On March 30th I turned 29. Even typing that sentence feels bizarre. The last year of my twenties. The last year of a decade that has transformed me and challenged more than any other decade of my life.
If you follow me on Instagram then you know that this last week I experienced an enormous amount of loss. I’ve been so fortunate in my life to have had such wonderful friends and family who make me feel loved and supported, not just this last week, but throughout my entire life. A tremendous loss, while painful, reminds you that life is precious and short. It forces you to reassess where you are and what you value most. When I think about turning 29, I thought it would be a good idea (and even fun) to think about 29 things and lessons I’ve learned while living 29 years. Some silly, some serious, most are a list that I wish 13 year old me could read. So in no order of importance, here’s my list:
- Never apologize for what you like or enjoy. So often in middle school or high school I would admit liking something, but as soon as someone made fun of it, I would retrace my steps and fall back in embarrassment. It’s SO exhausting to live like that! Yes I am 29 and I do like Disney World so sue me! 😂 I do want to wear Minnie ears and drink cocktails around Epcot and I’m not afraid who knows!
- Your life isn’t going to turn out the way you think it will. There’s no way around this and it’s ok! If 17 year old me knew that 29 year old me was still unmarried, boyfriendless, still eager to live in various cities all across the country…she might have passed out. It’s funny to look back at what I expected my life would look like at this age — especially because I really do love my life.
- Friendships will come and go and that is ok! Growing up I had several “best friends”. People I assumed would be in my life forever, people I assumed would stand next to me at my wedding one day. The reality is a lot of those people are no longer in my life. Life takes hold, relationships change, circumstances change, and people grow apart. Those “best friends” I once had, I wish nothing but good things for. But there is a peace that comes with accepting that it’s ok for friendships to change.
- You cannot convince or persuade someone to care about you or love you. Sounds depressing I know but stick with me. It took me MANY years and countless hours of therapy for me to accept that there will be people that come into your life that you desperately want to love you. You can try and try and try, but in the end you shouldn’t have to try to get someone to care about you.
- Speaking of therapy, therapy is the best thing in the world. It took my family witnessing my dark depression my freshman year at SMU and finding me a therapist, for me to actually get the help I desperately needed. Since then, therapy has become a regular part of my life. Even if you don’t struggle with anxiety or depression, therapy is such an amazing tool for anyone,
- Boys will come and go. There will be boys that come into your life and make your head spin, your heart flutter, and you will think there is no way it could get any better. Then that boy goes away, another one comes along, and the pattern repeats. It’s just a part of life, and a part of finding a partner for life.
- It is OK to not want what your friends want. I’ve found more often than not, that my decisions in life have been far different than my closest friends. For a long time it saddened me that I wasn’t living the Sex and The City life with all my friends and I being single all together at the same time, always living in the same city. But the reality is, it is normal for you and your friends to want and lead very different lives!
- It is also important to not compare your life to the lives of your friends. Doing this truly only causes confusion and unnecessary self loathing. Many of my friends are married, some have kids, some are further along in their career, and for such a long time I felt behind in life because I wasn’t doing the same things. When you can accept that your life doesn’t need to be identical to your friend’s lives, you find peace. I have that peace finally and it is the BEST.
- You know what question I hate? The “where do you see yourself in 5-10 years” question. I understand it is important to set goals for the future, but it’s also 100% to have no earthly idea what those years will look like, or what the next week will look like. Hell I don’t even know what tomorrow will look like.
- The ability to adapt and accept is vital to leading a peaceful life. Life is full of challenges and events that will come up and shake your world, your plans, your hopes, whatever it may be it is so important to try and adapt/accept for your own sanity.
- Girls, this one is for you. (Actually most of these are female focused) STOP APOLOGIZING FOR BEING A WOMAN. Allow me to explain. You know how we as women always say things like “does that make sense?” or “I may be wrong..” or “Correct me if I’m wrong”. We say these things when we 100% know what we are talking about but we feel the need to be self degrading in our speech simply because we are women. Have you heard a man say those phrases? For the first time in my life, I asked for a raise this year. I stood my ground, gave examples of my successes in my job, my reasons for the raise, and I ended up getting it. No apologies necessary.
- Your body will change SO many times. I remember in college I found a stretch mark along my lower abdomen and I freaked. I thought it was the end for me, that I was fat and there was no saving me. (I was dramatic) The reality is at 29 I have gained and lost about 70lbs in the last 10 years. That’s just the reality of life + living through a worldwide pandemic. I have stretch marks all over my body. There are days that I loathe them but when I really think about it, they’re signs of a life fully lived.
- Speaking of changes, bad hairstyles will happen. They just will and that is ok. I’m sure I’ll have more come my way. But also, don’t get bangs. Just don’t. Unless you’re Zoey Deschanel you don’t need them.
