Newsflash: we’re all getting older. Newsflash part 2: there’s absolutely no way to stop it. The timing of this post is no accident: today officially marks 30 days until I turn (shhh…*whisper*) 30. Or to put it another way, I’m entering the last 30 days of my twenties.
You’ll notice that I don’t really try to hide my age here. Generally, that’s not what I’m about (and I’m not really sure why people do it, to be honest). One of my grandpa’s frequently used phrases to describe someone aging is “he/she is not as young as he/she used to be.” It’s become a running joke in my family, because really, no one is (unless they’re dead). We can’t stop getting older, so we might as well embrace it.
As I stare down a new decade, I will admit that my life’s not perfect. In fact, in many ways it’s a lot different than I thought it would be (more on that here). But I’m here anyway, and while it might not be what I planned, my life is pretty awesome. So while I’m still have mini moments of milestone birthday life crisis (hey, I’m only human!), I’ve decided to celebrate the awesomeness that is being (*almost) 30! And here’s why….
My early twenties were not a great time. I share the pictures not because I am super into bragging and sharing before and after photos (you already know they’re not really my jam). It’s more, I look at that picture and I’m like “Whoa. Look how far you’ve come.”
Let me paint a picture for you of the girl on the left. Get past the physical appearance (although I have to say when I look at the right: if this is what turning 30 looks like I am gosh darn well ok with it) and I’ll fill you in a bit more on “behind the scenes”).
In the first half of my twenties, I didn’t really know who I was. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was really caught up with what others thought, and what I “should” be doing. I was surrounded by family members and friends with strong or dominant personalities, and perfectly happy to ride their coattails rather than carving out my own identity (and by perfectly happy, I mean that I was too scared to step out on my own but was actually miserable).
In my early twenties, I did the things I thought I was supposed to do, then was sad, disappointed or frustrated when things didn’t turn out like I thought they would. I remember crying and feeling lonely. It took me until my mid-twenties I think to fully realize how much mental health and anxiety were a struggle (and to take action and start dealing with them).
I felt trapped, stuck and unhappy with my life, and unsure how to get out or move forward. I wondered if “being happy” with my life and career choice would ever be possible. I stuck to my comfort zone because I was really scared of a lot of things, but that, in turn, meant almost no growth.
I often say that the summer I turned 25 was one of the darkest and hardest times of my life (but always with the added asterisk that my eldest niece was born which was an amazing bright spot that was sorely needed). There were a lot of tears, and if I didn’t hit rock bottom, that was probably the closest I came. But I also believe that without that summer, I wouldn’t have had the momentum I needed to start making changes and move forward; and I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am today.
Going back to the photos again, as much as I don’t want the focus of this post to be on it, you really can’t deny the physical differences between the two photos. I showed the one of me at age 20 to a friend recently and she was like “that doesn’t even look like you!” There’s no getting around it: I’ve made serious changes to my body; but more importantly, my health, over the last decade.
In my early twenties, I worked out because it was something I was “supposed to do” (see, there I go again). I worked out because I didn’t like myself. I worked out because I wanted to change who I was. I worked out because I really liked food and eating a lot (no change on that one – definitely still do!) and I needed to punish myself and burn it off. And, if you look at the picture, you can see: it was NOT working for me.
It wasn’t until the second half of my twenties when I found a form of exercise that I really truly loved (in case you haven’t guessed – CrossFit!) that things started clicking and falling into place. I began being excited to work out. And, because I enjoyed it so much, exercise was now (gasp!) a reward instead of some sort of punishment. And because I liked this CrossFit thing so much, I began making changes to my diet to enable me to perform better. And, as I think the photos prove, it’s really working for me.
The two photos I chose (and the contrast between them) are also not an accident because I just love what they show. On the right, you see how personal growth, getting out of my comfort zone (you have no idea how terrified I was when I started CrossFit) and finding a passion have paid off for me mentally, physically and emotionally. I am not sad to be exiting my twenties and entering my thirties, because I am going out with a bang. I am doing something I love, that makes me feel strong (in all senses of the word). If I get to do that more in my thirties – what is there to be sad about?
Beyond all of what I’ve just shared, another big reason to celebrate turning 30? Getting older is a privilege. In the past couple of years, sadly, two people in my extended circles of friends have passed away in their twenties. Both of whom were amazing humans who will sadly never live to see their third decade. I don’t say this to be morbid or depressing, but we truly never know what lies ahead or what life has in store for us. Getting older and enjoying good health is not a given, so if you count yourself lucky enough to do both of these things, CELEBRATE IT, even if you don’t have the life you thought you always wanted (spoiler alert: no one does).
Honesty time: I look in the mirror and see lines on my forehead. My grandpa isn’t wrong: I’m not as young as I used to be. And it doesn’t always thrill me. I have moments of sadness that I have reached 30, I have this truly awesome life, but I don’t have that “one person” to share it with. My life is full of amazing people that I can’t believe I am lucky enough to call friends; and yet, at the end of the day, I still feel lonely sometimes.
But I’m not going to let these moments win. I’m choosing celebration. I’m choosing joy. The farther I get into writing this post, I’m realizing how much of a journey, and a transformation 20 to 30 was for me (way beyond what can be conveyed in photos). Better still is knowing that I am the driving force behind it. I took chances. I made changes. I got out of my comfort zone. All the while trusting in a God who is good and far more gracious than I deserve. And it’s safe to say the results were pretty fantastic.
So while I may not be as young as I used to be; I’m also not as sad as I used to be. And life is a LOT more awesome than it used to be. So I’ll live up these last 30 days of one decade, and dance myself into the next (I have some pretty cool plans to celebrate over the next month and a bit – stay tuned). Getting older is inevitable, so I say, as I do with so many things: why not live it up, laugh, and enjoy the journey? Sure beats the alternative.