Without any wordy introduction or deep meditation, six reasons I’m happier in my thirties than my twenties. (Or, what I tried to write on Friday but couldn’t due to birthday mush brain, the only apparent downside to turning 35.)
1. I’ve learned success is not about money. I’m happy with much less than what I thought I’d need. Our happiness isn’t tied up with material things, consequently we’re more personal achievement oriented than driven to acquire certain goods. And we don’t carry the debt load of many people trying to have it all. That’s freeing. And bonus, less stuff and smaller house = less things to clean and care for.
2. Surrounding yourself with a community of friends and family is vital. If you try to be an island, eventually, life is going to throw you some curve balls and all you’ll be able to do is go all Wilson on them because you won’t have a safety net of people to rally around you physically and spiritually.
3. Your youthful goals in life will be challenged and changed but it’s not the end of the world. In fact it might make you a better person in the end if you let it. You’ll learn to lean on God and discover how that vital community will carry you through. You hit your twenties realizing you knew nothing in your teens but somehow thinking, “Now I know everything because of high school/college/G.K. Chesterton books. I’m ready to take on the world with my new-found intellect! Let me share my wisdom and grandiose plans with everyone!”Don’t loose that enthusiasm, even when a dream isn’t realized, just accept humility as it comes along for the unexpected gift it is. Seize new opportunities presented to you even if they’re less than your ideal. For example, I’m living in New Jersey, eight years after moving here instead of having left what was supposed to be a temporary layover. Now, you’ll drag me kicking and screaming from here. Nicely played God; nicely played.
4. I’m less likely to take risks because my life is closely intertwined with so many other people now. You could also interpret this to mean, “If you’re young and single, travel! start your own business! follow all. the. dreams!” Not saying you can’t do those things later just that living in a van down by the river while your start up takes off is harder with five kids.
5. Sometimes it’s okay to go into the temple and flip tables but nine times out of ten, it’s better to be the peacemaker. Humility is underrated. I still put my foot in my mouth but had I only adopted the motto “Kelly, shut up,” sooner, I would’ve avoided so much unnecessary drama. People aren’t going to change just because I can point out their shortcomings so succinctly.
6. Everyone’s situation is overwhelming to them at that moment. (One child: so hard! Two children: worse! Three kids with allergies: open my cause for sainthood!) But I’ve learned life can always get worse in ways we can’t expect. Everyday, even at its lowest point, is something to be thankful for. Not saying I’m always all “Thank you Jesus!” but it’s the goal. And in that vein, learn to sympathize/ empathize with others without interjecting your own problems for perspective. If your suffering truly is greater, they probably won’t be able to understand it anyway. Offer it up for them and keep your yap shut. (This is me reminding myself more than anyone.)
Moving forward, I would say the perspective that comes with aging makes the prospect of turning 40 or 50 less ominous. I look forward to learning more and even changing my mind. I’m sure they’ll be more regrets along the way, but each with its own lesson, which I will share with you in excruciatingly embarrassing detail.
What life lessons can you share? And watch what you say twenty-somethings, I’ve got my eye on you.