Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Confession | I'm 30
I guess it's not much of a confession since you all know this by now, but... I'm 30! Some thoughts on the years past and the year to come...
[This post is mostly about happiness, so the pictures included are from some of my happiest moments over the past year.]
A couple of years ago I looked ahead to 30 and was a bit intimidated. Back then, it seemed like such a big, round, important number. But, as the day drew closer, I surprised even myself by how excited I was for this birthday!
On Monday, many sweet wishes were left on my personal facebook page. One of the comments in particular really resonated with me. In addition to the ever-so-popular "happy birthday" sentiment, this comment added "may all your wishes come true." I stared at those words for a few minutes and, instead of thinking about my future wishes, I was taken back to the past 10 years and all the wishes that had already come true.
I've had many wishes and goals over the past decade and I feel blessed to be able to look back and realize that they've all come true. I mean, surely not all of them. And maybe not always in the form I expected, but that's life. And in the grand scheme of things, as I look back, I am filled with joy over how great my 20's were - friendships made (even friendships lost) and new places discovered. I've gained more of an understanding of who I am and a bigger appreciation for life. This past year in particular was heavy in the wish-achievement category and I suppose that such a strong year has made me eager to see what the next year will bring.
Usually, I am one of those people who like to set goals for the upcoming year. I'll write out some sort of list (you know: floss every day, don't gossip, eat right, finish that project, take a photography class, etc.) and then I'll forget all about the list one month later... then I feel bad about myself when I remember the list two months after that. Kind of like New Year resolutions, I suppose. I don't want there to be a list looming in some notebook that will just make me feel bad for missing item numbers 2-25, when I did other really great things, you know? (But I do love those 31 before 31 lists people do, like this or this... so maybe a list will show its face for my next birthday!)
Anyway, I've decided not to do a list this year but to instead have a theme for the year: happiness. I know, this seems like a cop out because I'm already happy! But let me explain...
I want this to be the year that I focus on long-term happiness, not in-the-moment satisfaction. In the moment, I convince myself that taking the time to exercise, to pray and do devotions, to write out thank you notes, or to cook a meal are all annoyances that won't make me happy because in that moment those tasks become a chore (and, you know, we're all just too busy). But the truth is that I'm happiest after I complete these sort of tasks - I'm always filled with joy and accomplishment after finishing a great workout, after reading a meaningful passage, or after sending off that thank you note. I need to work on remembering what will ultimately make me happy, rather than making a choice based on current convenience.
I don't want momentary laziness, impatience, or hectic schedules to beat out positive daily choices. I want to go to bed each evening feeling like I lived that day, rather than restlessly lying in bed thinking of all the things I put off until tomorrow. I want to pursue the passions that excite me, but not get discouraged with how long it may take to conquer a new hobby. I want to learn to say no when I have too much on my plate. I want to quit trying (and subsequently failing) to do 20 things at one time but, rather, choose a couple of things to focus my free time on. I want to finally accept that I won't be happy if I'm constantly trying to please everyone else, because that is an uphill battle that will never be won. I want to make the choices that will give me lasting happiness, but not get so caught up in it that I sacrifice the in-the-moment, short term happiness that's necessary for life to be balanced and happy - so, of course, there will be days of skipped workouts, take out dinner, and guilty pleasure TV marathons.
In just the past few weeks I've made some positive strides toward this overall goal of happiness - I adjusted the posting schedules for both blogs to better suit the time I have available right now, and we cancelled our annual birthday party cookout because between Germany, DC, and life we just didn't have the time to get it in order. I haven't let myself feel guilty about either of these choices, and as a result, I've been happier and less stressed over these past couple of weeks. Finally, I'm learning that I can't do it all!
Who's with me on a year filled with happiness?