June marks the halfway point for my thirtieth year on the planet. Each birthday before brought new experiences, adventures, challenges and a sense of maturity that made me all the more wiser in my last 365 days. As I reflect on the first 180 days of my thirtieth year I am beginning to understand how incredibly different it feels to be myself (perpetually an old soul, wrapped in a type A personality) living the life that I spent the first thirty years creating and preparing for. There is an amazing sense contentment that comes with looking around your world and realizing that you are an adult, living the life that you have created and have the option to make that life whatever you want it to be. Are there incredible challenges that you are completely unprepared for? Certainly. But your response to the unknown helps build your confidence and creates reference points as you face adversity in the rest of your life. Did I think that by 29 I would have watched my husband go through two courses of treatment for lymphoma? Absolutely not. When I was 5, did I imagine that at 30 years old I would be spending 40 hours a week as a program manager working with families in the community that I grew up in? Not at all. I would have said I would be a ballerina married to Steve Yzerman, despite his 20 years my senior and the fact that he was already married. There is no way for you to forecast the details of your life that you will find important as you’re going through your day-to-day routine as an adult. Somehow, completely against my nature, I take comfort in the unknown and the idea that all I can do is work hard, have empathy, make logical decisions, love those close to me and the rest is up to the universe.
In the spirit of using my reflection on my first thirty years, I’ve made some commitments to myself. I say commitments and not goals because the word goal insinuates that there is a finish line to each item and for what I have in mind, I don’t want there to be a finish line. I want to create a lifestyle for myself that breeds healthy and positive relationships with those that I care about and allows me to learn, grow and enjoy the next thirty years.
I commit to embracing a healthier lifestyle. I don’t care about losing weight, I don’t care about buying new clothes or taking selfies. I may do all of those things, but my intention is to be healthy so I can live through my next thirty years not to run after (pun intended) the fringe benefits.
I commit to drinking a little bit of the kool-aid. My natural inclination is not to be a small-talking, yes-sir, joiner of a person, most specifically in my work life. I take my job incredibly seriously, I am invested and interested in the best interest of the community we serve and the programming we offer. That investment and interest also means I take the work very personally and that can cause a disconnection from some people around me or judgement when I feel as though my priorities are not reciprocated. I often forget that being successful in community-based programming means I have to build relationships with people both internally and externally. This sometimes requires me to do things I don’t want to do, to chit-chat with people I don’t want to chit-chat with and to NOT say things I really would like to say (and do so without making a face). Hence, “drinking the kool-aid”. No need to gulp, but a couple sips should go a long way.
I commit to challenging myself. I want to learn new things, add bullet points to my resume, have new favorite foods, listen to new music and do crazy things that make me laugh. There’s something refreshing (and terrifying) about stepping outside of your comfort zone but I’ve found that is where some of your favorite things present themselves. When I took my first job as a trainer, I was terrified. I remember sweating through my clothes the first time I had to INTRODUCE myself in front of my first group of participants. Now, almost five years later, I thrive on developing trainings, presenting workshops and facilitating conversations – sometimes all while not having any kind of plan or agenda ahead of time. It helps that I’m willing to make a jack ass out of myself for a laugh.
Lastly, I commit to having fun. Life is short and is filled with awful things that happen every single day but there is always good in every day – you just have to find it. I commit to looking for the good in each day and if I can’t find it, I will create it.
Here’s to the next thirty years!