Yesterday, I turned thirty-three years old. This is actually impossible, because I’m really about twenty-five, but the year on the calendar says 2015, so it must be true.
I’ve lived a somewhat weird and nomadic life following Joe all over the place, and doing pieces of my life in reverse order. And I’ve learned some stuff. Most of it is important, some is just hilarious. All of it is practical.
So here they are: Thirty-Three Things I’ve learned in Thirty-Three Years.
1. Listen to your parents. They’ve already made the mistake you’re about to make, and they’re trying to save you from it.
2. Be nice to your siblings. Eventually they become your friends.
3. The worst family vacations become the most hilarious family stories.
4. The boy you’re going to marry probably isn’t the boy you’re going to marry.
5. Start saving for retirement the minute you start working. It’s hard to live the good life in the RV at the beach when you don’t have any money.
6. Go to college before you have kids. Yes, you can do it after, but it’s less fun and ten times the work. I promise.
7. Get married after college. Mostly for the same reasons as #6. Also, it’s cool to be a little independent before you get married.
8. Keep the same best friend you’ve had since junior high. If she loved you during your awkward stage, kept all your secrets, and cried with you when things didn’t go your way, she’ll be there when you need her for the big stuff. Also, you need someone to go through your dresser drawers and burn your journals in case you die suddenly. She is the only one who can be trusted.
9. Sometimes you only have certain friends for a season. This doesn’t mean the friendship wasn’t real. Just that people evolve, and friendships do too.
10. Sometimes the baby won’t sleep. Ever. I promise you’ll sleep again one day. Just maybe not this day.
11. The first baby will make you feel like an amazing parent. The second one will leave you questioning your sanity. The third one will just make you laugh. Probably because you’re tired from raising the first two.
12. Try everything once. Including brussel sprouts and skydiving. You’ll be glad you did.
13. When God tells you to do something, just do it. Even if you don’t think you can. He’ll equip you. If you don’t listen, you’re just making things harder on yourself.
14. Do things that make you ridiculously uncomfortable. It stretches your faith, and you’ll be ready to tackle bigger things each time you put your trust in God.
15. Take lots of pictures. Include yourself in some of them. Even if you think you look fat.
16. The grass is only greener on the other side because it was planted over the septic tank and fertilized with B.S.
17. The Pinterest Mom is crafty and precious. You are precious at something, too. Even if it isn’t making a wreath out of Q-tips, you’ve got talent, friend! Use it!
18. Your Mother-In-Law is the best resource you have. She knows your husband’s favorite recipes, his likes and dislikes, and she knows his heart. Be kind to her. You married her baby.
19. Let your parents and in-laws be grandparents. Unless it’s life-threatening, let them feed your kids popsicles, chicken nuggets, and Oreos for an entire visit. Grandparents are one of life’s treasures. A little spoiling by Grampy never hurt anybody.
20. Take Jesus’ teaching seriously. Read the words He spoke and figure out what they mean to you. Live your life the way you think He would want you to, based on what you learned. Let your faith be yours. Your parents, pastor, and friends may help shape your faith, but you’re not truly living until you make it your own.
21. Help people with no expectations about what they will or won’t do for you.
22. Smile at the mom whose kids are throwing a fit in Target. She needs someone on her side because her children have clearly turned against her. You should also go up front and buy her a Starbucks. She deserves it.
23. Go against the grain a little. Not everything Jesus did was socially acceptable. You should be a bit of a rebel, too.
24. Teach your kids how to cook and do laundry. Then you don’t have to, and you get praise for teaching your kids a valuable life skill. Don’t tell anyone you’re just being lazy.
25. Encourage everyone. Even those who don’t seem to need it. People who seem like Rock Stars are often the ones we assume don’t need a cheerleader. Everyone needs a cheerleader.
26. Smile at kids. Even the stinkers. You may be the only person who smiles at them that day.
27. Call your parents. They need to know you’re alive. Remember, they’re the ones who kept you from running into the street. They may not be fully confident in your choices.
28. Take time for yourself. Spouses and kids are awesome, but it’s okay to have a little bit of quiet, too.
29. Clean your bedroom. Because nothing is less romantic than someone’s dirty underwear on the floor.
30. Keep God first. All of your relationships and priorities sort of fall into place if you let Him lead you.
31. Life is too short to skip cookies and pizza.
32. Go to the doctor and get your check-up! Be healthy and don’t put off your colonoscopy or mammogram or whatever. Live to be a hundred so you make the news.
33. Love people. All of them. And love them without conditions or expectations. This may hurt a little sometimes, but what you’ll leave behind is a legacy of care and kindness.
So, that’s my list! I wasn’t sure if I could come up with thirty-three pearls when I began, but I actually had to take some off. Friends, the brevity of life has hit me lately as I get a little older, and friends begin to face things I thought were years away. We have this one awesome life to live, and we have to give it our best shot.
Now, get out there and be amazing!
What would you add to the list?