turning 30.

On this last day of my twenties, I feel so reflective and grateful. I have just a bit of wisdom from this decade that I wanted to share and document, because one day when I’m turning 40, 50, 60, or 70…I want to be able to look back and smile at who I was when I was exiting such a transforming period of my life and entering such a beautiful decade.
– Invest in high quality people, employers, and make-up.
– When you’re sad, be sad. Sit in the hurt so that you can process it. Shoveling it down to avoid it just means it will come up later and will hurt even more.
– Listen to your mother.

20 years old on the floor of Ashley’s apartment in Boone, crappy beer in hand.

– Don’t listen to yourself when you’ve had too many whiskey shots and are reeling over a broken heart. That mean, drunk girl doesn’t know you.
– Get up and move. Exercise as much as often as you can.
– Sign-up for the dance class, say ‘yes’ to that drink with a new friend, trust your gut and don’t let anyone impose their decisions onto you.

21, blowing bubbles on Tricia and Skylar’s porch in Boone one late Spring evening.

– In the same way you should say yes, you should also be saying no. If you don’t feel like going out, don’t. If you don’t want to see that boy anymore, don’t. If you aren’t getting anything from that friendship anymore, let it go. Life is a balance and saying no is just as important as embracing the yes.
– Know your dang worth, girlfriend. And it’s a lot.
– Take time to stretch, tell people you love them, and for Target runs.

22, walking home from bar hopping in Boone.

– The right partner will see so much good in you. The right partner will support you, hear you, lift you up. The right partner will laugh at your jokes and defend you and hold you when everything seems to be falling apart. The right partner will have dance parties in your living room and drink wine out of mason jars and discuss things that matter. The right partner will be kind to others and brave, be a squisher of spiders and a believer in your dreams. The right partner won’t show up until you’re ready (and even then you may not feel like you’re ready) but then it will be so magical, so great, so challenging, so eye-opening…whew. What an awesome part of your twenties.
– Layers are valuable. Layer your clothes in the winter, layer your growth of yourself as a person, layer your hair (seriously, why so many straight chops in your early twenties?).
– Believe that being who you are is truly enough.

s23, enjoying far too much sangria when I’m supposed to be listening to jazz music in the Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C.

– Luckily, that Four Loko phase is just that–a phase.
– Don’t be afraid to stick up for yourself and for others. Being bossy is not something we can avoid, so embrace it and just be kind.
– Cook all the time, especially for the people you love.

24, settling into my new city of Asheville, this time over tacos at WALK with my sister.

– Forge relationships with the people and things that matter, and don’t waste time or energy on the things that don’t. This is easier said than done, but if you keep reminding yourself of these things, sometimes it will actually stick.
– You are not anchored by your anxiety. It is something you will carry for the rest of your life, but it does not define you or your interactions.
– Ask for that raise. Don’t be surprised when you get it–you’re worth it, remember?

25, in front of our home that we bought in Asheville.

– You’ll want to be remembered for how deeply you loved others. For some, they will embrace this and let you shower them with that love and often, give it back. Others will take advantage of it, and others will be turned away by it. Don’t let others steal this joy from you–it’s a defining part of who you are and it’s a beautiful thing.
– Boundaries are the best thing you’ll ever establish for yourself, but damn, the work to create them is painful.
– Friendships will change and evolve, grow and end, and it’s because you’re changing, evolving, growing, and ending things that no longer serve you.

26, embracing my inner-showgirl for a photo shoot for my new (at the time) dance troupe.

– Some friendships last forever though, and those are the best kind.
– Listen to your mother. Oh, did I already say that? Well, you need to hear it AGAIN.
– Believe in your talents, your intuition, and your passions.

27, visiting my favorite city (Savannah) for the first time.

– The time you spend on projects, other people, and your eyebrows will pay off in one way or another.
– Keep a planner.
– Be an advocate, an intersectional feminist, an ally, someone who rallies and cheers for the little guy. Be remembered as someone who had causes they believed in and lifted others up. Tell racists when they are being racists, homophobes when they’re being homophobic, and sexists when they’re being assholes. You’ll get a reputation of being opinionated, a liberal, even–gasp–an angry feminist. You’re all these things, so do it proudly.

28, my last dance promotion photo shoot before I got married–what you can’t see is how excited and liberated I felt that I was about to marry someone who loved me exactly for who I am.

– Don’t count the calories.
– Travel. Travel alone, because it is fun and invigorating. Travel with Craig, because he’s your best travel buddy. Travel to see friends, travel to explore new cities, spend the money and enjoy the moments.
– Buy the concert ticket (but don’t get one for Craig–he’ll go because he loves you, but he doesn’t enjoy live music).
– Laugh loudly and often. Be known for that giggle.
– Work hard and try to stay humble.
– Get ready for another decade of lessons and chances to grow, because thirties…here we come.

29, preparing for a dance performance in Asheville.

And now, here I go–approaching things as I always do, with boldness, excitement, cautious optimism. I take comfort in loved ones and joy in the future, the unknown of what these next 10 years hold for me. I honor my twenties as a serious time of growth, strength, and love. What a beautiful, imperfect, charmed, multi-faceted, adventurous, honest life that I lead–let’s see what’s up next.

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