It’s a true blessing to have the kind of friends in your life where you can call them up and feel as if you can pick up right where you left off; whether that be weeks, years or even a decade.
Last Friday night made me truly appreciate those kind of relationships. Chatting with one of my best friends from high school, I happened to have our senior year book readily available from a basement re-model I’m in the middle of. One of the things we added in the year book as seniors was our “ten-years-later” life predictions. While I read ours and a few of our other close friends predictions, it’s really intriguing to see what people “expect” to happen when you get near the age of 30 (really this was for when we were 28 but close enough). Most predicted to be married, with kids and a successful career. While I can’t say I strayed too far from my predictions, the road to where I’m at now was no easy ride. I learned that the only thing that is constant, is change.
So, my last named changed and I may live in a shoe box of a house as opposed to a mansion, but I didn’t stray too far away from what I thought my life would be like now but predicted back in 2002.
Let me just say that I’m thankful for turning thirty. It’s a privilege most get, but not all.
Predictions and mansions aside, here are thirty things I’ve learned since being that 18-year old high school student who aspired to break 100 lbs and make it big in the real world:
1. Follow your intuition. after graduating from high school, my dad accepted a job offer at Clemson University in Greenville, South Carolina. While it would have made sense for me to relocate with them and possibly get a small break on tuition, I opted to stay in Tallahassee and live with John (husband now) and his mother. Much to my family’s demise, I did what I felt was right at the time. I went to Tallahassee Community college on full scholarship before attending Savannah College of Art & Design, which brings me to my next life lesson.
2. Never let anything get in the way of you and your dreams. John and I wanted so badly to attend Savannah College of Art & Design. As freshman on Friday nights, we opted to stay in and work on scholarships applications for SCAD as opposed to going out to clubs and bars. Of course the temptation was there, but we were on a mission. And we succeeded.
3. Appreciate your relationships. Not many people meet their soul mate in high school. I’m one of the very few lucky ones. When I first met John in Advanced Placement Art, we sort of stuck together. The only thing we had in common was that we were the only freshman in a room full of high school seniors. Little did I know by thirty, we’d be married six years and have a child together.
4. College was one of the more challenging times of my life, but it prepared me for the future in a way I’d never expect. Not through books, but being able to being a full time student with a full time job. We spent countless nights where we just couldn’t go to bed due to the amount of homework we had. John pulled over twenty all-nighters in just one quarter. I maybe did twenty all-nighters throughout my time in school, but I know what lack of sleep is. You know it’s time to go to bed when telephone poles start swaying as your stopped at a red light. Red means stop, right?
5. Life after college is just as difficult but in a much different way. Job hunting…figuring out the next step and what you’d ideally like to do in life. Yeah I mean, we all had goals in fashion design school; it was to be the next top designer showcasing our work at New York Fashion Week. But then there’s reality. You know, student loan bills start kicking in six months after you graduate. At $650 a month for EACH of us, that was enough to stifle quite a few dreams.
6. Sacrifice can be a good thing. John gets the first job out of college and unfortunately, those pesky student loans aren’t going to pay for themselves. So we move from Savannah, Georgia to Austin, Texas. I’ll be honest, I didn’t even know where Austin was on the map until I actually lived there. Looking back, I still think it’s odd when I say “Oh yeah, I lived in Texas for 3 years; it was an interesting chapter of my life.” But moving there gave me a different perspective on life.
7. Things don’t always work out as planned. Ideally we have this end goal in our head…or at least I did. I just worked my butt off the past four years, paid crazy amounts of money to go to an outstanding college and was ready for that high paying awesome first job. I’d wake up bright and early every morning while residing in Texas, fine-tuning my portfolio, scouring Craigslist for freelance opportunities only to end up becoming a bartender. Saying it was a blow to my ego would be an understatement.
