Earlier this week I crossed the threshold of a new decade. One that by no means have I been dreading, but rather anxiously awaiting what will be in store for me.
My twenties were good to me. Honestly, they were great. Throughout the highs and lows of seasons of challenging personal development, navigating relationships, finishing two degrees, traveling the world, living with ten roommates (not including those from college), getting a yoga teaching certification, stringing together part time jobs, pivoting my career from what I studied, landing a full-time position (and still hanging out to those side hustles), starting a business, and endlessly succeeding and failing, I learned so much about myself, about humanity, about the world.
My twenties taught me to seek truth, to ask meaningful questions, and to thoughtfully consider answers, even if they didn’t perfectly line up with my predispositions. I opened my eyes and ears to different ideologies and voices — building more stability in who I am and who I want to be than blowing listlessly in the wind. I weathered heartbreak, disappointment, physical injuries and sickness, loss and unemployment. But, I gained friends, skills, triumphs, strength, memories and peace.
The past few years I finally appreciated the value of roots. Not just those of a strong support system (which I am blessed to be able to rely on), but those of faith and a value system. I stopped resenting the fact that I live in my hometown, and discovered the joys of being present and giving back to the community that profoundly shaped my adolescence.
I became comfortable in my own skin. I became confident in my personality, in my gifts, in my voice. I learned to say no to things that don’t matter or add value. I learned how to stay committed to a task when things got tough. I humbly learned that I still have so much to learn and that in the grand scheme of the average American life span, I’m still in the infancy stage.
Recently I read Jedidiah Jenkins’ book To Shake the Sleeping Self. Through his own journey of self-discovery while cycling down the western coasts of North and South America, he aptly summed up a similar perspective of how his 30s gave him a newfound stability. “By thirty, I had learned a valuable lesson: You are not an idiot. It’s okay if you don’t know everything. Don’t pretend. Ask all the questions you want. It’s fine if you’re not prepared for the zombie apocalypse at all times.”
Even though I’m a fan of contingency plans for my contingency plans, I will readily admit that I am not ready for an apocalypse. This pandemic year has been hard. But to be honest, it hasn’t been that hard for me. My family has stayed healthy, I have kept a job and a steady income, and I was even able to travel domestically a bit. I don’t say that to brag, but to reflect that even in a year that had so much turbulence and uncertainty, I can look back and see a thread of stability woven throughout. I’ve seen the value of being about to say “I don’t know yet,” and the fulfilling nature of following up with a search for answers.
The more I think about it, the more that 2020 seems the perfect year to have closed out my twenties. It was the icing on the cake of a decade of incredible growth. I needed this past year to learn how to slow down, appreciate people, manage anxiety, listen intentionally, pray without ceasing and intuitively pay attention to how to take care of my body, mind, heart and soul.
Now embarking into my thirties, I feel the self-assurance Jenkins noted. It’s ok to not be ok at all times. It’s ok to ask questions. It’s ok to try new things without the guarantee that success will be found.
Thank you to my twenties (and 2020) for pushing me out of my comfort zone in every possible way into a joy-filled life of steadiness. Now, I am happily closing that chapter and flipping the page to whatever lies ahead. I’m confident that it’s going to be great!
Happy New Year and a very warm welcome to 2021!