I just passed a milestone birthday recently. 40. Forty. For-tee. Wow. My wrinkles affirm it. My roots verify it. My joints testify to it. My friends threw me an epic murder mystery party, and I got an Instant Pot as a gift. So I’ve officially arrived.
While I’m not completely ready to embrace this new age bracket in life, I am eager to apply all of the hard-won wisdom I’ve gained over the last four decades. I’ve narrowed it down to my top 30 lessons of my 30s, a decade that brought some of my deepest loss, greatest joys, and spiritual growth. My list is broken down into three 10-point lists because, let’s face it, a 30-point list is annoying and a tad overkill.
1. Brussels sprouts are good.
Especially when oven roasted with bacon. And did you know it’s Brussels (with an “s”) sprouts, not Brussel sprouts!?!? Mind blown! Another lesson I learned in my 30s (we’ll call this 1b). Spell check gets me every.single.time!
2. Husbands can change.
…but don’t expect them to and love them anyway. This is a small victory, but an awesome one: my husband was not a huge fan of paying to eat out at funky places, but I’ve always loved the “experience” of trying new foods and fun restaurants. Somewhere in his 30s, he had a sort of food epiphany and now he’s more adventurous with his palate and his wallet. It’s been fun trying new places together!
3. Books are fun.
I didn’t read a lot in my teen years or my 20s (much to my book-loving mother’s chagrin). In high school, I honestly picked book report novels based on the length of the book (sorry, Mrs Hughes). In my defense, reading The Odyssey in ninth-grade English probably killed it for me. I still don’t read as much as I’d like to, but I definitely picked up the pace in my 30s.
4. Hot tea is tasty.
I’ve never liked hot tea, but I had a terrible cold at some point in my 30s. I was desperate for a hot drink (strangely, not coffee) and discovered hot tea with honey is yummy and soothing.
5. Friends are friends forever.
Some friendships are for a season, while others are enduring relationships that you sustain for decades. I have friends from 20+ years ago that I can catch up with after months (or years) of not seeing each other. Some long-distance friendships have even revived in recent years and I’m so very thankful! Some of these gals have seen me at my most crazy self! One thing is for sure – grown-up gals still need their friends!
6. Change is hard.
Before I became a mom, I left a job after almost eight years to go to a new company, which I thought would be the mecca of fulfillment and job satisfaction. I grew to love that job, but there were definitely growing pains that I didn’t expect. After living in our first home for 11 years, we moved about 8 miles away in the same town – but it was hard! And almost three years later, I still can’t back down our driveway without running into our yard. Another change is that our son began school full time last fall (kindergarten!), so I’m staring down a new phase of life and trying to figure out what challenges lie ahead…and frankly, I’m kinda scared. Change is hard. Adapting to change is work.
7. Waiting is harder.
I’ve endured several seasons of waiting in my life – whether it was watching roommate after roommate get married. Or watching my friends’ baby bumps grow as they held a toddler on their hip while my womb was empty. Or sitting in a hospital bed waiting for the next test results and plan of action. These have been some of the most difficult times of my life, and learning to wait well is a necessity and a gift.
8. Saying “yes” can be awesome.
A little over a year ago, I had only planned to watch my husband go on the giant zip line over a valley of water falls in the NC mountains. About halfway to the launch spot, I began an internal pep talk to my heights-phobic self: “Maybe I WILL do this. I’m about 10 percent there…Twenty-five percent now…I can put on the gear and still back out.” There was truly no pressure from my husband or anyone else in our group. I think he was as surprised as I was when I put on the harness and helmet. I walked up the platform gripping the stair railing, my breathing shallow. I asked the staffer if other people were this scared. He said, “Worse. We’ve had people crying.” I laughed nervously. The nice thing about this zip line was you just “sit into it” instead of really stepping off the platform into the abyss. Still not breathing, I sat and my husband and I, side by side, experienced a beautiful glide over the valley with gorgeous views of God’s creation. I’m still so very thankful that I said “yes.”
9. Saying “no” is good, too – in fact, it’s needed.
I’m the type of person who, when I do something, I want to do it 100 percent. Chronic illness also limits my “have-tos” and “want-tos,” adding to my need to be selective. So I know that if it’s something that I cannot give the time that I think it deserves, I often say “no.” It will add more stress to my life if I have to do something halfway. And sometimes we must give up the “good” to seek the “best.” It’s definitely a lesson I’m still learning.
10. I am an extrovert…who needs “me” time.
This is probably the least shocking revelation to most who know me, but hear me out. Since becoming a mom, I’ve learned to cherish a quiet house, read a book, watch a sappy movie, organize something…alone. I truly wondered if I was becoming an introvert because of my growing love for these moments. But after my husband had a year with numerous business trips, and my son started school full time, I realized I’d sink into the blues if I didn’t have enough “people time.” I need to laugh…with people. I need to cry…with people. I need to eat…with people. I just need people. So I realized if I start slipping into the “blahs” that I just need to reach out to my hubs or a friend to recharge.
Take a break, or keep reading for the next 10 lessons I learned in my 30s!