lessons from my 29th year around the sun

Today is my 29th birthday. Last year was the second worst year of my life–only second to the year my dad died. This year has (thus far) been the best year of my life.

A few years ago, on my birthday, I jotted down a few lessons I learned, and now it has become a tradition. It doesn’t wield any great wisdom, necessarily; I’m too young to be full of much wisdom, and I’m not nearly smart enough to say anything that’s going to blow your mind. Although I play at arrogance, I don’t actually possess enough hubris to delude myself into thinking that there’s much here that’s going to change anyone’s life. It’s a practice for me, in this process, to remind myself to be humble, and to remind myself of the value of the time between birthdays.

Here’s what I learned this year, largely thanks to the generosity, insight, and support of the many people in my life who are infinitely patient and brilliant and kind:

  • Sometimes you have to go backward to go much further forward–to really learn what you needed to learn before you can grow.
  •  Care is a verb. Love is an ethic.
  • What other people think of you is none of your business–and the only person you need to impress is yourself.
  • Never negotiate with emotional terrorists.
  • Love the people you love fiercely. Let go of the people who don’t love you back. You can still save a place for them in your heart, even if they can’t hold a place in your life.
  • The value in the vulnerability of trying something you’ve never tried before–in trying something you’re skeptical of–cannot be overstated. Whether it works out or not–the trying is the key.
  • Sometimes you have to say goodbye to other people to say hello to yourself.
  • Sometimes you have to say hello to new people to say goodbye to your former self.
  • Reacting immediately is great for short term survival, but not so great for longevity and sustainability (professionally, interpersonally, emotionally). Wait. You have the time. Wait.
  • Take the knife out of your back. Tend to your wound. Put the knife down. Keep it as a reminder; do not use it to stab anyone else–not even the person who stabbed you. Do not use it to stab yourself again, either.
  • You aren’t anyone else’s show pony. Don’t entertain on demand. Don’t entertain for affection. Don’t let being performative become more important than being you.

One more year to thirty. I can’t wait.