Each year brings both adventure and challenge, opportunity and obstacles. How we approach what’s thrown our way determines our outcomes. Do we handle life with ease and grace or do we dig our feet in and resist like the plague? As I prepare to welcome a new decade in just a few short days, I can’t help but ponder the rich life I’ve experienced thus far.
The last ten years have been unforgettable. It’s been filled with great adventure, risk, love, and war. I entered my twenties as a shy, conservative girl in search of my identity. Who was I? What did I want in life? Who did I want to become? Those questions drove me to try new things, meet new people, travel to the corners of the world, and risk in love. I won much and lost a little. The beauty of it all, however, is that I have a deep appreciation for the journey called ‘life’ and I now welcome growth- whatever that looks like- for we really learn what we’re made of in the good times and bad.
Weeks before my twentieth birthday I packed up all of my belongings (enough to fit in the backseat of my car) and moved to the cement jungle known as Orange County, California. I had an internship opportunity that was too good to pass up. I knew no one but figured I’ve never met a stranger so it wouldn’t be any different. Little did I know what was in store ahead of me.
I learned building community doesn’t happen by happenstance. It takes time, intentionality, and deep commitment. I developed friendships with some of the fiercest, most inspiring individuals I know. They taught me what unconditional love really looks like. True friendship isn’t loyal only in the good times; no, it’s sitting alongside you in your mess, holding your hand and telling you ‘it’ll get better, it always does’.
My twenties also brought tremendous healing. Like every other human on the planet, my childhood wasn’t perfect- that’s normal. It was filled with bumpy roads and a few bruises. My newfound independence exposed what was really in my heart. I decided the only way to get over the hurt, pain, and disappointment was to walk right through it. I was determined not to allow such experiences to dictate my future. I found beauty in my tears and strength in my pain. I learned there is no better teacher than vulnerability and openness.
Love is what each of us deeply desire. There is no greater experience than knowing someone and being known. I found love in my twenties. First, I experienced love from the One who knit me together and has my name written on His heart. His name is Jesus and there is none like Him. I also met a boy who broke my heart. I don’t think anyone ever forgets their first ‘heartbreak’. Yet, that remains a fleeting thought because I met a man who captured my heart (and still does every. single. day.).
My husband has truly been the single greatest gift I have ever received. His love for me is constant, steady, deep, and wide. He is the epitome of patience and has the unique ability to remain calm in the midst of any storm. He loves me well and I have forever been changed as a result of knowing him. It is my greatest joy to pursue him and learn about the wild mystery of covenant love.
My twenties were also filled with great accomplishments. Like many young women, I struggled with self-value and worth. I passed up opportunity for fear of not being enough. I relegated myself to the status quo even though I knew greatness lied deep within me. Conversation with a perfect stranger over a cuppa joe proved to be momentus. I found the courage and strength to take my dream of higher education off the back shelf and go for it. Several years and lots of sleepless nights later, I graduated as the Valedictorian of my college class. That is a moment I will never forget.
Growing up does not happen overnight, nor is it an easy process. The transition from youth to adulthood is often times terribly uncomfortable. It’s filled with unpredictability, accidental victories, and everything in between. As nice as it would be for life to be handed to us on a silver platter, that is neither realistic nor practical. There is a badge of honor that comes with adulting. Everyone must go through the process and who you become as a result is something to be proud of.
I’ve always thought of myself as a dreamer. The glass is half full, the clouds are silver-lined, and the grass is truly greener. Yet there is a practical side to life that must bring balance. I learned working hard is necessary for playing hard. I am far from being a trust fund kid and have worked for everything I own. This is perhaps the greatest gift my parents have taught me. What does this look like? Do whatever it takes to get to where you want to be.
You will never arrive if you’re afraid to work hard. Life is not for sissies. You must roll up your sleeves, prove yourself, and remain humble in the process. Professionally I took the crooked route- started a career, hit pause to earn my degree, and then resumed at the bottom when everyone around me was climbing to the top. Humility will take you where pride never can. Stay foolish, stay hungry, and you will get there, I promise.
I can’t help but reflect upon my twenties with deep appreciation and gratitude. My blood, sweat, and tears have brought me to where I am today. And I can only imagine where the next ten will take me. I hope to experience deeper love, new friendships, and professional growth. Most of all, however, I hope to experience motherhood.
For all of you twenty-somethings reading this today, my desire for you is that you celebrate every opportunity thrown your way. Revel in the good times and weep with friends in the hard ones. Don’t shrink back; rise up and move forward. Your deepest fears will become your greatest strengths if you let them. Take risk, fail forward, and lay it all on the line.
Your twenties build the foundation of your future. Find friends who get you- who will be the Thelma to your Louise, the Micky to your Minnie. Pursue love fiercely. Try new careers, move to a new city, make a big purchase. Build community around you and serve others well. Don’t allow fear of failure to be more of a dear friend than a distant acquaintance.
If you do these things you will lead a rich life.
PC: Perfect Pea