I went to dinner with my girlfriends this week to kick off the good ol’ birthday week, and they decided I should… freeze my eggs. Firstly, WHAT. Secondly, is this now a thing? I kindly (desperately) interjected an “I’M 27 NOT 37.” I may have let out a little whimper. I may have said I ovulate twice a month, and that I am so blessed with this very rare condition.
Now here it is: 28 today. And while I still feel safe “in my 20s,” I was 16 once, when anything over 22 was “so old” and my wedding (TBD) was already planned out, table runners and all. But somewhere between 27 and 28, I grew up. I really, actually, figured out who I am, and I would not trade back the last year of my life for five the other way. And although a 3-year-old last week asked me if I am “…three too?” then asked if I am instead “50,” I cannot wait to live the rest of my life the way it was intended, in a way only age could have delivered.
This is not a list that looks like “Go to Budapest” (though you should go to Budapest), or “Perform one random act of kindness every first of the month for a stranger.” These are simply the things I’ve learned and am still learning (every last one through trial-and-error) and will continue to regard as my pillars of fulfillment as I sashay into the best years of my life. This is an open reminder to my almost 30-year-old self to live kindly, live with purpose, and never, ever, touch anything with half my heart.
1. Act With Bigger Faith. Whatever that means for you, let your convictions steer your actions, and more importantly your thoughts and dispositions. When you stop underestimating God, you relax by default.
2. Desire Is Not Interchangeable With Value. And passion is not necessarily love. A man can desire you without respecting you. Learn to distinguish the two, take nothing less than both.
3. People Will Adopt Your Own Beliefs About Yourself. Aim high.
4. Put Yourself Out There. It is usually terrifying, often humiliating, but always liberating. You’ve got a lot to give, go find people to give it to. Go to the bar on a Tuesday, give in to friends playing matchmaker, get on that plane, make every zone your comfort zone.
5. Wear Your Passport Thin. We are the most self-centered people in the world. Eat the food, learn the dance, soak up every last bit of every other culture. Make them like Americans. Go find that you, yes you, are in the 1%; but they are happy.
6. Humility Is Sexy. Do not confuse your God-given talent or predispositions for achievement. There is nothing sexier than an intuitive sense of gratitude and humility.
7. Know Your Personal Mission Statement. Decide what your life’s mission statement is, and pursue that mission with every interaction.
8. Know When To End Things And How To End Things. You know in your gut when a relationship or job has run its course. Don’t let comfort, security or ego keep you where you no longer belong. Have the courage to do it and learn how to leave with grace and integrity. Close the door, don’t slam it.
9. Power In Numbers. Find people to hold you accountable to your personal, spiritual, physical and professional goals. Say it aloud to each other, and make it a priority to check in regularly. You cannot do it alone.
10. Be Unapologetic About Your Values. Everyone has their own, remain steadfast in yours.
11. Hurt People, Hurt People. It’s a truth as old as time. Restore the cord, don’t cut it. Cutting out negative people from your life solves only your problem. Love hard. Then, love harder.
12. Older Does Not Mean Wiser. Understand your environment, recognize your influencers, be selective with the counsel you heed.
13. You Are Somebody’s Role Model. Try not to disappoint them.
14. Do It For The Story. You gain every time you backseat your fear. Invest in experiences.
15. Learn How To Speak All Five Love Languages. Seriously. Every relationship in your life with bear more fruit. The grass really is greener where you water it.
16. Sleep. You are not invincible. Give it a rest, dude.
17. Live Within Your Means. Budget your social life, invest in a financial advisor, and stay below the line. When in doubt, don’t buy it.
18. Be The Exception. History does not define you and statistics are merely suggestive. Prove them wrong, be the 1 in 25 who gets there, and root on the people who get there before you.
19. Increase The Weight Of Your Word. Do what you say you’ll do and be where you say you’ll be.
20. Read More Novels. Actual bound books. These are the people who haven’t let anyone stand in the way of their imagination or stifle their creative voices in a world that capitalizes on cliff notes and digital. Give them life, it’ll enrich yours.
21. Stop Playing Martyr to Circumstance. You fall victim to that which you allow the power to victimize you. Stand behind your actions and accept what follows. Take the responsibility.
22. Go All In On Love. You may feel pain so deep you check for a pulse, but no love is better than mediocre love. Feel all the feels, feel it intensely, and don’t hold your present accountable for your past.
23. Money Fixes Numbers, And Numbers. Solid accounts are nice, solid relationships are better. After all, “Some people are so poor, all they have is money.”
24. If You Have To Play Games, You’re Playing Out Of Your League. In romance and business, stay in the Majors. The right people will step up to the plate.
25. Beauty Is Subjective. Be beautiful for the way you think, the way you speak, the way you give of yourself. Physical beauty is a good hand you were dealt, not an accomplishment.
26. There’s No Dollar Sign On A Peace Of Mind. It will work out. Condition your mind to coast over the bumps. Sideline the stress.
27. Be Acutely Self-Aware. Be able to recognize when your own behavior and thoughts take a downturn, and do what you need to do to correct it.
28. An Open Mind Is A Gold Mine. Listen with the intent to relate. Education has no lifespan.
29. Overuse “Thank You.” Appreciation truly can revive the spirit. Extend your gratefulness.
30. God’s Got You. Your life will go off-plan, but He will not lead you somewhere to then not sustain you. Know that protection often comes disguised as rejection and it’s okay for things to take a little longer, that just wasn’t your plan.