Wednesday, May 22, 2013

to get to C you must leave A

My messily-formed, beautiful family at my brother's wedding.
As long as I'm married by 30. As long as I have my career figured out by 30. As long as I'm happy by 30. As long as I start having kids by 30.

As long as I {enter here anything your life is missing} by 30.

My friends and I put a lot of stock in that two digit number -- and it freaks. me. out. What if our "insert here" hasn't happened by 30?

Today I watched one big, scary TED video by psychologist Meg Jay called "Why 30 is not the new 20."

If you don't have time to watch I'll tell you that her point is something along the lines of don't blow off your twenties as if they don't count -- they do count. A lot of the decisions we make now will have a big impact on the rest of our lives.

That's a lot of pressure, right?

Sometimes it's so much pressure I almost feel immobilized. Until I think of some of the advice my mom gives me that has resonated with me throughout this decade of uncertainty: "decide something." And my mom isn't saying it flippantly, as if what I decide doesn't really matter. It does, and she reminds me of that often, too. But, at some point, she says, we just have to make a choice. And if it's the wrong decision, well, so be it. You pick up the pieces and you make a different, better, more educated choice next time.

When my mom says this, I put a lot of stock in it because it's not something she read, or something she wishes she'd have known. It's simply her lived experience. She got pregnant in her early twenties, and my brother's dad didn't want to have a part in it. So, she did the single mom thing. Then she reconnected with my biological father, who was her high school sweetheart. They married and had me. But he had issues with alcohol, and became abusive. So, she left and did the single mom thing again -- now with two kids. She went back to school and got her associates degree and began working for my step dad as his legal secretary. They became good friends, fell in love, married, and had my baby sister. They just celebrated their 22nd wedding anniversary.

I share all of this because her life has been anything but picture perfect. But it worked out. She made some good choices, and some bad, but she was never paralyzed by what life handed her. And most importantly -- she learned as she went along. She learned she needed a better education to get a better job, so she went back to school. She learned she deserved so much more from men, so she gave my dorky, huge-hearted, insanely smart step dad a chance. She took risks. She didn't stay in an abusive marriage. She didn't stay in a dead-end job. She didn't give up on love. She kept going. She kept fighting. She kept learning.

I can only hope I will use my twenties as well as my mom did. Her experience taught me that while life is so messy, it is so good {I mean, look at my awesome family up top}. While we all want to go directly from A to B to C, sometimes that doesn't happen. And so we go from A to Z to J to B, and then, we finally get to C. And that's okay. The important part in our 20s, and I think Meg Jay would agree, is to make sure we leave A. Because if we never leave A, we'll never get to C -- especially by 30.

I read this article awhile back from Relevant mag about what you should know by 25. This part below helped me put my twenties in perspective:

This is the thing: when you start to hit 28 or 30, everything starts to divide, and you can see very clearly two kinds of people: on one side, people who have used their 20s to learn and grow, to find God and themselves and their deep dreams, people who know what works and what doesn’t, who have pushed through to become real live adults. And then there’s the other kind, who are hanging onto college, or high school even, with all their might. They’ve stayed in jobs they hate, because they’re too scared to get another one. They’ve stayed with men or women who are good but not great, because they don’t want to be lonely. They mean to find a church, they mean to develop honest, intimate friendships, they mean to stop drinking like life is one big frat party. But they don’t do those things, so they live in kind of an extended adolescence, no closer to adulthood than they were when they graduated college.

Don’t be like that. Don’t get stuck. Move, travel, take a class, take a risk. Walk away, try something new. There is a season for wildness and a season for settledness, and this is neither. This season is about becoming. Don’t lose yourself at happy hour, but don’t lose yourself on the corporate ladder either. Stop every once in a while and go out to coffee or climb in bed with your journal. Ask yourself some good questions like: “Am I proud of the life I’m living? What have I tried this month? What have I learned about God this year? What parts of my childhood faith am I leaving behind, and what parts am I choosing to keep with me for this leg of the journey? Do the people I’m spending time with give me life, or make me feel small? Is there any brokenness in my life that’s keeping me from moving forward?”

Now is your time. Become, believe, try. Walk closely with people you love, and with other people who believe that God is very good and life is a grand adventure. Don’t spend time with people who make you feel like less than you are. Don’t get stuck in the past, and don’t try to fast-forward yourself into a future you haven’t yet earned. Give today all the love and intensity and courage you can, and keep traveling honestly along life’s path.


  1. "This season is about becoming."

    Thanks for the kick in the ass I definitely needed.

  2. this post and the quote from the article...I needed to read this so so much right now. SO glad you guys are back blogging again, I've been out of it for a bit but a few months back I was asking around about your girls. Good to read you again :)