Today I turn 28. Just typing out those two numbers beside each other brings on all the “I can’t believe it” feels. I’m 100%, officially in my “late twenties,” my 10-year high school graduation anniversary is this year, and Ty and I will have been married for 5 years. Those all feel like big moments. Things to celebrate, and reminisce over. But turning 28 just feels ordinary to me. Maybe that’s what getting older does to you – it makes you ordinary.
I still remember falling asleep and waking up on my 18th birthday feeling like I had officially arrived. I was an “adult” and in a few short months I would be leaving home for the first time to venture out on my own in college. All the things I dreamed about throughout my college years – graduating, adventuring around the world, meeting a guy who would eventually be my husband, settling into a new rhythm as a wife, finding and loving a career to invest in as my life’s work – have happened. I’ve learned a lot about myself, who God is, and what I believe to be true about the world around me. I’ve also grown a lot. The person I thought I’d be today isn’t who I am – but I believe who I am today is better than I was yesterday.
28 years isn’t a long time in the grand scheme of life. But, it feels like I’ve lived a lot of life up until now. 27 was one of the most transformative years of my life, and I have a feeling 28 might be the same.
If we were sitting down together today, celebrating over a slice of vegan cake, or a cup of black coffee, I’d probably be a bit nostalgic. I’d probably share my favorite moments or memories from the past year. And if we were close enough, I’d probably share some hard stuff. The stuff that left me bound up or broken hearted within the last 365 days. We’d probably laugh about something. Maybe I’d get a bit emotional about the goodness and redemption of God in the midst of my human suffering or sin. But what I’d really want to tell you are these 10 things.
Find the friend who doesn’t talk about how young you are, inexperienced you are in life, or how great a season you aren’t currently in (like marriage, parenthood, career building, etc) will be for you. Mostly, find the friend that shows up right where you are, listens to you, and loves + encourages you right there. Find the friend that doesn’t push you to pretend, perform, measure up, or be relatable enough to stick around. Find them, tell them how much they mean to you often, and love them hard.
Self care is about more than just massages, “treat yo self” manis + pedis, long baths, or splurging on a new dress. It’s also about asking for help. Seeking out counseling. Making the doctor appointment you’ve avoided for 2 years. Feeding your body and not your feelings. Or starting that exercise routine you keep moving ahead on your calendar. The sooner you start to love yourself, the closer you’ll be to freedom.
You can’t buy happiness. It won’t be found in the trendiest piece of clothing, the newest car, or the bigger house. Happiness doesn’t equal joy. Joy is cultivated out of contentment. And contentment is found once you realize that all you have is all you’ve ever needed.
Being a student of yourself is the greatest education you can ever get. Know what makes you tick. Know how you see the world around you. Know what you believe to be true about God. Know your personality and what that means in relationship with others. Self awareness is a gift that’s free for the taking – and that gift is yours.
There is no set timeline that deems a “life well lived.” You don’t have to be married by 22, have kids by 25, own a house by 27, or even make six-figures by 30. Success is truly in the eye of the beholder. We each only have one life. Live it in a way that makes you proud of where you’ve been, content with where you are, and expectant of where you’re going. My success is not comparable to your success and yours is not comparable to mine. Because we each are in control of our own measuring sticks.
Our greatest critiques of others is more often a reflection of our deepest insecurities. The greatest fault you find in others, is more telling of you than it is of them.
Gossip is the greatest destroyer of community. “Just going along with it” is as bad as speaking the hurtful words yourself. Be brave enough to say, “hey, that’s not ok” and humble enough to say it without a “holier than thou” attitude.
Love is not easy. In fact it can be really complicated. But the most beautiful side of love is in the choosing. Don’t rush it. Take each other out. Introduce each other to your friends and family. Go through each calendar season together. Invest in getting to know the deeper sides of one another and not just the “pretty dating face” side. If you’re still choosing one another through all of that – it’s love.
You can’t pick your family. You’re just born into the ranks. Sometimes the hardest people to love are those that are closest to you. Aging makes it weird sometimes as you transition from being a child to an adult. But, these are the best years! Don’t let bitterness take root in your heart over things that don’t matter in the grand scheme of life. Say I love you often. And hug the hardest when you have to say “see you later.”
Savor the little things. Take the picture. Go on the trip. Make the memory. Do the thing you keep putting off because you think “there isn’t enough time.” Be kind and thoughtful. Think of those around you and tell them that you’re thinking of them. Because, when it’s all over, people will talk more about how you made them feel than what you said or did.
It’s my 28th birthday and if we were sitting down together today I would want to tell you these things. I wouldn’t want to tell you because I’ve got it all together. I would want to tell you because these are the things I’m repeating to myself daily.
27 was a year of great transformation in my life. 2018 ushered in a year of expectancy as I look to the things ahead that God has in store for me. I think 28 might be my best year yet!