I guess in many ways, it’s fitting that the last week of “regular” posting on The Wheelhouse Review coincides with the first week at a new job. In many ways it feels like I hit pause on my life in January 2012 and am just now picking up where I left off. Except that I’m four years older and wiser and finally learned how best to do my curly hair.
It’s also fitting that I’m leaving one season and starting another as I leave my early 30s and fully dive into my mid-30s. I still maintain that this is a wonderful and amazing decade, that it’s so much better than my 20s. So for my final piece, here’s what I learned from the first half of my fourth decade.
There’s No Dream Anything
Last week someone asked me if my new job was my “dream job.” I replied that I was excited and honored to have the opportunity, but that I didn’t believe in “dream jobs” anymore. There will invariably come a moment when the honeymoon is over and daily routine sets in and there’s nothing dreamy about it. Sorry to be Debbie Downer, but if you live long enough, like Lelaina Pierce, you realize that reality totally bites. And that’s ok! It doesn’t mean something is wrong or not a good fit or that you messed up. In a way, this biting reality is a gift–it keeps you from diving too deep into just one thing when there are so many other great things to experience in this life.
Choose Your Own Narrative
No one would ever guess that I spent 19 months out of work once. That I cleaned offices and babies’ bottoms to make money. That in my most recent job I often had to do laundry and take out the trash. Why would they? I don’t highlight those things on my resume.
And yet, in reality, it’s those experiences that make me worth hiring. They taught me how to be resilient, how to find value outside my work, the satisfaction of working with my hands (and the respect I have for people who do “dirty” jobs), and mostly, how to be grateful. I have a higher tolerance for BSwork (and a lower tolerance for abuse or BS).
Obviously, I know how to spin the negative–I really don’t highlight certain things on my resume. But I also have learned that we choose the narrative of our lives and that affects how we live it. Four years ago, I had to choose between feeling miserable and sorry for myself when I was out of work, or try to make the best of a negative situation (and yes, I understand that I’m privileged that those 19 months out of work were just a brief period of rest in an otherwise stellar career). Choosing the “red pill” changed my life. It helped me to see the world in a way that I would have missed if I had chosen to wallow. In fact, seeing the world that way changed me for the better.
You’ve Got One Life-Show Up For It
I get it, YGOLSUFI is not as catchy as YOLO. Bu I have found that showing up for each day and being present to them is the way toward contentment. We’ve all noticed that the day flies by when we’re busy and occupied, but a lot of that busyness is just spinning wheels. Showing up every day to what’s in front of you, paying attention to it, engaging with it, and living your life keeps you grounded. It also helps you find beauty and joy in places you might not otherwise have looked. This is truest when life is difficult and there is suffering–ignoring or denying pain or hardship makes things worse. Showing up doesn’t mean putting on a brave face and pretending away the pain. Sometimes it means getting angry or crying your eyes out. Sometimes it means acknowledging the crap and looking for the places where joy and hope and love are hiding. Show up to your life, be present. You don’t know what you might find there.
It was true four years ago, it’s true now: moisturizer is your friend. I know this from personal experience: I will turn 35 in five weeks and I am constantly mistaken for a 25 year old (younger, if I don’t wear make up) and I am currently debating with myself whether I should wear my glasses so that I appear closer to my age. You want to crush your 30s (and hopefully beyond)? Get some eye cream, use it twice a day (dotting it under your eye and along the corners with your ring fingers), get some moisturizer, use it twice a day (circular, upward motions–and don’t forget your neck).
Nothing Lasts Forever…and That’s a Good Thing
The past four years of weekly writing have been life-changing. I’ve loved most of every minute of it (there were a lot of craptastic minutes though). But one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that life is broken up into seasons and that’s a good thing. Spring and summer are my favorite seasons–I would love for it to stay like this forever. And yet when fall comes around with its changing leaves and sweater weather, and winter shows up with it’s coziness and slower pace, I’m grateful for them too. Seasons change, we change, everything changes. But that means new graces, new mercies, new hope every morning.
Thank you for sharing this season of my life with me.