In the last month and a half before my 30th birthday, I am paying homage to my twenties with a series of posts called "The Roaring Twenties." Enjoy the ride!
I came across a notebook I took with me when I traveled abroad for a second time in the spring of 2002. I was coming out of a very tough sophomore year of college, and a month-long trip to Italy and Germany had been an eye-opening breath of air that allowed me some space from my troubles back at school. On the return flight, I apparently made a list and, at the very top of the page, scribbled I'd like to share this with the world....but maybe not yet.
Well, that time is now.
I wrote this list just a week or two after my twentieth birthday. And, reading it now, ten years later, I realize that perhaps all the lessons I learned in my twenties were acknowledged in the very beginning. Just possibly not paid any attention to....
[29-year-old me's commentary]
THINGS I HAVE LEARNED
(A perpetual work-in-progress...with progress being the operative word....)
- Friendship is so important
- People love me. [What? It's true.]
- I have the ability to make people, including myself, laugh
- I am beautiful [Wayyyy ahead of you, Xtina....]
- I am a drama queen, and I love that
- No matter how hard it is, I will get through it
- I have the power to disentangle myself and step outside the situation for a little while to observe it...
- ...but I always must go back eventually; running away solves nothing
- I can be whole and complete by myself
- Follow urges whenever possible [My definitions of 'possible' and even what constitutes an 'urge' have certainly changed, but my outlook on urges in life has not.]
- Friendships take effort, but the pay off is unbelievable
- You can trust anyone as long as you trust yourself enough to have the strength to deal with their faults
- Differences in opinion can be beautiful
- Sometimes you need a day or two to just be sad....
- ....but eventually, you have to get out of bed and face the world
- Hiding can be a form of procrastination
- Everything happens for a reason
- My superstitions make sense only to me, and I like it that way
- Sometimes there really is no one to blame
- I can be a glutton for punishment
- There are things I do not like about myself, but I've found they're mostly things no one else notices anyway [I disagree with the latter at this point in my life - people damn well do notice them. But the ones who will stick around will love you anyway.]
- "I no longer fear the storms because I am learning to sail my own ship," -Louisa May Alcott [still a favorite quote]
- I have an incredible family [still very true]
- I am in infinitely interesting person [everyone is...if you take the time to listen]
- I prefer white wine but sometimes red is necessary [in my ripe old age, this adage is flipped]
- I speak another language excellently [At the time, I damn well did. Now...it's pretty rusty. I am forever embarrassed when people tell native German-speaking friends and relatives that I speak German because beyond telling someone my name, the time of day, and asking for the restroom, I am pretty much lost.]
- My gifts are many and I don't have to narrow them down [It's a blessing and a curse, my jack-of-all-trades tendencies]
- My inner-strength is much stronger than I give it credit for
- My body has the most beautiful curves and angles
- There is no one thing that defines me
- I still get scared by a lot of things, but I am learning to live with thunderstorms [they still freak me out sometimes]
- My friends' individual strengths and weaknesses all help me grow
- I love cities and places with water [good thing I live in Baltimore....]
- Everyone has a story
- Don't knock it unless you've tried it
Hence, the wisdom of my barely-20-year-old self. I haven't yet devised a list of all the things I learned in my twenties, but I imagine it doesn't veer too far from this core outline. Which leads me to believe that the thirties are about this: taking the core "you", your most basic values and structure, and becoming the best core-in-motion you can be. Actually learning from your mistakes, and taking your altruisms to heart while being open-minded enough to know you still have a lot to learn.