I never really thought I’d be 30. It always seemed like such a far-off adult number, and I’ve always felt like a kid. But here it is, something that seemed to be lurking in the shadows, and then one day I looked up and I was almost 30. And now tomorrow, it’ll officially be here.
So in honor of my birthday, I thought I’d write a letter to myself at 20, to pass on the wisdom I wish I had known on that birthday.
Dear 20-year-old Bethe,
Life at 20 is exciting. You’re in your first apartment, with your first roommates, living in a room barely large enough to hold a twin bed, and yet you think you have made it BIG because it’s your very own. Life is about to get much bigger. Your teenage years were hard, like almost any teenager, not knowing who you are or what you want to be, but trust me, your twenties will be SO MUCH BETTER.
First… dump that college boyfriend of yours. You’re not going to marry him.
And guess what… I know that at 20 you think everybody who doesn’t get married by 23 is an old maid, destined to be a broom skirt-wearing librarian. You think your life will be so unfulfilling if you have to spend part of it alone. But trust me, you’re going to live a lot of adventures over the next few years, and you’ll be so glad it worked out this way.
You’re going to have many more roommates. Some are going to become life-long friends. Others aren’t going to work out, but you’ll learn a lot of lessons about how to live with other people, how to be less selfish, and how to love people who are very different from yourself.
You’re going to live in some RANDOM places. You’ll live in a run-down apartment on the wrong side of the tracks, and yes, you’ll even hear occasional gunshots. But don’t be alarmed, you’ll survive with nothing more than a car robbery. Then you’ll leave the ghetto for (gasp) your parents’ house. That will be such a glamorous way to spend your first six months out of college (not really). But you’ll learn to love living with your parents because they’re actually pretty cool. You’ll live with them again when you’re 25 while you build your house, and you’ll all become hopelessly addicted to this silly show called Dancing With the Stars. In between you’ll live in a swanky apartment and an old rent house with a heater that barely works.
You’ll learn to live alone. It seems like the last thing a people-person like yourself should do, and while it’ll definitely be lonely at times, you’ll soon make so many friends that it won’t matter. And, it’ll toughen you up, make you brave enough to stay alone, make you learn how to fix things, and force you to become more independent. You’re going to need that.
You’re going to build a house. By yourself. It’ll be one of the best experiences of your life.
You’re going to suffer heartbreak. Actually, you’re going to suffer heartbreak a several times. Each time will get harder, but it’ll also make you stronger. Each time you’ll learn more about yourself, and what traits you want (and need) in a man. You’ll never be particularly good at breakups. Prepare to do a lot of crying, drink a lot of Sonic strawberry milkshakes, and spend a lot of time hanging out with your family, who will make you laugh so much that your heart will start to heal. And during those times when you feel most alone, you’ll get to experience Christ’s love at its fullest. You’ll grow more and in the end, the pain will bring great growth. So stick it out.
You’re going to finally learn how to study your Bible. Like, REALLY study your Bible, not just listen to preachers and teachers explain it. You’re finally going to open it up for yourself and devour the pages and learn the Word for yourself. It’s going to be life changing. You’ll love it so much that it will become your passion to help other girls do the same thing. Yes, I realize at 20 you don’t really enjoy hanging out with other girls. But someday it’ll become your ministry. And here’s a little secret… someday you’ll become a minister’s wife.
You’re going to travel the world. I realize at 20 you’ve only been to a few states, but in the next ten years you’re going to visit 11 countries and a dozen more states. You’ll realize that your favorite city in the world is Paris, that Colombia has the most amazing food, and that the Greek islands are paradise. You’ll grow to love other cultures, which will help you love people better when you get back home.
I realize at 20 you’ve never even run a 5k, but you’re going to finish a half marathon. No joke. You’re going to take salsa lessons, learn how to lift weights, play in a church softball league, and every Sunday afternoon for about 5 years, you’re going to play flag football. Crazy, huh? You won’t be any GOOD at most of those things, but you’re going to do them anyway.
You’re going to make the most amazing friends in your 20s. Your best friends will come from your church, which is going to have a huge impact on your life. You’ll gain friends of all ages and each one will teach you something about life, and yourself. And those little sisters of yours? I know they seem so young now, but trust me, they’re going to become your very closest friends. Soon you’ll be dancing at their weddings.
You’re going to find a career that you love. At 20 you have no clue what you want to do… trust me, you’ll end up changing your major about five times. And that’s okay, because soon you’ll settle into public relations, and eventually you’ll get your dream job. You’re going to get to do so many fun things – plan black tie galas, design billboards, get to know Santa Claus on a first name basis (you’re in charge of the Christmas activities at your work). You’re even going to get a master’s degree. It’s going to be exhausting juggling night school and work, but you’ll survive and you’ll never regret it.
And just when you start to wonder if you’re going to be single forever… you’re going to meet the most amazing man. At first you’ll just be friends, and then one day you’re going to look at him and something about him is going to fascinate you. Lucky for you, he’s going to experience the same thing at the very same time, and next thing you know you’ll be madly in love. He’s going to treat you like a queen, pursue you in a way that speaks to your heart, encourage you, love on you, and serve you in a sacrificial way. You’re not going to know what to do with yourself… so just enjoy every minute of it. In the meantime, don’t stress… enjoy your singleness while you have it, and trust that the Lord loves you, and has good plans for you, and knows what you need more than you do. When Mr. Wright comes along, he’ll be worth the wait. And he’ll be an amazing cook.
I could tell you more, but you’ll have to discover it for yourself. Just remember… never give up. Your twenties will be amazing and scary and exhausting a total adventure. Relish them. And don’t take yourself so seriously.
I’ll see you at 30.