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.

Originally published at besting betty.