i wish i had known: a celebration

This Tuesday (yep, in 4 days!), I celebrate my 30th birthday.

The big 3-0. Like… whoa.

This weekend is all party-party-party for me (thank you, sweetheart!), but, looking out on my life, I’m pretty sure that it’s my parents who should get the party. Thirty years of parenting. No small accomplishment.

There is no better (or more pressing) time than a major life milestone to look back and reflect. On the stories and people and lessons that have shaped you. On the experiences of growth and challenge, heartbreak and joy.

Over the last few weeks, in anticipation of the first step into my 30’s, I’ve been mentally collecting the memories, experiences of growth, and life (altering) lessons that I’ve gathered over the past thirty years. I’ve been journaling about old stories and taking stock of the people who have shaped me over the past three decades.

Here’s what I know: The life that I have now, while it looks nothing like the one I had planned, is better than I could have ever imagined.

In honor of the Big 3-0, here are 30 things I wish I had known (but had to be ready to learn).  

In no particular order...

  1. No one is born knowing how to walk. You’ll stumble and trip and spend some quality time face-down on the floor, but it’s a learning curve for all of us. Life is in the learning.
  2. You are under no obligation to be the same person that you were before. Change and growth will lead you to new communities and careers, new adventures and new opportunities. Be open to your own evolution. 
  3. Understand that some people won’t be able to hold the container or understand your evolution. Just because they can’t love you, doesn’t mean that you are unlovable. 
  4. Ask for what you need. You’ll never get it otherwise.
  5. Read. Voraciously. Every. Single Day. Immerse yourself in all the words.
  6. When stuck or overwhelmed: Breathe. Move. Dance. To prevent being stuck or overwhelmed: Breathe. Move. Dance. Give.
  7. Take care of yourself first. Self-love overflows. Your capacity for love will dry out if you’re not feeding yourself with care, first.
  8. “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” - Maya Angelou. Believe them.
  9. Open, gentle heart, big f*cking fence. Your heart, in its fragile fierceness, should be opened wide, but only to those who deserve it.
  10. The sting of failure only lasts until you do something about it. Don’t get me wrong, at times it will hurt like hell, but it’s only temporary. The real good stuff is what you make of it.
  11. Boundaries. Dear god, woman. BOUNDARIES. Set them now. Don’t let them go. It’s harder to set them after the fact. 
  12. Be kind, always. Especially to yourself.
  13. Find someone weird, like you.
  14. Only say “yes” when you mean it. 
  15. Apologize for your mistakes. But never apologize for being yourself.
  16. Wait until you’re ready to adopt the dog. And then adopt the dog. She’ll save your life everyday.
  17. Love won’t look the way you expect. It never does. But it will surprise you with its depth and beauty and power. 
  18. Let him love you.
  19. You are brave and capable and significant and radiant. You matter.
  20. Write, dammit. Everyday. Write.
  21. Take up yoga. Running is never going to happen for you, babe.
  22. Move. Every damn day. Make it a habit. You won’t regret it for a single moment. 
  23. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. 
  24. You are going to fall flat on your face. You’re going to screw up. You’re going to risk and it will be a huge f*cking mess. In that moment, when you’re on the ground writhing in fear and pain and damnit-what-was-I-thinking and who-the-hell-was-I-to-think-I-could-do-it, remember… You are courageous. To be plugged into life means that you will screw up, fall down, get messy. The mess is magic.
  25. You don’t have to do it on your own. You weren’t meant to do it on your own. Your people are here. Reach. Out. 
  26. Therapy. Do it*. (*Hold out for a good therapist. They’re worth their weight in gold.)
  27. You don’t have to be friends with everyone. You don’t even have to be friendly with everyone. Not everyone will like you, no matter how hard you try, love. If someone asks you to dampen your spark to make them more comfortable, send them love and let them go.
  28. Your body is a miracle. Even in those moments when you wish that you had another or that you could trade out parts, she is magical, miraculous. A self-healing gift, strong and soft, tender and fiery. Try to remember that. And try to treat her like the miracle she is.
  29. Family is everything. Birth. Adopted. Chosen. Created. Love them fiercely.
  30. From the luminescent Rupi Kaur: “what’s the greatest lesson a woman should learn? that since day one. she’s already had everything she needs within herself. it’s the world that convinced her that she did not.” You have everything you need. You have everything you need. You are everything you need.

From what I hear, your thirties are even better than your twenties. If that's true, with the way that my twenties went, I'm looking at a decade of revolutionary magic.

When you look back on your younger self, what are the things that you wish that you had known (but had to be ready to hear)?

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