Friendships

Twenty Things I Learned in My Twenties

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Photo by Charles Etoroma on Unsplash

Today I turn 30. The ‘big birthday.’ When I started this blog I was 23, unmarried, and unanchored. A lot has changed in the last seven years and I’m eager to see what the next decade brings. Thank you, dear readers, for watching me grow up.

Reflection brings its own kind of wisdom and before I dance into the next new decade, I’m sharing my love letter of lessons I’ve learned about myself in the last ten years. Enjoy.

  1. Career may not fulfill your soul.
    I spent my early twenties bouncing from job to job searching for the perfect fit. I had nine jobs in ten years. There will be conflict at work. There will be days that feel tedious and boring. It is important to find people you can learn from and environments to push you out of your comfort zone. It’s ok to make a switch, and ok to fail. At least you tried. There’s more to your worth than what you do from 9-5.
  2. Ask for that raise sooner than later. 
    You’re worth it. Practice negotiating and communicating how your skills bring organizations different value. It takes practice and it pays off. The least they can say is no, not right now.
  3. New paint makes a big difference.
    Make your spaces your own. Your house can be a reflection of you. Paint is affordable and it takes just a few hours to reclaim space for rest and rejuvenation.
  4. Planning a wedding is fun. Planning for marriage is improbable.
    I got engaged at the age of twenty three and walked down the aisle at age twenty five. That was young. We did marriage counseling, had dated for six years, and talked about many things. We weren’t prepared for how unemployment, unexpected death, and financial uncertainty would change and shape our young marriage. You can’t plan for all of the scenarios. You can, however, pick a partner who will fight for you and hold your hand when things fall apart.
  5. Pick up those shoes.
    Really, I leave them all over the house. Weekly shoe round-ups should be a thing. I’m messy. Tough.
  6. People will die.
    Yes, your people. They will die. Before your heart is ready with things left unchecked on bucket lists and words left unsaid. This is the worst truth of the universe. Surviving the death of my dad has rearranged me leaving gaps for compassion, empathy, and tears. Death sucks. Grief sucks. People die. It sucks so frickin’ bad.
  7. Say I love you every chance you get.
    The last time I saw my dad, he left my house without me saying good-bye. I just assumed I’d see him the next day. I didn’t say ‘I love you’ and I regret that. Life is short. Tell people how much you love them every chance you get.
  8. Friendships change.
    As you grow and change, so will your friends. Give others grace, stand up at weddings, cheer when they announce they are going to have a baby. Honor the space of sadness when the people you could always count on don’t respond as much as you’d like. Hold space for new relationships. Be the friend you want to have.
  9. Metabolism slows.
    Damn. Buy bigger-sized pants. Eat a few less french fries. Get back to the gym and love your body.
  10. Stop resisting when they offer to do the dishes.
    For a long time, I’d be mortified when my mother-in-law would do my dishes. It made me feel like a horrible host. She’s not silently commenting on the state of the kitchen. She’s instead using her gifts and sharing her time. People will show you their love in all kinds of ways. Stop resisting and say thank you.
  11. Having a dog is beneficial.
    They’ll pee on the carpet and destroy a few of your favorite things. But the little creature will warm your heart, absorb your tears, and take up space on the bed when you’re cold. Eye contact with an animal will soften your soul.
  12. Get a few stamps in your passport.
    Planning a trip and traveling abroad will give you confidence and joy in unimaginable ways. Gelato in Paris is delicious. Kidney pie in London is not.
  13. Graduate from an amaretto sour.
    Try different alcoholic drinks and explore how your tastes evolve. Know a few classic cocktails to ask for in a bar. When you order a shot of Fireball with your brother’s friends, they will laugh at you. Don’t let shame shape your choices. It’s ok to like what you like.
  14. Softball is not fun.
    I’d just rather not spend my summer evenings on the ball field. Practice saying no to the things that don’t bring you joy so you can say yes to the things that make your heart beat a little faster.
  15. I’m sensitive. So be it.
    My awareness of others suffering is a gift, not a weakness. Refuse to let others squash the sensitivity out of you. Continue to give the homeless woman a granola bar, make donations to charity, and cry at the news.
  16. People want to read these words.
    I must believe this every time I click publish. Your voice matters and you have every right to share your thoughts. Not everyone will resonate and likes and comments don’t qualify my words as worthy. Keep typing. It doesn’t have to make you money … though that would be nice.
  17. Family is complicated.
    It gets tricky when pain trickles through long-standing relationships. Keep trying. Keep praying. God’s grace can fix holes in family tapestries. Where we come from matters. Hold onto the good stuff, let go of the crap.
  18. You can take care of yourself.
    Of course I want others to take care of me. Bring me soup, vacuum the dirty carpet, offer tissues for the mountains of snot grief creates – yes please. More empowering though? Learning how to care for myself. Take space to sit and be sad. Invest in good shoes, honor your body with clothes that fit, and pay for a therapist to help process. Accepting help is self-care. Putting things in place to meet my own needs – even better.
  19. Money is a tool – let it flow.
    While I prefer to sit on my savings account for fear of not enough, I’m learning money is a tool for joy. Using funds responsibly can create positive, life-changing experiences. Travel. Save for the car. Get a haircut. Sponsor a child. Trust you have the capability to make more money and believe God provides.
  20. Hope lives in the relentless search for beauty.
    The gifts God gives are in the small and ordinary. Keep seeking good and you will find beauty. Clean water, fresh flowers, a kiss on the nose. Bubbles in sparkling wine, puppy breath, baby toes. Suffering and beauty co-exist. We won’t live in a world without both.
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Pink Flamingos in the Pool

