Most people I know have a certain number in the back of their minds–the age at which he or she becomes officially old. For me, that particular birthday has already come and gone. It occurred on October 21, 2007. It was the day I turned twenty-ten. At least, that’s the only way I could bring myself to say it then. I’m more comfortable here in the land of thirties now. But I do recall feeling as though I’d crossed a significant mile marker then. The bright side of that, of course, is that future numbers don’t scare me because, well, I’m already old. Ish.
Oh I kid. Sort of. I do realize that thirty isn’t old. I do. But for me, the number was daunting. Because of the way my birthday falls I was always one of the youngest people in my class. And, having given birth at sixteen, I was always practically guaranteed to be the youngest mom in any given group. It’s just the way that I’d come identify myself: youthful. The turning of that thirty-corner signified an end to that, at least in my mind.
Oh, if only I’d known. It only gets better.
There are lists of things I wish I’d known then. Lists of them. Things that would have eased the months that led up to that October day. Tidbits of wisdom that I probably wouldn’t have understood then, without the luxury of hindsight.
I’m choosing six today. And even as I sit here considering them, a knowing smile reaches me. These are but a few of the things I wish I’d known as I approached thirty:
6. Wrinkles aren’t like a tax deadline. Nor are they subcutaneous cougars waiting to pounce the second the clock strikes midnight. They’re gradual. Oh and pee ess, there are definitely worse things. Perpetually-surprised Botox face, anyone? See what I mean.
5. Not being the youngest one in any given group will feel all wrong at first. The fit will be something like that new pair of flats that you have to wear around for a bit before they get comfortable. But, just like the wrinkles, you’ll find comfort in your own skin. You’ll discover a wisdom all your own and you’ll be able to connect with other moms on a whole new level.
4. Workouts get harder. But there will be a shift somewhere–metabolism or something–and it means that you won’t be able to eat like you used to. Regular exercise will be all the more important. Though, admittedly, not any more enjoyable.
3. Gone are the days when you could hop up on the counter to reach the top cupboard shelf and then jump back down with ease. In spite of the continued exercise, your body doesn’t cooperate like it used to. Joints creak. Feet ache. Muscles protest.
2. Relationships evolve. All of them–spiritual and earthly. They strengthen and deepen with perspective. It’s eye-opening and awkward and scary and full and beautiful all at once.
1. You’ll find an even more meaningful appreciation for all with which you’ve been blessed.
In a nutshell, you will find joy. You will come to view the people and mistakes of your past through more experienced eyes and you will proceed accordingly. You will forgive ever so slightly quicker and breathe easier. Whereas once you thought you knew it all, you will realize that you’ll never stop learning. There will be confidence rooted in that which matters as opposed to that which so quickly passes away. So, too, will there be hardship. Heartbreak. Letdowns. But all of it will be easier to accept because your faith has been strengthened through it all. You will fully grasp that nothing is permanent. You will appreciate today while planning for tomorrow. You will savor more, dwell less. And possibly, above all, you will face future birthdays not with gritted teeth and clenched fists, but with quiet anticipation and barely-concealed hope.
It’s a crazy-beautiful trip. Enjoy the ride.
*Happy birthday, Stephanie! Something tells me you will face this year every bit as gracefully as you’ve welcomed the ones that have come before it. I hope that this post, as well as Dayna’s, will bring a smile to your day*