I have a short list of things I wish I’d done in my 20’s (respected my more-amazing-than-they-are-now thighs, interviewed a slew of grandparents, backpacked through Europe). It’s ridiculous, really, because I couldn’t possibly have mustered the energy to do any of them. What I wanted to do in my 20’s was what I actually did in my 20’s: slept in, ordered Chinese food, watched bad movies, napped.
I don’t keep those lists anymore.
Here’s what I want to do in my 30’s:
I know my future self will likely wish that I’d volunteered more, will likely wish I’d worn a bikini (it’s only going downhill – literally – from here, folks), will likely wish I’d yelled less when Bee poured two buckets of water onto her carpet (I’m cleaning, Mom!).
I wish that, too.
But wishing is wishing.
Living is something different.
What I think my future self will wish I’d have done in my 30’s is precisely what I’m doing in my 30’s: floundering, failing, living, breathing, lamenting, celebrating, questioning, doubting, enjoying, trying, doing.
Outside, today, it is raining. My future self would say: ‘Erin – go play! Dance in it, sing in it, you’ve still got your knees, you crazy kid! Use ’em, for the love!’
But it’s raining, and I don’t know how to appreciate my knees yet.
So I write.
I’ve always had this sort of paralysis with too much future talk, too much hypotheses, too much crystal ball peering. I don’t read the news. I like small, and quiet, and today. Give me what I already have. A nap, the ones I love, perhaps some cheese in the fridge.
It has been said: “When the student is ready, a teacher will appear.”
A surefire formula for a teacher’s arrival, and a student’s readying:
Failure. Desperation. Heartbreak. Doing it the wrong way, so we can eventually learn what it means to do it the right way.
Frame of reference.
Age. Wisdom. Experience.
And so, I hope my future self tells me this:
“You’re not gonna get it. You’re not gonna believe me when I tell you that your thighs are immaculate, that your grandparents are geniuses, that backpacking through Europe is an incredible use of your small, hard-earned resources.
And you shouldn’t. You shouldn’t believe me. You’re not there yet.
You will be.
And you can believe all those things when you are.”
Favorite line, “while you’ve got your knees!”
Ha! :) I’m working on appreciating them more!!! :)
I spent my 30s falling in love, trying to get pregnant, having a baby, and trying to find my way in to the next stage of life. The only thing I would go back and tell myself is “Don’t watch so much crappy TV!” = )
Ha, you’re totally right!
I love this. And right before my birthday too.
Thanks, Angela! Happy early bday!
This is fantastic.
As a recently turned 20 yr old, I am overwhelmed, on occasion, by all the things I should be trying, doing, creating, feeling… and I slip into a world where I am short on time, and frazzled by my own expectations.
But I know logically, that I am doing a pretty good job and that it is good to be in a place where I can try things, fail at things, and hopefully figure out some things.
But it can be so hard to step out of that state of wishing you were doing it better, differently, or just MORE.
Does that make sense :)?
That makes SO much sense! I spent a lot of my 20s feeling similarly overwhelmed. I think you’ll like your 30s much better. ;) You’re doing great just where you are!
thank you for this. i often find myself slipping into the didn’ts of my 20s and hounding my 30 year old self for not getting everything i had wanted to do done.
i’ve been trying to be kind to myself and remember that i did everything i could and that our paths shift and change and i’m exactly where i’m supposed to be … even if it’s not where i thought i’d be :)
I love this, Elise!!!! :)
Girrr, once again, from another erin in her 30’s (ISFP?) you say what I’d what I’d say if I still wrote. It’s just enjoyable to read familiar thoughts as we each press on and try for no regrets. Even though we’re just always a little tired :)
Ha! Thank you, sweet Erin!!!
I feel so good every single time I read your blog. You always write exactly what I need.
You’re also one of the best writers I’ve read, and I can’t wait for your book to come out–when is that again?
Thank you so much for sharing your gift.
Oh goodness, you are so kind, Lindsey, thank you! The book comes out Jan of 2017! More news soon. :)
What an eye opening and thought provoking post! I am constantly beating myself up for not living my life to the fullest every moment, for indulging in the netflix marathons and the sleep in and nap days so I totally connected with what you were saying!
Thanks for sharing,
I totally hear you, riley!!! Thanks for your sweet note. :)
I feel like I spent so much time in my 20s worried about what others saw and what I should be doing, my “potential”. I’m over a lot of that now, but I’m still paralyzed in my 30s trying not to waste these precious years. I feel like the scrapbook paper in my closet.
I feel like the scrapbook paper in my closet.
<--- I TOTALLY GET THIS! Hugs. :)
Please don’t forget stress. After 30 I start feeling stress. In my 20’s I never thought about it. Well, the 30’s come with a nice living experience. So I will tell that I am living my 30. Thats all!
Oh, that’s so funny! I was the opposite – very stressed in my 20s and I’ve mellowed a bit (thank goodness!!!). It’s so funny how differently wired we all are!
Great to be here. I like this very much. Thanks Erin for this amazing article. Keep doing good work.
Great you explained things in a great manner. Very interesting I wish you got all what you are expecting. Thanks Erin :)
I stumbled across this site via pinterest and it its everything I have been looking for. The format, the soft photographs. Everything is extremely inspiring for my position as a 19 year old college student.
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