Turning twenty-nine earlier this year was hard for me.
There's something about having a nine at the end of your age that seems so final. It's like there's extra pressure to wrap up the last year of the decade well. I started my twenties with gusto and a whirlwind of excitement — a book contract, college graduation, marriage, and even, buying a house.
But twenty-eight, and now twenty-nine, seem to be more about becoming and less about accomplishing, making the results harder to measure on paper. This, in turn, produced more apprehension and less joy when I began the final lap of my twenties. Suddenly I felt pressure to cross off all of the remaining items on my "Things I Want to Accomplish in My Twenties" list.
Internally I began to experience a tug of war.
Did I really want to exhaust myself in an attempt to achieve everything I set out to do when I was 20... or did I want to reexamine who I've become in the nine years since and see if different dreams and plans might be worth pursuing?
In a move that was somewhat surprising — even to me — I chose to let my list go. I mentally walked myself back in time and reacquainted myself with 20-year-old Shannon. She dreamed big. With a promising decade spread before her she cast her net wide. In nine years she was able to do almost everything she set out to do — and plenty of things she never imagined in her wildest dreams.
But the thing that struck me about the 20-year old Shannon was how different she is from who I am now. I've lived a lot of life in that time and I've experienced devastating heartbreaks and thrilling victories that couldn't have been foreseen at the threshold of my twenties. I'm still dreaming big and casting my net wide, but the things I want have changed. It's caused me to realize...
Letting go of the initial blueprint I set for myself at the age of 20 isn't failing. It's growing.
I'm releasing old dreams so I can embrace new ones. My focus is now on being and not so much on doing. I'm more concerned with receiving God's dreams for me than I am with telling Him about my dreams. For the first time in almost a decade I feel free.
Before I left for college I remember my dad telling me, "College isn't all about what you learn in the classroom. That's only half of it. The other half comes from what you learn about life while you're there."
That was good advice and I think it applies to more than college. Your twenties are, by default, a transient decade. It's the decade where you will likely do the most growing and changing. If you think about it, there's a big difference between someone who is nineteen and someone who is thirty. All of that difference transpires during a person's twenties.
As you navigate this decade: enjoy yourself. Use God and His Word as a standard for how you should live your life — not some list you wrote on the back of a napkin, or in the pages of your journal, one night when you were brainstorming a list of what a perfect life would look like.
Micah 6:8 says, "He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?"
Do justice. Love kindness. Walk humbly with your God. Those three things won't look exactly the same in every season of life.
Many things in life aren't just about the good we're doing in the moment. They're about how they're shaping us and preparing us for whatever lies up ahead.
Do not be afraid of change. Lean into growth every chance you get. You can still keep a running list of everything you want to accomplish in your twenties. But hold it loosely.
And always write your plans in pencil.
"The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps." — Proverbs 16:9
Shannon Primicerio actually enjoys being twenty-nine and doesn't know why she dreaded it. However, she is already in the process of planning something spectacular to help her ring in thirty early next year. You can learn more about her at www.beingagirlbooks.com
© 2011 by Shannon Primicerio. All rights reserved.