30 Things I’ve Learned by Age 30

 

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Photo by Amy Paulson

 

 

I’ve seen this question posed a lot on social media lately: What would you say to your 11, 15, 20 year old self?

I think of a list in my head. I think of the challenges that 11 year old, 15 year old, 20 year old self went through. I think about the way her mind worked, the way she viewed the world. I stop and look in awe at how strong she was, and I grieve that she didn’t know it.

This year, I turn 30. And as I process what it means to have come this far, I’m thinking about the things I’ve learned in the last few years. I’m thinking about the things I’ve learned in all the years of my life, and looking back with love and grace at myself all those years ago. I hope you’ll do the same for yourself, that on every birthday you sit and make a list of the things you’ve gotten right, the ways you’ve succeeded, the things that have stretched you and re-created you, the ways sacredness has found you.

These are 30 things I’ve learned in my 30 years of living.

 

  1. Self care is real, and it is not selfish.
  2. Listening is essential to learning, even listening to our own stories of trauma.
  3. Being an ally is a title given by someone else who sees that in me.
  4. Sometimes therapy is a necessary good.
  5. Music is one of God’s greatest gifts.
  6. Colonization takes many, many forms.
  7. Vulnerability begets vulnerability.
  8. Life happens in seasons.
  9. Parenthood will teach us more than it teaches our kids.
  10. Yes, it’s possible to write an entire book on Saturday mornings from a coffee shop.
  11. I can’t make anyone else believe anything. I can only be open about my own humanity.
  12. Storytelling is sacred resistance.
  13. I’m more of an introvert than I ever thought I was.
  14. Boundaries are healthy and necessary.
  15. Questions are good. They teach us about ourselves and the world.
  16. Our bodies are not things to be ashamed of and detached from.
  17. Identity is complicated, and it requires a lot of painful digging to understand.
  18. Social media can be a place of great despair and great community.
  19. Prayer isn’t only an action, but a way of being.
  20. Books can save our lives.
  21. If our body/soul/mind tell us to rest, and we don’t want to, do it anyway.
  22. The church can’t always be trusted.
  23. Knowing myself means trusting that I’m sacredly loved.
  24. If we don’t have real-life friends who are people of color, we’re missing out on the beauty of the world.
  25. Hospitality is a human requirement for love.
  26. The wilderness teaches us who we are and who God is, and the strength of our independence.
  27. There are many names for God.
  28. We don’t know anything, really.
  29. Activism is an everyday, constant kind of work, in big and small ways.
  30. Remembering that we are small things in a big, beautiful, sacred world is one of the greatest gifts we are given.

 

I believe we have this beautiful capability to look at ourselves with love, and to turn and see those around us as humans capable of good and evil, but still longing for that same kind of love.

Growing one year older is another year of stretching. So as I stretch into my 30s, I pray that whatever you’re stretching into, it’s for good. It’s probably painful and uncomfortable and overwhelming at times, but it’s good.

Hallelujah, we are never alone.

Hallelujah, there is so much to learn.

 

 

 

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