8. Life works in mysterious ways. Luckily pouring booze late at night brought in decent money. Enough to invest in starting my own fashion and accessory design business. Under the name MEWfashion, I started designing clothes and jewelry. My website launched August 15, 2007.
9. Being your own boss isn’t all what it’s chocked up to be. Many dream of having their own business. But taking action puts that idea of owning your own business from high up on a pedestal, to questioning what the hell your doing. I mean, I just invested more than I should have on a fabulous e-commerce website. I spent countless hours making jewelry, purchasing sergers and Quickbooks, in addition to turning the 2nd bedroom into a studio. Why weren’t orders pouring in?
10. Persistence and patience are only words, but their meaning can be life changing. My jewelry started to sell in boutiques, I was invited to participate in multiple fashion shows, including Austin’s first ever fashion week. I was even given the opportunity to try out for Project Runway and meet Tim Gunn. Remembering these two words along with outpouring support from my family is all I ever needed and I still believe in that to this day.
11. Good things come to those who wait. And at the end of 2007, John proposed to me in front of the capitol of Texas. We took a carriage ride through the streets of Austin that were illuminated by all the colorful Christmas lights of the season. I had no idea he was about to pop the question and when he told me he had something for me, the first thing that came to mind was a ring made out of a straw wrapper. No worries, I still get straw-wrapper-rings to this day and probably have about twenty saved in a keepsake box.
12. Bigger doesn’t always mean better. We kept our wedding in Greenville, South Carolina small. Since it was remote for just about everyone aside from my mom and dad, it was more intimate. We were able to have our bachelor and bachelorette parties together. All ten of our bridesmaids and groomsmen were from nine different states. It was so amazing to have all of our closest friends, from every chapter of our life thus far, together.
13. Being married didn’t change much. The two biggest changes: my last name and our car insurance payment. It dropped significantly…but that could have been because we were coming up on turning 25.
11. Home is where your heart is. While not everyone could agree with this, it’s a phrase that stands true for me. Maybe I would have felt differently if I hadn’t been uprooted from Cincinnati at age 12 to relocate to Flordia. Maybe I wouldn’t see the city as a place with such fond childhood memories. Regardless, I was proud to be from Cincinnati and I wanted to move back and call the Queen City my permanent home.
12. Take risks. Looking back, I think it’s safe to say I (we) took risks. After deciding to move to Cincinnati from Austin, we flew to my parents house in South Carolina and drove a rental car up to Cincinnati to buy a house. That’s right. We had four days to find a house in our price range – praying it’d pass inspection so we could get approved for a loan. This was all before we told John’s company we were moving across the country. He had this whole work-from-home proposal figured out and only hoped they’d give him a chance to work from home. That home we just purchased whether his company liked it or not. Ironically, five years later, he’s still working from our very same home. Speaking of homes…
13. Home ownership has just as many downs as it does ups. It was in just about everyone’s future ten-year-plan in the yearbook: to own a home. We were beyond excited to move in. Every weed that sprung up overnight wasn’t a big deal because we owned it. That weed belonged to us damn it and we could do what we want with it. We killed like ten plants in our yard the first year, but it was okay because they were our plants and we could replant anything our nature-loving hearts desired. Let’s just fast forward past literally one-hundred other issues we’ve had from our deck caving in to water literally pouring over the breaker box. Owning a home is not always fun or rewarding.
14. Trying new things keeps life interesting. The only thing that comes to mind is wearing trash bags over my legs while I cleaned out our worm-infested pond. Those things weren’t normal worms. They had to of been water snakes or something. If anything, it made for a funny picture.
15. Finding out your pregnant is both the scariest and one of the happiest moments of your life.
16. Bringing a new life into this world is a long, exhausting and emotional journey. I always thought that woman exaggerated when they mentioned all the weird cravings they’d get while being pregnant. But after reluctantly telling my doctor I wanted to devour a porcelain bowl, she informed me that this in fact comes up more than you’d think. It’s caused by an iron deficiency and adding a little more iron to my diet made that go away. But crying hysterically when my husband passed gas in the car and it was making me sick – that stuck with me throughout the entire pregnancy.