I sat down at my computer two hours ago with the intent of completing some overdue work. I have a task I eagerly look forward to. One of those tasks that I am a little bit afraid of – a ‘just need to sit down and pump it out’ task that still isn’t finished.

I opened up my computer, clicked to open Word and got the rainbow wheel of death. You know what I’m talking about. The ever whirring wheel that taunts you saying, ‘just a sec…. let me just load this one thing.’ You sit on your hands and grit your teeth and hope that the machine you use every day will respond to your gentle caresses and coaxing.

No luck.

Open Microsoft Office support, let them log on remotely (that’s ok right? I feel like I’m signing away all of me when someone remotes into my computer) and here I sit, uninstalling over 70,000! files so I can reinstall my Microsoft Office suite.

My task remains unfinished. My brain, and maybe the universe, are telling me to switch gears. Here we are instead, blogging. A much better use of time than staring at the screen as my trash bin empties on my Mac.

I drift back in memory to the wonderful weekend I just spent in Scottsdale, Arizona with my cousin’s best friends.

Lew, as we affectionately call her, is three years older than me and was always the epitome of cool. We grew up living two hours apart and spent major holidays, vacations, and summer play dates together. In elementary school I was in awe of her competitive soccer team and would get excited when her traveling team would come up north for a weekend game. In junior high I envied her Abercrombie and Fitch clothing and group of best friends. When I was in high school she would invite me to come watch a movie at her house nearby as she was in college. I’d marvel her home full of all things college – sports paraphernalia and the cute boys from the ‘guy’s house’ across the street.

She stood as Maid of Honor for my wedding and in three weeks time I will stand as a bridesmaid in hers.

I was thrilled to fly to Arizona for a weekend girl’s trip for her bachelorette extravaganza. I was blessed with an opportunity to bask by a pool in the desert and to rest in a beautiful mansion. Blessed with many hours of conversation that were distinctly feminine. The conversations carried threads of hopes for marriages, our careers, their babies (no, no not me, just all of her friends).

Laughter bounced along the water ripples as one of us would occasionally jump off the diving board or fall in the pool after trying to balance on a floating flamingo.

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Lew and me on our floating creatures.

There is something powerful when women gather. Energy shifts, back rubs are given freely, tears are shed over iced glasses of rose wine. I didn’t know these women that well, and frankly, they have intimidated me all of my life. Looking up to a cluster of amazing women that have supported my cousin has often left me feeling jealous – why can’t I seem to foster decade long friendships with such ease?

The veil lifted, though, as I took time to speak with each of these ladies. My myths of glamorous girls formed into real people with real problems, hopes, dreams, and jokes. Lots of wonderful jokes. I started to feel like a part of them. And that is a beautiful thing.

Friendship with women can be hard. We form cliques, we gossip, we exclude – unintentionally, often in an effort to protect ourselves. Yet, if we can let down our own IMG_5081guard, and let people in a little bit, we can find a whole lot more of ourselves.

A social lubricant of three powerful margaritas sipped out of a penis-shaped straw may have helped. 

It felt wonderfully beautiful to be taken care of, to rest, to sleep in the sun.To share salads and crackers and bits of cheese. To float on flamingos, and unicorns, and swans.

 

 

 

 

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