On Monday I will celebrate three decades of life.
I couldn’t be more excited about turning 30, mostly because I can’t wait to see what the next 30 will bring.
Pondering my birthday, I’ve decided that it is really the first milestone with a good view back at the course of my life so far. It affords a good vantage point too to eyeball the climb ahead of me.
Looking down the hill at my life, it’s easy to separate the journey into distinct thirds. Each part is roughly a decade, give or take a few years. Each third is unique. Each one shaped me into who I am today.
The first third was blissful childhood. I can say definitively that I was blessed. I had parents who loved and nurtured me and four little sisters to share everything with, even when I didn’t want to.
Although my family wasn’t the most materially wealthy, we were rich when it came to the love in our home. My parents worked hard and tirelessly to make sure my days were free from real worry, and filled instead with laughter and play. I am still enjoying many of those moments in my memory.
Their rules taught me discipline. Their determination and reliance showed me that life simply isn’t fair. It is truly what you make out of it.
From my 30-year-old view, I see now that the second third of my life was only partially cloudy, contrary to what I thought at the time. I can see that I polluted the air with bad decisions and confusion. The rest of the clouds that obscured the way forward during those awkward adolescent years were just a line of passing thunderstorms.
Eventually, I climbed out of the clouds and looking back I’m thankful for the bad weather.
Those years taught me many more lessons. Including what it’s like to live bogged down in fear.
The last distinct third, about seven years of my life, have been the most exhilarating.
I found love and married. I started a career I’m passionate about. Most importantly though, I began to really dream and embrace life.
At thirty, I feel like I’m finally comfortable in my own skin. I have a good idea of who I am and an even better picture of who I am not.
I know for certain now that life has its ups and downs and always will. Instead of lamenting the arrival of rough seas, I can focus instead on riding them out with minimal damage.
I no longer shy away from every challenge either. The risk of failure still causes me to pause, but I’m no longer paralyzed by it. I’ve learned to let go of relationships and when to tighten my grip on them.
When I blow out the candles on Monday, I’ll be thinking about “the hill” left to climb above me. It’s steep and is sure to have plenty of rocky terrain, but it promises even more spectacular views.
CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2653.