It feels very surreal writing this post. I remember when I was 21 and would talk about life in the next few years like it was so far away. At the time it sure did feel that way but MAN does life fly by or what?! “They” say that it goes by even faster when you have children… Woah woah woah, hold the phone. It’s just me, my husband, and my puppy as of right now and it’s flying by. Life needs to just take a chill pill for a minute.
Today is the day. This young pup is officially 25 whopping years old! It’s very typical for someone to look back on a number of years like this and say “a lot has happened” but it’s true! It has been quite the ride. I could probably use this post as an excuse to jam all of my accomplishments into one space but let’s face it, no one wants to read that and quite frankly, I don’t think that is what’s most important about the past two and a half decades; I do, however, think that the lessons I’ve learned are. So, here we go- the most important lessons I’ve learned in the first 25 years of my life.
Siblings Should Be Appreciated
I was super rough on my brother growing up. I mean really really dang tough. It’s just the two of us so we frequently used each other as verbal (and sometimes physical) punching bags. Thinking back on my high school years I think it was one of my biggest regrets. I wish that I had soaked up more of that time with him before going to college and then moving for work but those years and that time taught me how important it is to appreciate him. As much as siblings can drive us bonkers, at the end of the day they are also some of our biggest supporters, cheerleaders, and best friends. They should be appreciated for that.
Let Go, Let God
This is something that is pertinent to my life every single day of course but on days that feel especially stressful or out of control, I say this to myself over and over again. When all is said and done, God is the one that decides if I wake up in the morning. He is the one that gave me this beautiful life and a precious husband. He is the one that gets us from point A to point B safely every day. He is the one that didn’t think I belonged at the Naval Academy but instead directed me to Virginia Tech. He is the one that puts purpose on my heart. He is the one that gives me the drive to work hard every day, the ability to read, write, learn, love, and thrive. He is the one that brought us here to Arizona and decided that South Carolina will be the next place we will call home. He is the one that fills my lungs with oxygen and keeps blood pumping through my heart. My entire life is in His hands. He deserves complete control and I’m so thankful that I can give all of it to Him.
Do What Makes You Happy
“Is what you’re living for worth dying for?” If that quote doesn’t make you stop and think for a second then I don’t know what will. In the last 25 years I’ve gained a fairly decent grasp on what I’m good at and not so good at, what I enjoy doing, and what I really don’t enjoy doing or for a shorter, more blunt choice in words- What I hate doing. I’ve read books, prayed, and listened to many people speak on the topic of purpose and although I might not be 100% certain what God’s purpose is for me yet, I do know that most importantly, I need to be happy. He wants for me to be happy. 1/3 of our lives are spent working. ONE THIRD! I’ve decided that I’m not going to let myself be anything but happy during that time. I have so much more to say about this and I’m certain that time will come when I share it all with you but all I will say for now is my answer is no- before I learned this lesson what I was living for was not worth dying for.
Don’t Be Ashamed To Go Against the Norm
This goes hand in hand with my point to “do what makes you happy”. For me, this point of going against the norm became evident with my career choice. I think especially in “this day and age” most people are sadly forced to think that because they have their degree (or multiple) in a certain topic, that it’s the only field they can work in for their career, even if it makes them miserable. While this makes perfect sense considering the price we pay for education, I believe that it’s not wrong to want to go in a different direction after graduation. That is not the average opinion, however, by surrounding people and employers. It seems as though it’s ingrained in graduates “Well… You have your degree in x so you won’t be able to succeed in the field of y.” But what happens if someone spend thousands upon thousands of dollars at school, love what they’re majoring in, and then get into the field and learn it’s really nothing like the picture presented in their classes? It’s the scary truth but I believe this happens to so many people. So many of them believe they can’t leave their job because of what they’ve been told from family/friends or they’ve tried to pursue other fields and learn it’s nearly impossible to even get through the application process. I have looked over hundreds of job applications and the vast majority of them, about 99.9%, can easily convince potential applicants that if they studied in a different field compared to that of which the job is in, they are deemed entirely unfit for the position. What most employers fail to recognize is the work that is completed outside of classes, many of which are entirely useless to most jobs anyway. I know even from personal experience that most people don’t get past the application process in order to get an interview because of their education credentials. But can’t we learn so much more about a person by having a conversation with them? Did I mention a lot of classes that students are forced to take in order to graduate are completely useless in the “real world”? I suppose that’s a topic for another day. This lesson I think is the toughest for me to admit quite frankly because of how long and hard I worked towards my degrees, However, I believe with my entire heart that maybe just maybe it’s okay to go against the norm despite what other people (and employers) say.
Iron Sharpens Iron
Surround yourself with genuine people. People that truly care about your happiness, People that are compassionate, kind, and caring. People that give you constructive criticism. People that will be there for you at the drop of a hat and if they physically can’t be, they will be there for you emotionally to the best of their ability. People that will love you through ups and downs. People that believe you are capable. People that live like Jesus. People that push you to be your best self. People that are good for you, good to you, and good for your soul.
Rid of the Toxicity
Continuing on from the last point… If there is anything or anyone in your life that doesn’t fit the parameters I mentioned above, politely and promptly remove them from your life. It will be one of the most difficult and emotionally draining decisions you can make in your lifetime but I will tell you this, it is by far the most rewarding. You only receive one life. There is no time to spend it with people, things, situations, etc. that do anything but make you a better person.
If you’ve never learned to embrace change, sign yourself up for the military or find yourself a military spouse and you’ll learn about embracing change really dang quick. By the way, this is a mostly Type A, loves her routine kind of girl that you’re hearing this from so I’m pretty much a pro at not embracing anything that throws me for a loop at the drop of a dime. I will admit though, it has been pretty exciting and has really taught me that above all, God is in control. This point is of course very relevant for every aspect of life, Air Force involved or not. Life will never be perfect (that’s the exciting part about it!) and change is inevitable which means there are lessons upon lessons to be learned. Where do those lessons lead? Growth. Change means growth; embrace it.
Donut Ever Stop
It might just seem like I’m a donut loving chick with a cool punch line but the last twenty five years of my life have truly have been characterized by this phrase. It has been filled with constant growth and education (formal or not), the endless pursuit of Jesus, joy, and understanding Jordan Jean’s purpose. It has been a fight against the devil that is filled with rounds and rounds that I refuse to tap out on. It has been a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. It has been a lot of hard work but I’m a better person for it. The Donut Ever Stop mentality is not only physical. It doesn’t mean you have to be working your behind off from the time you rise in the morning until the time you rest your head on the pillow. It simply means constantly striving to grow– emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically. Donut ever stop pursuing your best self. Ever.