Tomorrow is my 30th birthday. Even though being in my 30's totally makes sense - Cary's 32, most of my friends are in their 30's, and it definitely feels right - transitioning into a new decade is a strange identity shift.
I’ve reflected a lot on my 20's over the past few months. At times I’ve worried that I didn’t take advantage of this decade enough, as I was a student for all but one year of it. But then I think about all of the things that my 20's brought me.
My 20's brought me Cary, my best friend and the love of my life. They brought me May and Angus. They brought me three degrees, travels around the world, and priceless friendships. They brought me closer to my friends and family, have shown me countless opportunities for growth, and provided the space to grow into myself and gain the confidence to celebrate my complete self. I’ve not only learned more about what’s important to me in life, but have been able to better define and recognize those things, and let go of the rest (for the most part).
My goal in the last year of my 20's has been to fully love and accept myself for exactly who I am, and to nurture those qualities about myself that I love while being patient on those that I’m continuously working to improve. I am constantly working to be a better partner, friend, daughter, and community member, and while that will never stop, I want to enjoy the now even if it’s not “perfect.” I am finally in a place where I am comfortable and confident in my body. I know how much I need to eat and move in order to feel good but not feel restricted or guilty. I know how to say “I’m not ready to talk about this yet, I need a few minutes” when I feel overwhelmed about something. I better know how to say “I’m sorry” as soon as I do or say something that could have been done or said better. I also know that all of these things will require continuous work and will always be works in progress.
I am not perfect in any way, and perfect will never be my goal (what does perfect mean, anyways?). But I do feel more complete, true, and whole than I ever have before. I think that feeling is not because I've struggled through trying to change or mold myself into who I or others want me to be, but because I've worked on seeing myself for who I am and knowing I don't have to change. I'm intentional, thoughtful, and a deep thinker. I contemplate the past and plan heavily for the future. I feel emotions strongly and openly, and fight for what I stand for and what I think is right. I hold relationships very close to my heart. I like structure and rules and guidelines. I appreciate beautiful things and enjoy being in aesthetically pleasing spaces. I'm very affected by harsh lighting, loud noises, and strong smells. I can't watch movies that are too scary or too sad. These are just things about myself that aren't necessarily good or bad, all of them have had ups and downs in one way or another. But in the end, I recognize that they represent parts of who I am. Of course there will always be things I'd like to improve on, such as being better about sending birthday cards, being more patient, and knowing how to clearly and effectively communicate in tense or stressful situations. But the core things about myself? I accept them. I love them. I nurture them. Although I still have times when I don't accept, love, or nurture them fully, I've come a long way and am so happy to be on this beautiful path. This is what my 20's (and my mom ;) ) have taught me.
Here's to a new decade!
The photo at the top of this post was taken by the wonderful Merritt Chesson