It’s been awhile (again).
2019 is the year of my 30th birthday.
This year, I rang in the new year with my husband of now ten years, on the river bank of New Orleans, two giant adult beverages in each hand, surrounded by 70,000 people, in awe of the fireworks over the Mighty Mississippi.
In that moment, I promised myself that my only goal for 2019 was to try more new things. Go new place, have new experiences, meet new people, try new things.
I’ve managed to stay pretty focused on that resolution, perhaps the first one ever that I’ve actually stuck with for more than a few months into a new year. This resolution came from finally reaching growth.
But that’s not what this post is about — this post is about the relentless cycle of frustration, patience, perseverance, and growth that accompanies being an “adult.”
See, I’m a take-you-as-you-come kind of person. Because of that, I have friends, acquaintances, and colleagues from all walks of life. It gives me an interesting perspective on what it takes to survive modern life.
I mean — I’m not going to sugarcoat it — life is freaking hard. It always has been, and probably always will be. With advances society, you’d think life would’ve gotten easier. It hasn’t. It just presents totally different challenges than those our ancestors faced. We have different worries, and different problems, to tackle.
So that brings me to the title of this post. I turned 30 this year. Living through another decade has allowed me to retrospectively look back and love my 20s for what they were: a brutal introduction to adulthood, to the cycle of frustration, patience, perseverance, and growth. The human experience.
I’ve determined that the only way to grow is to experience 3 fundamental phases before it:
- With the world
- With yourself
- With you friends
- With your finances
- With your career
- Watching people you love die, come near death, move away, make poor choices, end up in bad relationships, etc.
For me, this phase was when I realized I had to “get real.” I had to learn that nothing was ever going to work out the way I wanted. I realized that I was going to have to work my butt off for anything and everything. I realized that in order to get what I wanted out of life, I couldn’t be lazy like I always had been. This lasted until about 24, and came with my first deep, deep depression.
- With yourself
- With your friends/loved ones
- With your career
For me, this was the phase that I put my nose to the grindstone and got it done. Was I super broke? Yep. Was I living just to reach my goals? Yep. Was I socially isolated and neglecting my hobbies? Yep. Did I have much fun in these years? Nope. But it was essential to reaching growth. This lasted until about 26, and it was a hard couple of years for different reasons than the frustration phase. This was when I learned that nothing in life is instantly gratifying. This was when I learned that I would not coast through life like I had coasted through school my entire childhood.
- Toward your goals
- Toward your happiness
- Toward your boundaries
- Toward growth
For me, this was when I figured out I had to stop being a doormat, start sticking with what I’d committed to, and start being present in my own, and other’s lives. I’ll admit that up until this point in my life, I had been pretty selfish. This was when I realized that I had to compromise. If I wanted to surround myself with people who would stick around, I had to be willing to meet them in the middle.
This was also the phase in which I learned that I had to be relentless in the pursuit of my own happiness, and the only way to do that was to set, and enforce, boundaries. My whole life I was always a people pleaser. I would always say yes, even when it meant hurting myself. When I got my first “real” job, I let my boss walk all over me because I didn’t have boundaries for myself. That experience taught me a lot about how I was willing to let myself be treated. This lasted until about 29.
- no bullet points needed, because growth pertains to everything.
Finally, the last year of my 20s, I finally felt like I had it figured out enough to start to grow. What’s beautiful about growth, is it never stops. As I grow in one area, I choose another to move towards. Growth, for me, has been severalfold. It means actually going to my friend’s engagements when I’m invited and say I’ll go. It means feeling confident enough to go get a Master’s. It means talking to my doctor frankly about my mental health and overall wellness. It means learning to love and find confidence in my body, just as it is. It means being a better person, both personally and professionally.
Most importantly, it means learning to deeply love who I am, from all facets, and be confident in my ability to continue to face frustration, be patient, persevere, and grow.
I haven’t said it enough, but I’m happy to have turned 30.