25 Thoughts from 25 Years of Life

Guys-- I'm 25. WHAT. That feels crazy! (Everyone older than 25 is probably thinking "you are a baby!" and everyone younger is like "OMG, 25 is ANCIENT," haha!) 

Turning 25 by NO means makes me an expert in how to live life, but as I look back on the last quarter of a century (what even!), I realize how far I've come, how much I've learned, and how thankful I am to be where I am and to be who I am. In the middle of the celebrating a new year of life, I want to share some life lessons, some random nuggets, some things I love, and some things I'm grateful for, in no particular order:

  1. Safe spaces are essential. Find them, embrace them, protect them.
  2. It's an incredible give to find a church that's a home. It isn't easy to find a place to join and serve and belong, but the richness of life that comes from living alongside people in community like that is unbeatable.
  3. It might take some wandering and risk-taking, but you really CAN find a job that you love. For me, it looked like starting a blog when I had no clue what I was doing, taking a nonprofit job in communications that wasn't a great fit (but it taught me SO MUCH), piecing together nannying jobs and freelance opportunities for a while, and staying focused on my passions while pursuing things as they came on my radar... and now here I am with the job of my DREAMS doing design + social media + writing + editing + podcasting + more at a company where my coworkers feel like family, all in a great space in the heart of the city. It didn't fall from the sky, it came as a result of hard work and commitment to doing the work I wanted to do, even if it wasn't in the perfect place for a few years.
  4. You can do hard things. Like finishing a 10k after 4 major knee surgeries and very little training. Who even knew.
  5. Sharks are the best animal/fish/creature. Or maybe they're just my favorite animal. Maybe that's the same thing? But I was always the kid who never really knew what her favorite animal was, so discovering Shark Week and falling in love with these beasts in my college years was super fun. And yes, I do own more than 10 shark shirts, and yes, I do wear them proudly.
  6. Home is where you put your roots down. It has to do a little with place, a little with people, a little with adventure, and a lot to do with contentment and curiosity no matter where you are. (Richmond, thanks for being my home. I love you so much.)
  7. Cherish your family while they're alive. I'm so grateful to have all of my grandparents still here with us, and I don't want to take that for granted. I've started writing letters back and forth with one of my grandmothers, and it's been such a sweet way to keep getting to know her and hear her stories and share mine while we still can. Don't let time pass you by when you could be loving your people well.
  8. Tacos make everything better. Also, get the guac, always. Even if it costs extra.
  9. You need so much less clothing than you think. Thanks, capsule wardrobe experiment! (Even if you only lasted 6 weeks...)
  10. Champagne makes everything feel like a celebration. Big believer in the bubbly.
  11. Speaking your truth is terrifying but essential. Your story is not an accident. It is yours to speak, yours to share for the glory of God. Do so bravely, even when your hands are shaking and your voice is trembling.
  12. Learning who you are, and why you are who you are, is a fun discovery process. I have a whole long list of identifiers for myself now (INFJ, One on the Enneagram, responsibility/empathy/belief/connection/intellection on Strengths Finder, etc...) and each one helps me understand myself a little better and helps me grow into the truest, healthiest, best version of myself.
  13. Treat yo selfShout out to Parks and Rec for giving us this phrase! But seriously-- treat yourself. Find the little things that bring delight and joy to your day, and revel in them.
  14. The middle is a sweet place to be. The middle, I have found, of being both mentored and mentoring, of both leading and being led, of both teaching and being taught, is the sweet spot. (Here's more about that!)
  15. Be yourself, unashamedly. I'm the girl who likes black nail polish, who almost always has a braid in her hair, who rarely wears color, who has strong opinions and vocalizes them with a healthy dose of sass and sarcasm, who loves sharks, who cracks herself up at bad puns, who has a lot of feelings and doesn't hide them... and I'm learning day by day that these are the best and most beautiful things about me, and I don't want to apologize for them.
  16. Find good guy friends. I can't tell you enough how grateful I am for all the men that love me well, keep me laughing, and always lend a listening ear. They're my people and I'm forever glad to have them. Whoever said guys and girls can't be friends was a bold faced liar.
  17. Reading the Bible every day will change your heart and your life. Making space for a daily, intentional, not-rushed quiet time has singlehandedly been the best decision I've ever made. I notice when I miss it, and I've grown to look forward to those early mornings spent in the Word, even as a night owl.
  18. Reading books is the best. Are you surprised I'm saying this? You shouldn't be. Whoever you are, you should read more books. Go from one a year to two. Or five to ten. Or 100 to 200, if you're crazy like me.
  19. Richmond is the coolest city. If you had asked me my thoughts on RVA when I first moved here ten years ago, I would have told you I hated everything about it. Now? I can't imagine living anywhere else. (For now.) It's the perfect city for me, and I love continuing to explore it and make it more of my home.
  20. God is a way-making, promise-keeping, heart-healing God. If there's been a theme to what I've been learning about God in the last few months, it's that He makes ways where there seem to be no ways. I've resonated so much with the Israelites leaving slavery in the desert to find themselves stuck with an ocean before them and no way out... and yet, God makes a road through the Red Sea to deliver them into greater freedom. What a God we love and serve. What a promise to cling to, that He will always make a way. He is good and He is faithful.
  21. Let people in. It's scary, it's risky, it's daunting, and it's also incredibly freeing, life-giving, healing, helpful, wonderful, and just plain fun. 
  22. Explore the world around you, near and far -- an expanded worldview will make you a better human. I'm grateful that my childhood was full of traveling to new places (like the one time we spent six weeks on the road seeing the whole Western half of the U.S.!) and that college brought a summer spent living in London and that the list of countries I've visited is growing (so far: Canada, Mexico, France, Costa Rica, England, Scotland, Grand Cayman Islands!) -- each trip has taught me more about the world, about humanity, about culture, and about myself, too.
  23. Pursuing a variety of creative endeavors keeps you challenged and engaged. I often feel like I have a full plate (and I do...) but I've realized that each role, project, or group I'm a part of helps fuel my creative fire and keeps me focused on making and building things that matter.
  24. You have to love yourself before you can love others well. It's like what they tell you on airplanes-- you have to put on your own oxygen mask before helping the people next to you. It feels selfish to take care of yourself, but it's important to do so, and everyone will be better off if you do.
  25. This life is a gift that we have the choice to cherish it or let it pass us by. I've spent too many days lying in bed watching Netflix, letting the hours pass by without caring. When I stop and look around, I realize there is so much to be grateful for, there are so many more adventures to be had, and there is so much life to be lived. It may sound morbid, but life really is short and I won't be here forever, and I want to make the most of the moments I have while I can. I want to wake up each new morning and thank God for his new mercies. I want to choose joy in every circumstance. I want to press onward into greater freedom, deeper healing, fuller growth. I want to stay soft, stay kind, stay open. I want to live like I know I'm loved, I want to act like I've been set free, because I have. I want to live out of gratitude that this life has been given to me by a good and gracious Father, and I want to give Him every ounce of glory I can with all that I do.