I turned 35 a couple weeks ago. I have never been one to age "gracefully." In fact since probably age 13, I have cried EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR. on my birthday. I used to write myself "goal" letters that I would open five, ten, twenty years in the future to see if what I planned on accomplishing had actually happened. Some things have happened. Others haven't.
This year has been the first year, that I have chosen to look at my birthday not as a marker of current age or whether I have somehow succeeded in my 13 year old mind, but instead as an accomplishment in itself. I think it is true that as you get older, you become more okay with yourself. Small dramas that used to feel like your world may implode, no longer really matter. Priorities change. And strangest of all, you realize you really don't know everything.
To help me celebrate this level up accomplishment, here are 35 lessons I have learned in my first 35 years...
1) Always give credit where credit is due. Don't capitalize on someone else's success. There is enough opportunity and success to go around. You will never be successful by copying someone else.
2) Never say never. Until you are actually in any given situation, you can never truly know how you would respond to a scenario, so stop judging how others handle trauma or conflict.
3) Find a church or community of people that share the same beliefs and will hold you accountable. God created Eve so Adam would have someone to spend his life with. It is a basic need for us to commune with other people. (Are you listening fellow introverts?)
4) Find one or two people that are not afraid to be honest and speak truth into your life. While surrounding yourself with a bunch of "yes" people that agree with your every stupid idea may sound fun, it will eventually destroy you.
5) Everyone has hurts, habits or hang-ups. And if they don’t, they are lying. So always be humble and kind because you have no idea what someone else is facing.
6) The hardest person you will ever lead is yourself.
7) There is nothing wrong with asking for help or seeking help. It is one of the most courageous and strongest decisions you can make.
8) Being kind is not a weakness.
9) Perfectionism is not a real goal. You can strive to be better, but striving to be perfect is unattainable and will leave you miserable.
10) You have to deal with problems. You cannot just bury issues from childhood or present day in the hopes they will disappear.
11) Your value doesn’t diminish just because someone else doesn’t see your worth.
12) The devil is in distractions. Keep your focus on God.
13) Stop trying to change people. Worry about yourself.
14) Not everyone is going to like you and that’s okay. Stop trying to convince others to like you.
15) Let God fight your battles and be your vindicator. He can do more in five minutes than you can do in five years.
16) The most humbling and powerful thing you can do is pray.
17) Sometimes the best thing you can do is remain silent.
18) Taking time to rest does not make you lazy.
19) Letting go of something that is hurting you is not failure. That goes for toxic relationships as well as jobs.
20) Position means nothing without a purpose driving it. If your talents are being wasted in the wrong role or the wrong place, it is okay to leave.
21) Sometimes just being present in the same room (not saying a word) with someone is enough.
22) Be as kind and understanding to yourself as you are other people. Take your internal thoughts and self talk captive. Would you say the things you say to yourself to your daughter, sister or best friend?
23) Learn the difference between true friends and fair weather or situational friendships. Friendship should be based on quality not quantity.
24) Nothing is forever. Don’t take for granted the happy and don’t drown yourself in the sad.
25) You are not your past. Just because you have always done something a certain way or reacted in a certain way doesn’t mean you cannot change.
26) It’s okay to say no. Period.
27) Self care doesn’t make you selfish.
28) Life isn’t fair, but it’s also not always bad. Stop waiting for the bottom to fallout when things are going well.
29) Stand up for yourself. If you don’t, no one else will.
30) Spoiler alert: No ones life is always perfect...despite what that filtered Instagram picture may look like, sometimes your life is going to be upside-down.
31) If you eat junk...never workout...stay stressed and never sleep...it will eventually affect your health. You have to find a balance.
32) Never look down on anyone. Everyone has a story to tell or a lesson they can teach you.
33) Discomfort is a necessary part of growth. I whole heartedly admit this was a tough pill for me to swallow, but I have learned more in my seasons of trial and chaos than I ever have when everything is going as planned.
James 1:2-4 says:
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
34) Never hate what you consider your flaws. You are God’s masterpiece and He designed you with specific strengths and weaknesses. To hate the masterpiece, means you are finding flaws in the Master’s creation. God doesn’t make mistakes. Yes there are always things we can improve on, but you have been given specific traits and characteristics for a reason. Don’t underestimate your gifts, talents and even your so-called "weaknesses."
35) In conclusion...Do the thing. Say the words. Apologize. Forgive. Because you never know when it may be your last chance.