I am officially one week away from turning thirty years old. Thirty. Which means that this coming week will be the last stretch of time I spend as a ‘twenty-something.’ As of Friday, I will join the band of other ‘thirty-somethings,’ a completely different category of people marked with their own set of meanings and milestones, as well as a completely different age group in future running events. Woah.
For some, things like this aren’t a big deal. For others, its monumental. As a girl who absolutely ADORES birthdays and celebrations, and who regularly practices self-reflection and aims for growth, I fall into the category of folks who see this change as BIG, and exciting. I’m stoked for this fresh start and can’t wait to see what things God works out over the coming decade!
But before I jump ahead, I think it’s important in this last week, to look back over the last ten years as this span of time has been foundational in so many ways …
For starters, I would describe my twenties with the following words: accomplishment, adventure, challenge, determination, fun, successful, and work. Hard work.
Some highlights of the past ten years would include: Graduating from Michigan State University (i.e. Spartan Nation, the BEST school in the country, ahem) with a Bachelor’s Degree in Family Community Services, followed by a Master of Social Work degree. Meeting the man of my dreams, enjoying a long engagement, and becoming ‘Mr. and Mrs.’ Buying our first home together, our ‘dream home’ in the country. Working my way up the career ladder, first as an Advisor in the college setting, then as an Advocate/Therapist in the non-profit world, and now as a Director for a tri-county agency / international non-profit organization. Successfully losing all of the weight I managed to put on through college by rediscovering my love of running, a sport I had not participated in since the fall of my freshman year of high school, and working up enough courage to join a local running team and compete in various races throughout the state, including five half-marathons. Becoming an Auntie to two incredibly awesome kiddos, Jace Ryan and Addison Olivia. Being a part of a wonderful church family, leading women’s small groups and feeling ‘at home’ in the faith community. Finding joy and purpose in photography and writing; starting a blog, joining The Influence Network, and taking the leap to publish my first eBook. And all through this journey, meeting fabulous people, making the best of friends, and reconnecting with old ones – all who have in some way challenged me, encouraged me, inspired me, and grown me in amazing ways – through school, work, hobbies, and even social media.
Some struggles of the past ten years would include: Unemployment as I was unexpectedly laid off from my first job out of grad school due to funding cuts, just three months after we bought our ‘dream home.’ (I may or may not have been a little angry and depressed during the six months I looked and looked for jobs during one of Michigan’s worst economic years to-date. Sigh.) The loss of close family members (some expected, others completely shocking), and the loss of a close friend, all of which came with grief, mourning, and heartache. Seeing loved ones go through their own struggles, wanting to help and make things better, but realizing you can only do so much. And the difficulties that come with change, whether it’s been moving into a new home, starting a new job, or dealing with injury and the pain of losing something or someone you love. All a part of life, but never easy when you’re in the thick of it, sometimes even agonizing, truth-be-told.
As a person who loves exploring, travel, and vacations, I was blessed in the past decade to visit Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota, Kentucky, Nevada, Tennessee, Texas, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. A couple of trips were for my husband’s or my own work, while most were to be with and visit family, and then to be together ‘just the two of us.’ We’ve also had a lot of fun being tourists in our own beautiful state of Pure Michigan, leaving much still yet to be seen and experienced.
I realize in looking back over all these events and excursions just how fortunate I am and how pivotal this past decade has been to my life as it has set the stage for where I’m going in the future. Through both positive and negative experiences, I have learned so much, grown so much, and changed so much. When I turned twenty years old, I had no idea what things would look like ’10 years from now’ – I had no idea I would be doing some of the things I’m doing now – and I’m starting my thirties off in much the same way, yet knowing now more than I did before about myself, thanks to these past ten years.
With that said, I’m going to fully revel in this last week of being a ‘twenty-something’ and cherish ALL THE THINGS this time of my life has brought me, the good stuff and the hard stuff. I’m going to live it up this week and get ready for my new beginning that will start on Friday as well as the big party we’re having to celebrate this ‘monumental event’ and the fall season next weekend.
To close, I just want to thank God for blessing me with the experience of living through my twenties and everything He has brought to pass in these years. I would not be who or where I am currently, or knowing where I hope to go next, without Him and His awesome power and presence in my life. I look forward to the next 10 years of the story He’s written for my life and the places we’ll journey together. Good times await!