25 Lessons in 25 Years

I recently turned 25. It’s not a ton of years, but it doesn’t feel like nothing, either. I’ve done some stuff. Gone some places. Learned some things. For this post, 25 things, to be exact.

25 Lessons

  1. Know what you’re about. What is the central, driving force of your life—not just for this moment, but for this season and beyond?
  2. Love what’s in front of you. As Mumford and Sons sing, “I will learn to love the skies I’m under.” Life doesn’t come with a fast forward button or a rewind, so be where you are and find the goodness in it.
  3. Things that are not fun while you’re living them (throwing up into a plastic bag at a London Tube station, for example) can make great stories later.
  4. Learn to let go.
  5. But also learn how to hold on fiercely, even when it hurts.
  6. Learning to tell the difference between the previous two is so, so important. And sometimes really hard.
  7. Good music can soothe your soul. Also brownies.
  8. Life can be as exciting—or boring—as you make it be.
  9. Read. Fiction, nonfiction, classics, children’s books—read it all. Read what you’ll love, read what you’ll hate, and everything in between. Read books, Facebook posts, magazine articles, tweets. You will travel, you will learn, you will cry, you will laugh. Read.
  10. As much as possible, don’t burn bridges. People may reappear in your life many times over, and you never know when it might happen or in what way.
  11. God is big, and good, and wildly confusing sometimes. Stop trying to completely figure him out. You won’t.
  12. But don’t stop chasing God. Yes, he’s confusing, but so much more than that, he is loving and good and in the end, worth it all.
  13. Don’t buy the cheapest plunger at the store. You will regret it.
  14. Write it down. Whatever “it” is. Thoughts, feelings, actions, hopes, dreams. Words will sort your brain out in ways you didn’t think possible, show you where you’ve been and sometimes clarify where you should go.
  15. Find the good people. They are out there, and they will color and shape your world in extraordinary ways.
  16. Eat well. Have some cake, a steak, the queso you love. Not as often as you might want, but not never.
  17. Stop trying to control everything. It won’t ever work the way you want it to. Ultimately, God has it. You may not like the way it looks, or the timing, or the exact way it all happens, but he can be trusted.
  18. Determine whose opinion matters. Most people’s opinion doesn’t. But for those ones, the good people, the people who love you and care for you and truly want what’s best for you—listen to them. Sometimes you cannot see clearly what’s right in front of you.
  19. Both figuratively and literally, life is too short to read crappy books.
  20. Make room in your life for the best things, even if it means getting rid of good things.
  21. Yes, it’s true you only live once, but don’t be a moron about it. Only living once is not an excuse to live recklessly with no thought of the future. It’s probable you have more days ahead of you, so make sure you can use those ones well also. Not just today.
  22. Love comes in many forms. Appreciate them all.
  23. Show up, both physically and metaphorically.
  24. Never stop learning. Learn about yourself—take personality tests that put into words things you’ve felt but couldn’t explain, be open to what other people observe about you, don’t be quite so scared to change. Soak in knowledge about any and everything, wherever you may find it.
  25. When faced with the choice between getting a good night’s sleep and going on adventures, pick the adventures. “I remember the day I was really well-rested” is not a story.

Til next time…


p.s. What lessons would you add?

My Birthday Gift to Me

Birthdays are funny things. In a few hours from when I’m typing this, I will officially be 24.

Photo Credit: Flickr User Will Clayton, Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Flickr User Will Clayton, Creative Commons

Just because the calendar says I’m 24 doesn’t mean I feel it though. Some days I do–some days I feel much older than that, as though the sheer magnitude of what I’m thinking about and dealing with has certainly added years to my calendar. Other days, I feel as though I have so much to learn, so much to experience, that  I must certainly be years younger. But everyone gets the same number of days by the time they reach 24, we just spend them differently.

Lately I’ve been realizing how little I have figured out. It seems so foolish of me, but the truth is that I thought very little about what life after college would look like. In school I could see to graduation, and maybe a ways past that to a job, but after that it was blank. Or, to be more accurate, I had thought of it, but it looked different than my reality. In many ways, I’m still learning to give up the white dress.

Now, having been at my job for a year, I’m facing the blank, asking why I didn’t consider it much before, and looking at this upcoming year and wondering what I’m going to do with it. There’s so much I have to learn, so many places I have to go, so many different ways I could fill this year.

And the gift I really need, the one that should follow and cover and surround me through all of it, is grace.

Because I’m only 24.

I don’t even begin to have this “life” thing figured out. I don’t even begin to have this faith and Christianity thing figured out. I don’t begin to have this family and friends and loving people well thing figured out.

It doesn’t help anyone when I pretend like I do. Instead, I need to give myself the grace and the space to say, “I don’t know” and be okay with it. I want to free myself from needing to have things planned out or to know it all, because I can’t. Certainly not at this age, or any age for that matter.

24 feels old in some ways, but in a lot of ways, it doesn’t and it isn’t. There is so much of my story to be written, and I can’t fast forward or find an answer key to get me to some elusive state of “arrival.” I just need to live.

So for my birthday, I’m giving myself the grace to be what I am.

Til next time…


p.s. What do you need to give yourself this year?