30 Things I’ve Learned by age 30 (Weekend Thoughts 8/8/2020)

After turning thirty this week, I spent a bit of extra time in reflection and getting stuck in my feels. Turning the corner into a new decade carries a bit more weight than your usual birthday. I thought it would be fun to put together a list of thirty things that I have found to be true up to this point in my life. I know there are other lists like this one out there, but I purposefully avoided reading them and all thoughts on this list are my own.

  1. The more fears you have, the more opportunities for courage. Being brave doesn’t mean that you are never afraid. Bravery is accepting the fear, but not letting prevent you from doing the right thing.
  2. Moving away from home was one of the best things for my marriage. It forced us to cling to one another. We created so many memories that were shared only between us. We didn’t have friends or family we could just run off to for comfort when we were sad. We had to lean into difficult conversations. We grew up quick.
  3. I’ve never once regret spending time outside. The beauty of nature breathes life back into my body. Sunshine restores my soul. Trees whisper the secrets of the universe.
  4. Books are fuel for the mind and soul. Through fiction, I have gone on countless adventures and met people I never would have met through the magic that are books. Reading non-fiction to learn from the greatest minds of the ages is one of my highest privileges.
  5. Surround yourself with people who encourage, energize, and unite. Avoid people who complain, criticize, and divide. My quality of life has drastically improved once I discovered this, and has also helped me become a better friend and citizen.
  6. A person’s Emotional Quotient (EQ) is just as valuable (maybe even more so) than their Intelligence Quotient (IQ). We need to exchange our “fixed mindsets” for “growth mindsets”, as well as focus more on helping our young people learn just as much about their emotions and well-being as we do mathematics and history.
  7. What we put into our bodies has a drastic effect on our well being. Eating healthier and staying away from fast food and soda has been a game-changer for me recently. The more we learn about our brains and body chemistry, the more obvious it is that we need to change our diets. Now if I can just start drinking more water!
  8. Everyone should go to therapy. I know I might be biased because I am married to a psychologist, but still firmly believe this is true, especially in the Western world where we are so often taught to ignore our mental health and “tough things out”.
  9. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it’s one of the key ingredients of a fulfilling life. Asking great questions (and truly listening to the answers) is the best way to build relationships and make connections. Asking the right questions is also the first step to becoming an expert problem solver. In my opinion, Jesus is an exemplar model of what a great question-asker looks like.
  10. Always cook extra food that you can save for easy leftovers. Using leftovers for lunch prep should be a go-to move for every family. It’s a game-changer.
  11. Much of your adult life is spent cleaning. No commentary needed here.
  12. Traveling the world and experiencing new cultures is a key component to a more holistic understanding of humanity. I look back on all my trips overseas as some of the most influential and worldview shaping experiences of my entire life. Calling another country home for a summer is something I recommend to everyone.
  13. So much of our time, money, and effort is spent RESPONDING to major world problems rather than PREVENTING them. We pump money into systems that are only acting as bandaids on our nation’s biggest wounds. Our healthcare system spends money treating illness but not on how to prevent them. Our criminal justice system is designed to punish those who break the law instead of focusing on bringing justice to the communities that produce the most crime. We need to shift our priorities from making a profit, to making a difference.
  14. The things your brain tells you are good decisions at age twenty are viewed much differently ten years later. So grateful for all the people who poured into me when I was younger and very thankful I made it out of my early twenties in one piece.
  15. So many people in the professional world are just faking it ’til they make it. It hit me recently that so many of the doctors, teachers, business owners, police officers, and lawyers are all people that I went to high school with. They are just normal people, trying to navigate their way through the world just like I am.
  16. Happiness is more about being content with where you are, rather than trying to “arrive” to someplace better. This one has been difficult for me as a three on the Enneagram, but the more I marinate on this truth the lighter I begin to feel. We can all stand to be more present.
  17. Call your loved ones more often. Another tip – save voicemails from grandparents and those you love so that you can listen to them on a day you need some extra encouragement.
  18. Everything does NOT happen for a reason. Some things in life are random and happen for no reason at all. Not everything is part of “a greater plan”. Accidents are often just that… accidents.
  19. Truth is almost always found in the middle of the road. Polarization has become the new normal these days, but I find that the truth often lies somewhere in the middle.
  20. The phrase “life’s not fair” just doesn’t do justice to how much of life is, truly, not fair. For more on this point, see my blog post from July 25, 2020.
  21. No matter how hard you try, no matter how many showers you take, you ARE going to smell like smoke for days after a bonfire. Had a bonfire a week or so ago and still get whiffs of smoke when I put on the hoodie I wore that night.
  22. Always brush your teeth softer than you think you should, and floss regularly. Small circular brushes with very light pressure. Let’s fight plaque AND save our gums while we are at it.
  23. True love is completely freeing. It allows you to be exactly who you are at any moment – no inhibitions or embarrassment. It is silly and goofy. It makes the most ordinary moments feel extraordinary. My wife showed me the way on this one and teaches me more and more about love every day.
  24. If we spend all of our lives fighting tooth and nail to reach the promised land, we will continue to miss all of the blessings and God moments that happen in the wilderness. Life is full of highs and lows, but the majority of our time is spent somewhere in between. Don’t miss seeing a burning bush, or a pile of manna, because you are consumed with “making it” somewhere.
  25. Teaching is hard. I sometimes tell people that teaching is like creating and giving presentations five times a day, five days a week, to an adolescent audience who doesn’t really want to be there, but whose future depends on retaining the information you give them. And to make matters worse, the difficulty and amount of resources varies greatly from state to state, town to town, school to school.
  26. The greatest things in life are those that could never be done alone. Human beings are created to be relational and in community. We belong on teams and can reach heights with others that we could never reach alone.
  27. It is very difficult, and requires much intentionality, to care about important things that don’t directly affect you. Empathy is hard. Pride and selfishness are always lurking in the shadows, even when we can’t see them. So much pain out there, and avoiding or ignoring it doesn’t make it go away.
  28. Pineapple DOES belong on pizza. Double pepperoni and pineapple pizza has become my go-to from Papa Johns. Give it a try.
  29. The hardest moments in life are often the catalysts for growth and transformation. I say this not to minimize anyone’s pain and suffering, but to acknowledge that some of the hardest moments in my own life have been the ones that changed my worldview, caused me to seek help and healing from others, or shaped and formed my character in transformational ways.
  30. And last but not least…I’ve learned quite a bit about myself, and I think those lessons have been the hardest to come by. Learning about yourself takes hard work, vulnerability, bravery, and humility. It takes people you can trust to journey with you. May we all commit to learning more about our own souls and giving ourselves grace every step of the way.

 

– DJS

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1 Response to 30 Things I’ve Learned by age 30 (Weekend Thoughts 8/8/2020)

  1. Joan Jackson says:

    Growth comes from introspection and evaluation. Looks like you are on a great journey. Love your writings🥰

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