Today marks a big milestone in my life.
I can finally say goodbye to my 20’s. I’m happy to say it’s been a good run. But if I’m completely honest, I feel a sense of grief coupled with excitement. I am sad for the years that have gone by. They’ve gone by so fast. And no matter how I’ve tried to savor them, I haven’t been able to slow them down.
But more so, I’m filled with excitement. It’s been an adventure, to be sure, and I’ve had the privileged of watching God at work in my life in so many ways. I’m excited to see what the next years hold.
I’ve had the chance to reflect on the past 10 years of my life, and I realize there is so much more that I know at 30 that I didn’t know at 20. In fact, as I have been dialoging with my friends and family about this truth, I wanted to share some things I’ve learned at 30, that I didn’t know at 20.
1. 30 isn’t old: First and foremost, you realize that 30 isn’t as old as you thought it would feel. You understand at 30, that life is so full, and that you have so much left to live. Here’s to the next decade!
2. Your time is limited, so invest it in things that matter. I remember the days of wasting my time away on meaningless things. Now that I’m older, I see that my time is so valuable and limited. It’s important to spend it on things that matter.
3. Say no to one-way friendships. Not only is it important to use your time wisely, it’s crucial to spend it with people that care. So much of our time is wasted on superficial friendships and obligations. Time is so limited. Invest in people who deserve to have it.
4. You have the power to control your life not let others control you. I think the 20s is defined by living a roller-coaster life, allowing the choices and decisions of others to affect you rather than taking control of your life. Each passing year is a reminder of that control, realizing that so much of your destiny is really in your hands.
5. It doesn’t matter what people think of you, and you can’t please everyone. It’s sad to say that so many years are spent defining yourself by others, instead of for the sake of who God has called you to be. I’ve learned to let go of that over the past few years, and hope to continue that lesson into my 30s.
6. Physical appearance is a small fraction of who you are. I’m proud to say that this is a struggle that I’ve worked through in my 20s, as I’ve learned to accept my body and my appearance…and be truly okay with it. There is so much freedom in that, freedom I wish I possessed in my 20s.
7. You’re no longer the center of your world. For me, rubbing up against others has reminded me of this important truth. Having a husband and children has totally helped shape this part of me, but even before so, learning to let people into my life and truly love them. You automatically cease to be on center stage when you begin to love people well.
8. Life is more expensive than you think it is. This life lesson hasn’t been fun. But it’s amazing how much $100 seems to a 20 year-old, and how little it seems to a 30 year old. I think I’m learning to really see the value of money, and how to spend and use it wisely.
9. Being healthy matters. You realize you’re no longer invincible when the aches and pains begin to slowly creep into your life. I know it only gets worse- or so I hear. I’ve learned to appreciate my health, and to be more proactive about taking it seriously.
10. You hold more responsibility than you thought. Life is filled with responsibilities, and for some reason my understanding of that didn’t seem to really take shape until recently. I realize now that I’ve always had that responsibility- I just never really took it seriously until now.
11. Fun takes on a whole new meaning. So many things that may have never seemed fun in my younger years, have taken on a whole new meaning. You learn to take more joy in the simple things.
12. You learn to value your parents, even through their mistakes. I think the older you get, you realize your own flaws, and it helps you have grace for the flaws of others.
13. You realize that you make the same mistakes as your parents did. We’ve all gotten to that moment where we realize that in so many ways….we are just like our parents.
14. You have the power to change yourself. Then, you realize you have the power to change yourself. You don’t have to repeat patterns, and you’re not paralyzed to a certain mold. By God’s grace, you get to choose how you will live.
15. People aren’t always trustworthy, so be careful who you trust. Give your trust away to those who have earned it.
16. You realize that your decisions affect more people than just yourself. There’s a ripple effect, and I think it gets clearly with each passing year. Life is all about the big picture, and we are a small but important piece in it.
17. Grey hairs aren’t so bad after all. They’re actually kind of cute, once you get used to them…we’ll see how I feel about this one by 40.
18. That there is still so much to be learned.
19. That there’s so much more to your identity than you ever imagined. I’ve learned so much about myself over the past few years, and I’ve learned that there’s so much more to be learned. Like the old saying goes, the more you know- the more you know you don’t know.
20. Your words have a lot of power, so be careful what you say.
21. Forgiveness is worth the hard work. More than ever I see how much an unforgiving spirit impacts my life in a negative way, and how letting go has so much more to do with me than with others.
22. That success in life means so much more than what you thought it would. My definition of success has drastically changed for the better. My friendships, family, and my faith have taken on a whole new meaning within the definition of success. God has changed my heart over the years, and with it, what I define as my treasures.
23. That worry doesn’t really change your future. Wish I could have learned this way sooner, and wish I could prevent relapses…but by God’s grace, I want to continue to walk with more faith than fear.
24. Life doesn’t always turn out how you expect it to. But it still turns out just right. I know so many things have not happened on my time frame nor in the way I expected them to. But looking back, God’s time frame was so much better than mine. I’m learning to trust that He is good, and that He really knows best.
25. That God is bigger than you could have ever imagined. And I’m so thankful He is.
26. Gratitude for the doors that were closed. I look back at the failures and disappointments in my life now, and I am SO thankful for those closed doors and broken roads. He knew then what I know now. And I’m so glad He did.
27. You reap what you sow. Sometimes, your decisions don’t catch up to you right away. Sometimes, it takes 10 years, and sometimes even longer. But our decisions always catch up to us. I want to be deliberate about reaping good things that I will one day sow.
28. You’ve made a lot of mistakes, and will make many more. But you learn to forgive yourself.
29. Wisdom is really a gift from God. And something that I ask for now more than ever before.
30. That this stage of life has the potential of being the best years you’ve ever had. I think the key to it all, is to see the stage of life that we are currently in as the best. The prime. The moment. When life is looked at with that perspective, it can be lived to the fullest. No looking back, no thinking ahead. Just living for today. Even if today means 30.
Here’s to the next decade! May it be blessed for you and me both.
What are some things you know now that you didn’t know at 20?
Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, national speaker, and author of the book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, and 21 Days to Jump Start Your Love Life, where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. You may also recognize her voice from her 150+ articles at Relevant Magazine or Crosswalk.com! She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!