What I've Learned in My First 30 Years of Life

Or, rather, what I think I've learned in my first 30 years of life. The light-hearted as well as the deep and meaningful. Some things I know, but don't always do. And other things I think I know, and will likely keep learning as I go.

1. How to care for curly hair.

I've had curls as long as I've had hair and I've spent more than half my life fighting that. After years of straightening my hair or hiding it in a messy bun, I've finally learned how to embrace it and care for it and style it. And even like it. It involves washing no more than twice a week and lots of leave-in conditioner.

2. How to wear makeup.

I'm a late-comer to even a basic makeup routine. Thanks to learning about the 5-minute face from What Not to Wear and watching a few YouTube videos, what I've landed on is almost as easy and low-key as my no-makeup days, but looks way better and still natural. My current favs: Physician's Formula Tinted Moisturizer all over; concealer around the eyes; smudge pot for easy eyeshadow; eyebrow pencil; bronzer/blush depending on the day; eye liner; mascara.

3. How to have friends.

It's simple: Make an effort. I know, almost sounds too basic and easy. In the 5th grade, my teacher had us all go through the book How to Win Friends and Influence People, and I learned that people care about themselves and want you to care about them to. I don't always do it well, and I have to break my introvert tendencies to reach out. But when I'm feeling friendless, it's often because I'm not making an effort and caring about others.

4. How to get dressed.

I mean, I learned it literally before I can remember. It wasn't until well after college and becoming a mom that I finally learned to embrace my simple style and put together a cute outfit that represents me. As long as I'm not in the office or at fancy events.

5. How to have a devotional life.

The details depend on the season. It always includes the Bible and always includes prayer, and for me likely involves a journal. Lately, I'm reading through the Bible (again), writing down things that stick out as well as what I'm praying over in a journal.

6. How to read a book.

I don't remember when I actually learned how to read, but I learned to really like reading just a few years ago. So much good stuff comes from books.

7. How to be a mom.

I didn't really feel like a natural mother after having our first baby. And, yet, here we are almost nine years later with three kids and we're all still alive. I must've learned something along the way.

8. How to cook.

This wasn't exactly true even after first getting married. We ate a lot of things from boxes and I thought that was good enough. I'm no gourmet chef, and we still eat plenty of things from boxes, but I have cooked many delicious, albeit simple, meals over the years.

9. How to stay married forever.

This is an area where I know the how, but still have to make the effort. Put love in action everyday, communicate even when it hurts, and don't give up. That's what I've learned so far about staying married. (Of course, this does not account for abuse or adultery. In that case, maybe staying married forever isn't the best option.)

10. How to celebrate my birthday.

I know how, and am not afraid, to make my own cake or plan my own get-together. I like celebrating my birthday, and I'm okay making that happen and not waiting around for someone else to do it for me. (Although, I appreciate the times others have planned it for me.)

11. How to see things different than others and still love them.

This doesn't come easy. I'm a "can't we all agree and get along" type of person. (Strengths-finder calls it "Harmony"). I'm learning we may not all agree, and we often see things different, but we can choose to get along. That's sometimes the best I can do in loving others.

12. How to get online.

I was maybe ten or so the first time we got Internet. The concept seemed so foreign to me, a little like how I felt when I saw my first iPhone commercial. Who knew "online" would lead to some cool opportunities and priceless friendships.

13. How to get offline.

I took a media-break in July and may need another soon. Turns out, "online" is rather addicting, so I've had to spend some time learning to get offline and have written several posts about that.

14. That falling hurts.

I had some brutal falls as a kid. One off my bike that left a scar on my knee. And one on our back porch steps that left a scar across my eyebrow that keeps getting more defined with age. Even as I get older and the dynamics of what I consider a "fall" changes, it still hurts.

15. That not living hurts worse.

Worse than the physical pain of falling or the emotional pain of failing, is the pain of not living. Of sitting on the sidelines, doing nothing, learning nothing, being alone. I don't usually let that feeling settle for long, but when it's there, I'd rather truly live even with the risk of falling.

16. How to get through depression.

I went from denying that's even what I was experiencing to finally acknowledging it and finding ways to get around it. Depression or similar symptoms can be triggered by so many things (stress, lack of sleep, poor diet, deficiencies); I'm glad I've learned to identify and stop the cycle.

17. How to simplify.

It's always been a part of me, but I didn't really recognize and acknowledge it until almost ten years ago just after I was married. Now, even with three kids, I know how to keep simplifying and enjoy the benefits of simple.

18. How to change.

Get sick and tired of being sick and tired, then do something about it. See the full post >> here.

19. That living in faith is hard but worth it.

I remember hearing the warning before my baptism, that the devil attacks people who commit their lives to God. I wasn't sure what that would look like, but I was ready. Turns out those "attacks" are sometimes so trivial they're almost unnoticeable. Feeling down, struggling with finances, feeling lonely. Whether they're "attacks" on my faith or just life on this sin-scarred earth, faith is the very thing that gets me through.

20. How to be less picky.

I was a super picky-eater as a kid. Now, I'm still pretty picky, but have learned ways to try and like new things. See >> Confessions of a Picky Eater.

21. That my thoughts aren't the boss of me.

My mind runs away from me often. I've been learning to reign this in, to focus on truth, and to act in what I know is right even if my mind thinks differently.

22. How to live away from my parents.

It's true, after living more than half of my life with my parents, I now live away from them.

23. How to adult.

Along the lines of living away from my parents, I'm also rocking this whole adulting thing. Sure, it sometimes sucks. Still, bills get paid, chores get done, meals get cooked, and we all visit the dentist and the doctor.

24. That adulting isn't what I always thought it would be.

See above to see what my idea of "adulting" currently entails: Errands, chores, bills. My idea of adulting when I was younger? Staying up late, not having homework, and generally doing whatever I want. Partly true, but definitely not the whole picture of being an adult.

25. How to speak.

I didn't say much when I was really young. I was shy and quiet and just didn't want to speak. Now, I'm not as shy, not as quiet, and actually have speaking as part of my emphasis in my college degree.

26. How to write.

The first sentence I remember writing was "I love mom." I wrote it across a piece of construction paper and put big vertical lines between each word because a space didn't seem sufficient. I'm glad I've learned to write a little more than that.

27. That writing is an occupation.

When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I'd answer something like secretary. That's the only thing I could think of that involved writing and typing, because I thought writer was a made-up thing. Turns out it's true that it can be a challenge turning writing into a full-time living wage, but it's still possible, and I'm happy to know that.

28. That maybe I should have explored other occupations.

My only interest going into college was English, and since I was afraid of pursuing writing as a career (which might have landed me in a more suitable degree of communications / journalism), I landed in English education. That didn't last long and I eventually just stuck with English. I should have explored other career and degree options. I've been loving learning about branding and design and wish I wouldn't have been afraid to take classes that stretched me.

29. Who I am and what I believe.

I am a child of God and I believe in Him. Even when I'm not brave enough to say the other specifics of who I am and what I believe (especially when it's different from people around me), I can always return to and be confident in those unconditional truths.

30. That I'm still "finding myself" and maybe forever will.

Beyond my core of being a child of God and believing in Him, who I am and what I believe is evolving. I'm growing and learning and seeing things new ways. That likely won't change as long as I'm alive. And I'm learning to be okay with that.


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