Have you ever heard of the concept of a “soul age?” I first read about it in a Cup of Jo post years ago and it has stuck with me ever since. In a nutshell, it’s the age you always feel–your gut reaction when someone asks you how old you are. In the post (which I wish I could dig up, but I couldn’t find it!), it mentioned both those people who forever seem mature beyond their years, as well as an older woman who was always surprised to glance in the mirror and not see her teenage self staring back at her.
Today is my 30th birthday! While I know some people dread this milestone, it’s one that feels comfortable to me. It makes sense. It fits.
Looking back, I’m not sure I had what is considered a “typical” twenties. I made my first career-driven life decision when I was 19 and I decided to transfer colleges (from Franciscan to Pittsburgh) to study magazine journalism. My first semester there lined up with my first internship, and from that point on, my college career was about setting myself up for my dream job, not about making friends or creating memories…though gratefully, I still did a little bit of both along the way. (While my eyes-on-the-prize strategy did pay off, I don’t necessarily recommend it, but that’s a thought for another day!) I got engaged at 23, married at 25, and we bought our first house and had our first baby when I was 26, all of which are statistically on the early side. I suspect it doesn’t really phase me to be leaving my twenties behind, because I’ve felt more like 30 for a good part of the last decade.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned over the last ten years. There are the big lessons. Dave and I met a few weeks before I turned 20 and it taught me that you don’t meet your soulmate without it affecting you deeply, even if you may not realize it right then. I learned that my body is stronger than I had ever imagined, as I watched it transform through pregnancy, childbirth, nursing, and becoming a runner. I learned what it meant to answer God’s call without having a clear explanation from Him, and ended my relationship with my college boyfriend for no particular reason other than that I felt it was what I was supposed to do (I reconnected with Dave a few months later). I realized that I haven’t always been a present friend, and started trying to actually put the work into some of my most cherished relationships.
There are the small lessons. I realized that clothing sizes are more about how I want something to fit than what “size” I am and sincerely haven’t cared about the number on a tag since. I learned I was making my acne worse by scrubbing my skin in benzoyl peroxide and tossed my Clear Care for good in favor of gentler, natural products. I learned how life-giving a passion project can be–this blog has been my outlet throughout this entire decade. What a gift!
And then there are the lessons of growth. I learned to cook, even without a recipe sometimes. I learned to save money. I learned to change diapers. I learned to be a wife and a mother, and, in the process, how to be a daughter and a sister and a friend all over again. I learned that I’m still learning all of these things and more.
Thanks to our stay-at-home order, my birthday festivities won’t go much further than our house, with the exception of curbside pick-ups for my favorite coffee in the morning and pizza in the evening. This specific day won’t look very different from the last six weeks, but here’s what I’m grateful remembering: this decade will look different than the last. Unlike in my twenties (and even before), when I moved every few years and constantly pondered “what’s next,” I now feel settled in a way I’ve never experienced. I have no doubt that plenty will continue to change. In fact, I pray that I can look back on this post in ten years and laugh about how much I still had to learn back when I wrote it. But, Lord willing, when that happens, I’ll still be under this roof with Dave, Charlie, Azelie, and any other children we may have…still happy, still grateful, still in love, and still writing.