Growing Up

Twenty Things I Learned in My Twenties


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.

When Goals Become Accomplishments

I just looked at the calendar. It is September 20th. You are likely reading this and thinking, well yes, just look at a calendar. You have one on your phone, and on the wall.  I’ve been thinking it’s September 17th for the last four days in a row. Time is going quickly and the year is almost in the fourth quarter.

I’ve been reflecting on goals, and resolutions, and have asked myself the question, “Have you accomplished what you set out to accomplish this year?” I was drawn to my post about new year’s resolutions and realized, yes, I have done some of these things on my list. Currently, my cupboard is bare of biscotti and my nails are naked, so I’m not doing as great as I thought I would on those weekly goals.

Baked goods aside, one of my goals for the year that was not included on that list was get more involved in sharing my writing. I wanted to write an article, and get it published. And I did!

I had the privilege of connecting with a fabulous group of women who are in tune with themselves and the world around them and I had the opportunity to share a small part of my story. Thank you to Invoke Magazine for letting me join in the journey.

To read my article, click here: My Mother’s Voice Inside My Head – A Journey to Individuation.

The One Where I Talk About “Friends”

When I was growing up it was a Thursday night ritual to watch “Friends” with my family. Don’t judge my parents here, ok. The show started in 1994. I was, well, young. Young enough to not have walked in the halls with the third graders. My shoes still likely had cartoon characters; my leggings definitely had stirrups. I did not understand the complexity of the jokes, or maybe, the simplicity of themes portrayed on the show.


Over the next ten years I grew up with the voices of Joey, Ross, and Rachel drifting up the stairs when I was falling asleep.  I’d sneak peeks, getting glasses of water, or brushing my teeth again so I could see what my mom was laughing at. As I got older, I earned my spot on the couch for the 7:30 pm time slot. I started to understand the jokes, and my love for the characters increased, even though I didn’t quite have the life experience to relate to what was depicted on screen.  I cried at the series finale, tears rolling down my cheeks as Rachel told Ross, “I got off the plane!” He’s her lobster don’t you know.  I think I was a freshman or sophomore in high school.

I was given all ten seasons of the show for various birthdays and Christmases and I took all ten seasons to college. I fell in love with my first serious boyfriend, who is now my husband, in his basement room in the co-ed housing that we lived in.  I got “in trouble” too many times to count as I stayed passed the curfew on the boys floor night after night to watch this show with Dylan. We laughed, loudly, and I snuck back up to the girls floor at 2 am most nights of the week. I was young, and very much intrigued by a boy, and rolled my eyes that I even lived in a place that had curfew for college student.

Now, “Friends” re-runs are on “Nick at Night”. “Nick at Night!” I do not have cable, but I do know that the shows they play on Nickelodeon past 10 o clock are old. Like “Cheers”, or “Laverne and Shirley” or something my parents used to watch. Not the shows I grew up with.  So, yes, I’m aging I suppose. Now though, I’ve been watching the show on Netflix, and binging. All ten seasons! We started in January and now we are Season 3. I still love the jokes, and the characters, and Dylan and I still laugh, loudly. I’m not sure if it is a stretch to call a ten year series beautiful, but the joy that this show brings to my day to day life now, and through out my “formative years” really is something I enjoy.

You’ve heard the theme song, and you know where to clap your hands. “Your job’s a joke, your broke, your love life’s DOA.” I do not view my job to be a joke, I think we do wonderful work. My love life has had a really successful year. However, there is some crazy truth to watching a t.v. show about a bunch of 20 somethings, even if the show was created, gulp, twenty years ago. You do not always end up where you think you will when you are in the third grade. Your friends move and change and get married too. I just found out a best friend of mine is moving again to a different city. I cried, even though she will only be an hour away. Life is messy right? Sometimes things happen that don’t make a lot of sense.

There are five feet of snow on the East Coast and I wore flip flops in Colorado yesterday. I think global warming is real. A loving father of four was in an accident this week – he died and his high school aged daughter walked away unharmed. That’s not fair. We want to be healthy and make good choices, and yet our food makes us sick. Kids are abandoned, parents leave, opportunities are stretched and prohibited based on privilege in ways we can’t even begin to solve. I think about these things. Too much.

In the midst of those warbled social issues and situations that make us scratch our heads, or hurt our stomach because they don’t make sense, we need to find things to clap at. We need to laugh, and to be surrounded by friends. We need to joke. We need continuity and history, and connection. That is where I find beauty when situations lack solutions, or when anxiety overtakes.

And I need Ross, Rachel, Joey, Monica, Phoebe and Chandler, in ways I am embarrassed to admit.

No biscotti or nail polish this week. Sorry.