17. It’s okay to be and have and only child. I’m an only child. My husbands an only child. We were both fine with it growing up. I mean, we both shared moments where we wished we had siblings to play with at times. But overall, it wasn’t so bad. I feel as like there’s so much pressure to have more than just one kid. I’m not buying into it. One is plenty, both emotionally and financially.
18. Cherish good health. Even though I’d say I’m in pretty good shape, things can still go wrong. I’ve had Basal Cell Carcinoma (skin cancer), multiple foot surgeries, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, some weird dent in my hip so deep I could store change in it (that went away on it’s own but hurt for about a year) along with heart failure and multiple blood transfusions. I feel like I should be a lot older jotting down some of my major health issues I’ve had over the last decade but yeah. I’m only thirty and a little over 100 lbs.
19. Accept the way you look and learn to love it. My stomach may never look quite the same and I’ll always have a little extra skin from having my son. I spot gray hairs from time to time and my hands feel like those of a construction worker from making jewelry for so many years. Who cares.
20. Being a mom is one of the toughest jobs you’ll ever have. It never stops. Even when your child isn’t physically with you, you’ll think about them all the time. Even at the age of 3, I still get up in the middle of the night with Myles. Last night it was because there were purple witches under his pillow. Yeah… it’s easier to spray air freshener and tell him it’s “witch go away spray” over heating up a bottle, burping and changing him several times a night, it still takes a toll on me the next day.
21. Never stop working on your marriage. Kids can wreck havoc on a relationship. Thankfully I learned sooner rather than later that it’s important to make time for just the two of you. Even if it’s just going out to dinner once a month kid-free. It’s a great feeling that was taken for granted prior to being parents.
22. Everything happens for a reason. This may not be true, but I believe it. It might just be me trying to find the good in what would otherwise be a bad situation.
23. Losing loved ones is inevitable. I know everyone goes through some sort of loss and grief – followed by questioning. But I’ve come to terms with knowing it happens to everyone and sometimes without explanation. Losing my mother-in-law in 2010 was a tough, especially being pregnant, hormonal and not yet out of the morning sickness phase.
24. Success isn’t measured the way I once thought it was. There are many types of success that doesn’t involve having a fancy car, new designer clothes, a big house and a lot of money in the bank. I now base success on happiness and fulfillment rather than material things.
25. Follow your passion. Throughout the course of all these various life events, I never gave up on my business. Sometimes I dropped down to as little as only working on it 10 hours a week, but it’s something I worked so hard far. I’m passionate about what I do and because of that, I really don’t feel like what I do is work. (see #8 on how & why I started my business)
26. Push boundaries. I would have never imagined that I’d have a daily radio segment on Cincinnati’s top 40 station or that I’d cut commercials for my favorite stores like Michael’s Arts & Crafts and IKEA or be on national TV. But when I was offered a job at Hubbard Broadcasting only 4 months after my son was born in 2011, I jumped in with both feet and rode it out until the position was discontinued 5 months ago.
27. Try not to take things personal. That took me awhile to figure out. I still struggle with it. But things happen, people change, businesses change and life goes on.
28. Cherish friendships. The amount of friends you have is far less important than the quality of your friendships. I consider myself very fortunate to still have several friends from elementary school that I talk to on a regular basis.
29. The only thing certain in life is change. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow and accept the way things are and try to find the positive in the situation or adapt to the change. This is definitely easier said than done.
30. Life balance is essential. Taking time for myself is still something I’m working on. However, I’d say going to Cancun, Mexico for my 30th birthday is a good start.
There you go. There’s my thirty thoughts on being thirty. I can’t wait to read this at forty to see how things have changed. But until then, I’m going to continue to challenge myself, never stop learning and enjoy my thirties to their fulles