I've always looked forward to my thirtieth birthday. Sometimes, that excitement over a number would put me in the minority among my friends but there was just something about that beautifully round number that, once reaching it, meant, "I'd arrived."
Arrived at "what," I'm not exactly sure but as birthdays will often do, I look around in this introspective state, at my husband of nearly six years, our beautiful home, our two beautiful kids, my University nursing degree and pictures of our family and our travels hanging on the walls, at recent emails, phone calls and text messages with my parents and girlfriends and I think to myself with utter certainty, I have arrived.
I know what you're thinking. Lists like this are so trite. So trivial. So overdone. Lists like this one may be all of those things but it's also a really great tool for measuring how far you've come and how far you have yet to go in life.
As I sit just eleven short days away from my thirtieth birthday, I want to sit down and think about some of the really important things I've learned in the last thirty years. Some of these things are more important than others, some may not mean much to you, depending on what season of life you're currently in, others, however, may be an epiphany of sorts.
Some of these things I learned in an hour. Others, however, might have taken a bit longer to sink in. More like twenty-five years, three hours and forty-two seconds.
Regardless, here are thirty five things I've learned in thirty years.
35. Get a puppy before you have children but don't ever, ever compare said puppy to your friends' kids. In reality, puppies are nothing like babies but the initial lack of sleep and frustration of trying to communicate with something that has no idea what you're talking about is somewhat similar to the lack of sleep and frustration you will feel during those first few weeks of newborndom. It will bring out the best and worst in your spouse and it's better that you learn this over a dog and not a baby.
34.Happiness doesn't come with a price tag but there are a few things in life worth spending money on: Travel, literature and wine. Okay, shoes too. You will never regret seeing new places, losing yourself in a good book while drinking a glass of good wine and investing in a great, comfortable pair of shoes. Notice how I said comfortable. That's also something worth learning about.
33. It's easier to travel when you have a dog over a baby. You may research fifty dog kennels and settle for the "posh puppy hotel" that charges you a small fortune to board your dog and stream live TV in his "over-sized kennel" each day but it's much easier to leave your dog behind than your babies. Get the bulk of your traveling done before you have kids. Trust me.
32. Stop watching mindless TV.
31. Your junior high years, although painfully awkward and emotionally-scaring, did more for you in that time than you will ever truly understand. Surviving middle school is a life right of passage.
30. You hate small talk. Stop trying to love it and get over it. Some people may misconstrue this as you being rude or stuck up. You know that's not true, you just hate small talk. It's okay to hate small talk. Eventually they'll get over it. You, however, will never learn to like it or be good at it. Accept that fact and move on.
29. Be grateful even for the simplest of things.
28.Forgiveness is important. If for nothing else, forgive others because it will eventually make you feel better. It is not something that should be done for the benefit of others, but for yourself. Remember, however, that forgiveness is not synonymous with reconciliation. It may have taken you thirty years to realize this, but isn't it liberating?
27. You cannot ever part your hair down the middle. The only people who can really pull this off is Sarah Jessica Parker and that girl you were jealous of in high school. Embrace the fact that you look ridiculous and stick with your side part.
26.Becoming a nurse was one of the greatest things you've ever done in your life. It prepared you for the selflessness that comes along with being a wife and a mother. You should be proud of yourself and the family you're raising.
25. If it hurts, don't do it, say it or wear it.
24.Never stop trying new things or stepping outside of your comfort zone. Nine times out of ten, it will be worth it. You now successfully run two businesses. Did you ever think that would happen? I hate to say it but I told you so.
23. Marry someone who makes you laugh. It was one of the wisest things you'll ever do.
22.Never stop surprising people, whether by your words or actions. Along the same line, never become dull or boring. Nobody likes boring.
21.I lied. You like boring. Especially when it involves putting the kids to bed on Friday night, opening a bottle of wine, and curling up on the couch with a movie or good book.
20. Love is never just enough. Your husband is doing the best that he can every single day for you. He's not a mind reader and you need to be better at communicating. You've learned a lot in just five and a half years of marriage but you're going to have to keep working at it every day for as long as you live.
19. Every failure in life comes with a lesson to be learned. Give yourself grace, learn from your failure and move forward.
18. It's okay to be a little weird, to go against the grain, to embrace the less popular opinion on something. If you feel passionate about something or someone, stand behind it 100%. Chances are there's someone out there who just as weird (or weirder) than you.
17. Nobody keeps secrets well. Not even you. Be careful what you share with others, when you share it and with who.
16.Girls never grow out of being mean to other girls. Even at thirty you will find yourself judging and being judged, although by now you will have learned to judge less and to let those judging do as they please. Listen to those who are critical of you but do not let it stop you from being true to yourself or doing something you love.
15. Growing up, it may have felt like your parents set out to ruin your life. Not allowing you to wear certain things, do certain things, go certain places, etc. You now realize they were raising you the best way possible. Continue to be grateful for them, their rules and their sacrifices every single day of your life and tell them every single day how much you love them.
14.Know that you will probably raise your kids the same way and they won't realize all the good that will come from it until they are thirty, either. I'm only trying to prepare you.
13.You know that saying, "happy wife, happy life?" Well, sometimes it's more like "happy husband, happy life." Don't go too long without having sex. Except for the six week wait after having babies, going too long without sex does crazy things to your marriage. What I'm trying to say is, your husband is a much happier, more patient, better understanding man when he gets laid often. It is what it is. (Sorry Mom and Dad.)
12.That being said, speaking of and being witness to sexual acts in movies will always make you feel uncomfortable when in the presence of your parents. I'm pretty sure this has something to do with all that time you spent sneaking out and sleeping with your high school ex-boyfriend in the back of his car. (Sorry Mom and Dad).
11. People are going to continue to disappoint you. That's just life. One day you'll learn to lower your expectations. Today is probably not that day but keep that in mind.
10. That being said, relationships are important. Not every single person you have a relationship with needs to carry the same weight of importance as the next but make sure to realize which few relationships matter most. Continue to invest yourself in them.
9. Home is not a place. You haven't really learned this one yet, or if you have, you're impervious to accepting it. Take some times this year to change the way you look at where you live.
8.Comparison really is the thief of joy. Stop comparing and you will be happier, I promise.
7. A lifetime isn't a very long time at all. Remind yourself of this fact every morning. Let this reminder be a guide for your thoughts, words and actions.
6. Your will kids grow up too fast, you will eventually turn into your mother, you will never be caught up on laundry and it's okay to say, "no" sometimes.
5. Be present, especially when you're with your husband and your children. You will never, ever for once second, regret the time you spend with them. You will, however, regret the time you didn't spend with them.
4. The same goes for your parents and grandparents.
3. Never, ever send the first draft of an emotionally charged email. Sleep on it or send it to your mother, if you have to.
2.Do not withhold your time or talents from others. Be generous with each of them. Don't make promises to yourself and others than you are incapable of keeping.
1. You don't know it all and you have so much more to learn. Here's to the next thirty years.