- Stop touching your eyebrows. I don’t care what age you are. Stop. Messing. With. Them. Thin eyebrows are NOT a forever trend.
- Drink more water. Just do it. I’m saying this to myself because I drink more Diet Coke than I should. Oops.
- Find your core people. The people who you can be 100% yourself with. The ones who you can call in the middle of night when you need someone to talk to. Even if it’s 1 person or 5, finding these relationships is so crucial to good mental health. Make sure these people lift you up, hear you when you speak, and value your heart.
- Friendship isn’t better in numbers. There were so many times (and still are) where I would see a large friend group and immediately feel jealous that I wasn’t a part of it. So whether you have 2 friends or 20, as long as those people make you feel seen, heard, and loved that is all that matters.
- You are so much more beautiful than you think you are or will ever realize. Inside and out. Our culture makes us doubt basically every aspect of ourselves, feeding us the narrative that we need fixing. We don’t. You don’t. You are beautiful inside and out! It’s that simple.
- It is ok to have a wild stage of life. 😆 I didn’t spend my high school days drinking and I didn’t spend a lot of college drinking either. I truly didn’t drink or go to parties till my junior year of college. I grew up so sheltered that the idea of it all scared me senseless. Then senior year of college came around and well….let’s just say ya girl had some fun. 😜 I used to feel so much shame about this time of life but now I look on it fondly. It’s all a part of growing up and experiencing life!
- Clothing sizes are stupid and don’t matter. Size 2, 4, 6, 12, 18, 20, who freaking cares! Find clothes that fit you and make you feel confident. I used to try and squeeze into a smaller size, even when I could barely breathe, just so I could tell someone that I was wearing that size. So so dumb.
- Do. Not. Compare. Your. Body. To. Your. Friends. Bodies. Trust me this is so much easier said than done. All my life I have been the bigger friend. I was 5’4″ in the 6th grade, taller than almost all the boys, and most likely weighed more than them too. Now at 5’8″ I sometimes look at my friends who are the same height and wonder why I don’t have their slender frames. The reality is if I did have their frames, my head would look too big for my body. Which isn’t cute. Plus comparison is the thief of joy.
- Experiences far outweigh material things. I’ve always prioritized experiences over material things. Trust me I love to shop, but choosing between shopping and an incredible concert? I’m going to pick the concert. Memories last far longer than a cute top anyways.
- Don’t let fear stand in your way. If you want to move to New York City, find a job, find a way and do it! If you want to run a half marathon, find a training program and do it! If you want to move somewhere or do something that instills a combination of purpose/excitement but also fear, shove the fear aside. I promise you will be so happy you didn’t listen to it. Taking the risk is always worth it.
- You will never ever EVER be able to please everyone. It sounds simpler than it is. It can be easy to try to say the right thing or do the right things, hoping to not offend anyone. It’s just not possible. All that matter is that you stay true to your own word. People pleasing is also exhausting with no real joy.
- Perspective is everything. Oftentimes when we’re in the thick of a challenging event or time, we feel that those current feelings will last a lifetime. I’ve been fired twice in my life and I remember thinking that that feeling of failure would last forever.
- Every human is different and unique. No one is better or smarter than you. No one knows what life has in store for them. Being kind and supportive will go a long way. It seems simple but there will be people that come into your life that make being kind feel impossible. But in the end, kindness is always the best path.
- Boundaries will be your best friend. I didn’t discover what boundaries really were until after college. They’re not easy to put in place, and there will be people who fight against them, but they are vital in staying sane. Trust me.
- Forgiveness will set you free. Trust me. There are people who will hurt you so deeply that you won’t know if you can ever recover — nor forgive. It took me almost 8 years to forgive someone in my life. It took so much therapy but the peace that comes with forgiveness is worth it.
- My last lesson is the most important in my mind. More important than all the others. So if you have made it this far, then I believe you were meant to read this. Nothing, and I mean nothing, in this life will ever come close the beauty and glory that is Jesus. Having faith in Christ, believing that he died on the cross for you and every human’s sins, knowing that He paid the ultimate price for you, it is the only way to achieve actual joy in this life. During my happiest moments and during my darkest moments, Jesus is there. It is the same for you. His grace and mercy are unmatched. Jesus loves you far more than you can ever imagine. I hope you know this truth and believe it wholeheartedly. ❤️
If you have made it this far, thank you. Would love if you left a comment letting me know your thoughts!
Ann Williams says
Wow! What an absolutely beautiful, wise, thoughtful and well written post. I’m saving this forever!!!
Alice Scarborough says
wish I knew all that at 29!!! 75, yes! 29…… not so much!!! Love you.