29 things I'm still learning at 29
Today I am 29 years old. Birthdays invite reflection, and this birthday is no exception. Today I feel especially wistful--perhaps because I enter the last year of a decade, or perhaps because 29 somehow sounds so much older than 28. The way my life looks right now would not surprise my 20-year-old self, but neither is it how she would have pictured it. I am less ambitious than I used to be, and I am okay with it. If I had to sum up my twenties, they would be about making peace with being ordinary.
Here are the other things that I am still learning, in no particular order.
1. You are not that exceptional, and that is fine. And yet...
2. You are truly exceptional, as is every human being, because God's light glimmers differently in you than in anyone else. Just remember that the same is true for every single other creature--even those people who walk really slowly and do not know how to use apostrophes and plural nouns correctly.
3. It is so worth taking five minutes each day to invest in your marriage and giving your undivided attention to your spouse. Do not become simply roommates and business partners, and remember to nurture the fun and passion in your relationship.
4. I am too cheap to buy nice undergarments, but they really are worth the investment. An outfit is built from the inside out.
5. Choose joy, as much as possible. There will always be evil and sadness in the world which we need to confront. But there also always is much to celebrate.
6. Meal planning and grocery shopping systems will change with different seasons of life. There is no perfect system, but that won't stop me from trying to find it.
7. Google runs my life, from my calendar to my email to my house thermostat. I'm quite okay with that. I would probably sell my soul to Google because they know what I need more than I do.
8. Long distance friendships are hard but important. There is nothing like being with someone who has known you at earlier stages in your life. Set aside time to see each other in person. Hint: mark your calendar months in advance so it is sure to happen instead of trying to plan around normal life.
9. Life does not get less busy, so stop thinking that you can wait until next year to do that thing you want to do. Do it now. You will make it happen if it is important enough.
10. How you spend your time on a minute-to-minute basis reflects your priorities. Be intentional.
11. Never underestimate the power of showing up. Weddings, funerals, hospitals, parties...presence matters.
12. Health, relationships, and career probably will not all be at their peak all at the same time. We make trade-offs.
13. Dogs make the world so much more fun.
14. There is enough room for us all. Make space for what is not you. Breathe. Listen. Prepare to be wrong sometimes, and learn to live with disagreement.
15. Not all fights need resolution. Know when your differences are irreconcilable, and table those arguments, particularly in marriage. Case in point: I will never think the floor is the designated spot for clothes that are neither clean nor dirty, as Dan does, but we will never convince the other of our opinion.
16. Sleep, eat, exercise. Prioritize at least two of the three every day, and you will feel pretty good.
17. Pretty baskets bring me an inordinate amount of pleasure. I hate ugly packages. Find the little things that impact your day-to-day and do what you can to make them moments for happiness rather than frustration.
18. Dry shampoo is a huge time saver, and you really don't need to wash your hair every day.
19. Less is more. Your brain can only hold so much. I have less and less mental space for physical and digital clutter. When possible, streamline, automate, or purge. No more holding onto something "just in case."
20. Fresh air solves many problems, or at least puts them into proper perspective.
21. I feel much more pulled together with painted nails. Who knew? Since my polish chips almost immediately, I stick with this pale and forgiving pink.
22. Chickpeas are nature's wonder food. Aquafaba (the brine) behaves like an egg, pureed they take on almost any flavor, and roasted they are a crunchy, delicious snack. They aren't bad plain in a salad either.
23. Listen to other people's wisdom, but go with your gut.
24. Privilege is real.
25. There is very little TV I find worth watching. My time is becoming more and more valuable, and I don't want to spend it on TV. (Or, is it that my attention span is becoming shorter and shorter? Probably a combination of both.) What brings you pleasure evolves over time, so give yourself permission to go with it. On a related note:
26. Life is too short to do something that is supposed to be "fun" that you do not find fun. You do you. Fun is in the eye of the doer and beholder; it is not an objective reality.
27. Our worth is not determined by our work, despite what this country tells us. There is more to life than work.
28. Find a reason to be grateful every day. Name it.
29. You will never "arrive," or reach the finish line and have it all figured out. More challenges and adventures always await. Take care not to get too restless, and practice contentment, but never think your work is done.