life. If you ask, you just might get them!
2. Hard work really and truly, almost unbelievably, does pay off.
3. There will always be people who don't like you. It doesn't even matter why. Ignore them, and/or kill them with kindness.
4. I am competitive.
5. Write thank you cards. Just do it.
6. I am compassionate.
7. Learn to budget, and stick to it. Debt is actually the worst thing ever.
8. Don't rush into an expensive decision, even if that expensive decision is your education.
9. I am a work in progress.
10. Enjoy the journey. I know what I want and where I'm going, but I'm in no hurry to get there. I'm having so much fun along the way!
11. Crying solves nothing, but it sure can help me feel better.
12. Life is too short to read boring books. If I'm two chapters in and not feeling it, it's okay to give it up. I don't owe that book anything.
13. Don't live apart from your spouse unless your circumstances absolutely demand it. Even then, try to find a way around it. Love is precious, rare, and fleeting. Hold onto it. Don't take it for granted. Nurture it, respect it, work on it.
14. Cooking at home and sharing a meal with loved ones is quite possibly the zenith of happiness.
15. Support your local public radio and television stations.
16. The dinosaurs died because they were average. Find the thing that makes you shine and do it.
17. While you're sleeping, someone else is working. Other people may be smarter than you, or richer than you, or prettier than you, but don't ever let anyone outwork you. Also don't ever let anyone be nicer than you.
18. We're all smart. Distinguish yourself by being kind.
19. Sometimes being an adult means you can have cake for breakfast and ice cream for dinner. And that's okay. But only sometimes.
20. It is not actually as hard as I think it is. Read the directions and give it a try. If I fail, order a pizza. Try again tomorrow.
21. Invest in good bedding. A great mattress, cozy sheets, soft pillows, and a warm blanket are sometimes the only things necessary to make everything better. Also, sleep is important, and we do so much of it. I might as well do it somewhere nice.
22. Someone who doesn't like your friends, doesn't like your family, and criticizes the way you dress, or talk, or act does not love you. That is not love. That's not even like. That's manipulation and isolation and control. Run now, run far, and don't look back.
23. Getting up and moving around for 10 minutes every hour makes the day feel so much more productive.
24. Being an adult doesn't necessarily mean growing up. I can still go to the park and ride on the swings and make silly faces at the people around me. That is a legitimate way to spend an afternoon.
25. In-laws who love you are worth their weight in gold, and infinitely more.
26. Family's family, love 'em or leave 'em. But the friends you choose can also be your family, and that's just the greatest.
27. My hard work and success doesn't diminish the hard work and success of the people around me. Their hard work doesn't diminish mine. If a friend accomplishes something they worked hard for, be happy for them. It's so much more enjoyable than seething with jealousy.
28. It's okay to be proud of my accomplishments and not let anyone ever make me feel like I need to downplay what I've achieved in order to maintain relationships.
29. Listen to your body. Be kind to it. Maintain it wisely.
30. Finally, a lesson I've learned only in the last six-ish months: I am strong, confident, and capable. I will be okay.