my next 30 years

In 10 days I will turn 30--the big 3-0. To be honest, I'm excited and not at all dismayed. My twenties were a period of immense growth and constant  change. I'm proud of what I achieved and the experiences I pursued. But I'm also happy to be leaving my twenties behind.

I spent most of my twenties focused on how I wanted my life to look and made my decisions based on that intangible dream. While that certainly wasn't necessarily a bad approach, over the past decade I've learned to embrace reality and live more in the present.

It's easy to worry about how one decision might negatively impact something you want in the future, so as a result you don't fully embrace the here and now. That was the main obstacle I navigated as a young adult.

For example, I never wanted a career because I valued being a wife and a mother above all else. I wanted an education and figured I would work for awhile until my husband and I had kids and then I would become a stay-at-home mom. Following a career track and achieving professional success wasn't my main goal.

That being said, I certainly didn't go to college to find a husband like some girls do. I went to college to get an education and define life on my own terms--to become my own person. Thanks to Mormon culture and my own desire to get married, I just assumed that I'd find my husband in college along the way and then we'd make all the rest of our life decisions together.

College was where my concept of what I wanted for my future ended. After that I didn't think I was going to be the one making all of the decisions. Well, as all of you know, that's not how my story played out.

I didn't get married until I was 29. Gasp! 29 is old by Mormon standards but I am so glad that I didn't get married by age 23 like I thought I would (and should). That would not have been the best path for me or my future spouse.

Everyone has their own story and timetable--I firmly believe that. It's important that we don't judge others and realize that we cannot and should not live anyone else's life but our own. But I know that for me, personally, I am a better wife and a better mother because of the life experience I gained in my twenties being on my own.

After college I took an internship at LDS Church headquarters and then moved to Chicago to attend graduate school at DePaul University. I didn't know a single person when I moved to the Windy City and graduate school had never been a part of my "plan".

The year between undergrad and grad school I saw a therapist weekly for nine months trying to sort out what I was supposed to do next in my life. I didn't know where to turn or what to do. I felt entirely unprepared for the reality and future I was faced with.

Living in Chicago and going to graduate school wasn't easy--my social anxiety reached an all-time high--but it was extremely exciting and rewarding. Even amidst all of the uncertainty I faced, I felt joy and fulfillment. I needed that time to develop and learn how to be ok, whatever my present circumstances.

Chicago is an amazing place that I was very reluctant to leave. But the spirit helped me to know that if I wanted the life I had hoped for for all of those years--to be a wife and a mother--that I needed to move back to Washington in order to find my future husband. I didn't want to leave Chicago but at the same time I knew I had to go. All of my life experience up to that point had taught me to listen to that prompting and take that leap of faith. I am eternally grateful that I did.

As I sit on the brink of turning 30, I couldn't be happier that I get to spend my next 30 years and more with my wonderful husband. Navigating this crazy life with him and working to build our family together is more amazing and fulfilling than I ever imagined.

Life looks different than I pictured it would at this time marker, but I can truly say that my reality is beautiful, challenging, and perfect for me. I know that I am not alone and that Heavenly Father has a plan not only for me personally, but also for the family Dale and I are creating together with the boys and anyone else who comes along.

From where I sit my next 30 years look pretty dang good. And in the wise words of Tim McGraw, I need to eat a few more salads and not stay up so late.

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