It's my birthday today and I'm now 29. I kept thinking FINALLY I'll be closer to 30, which is when people start taking you seriously (maybe that's just in my head?). I've felt like I'm 30 for about 5 years. And this year aged me much more. This morning, my lovely birthday breakfast chat with Sam was about that. About how young we are and how old we feel. How the last few years have been so hard. How we're not sure we can handle another 50 years if this is how life is. Of course, life isn't always like this.
But you know what it almost always is: different than your expectations. Not the person you thought you'd have married, or maybe even no marriage right now; not the kids you thought you'd raise (because they have been both blessings and, actually, really challenging); not the rewarding career you expected (because in reality it's a lot harder than that); not the place you thought you'd live; not the family you imagined in your head; not the wonderful physique you expected looking back at you; not the amount of energy you need (and no amount of coffee can cure that). Expectations are hard, because they disappoint you much of the time.
But then there's this: people you never expected to meet that have changed you forever; celebrations and rejoicing with others; deep, beautiful, and hard situations that you travel through with others; friends that are like family and family that is like friends; joyful, beautiful moments.
I've driven a winding, wooded, country highway to and from work over 2,000 times in the last 6 years. Coming from the city and suburbs, it was a huge adjustment. Only about 1/2 my friends will understand this, but no streetlights at night was so scary to me! Definitely not straight city blocks. You have to go into oncoming traffic to pass someone. Then there's the animals that might jump out, and the HUGE tractors sometimes (I'm still pretty terrified of tractors!). I've driven this road in snow, sleet, ice, fog, wind, rainstorms, and sunshine. I could almost drive it with my eyes closed now. And I'm okay with the dark and the rain and the fog and the curves and the tractors now.
But that's because I've driven it over 2,000 times. I was not okay with it the first time. It was scary and I didn't really know what to expect ahead and I was tense.
Life won't meet our expectations. Because, it's life. It might be better at times, it might be worse at times. It will definitely be harder. There will be so much joy and so much goodness. As much as I hate to say it, YOLO. So do it well. (For real though.) Celebrate, slow down, take the time to care, make the call, write the note, spend lots of time away from screens, be generous and kind and serving.
Here's to many more years!