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Twenty Nine

An Essay On Confidence And Contentment As I Enter The Final Year Of My Twenties

Today I am twenty nine. I have been looking inward over the past several days to evaluate what is different as I enter a new year of life and consider goals to set for my final year in this formative decade. Above all else, the most prominent feelings I have now are those of joy and contentment, and of focus and purpose. The sense that the turbulence of this decade has finally found smoother air, and I am ‘seconds’ away from soaring at my cruising altitude as I blast through this year and into my thirtieth with a sort of balance and confidence that didn’t exist in years past.

To some degree I feel weathered, but in a good way. Granted, I realize I am only humbly taking my first footsteps into prime production years, and both my family and career will continue to present unexpected challenges and throw curve balls that test resiliency and keep the game of life the ever-interesting journey that it is. Today, however, I feel very proud of the career and family woman I have worked hard to become and I am open and optimistic as I welcome what comes next. I have uncovered skill sets, discovered inner truths, explored roads less traveled, and committed to daily disciplines that are beginning to yield results. Because of this, the real fun is only just beginning.

Although none of us truly have 100% control over the way in which we arrive at certain milestones and successes, we absolutely have control over the daily habits we form and the work that we put in to ensuring preparedness for the moments when we happen to meet opportunity. I would describe my twenty eighth year as the race to make sure I learned how to be ahead of my own game…while also learning to be below it, above it, around it and behind it, all at the same time.

I try to live each day with a peripheral awareness of all aspects of my life so that I can both a) appreciate where I am now while working toward where I hope to be in 2-5 years, and b) identify the potential opportunities and inspiration that might come from a situation at any moment. Truly noticing my life and the people in it on a daily basis have led me to realize that my well of inspiration can’t actually run dry, and my life’s purpose and creative calling has been under my nose all along. In my younger years, however, I was always believing it to be in this fictitious location of ‘elsewhere’ and as a result of that I wasted a lot of energy on the chase.

Years twenty to twenty nine have offered their fair share of precious moments and special memories, but the general sentiments that thread those earlier years together in a dusty, bow-topped packaged of the past I plan to bury under the bed forever were angst, confusion, conflict and frustration. I know I’m not alone in this, and that unfortunately it is the current plague of young adulthood today. Always trying to be five steps ahead of where I was, I never dove in and did anything with 150% effort. The kind that gets you truly noticed and pushes you ahead when you’ve earned it. Instead, I begrudgingly befuddled through my days giving everything and everyone about 85% of my efforts, distracted and disgruntled by where I was versus ‘where I should be,’ whirring confusedly through what could have been experiences I looked back on now as ‘the good old days,’ had I let them be.

Dan and I were watching the final ever episode of The Office several weeks ago. As two extremely driven people who hold ourselves and each other to the highest of standards, when Andy said this line we locked eyes in a welled-up glance, rendered almost breathless.

Dan paused the show for a moment, and we shared a silent reflection in which we realized that we both needed to be better about this. We are constantly working on ourselves, both individually in our careers and together in our marriage. We often are either so engrossed in the daily details of achieving the next big thing, or pushing so hard toward building our ideal futures that we forget to relish in the now, until all of a sudden it’s behind us. This is how I have tumbled through the decade of my twenties…until today.

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The truth is, these are the good old days. We are in them. Each day is a gift, each relationship has meaning and each challenge is placed on our paths as a lesson from which to learn. It is my wish for my twenty ninth year to be the first I look back on with the satisfaction of knowing that every single day of it was lived with inner contentment, newfound confidence, unabashed bravery, and joy for not only what lies ahead, but for what I experience in each moment along the way. I wish the same for all of you.

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