rapid-fire reflections on 29
Updated: Mar 2, 2021
Today is my birthday! I think I just skipped writing anything about turning 28. Whoops.
Probably because I was about to give birth to Sofia, and Jeff and I spent our shared birthday eating pepperoni and jalapeño pizza and watching The Ultimate Fighter while Vivian built a blanket fort between episodes of Tumble Leaf. It was a total couch potato birthday celebration, but sometimes you need those.
Tonight will be WILD, though. Jeff has a poker party planned, and since I'm pregnant again (thanks, Jeff!) I'll be eating queso and watching 90's movies with my sister and my bestie. And honestly? It sounds like a dream, except for the fact that I can't decide between Ten Things I Hate About You or Sweet Home Alabama.
As I embark on another year, here's what I learned during the last one:
1. There are some songs that you will never outgrow. For me, that song is Green Light by Lourdes. It is an absolutely ridiculous song for a 29 year old to dance to, but here I am, unashamed.
2. There are some people that you will outgrow. It's okay be to sad about it for a couple days, but it's best to wish them well and let them go.
3. Your lifelong friends out there. To find them, you just need to be fully yourself. No hiding. No distorting. No pretending. They will be your lifelong friends because they'll know and love the real you.
4. Your life will become much simpler and more satisfying if you refuse to live by lies. What does that look like? Basically, if someone demands you affirm a lie, whether it's about God, sex, race, government, history, safety, or whatever else, refuse and make no apologies. It's not always pleasant, but it is far better than the alternative. (There's a whole book about this, by the way).
Note: The biggest lie that is currently being consumed on a large scale is that our society is made up of "oppressors" and the "oppressed," and that the oppressors are always "privileged" because of some superficial quality like race or sex while the oppressed are always "marginalized" for the same reasons. It's called cultural Marxism, and it's trash. Reject it. If you know someone who holds this view, ask them to define their terms and provide evidence for it. They will likely turn emotional and slanderous, but that's on them, not you.
5. Quality over quantity. That applies to friends, skincare, clothes, and probably everything else.
6. You probably do need to start investing in some collagen, if you're getting old like me. I've heard this one is good.
7. Be patient with people who don't get it yet. I remember a time (really not that long ago) when I used to post cringe about being a #ladyboss and gross virtue-signally stuff. Some people do change, thank God.
8. Alternatively, don't be afraid to smash that block button if someone in your life is just a bored, bullying antagonist.
10. Use your money wisely. There is *no* reason to support companies that hate your values. Be a little inconvenienced and search for better alternatives. (Or, sign up for my email list and let me do that for you by sending you my frequently updated list of non-commie brands, shops, and influencers.) Using this app is a great start.
11. Talk to your children about everything they see. Cringey social justice commercials. Weird posters at schools. Gross bumperstickers. All of it, because their little minds are curious. Be honest, funny, and firm. Even if they decide they disagree with you, at least you know you told them the truth while you had the chance.
12. God is extraordinarily kind. He never lets anyone stay dependent on anything except for Him for very long, and that is a challenging mercy.
13. Having children is THE BEST. Don't miss out on a family because our culture is stupidly afraid of inconvenience. I used to be scared of being a mom, but I'm so glad I snapped out of it.
14. Do not idealize either side of the political spectrum. It's clear which one is less totalitarian, but that doesn't mean that people on the right won't disappoint you with their own weirdness.
15. If you're a culture warrior, build unexpected coalitions. Christians and Catholics, don't waste your time squabbling. Conservatives, populists, and non-progressives, get it together. If your core values are mostly compatible, it's time to make it work because secular progressivism is a threat to everyone.
16. Get one of those apps that helps you not be on your phone all the time. This one
has proven to be surprisingly effective for me.
17. Don't expect anything short-term to be wildly successful. Pretty much everything that I'm proud of today took years to build. Think long-term and don't get discouraged by slow results.
18. Fight for your marriage. Even if it's at its very lowest point, fight, because love can save pretty much anything. My therapist friend posted this on Facebook the other day, and it's worth pondering:
Before you divorce your partner, ask one question. "Will the next person I meet be able to see all the flaws my spouse has seen all these years and be as patient and accepting?"
Sometimes, the answer is yes. If so, get some marriage counseling. But, often the answer is no. If so, then the problem in the relationship is not “them,” but could be your lack of appreciation for what they’ve had to put up with so they can love you. Shower them with appreciation. See what happens.
19. The best way to deal with envy is to either decide that you don't need/want what someone else has, or that you, too, can get it. Any other thought is unproductive.
20. Gardening is such an underrated activity. And going to the Farmer's Market. If you have one, go every week and make friends with the farmers.
21. Being passive in the face of evil is not a virtue. Jesus is not motivated by compliments and social convenience. He also is not a fan of the 11th Commandment.
22. If you're going to ask God for anything, ask Him for discernment. The ability to figure out what is true or false/helpful or destructive is sorely lacking in our culture, and people are hurting because of it. Teach your kids to pray for it, too.
23. Write down your goals. It makes it much more likely that you'll achieve them. Five years ago I wrote down that I wanted a literary agent, a publishing deal, and to see my novel in a store before I turned 30. Cut it pretty close, but we pulled it out.
24. Write for your people, not your critics (unless you enjoy spending your life groveling and begging for forgiveness from people who are just as messed up as you are.)
25. A capsule wardrobe seems like a good idea. I haven't actually pulled this off, but I'm tired of doing laundry. so maybe this is the year. Here's a beginner's guide.
26. Try a combative sport. Boxing is my personal fave, but there are all kinds. It's a great way to get/stay in shape, and it's also a good way to channel your general angst without losing it on somebody.
27. You can memorize scripture, and it will change your life. This app helps.
28. Support the underdogs. Our culture has a hard time figuring out exactly who underdogs are these days (see #4 and #22) but, basically, you should probably support people who don't have the backing of every major corporation, university, celebrity, and popular brand. Chances are, those are the people who are actually taking a stand for something that challenges the status quo.
29. Don't let "perfect" get in the way of progress. Cliche and cute, I know, but if there's anything the last year has taught me is that you simply have to keep pushing in the face of setbacks. Keep praying. Keep connecting. Keep creating content. Keep asking. Consistency is primary difference between those who try and those who transform.
Hope some of those were helpful! Even though I skipped last year, I did write about my golden birthday if you want a blast from the past.
Carmen Schober is a debut novelist, wife, full-time mother, avid boxer, and Rocky enthusiast. She earned a master's degree in English literature and creative writing, and she currently lives in Kansas. You can buy After She Falls here!