Today (August 26th – I’ll likely be publishing this a few weeks later) is my 27th birthday. 27. That’s 70% through my 20s. As my sister so lovingly reminded me this morning, I am seriously close to 30 and the next 3 years are going to fly by (thanks for that, big sis). I had a lot of goals and things I wanted to accomplish in my 26th year of life, but if I’m honest with myself and you, 26 was hard.
I recently had a conversation with my husband about how overall, 26 was the hardest year of my life to date. I’ve had some hard things happen to me. For example, I lost my dad at 20 and always thought that I would consider that the hardest year of my life. While that actual event of losing someone so monumental in my life was beyond painful, the year as a whole (minus losing my daddy) actually was a great one. Contrarily, while there was no huge, difficult, life changing event that occurred while I was 26, the whole year from start to finish was pretty difficult. My whole 26th year of life was life changing. While all the reasons that it was hard deserve their own individual blog posts, the combination of working in a field that required me to take on other people’s problems, being away from husband, and, as a result, feeling extremely lonely a lot of the time, and dealing with more anxiety than I ever have before made 26 mentally and emotionally draining.
When I looked at the calendar a few days ago and realized that 27 was so close, I rejoiced because this year, more than ever before, I was ready for a new chapter. Today, as I reflect on the last 365 days, I realize that while the majority of them were challenging, the challenges were what I needed. Usually, I don’t feel different on my birthdays. People always ask, “how does it feel to be [insert age]?” and I always think to myself that it feels exactly the same. But, this year, it does feel different. I feel more mature, more awake, more at peace, and more prepared for whatever this year has in store.
Although being “seriously close to 30” is something that a lot of people dread, I think I feel OK about it. At 27, I have a husband that I love dearly, a master’s degree, great friends, and wisdom to draw on from a number of priceless experiences that have shaped me into the woman that I am today. All of our journeys are our own, and in my personal journey, I feel like I’m right where I’m supposed to be. So, for 27, I don’t have a long list of goals to accomplish. More than anything, I just want to continue to grow both spiritually and emotionally so that when I do wake up on the morning of my 30th birthday in a few years and reflect, I can do so with the same peace that I woke up with this morning.
Although I don’t dread 30, the thought that my 20s will be over soon does seem a little daunting. 30 has always seemed so far away and now that I can almost see it, I wonder who I’ll be when it comes around. Will I be a mother? Will I still live where I live now? Will I have the same friends? Where will I be on my journey towards physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual wellness? What will I have accomplished? While I don’t know the answers to any of those questions today, I know that there are 3 things that I want to focus on during the last 3 years of my 20s and that as long as I focus on these things, everything else will fall into place:
- Loving: 26 taught me that I need my people. I need people that are committed to staying, people that are loyal, and people that are willing to hold me up when I’m feeling weak. I need my husband. I need my family. I need my friends. During the last 3 years of my 20s, I’m focusing on fostering the relationships that matter most to me. I’m investing time and energy to those that invest time and energy in me and I’m no longer worrying so much about those people who, for whatever reason, don’t. I also see the value in new relationships and am eager to build with people who are on journeys that are similar to mine and are sincerely interested in not only getting to know God, but also getting to know themselves. When it comes to my marriage specifically, for the next 3 years, I’m all in. Not that I haven’t been all in the past 3 years, but I know that there’s a good chance that we could add to our family around the time that I turn 30 (God willing), so I really want to focus on loving my husband, being present with him, having new adventures together, and just enjoying the time that we have as just husband and wife.
- Learning: To learn literally means to gain or acquire knowledge or skill in something by knowledge, experience, or being taught. There is so much that I hope to learn during these last 3 years of my 20s. First of all, I hope to learn more about counseling couples through reading, through taking classes and gaining different certifications, and through the experiences that I have in working with them. I learned so much during my internship period and master’s program in general, and now that those things are over, I want to continue to be intentional about learning and growing more in my field. I also want to learn more about God (which I’ll be talking about more in my next point). I’ve already begun studying His word more through daily devotionals, Bible studies, and church, but I hope that by the time my 30th birthday rolls around, I know Him more than I ever thought possible. Through learning about God, learning more about working with couples, traveling, and focusing on my marriage, what I really hope is that I learn more about myself. I feel like a big piece of what it means to be spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically well is to be self-aware, so really getting to know myself will be a large part of what I focus on.
- Listening: I recently saw a meme posted on Facebook that said that “people pray for cake. Then when God gives them batter, eggs, oil, icing, a pan, and a oven, they get frustrated and leave the kitchen.” I’m guilty of doing this in so many ways. I’m impatient, and I’ve always been a “I want it all and I want it now” type of girl. One thing that I’ve learned is that God doesn’t necessarily always work like that and that when we pray, we have to be open to the response. We have to listen and truly be open to hearing what God is trying to tell us. During the last 3 years of my 20s, I want God to know that I am all ears. More than praying for specific outcomes, I’m praying that God will give me and my loved ones the tools to accomplish those outcomes on our own and help us to be open to realizing how we can use the tools He gives us to bring His plan to fruition. I’m at a place where I’m realizing that God is always available to us, but we have to meet him halfway by being available to Him as well, and my ears and heart are open. During the last 3 years of my 20s, I’m focusing on being open to God’s plan for my life by not only studying His word, but only listening to what it is He is trying to tell me through the tools He gives me and the people he places in my life.
So, cheers to 27. Cheers to the last 3 years of my 20s. I can’t wait to see what’s in store!