For the last 3-4 years, I have spent the days leading up to my birthday in silent reflection. From remembering the painful moments that scarred me to reliving the joyous moments that renewed and re-energized me, it was a way to cohesively package together the trials and tribulations of a long year of life after 30. Usually, after the Facebook birthday wishes stopped flying in and I had time to embrace that there was no fooling the hands of time and turning back my age to a smaller number, I would share these “words of wisdom” in a post that I somehow always got RAVING reviews for. From complete strangers to those who literally lived all of the joy and pain I had been through in that year with me, people were able to glean some insight from it; therefore, I have decided to make up for all of the slacking I have engaged in on my personal blog by closing out 36 with a very raw, truthful, reflective look back on this last year in the form of a letter to the life I learned to leave behind throughout 36…
“Before I start picking you apart for all of the things you did throughout most of 36 that were a complete waste of time and energy, let me first and foremost give you kudos for making it through another year of life. That was a tough one… heartache, physical and emotional pain, the death of friendships, the birth of new dreams and goals, more work hours than you would ever care to have to claim… the good news is, you have made it through 100% of your worst days – and that’s a pretty damn good track record. The world can be an incredibly cruel place. From the self-righteous and entitled to the just downright unkind, society today will beat you to a pulp if you let it. I’m proud of you – you weathered the storm and you are here to tell about it. Now… on to dissecting all of the things you did in 2018 that were important only because they taught you what you DIDN’T want out of life. This could easily compose a small novel, but let’s recap the ones that pack the most punch in a series of succinct (yet incredibly powerful) “lies we learned to stop telling ourselves”:
- ‘If I was just skinnier, richer, smarter (insert said insecurity here) he would want me
- ‘I’m just cursed’
- ‘If I just give him one more chance he’ll change’
- ‘This is the last time I’m ever going on a date’
- ‘I’m never letting myself fall in love again’
- ‘Everyone has already given up on me, I might as well give up on myself too’
- ‘God’s punishing me for ____’
- ‘I’ll never get past this heartache’
- ‘It just wasn’t meant for me to have children I guess’
- ‘Everyone else’s life just seems so much more fun & fulfilling on social media’
- ‘I’m jealous of them- they have such a happy (marriage, relationship, life)’
- Expectations… all of them. They’re the root of your continued disappointment in the way YOU saw things happening and the reactions or actions you expected!
Instead of telling yourselves lies that will leave you exhausted, empty-handed and disappointed at the end of every day, replace them with affirmations of faith, grace, love, sanity… Here are just a few of our favorites that we have learned over the last few years of life. Some might resonate better or more profoundly with you than others, but each one will pass through your “life filter” at some point or the other and some will shake you more than others:
- You’ll learn to gauge your strength of faith by how well you clean and dress the gaping wounds of others while you’re still bleeding yourself.
- A bad day does not mean a bad life… but it can mean a bad week, month or year if you allow your pity party to take up residency.
- Straightening someone else’s crown doesn’t diminish the glow of your own. It’s the kindest display of “pride to the side” you can engage in. Often times, in making someone else’s day, you will make your own. Don’t do it to “feel like a good person,” do it in genuine humility and honesty and don’t tell people about it. Just straighten it and keep on truckin.’
- Often those that have the least, give the most. The sooner you learn that gifts FROM THE HEART will always take precedence for those people in life who appreciate the well-thought-out little things and are grateful, the better off you will be. Giving is done with trust that God will continue to provide and double your bounty with your servant-hearted faithful giving. There has never been a time I have given because I just had so much money to give that I felt the need to do it… I give small amounts, often, to causes and philanthropic organizations and foundations that I am vehemently passionate about, and when I don’t have funds to give, I give my time… my baking skills… my talents God blessed me with. Giving isn’t meant to be easy- it is meant to stretch your faith that God will bless you when you bless others.
In the event that you forget these incredibly powerful affirmations we taught ourselves and learned to live by, here’s your reminder of them. May they continue to be a part of your daily palette and offered up as small bits of infinite wisdom you share like a kind disciple to those who haven’t quite learned the ropes.
In the end, you have so much to show for this year. Yes, it’s most definitely included some less than brilliant moments you could probably have skipped, but never has “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” been a more heralding tagline than this year of 36. Tonight, when you put this year to bed and wake up with a refreshed, renewed, re-affirmed plan to conquer 37 and make it your best year yet, please be mindful that growth doesn’t come without pain; love doesn’t come without heartache; blessings don’t come without battles; success & victory don’t come without defeat. Chances are you’ll chalk up a few more loses in the friend category as you work your way up the ladder of success you’ve decided to embark on here in these last few years – that’s ok, they probably weren’t really your friends anyway. You’ll for sure tick more people off with your newfound strength of character and realization that you really are NOT everyone’s cup of tea – and that’s really ok at this point in life. Let’s also have a pretty decent heart to heart on how many more times you’re likely to hear “wow, you’re still single” during this year of 37. It’s going to happen… and definitely more than you want it to; but remember with me that at 36 you owned your “singleness,” turning the question back on the asker and affirming that “it’s not your plan, it’s God’s, so you are just going to stay the course and pray He has something wonderful up His sleeve.” It won’t get easier this year. One more notch up the ladder toward your “you’re too old for kids” status only means more questioners… more nay-sayers and people who equate your being single to a definite flaw with you and who you are and what you are “hiding.” May I take this moment to caution you to not let the voices inside your head eat you alive once that person who has just berated your “late-ness” moves on to the next victim in their path. Tread lightly on your own mind and heart- true strength shows itself when we aren’t just strong because of our pride, but because of our security when even a tinge of doubt attempts to uproot your reasoning. You’re not a failure because most of society’s measure of success is in marriage and children; you’re not a reject because your timeline of life doesn’t look like the rest of your graduating class. Marry your goals sweetheart. Fall in love with your dreams and passions. Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire (other than a man) and when (not if, but when) others question it, stand your ground and proudly remind them that there is no set schedule of life other than that which God has laid out for us.
Now, let’s confidently say this together before we close this chapter and start on a new one – You kicked ass 36. You hammered your goals and celebrated, often in silence and solidarity, because no one knew the hours behind your grind. You fought through the hardest battle of life that far too many will never allow themselves to gain personal victory in – being alone; truly waking up day after day and going to sleep night after night without a human voice, a text, any interaction other than your poor Boomer, who is actually an incredibly kind, head-turning listener! Hearing your own voice and seeing your own face in the mirror instead of placating your loneliness with half-assed “love” or someone who isn’t right but “will do.” Hear this loud and clear – that battle is one of the hardest you will ever fight, but its victory is timeless… never again will you have to worry about losing yourself in someone else filling you up, filling a void, or filling your bed. You’ve learned to love the sound of your own two feet walking away from anything not meant for you, knowing that what and who God intends to be in your life will never NOT be there. Let’s do this 37.