Today I am 30 years of age. Three decades of living, sleeping, sucking in air, digesting food, expending energy, and using up resources. Nothing significant – a breath, a puff, a wisp. A mere dot on the infinite spectrum of time and history. And yet, we celebrate our birthdays. We see such meaning in our little lives: commemorating milestones and sending well-wishes and lighting candles.
I believe we find meaning and purpose in our lives because our lives are, in fact, meaningful and purposeful. I believe Creator is pleased as we discover the purposes intended for us.
I have so little to offer in the way of thanks, to Creator or to those Creator has put in my life who make it such a wonderful life to live. But after 30 years of schlepping clumsily through this world and making a general mess of things, there are some truths I have learned. Here I humbly offer, in no particular order, my list of 30 lessons that life has taught me.
No matter how much chocolate you cover them in, malt balls will always be disgusting. Stop giving them second chances.
- The older I get, the more there is to learn. I pray this truth makes me more humble, open, and inclusive.
- Facebook birthday comments should be the norm for everyone, everyday. We would all feel more loved, valued, and inspired to give back. It would just be a better world. Thank you to all my Facebook friends who’ve made me feel loved today.
- Shame is an enemy that you nourish. Mistakes – we’ve all got ‘em. Don’t let your fear of what others will think get in the way of growing up. Mistakes can become the foundation for making a better choice next time, so own it, take your lumps, and move on. Unless you’re a politician – you better cover up that shit pronto.
- Don’t be a politician. Just don’t.
- You never outgrow your family. You might disappoint them, drive them crazy, get as far away from them as possible – but you’ll always need them.
- Arriving is overrated. Enjoy the journey, be at peace in the in-betweens, and trust that it is better to be “in process” than to have reached a final destination.
Schadenfreude is the most powerful force on earth. This is why America’s Funniest Home Videos will never die. And why I will never stop watching.
- If you have to change who you are depending on who you’re with, it’s your problem, not theirs. Or, in other words…
- You do not have enough energy to be more than one person. It’s exhausting. Stop it. Now.
- Stay in school. Mr. T. was right.
- Legislation tends to address symptoms; rarely does it solve problems. We need good government, and I have nothing but respect for people who are able to lead in that way – they do so with significant personal sacrifice. But I want to put my resources into solutions that change hearts and minds, such as…
- Relationships and story. Two tools that will build bridges instead of walls. Watch how dynamics change when you share your story, and listen to others tell their own.
- You really can live a completely fulfilled single life. And being in love is every bit as wonderful as you imagined. Don’t waste time pining for one or the other – neither is the answer to your problem.
- There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. It is called a family size bag of peanut butter M&Ms.
- Time is my most valuable currency. I’m striving for a balanced budget: the time I spend wisely, the time I spend frivolously, and the time I save for myself.
- You don’t need it. You really don’t. Put your credit card away.
- Come out of the closet. It is worth every single sling and arrow you may endure.
- You are more resilient than you can imagine. Creator built you to last – don’t count yourself out just yet.
I’ve never regretted going on a run. I’ve often regretted sitting on the couch with a bowl of ice cream watching Adam Sandler movies.
- Live a life of learning. You will always have something to look forward to.
- Secrets serve no one. Find a community that allows you to be authentic, and that does not have expectations of perfection. They really do exist.
- Use tools, not weapons. It’s easy to tell the difference: one builds, the other destroys.
- When you must do battle, be sure you fight on behalf someone who can’t. The only noble moment in war is one of sacrifice.
- Love indiscriminately. You never know where you’re going to find a new friend.
- If you find you can’t escape something, it’s probably best to go ahead and face it. Except spiders. Always run frantically and desperately away from spiders.
- I cannot think of a more debilitating disease than the need to be right. It will consume you, it will quarantine you, and it will render you completely ineffective.
- The difference between arrogance and confidence is that the latter is earned. You’ve been through the fire and you have the scars to show for it. You might be mocked for your conviction, but no one can take your experience from you.
- Music makes everything better. No exceptions.
- There is never a reason not to hope. Comparatively, my little life has been fairly free of tragedy. I know people who have suffered much worse than I ever have. But I do know dark times – seasons of doubt, destitution, and abandonment. The despair of being lost, of a broken heart, of feeling worthless. Moments of grief and sadness so profound that they simply can’t be expressed in any language but tears. I’ve neared the end of my rope more than once – but, by grace and goodness, it has never slipped away. If I’ve learned anything in living three decades – if I’m confident of just one thing – it is that hope does not disappoint.