By Victoria Santoro, Guest Blogger June 26, 2015
It pains me to think back to the days when I considered 25 to be old. And what about 30?? Ancient!
Last weekend I turned 30, but I’m still in touch with the 12-year-old that lives inside of me. She had so many ideas, so many dreams of what her twenties would be like, look like, feel like. She didn’t really take much time to think about her thirties. She wasn’t scared of aging because she wasn’t sure aging would ever actually happen to her. And then slowly she kept graduating from one grade level to the next and, before she knew it, she had a degree, and then another degree, and a job and an apartment and car insurance. She had a life.
Few things look the way I had imagined that they would. Things are much better than I could have created in my imagination. Now that I’m older and finally looking backwards with some wisdom, I can give one piece of advice for every birthday you have the privilege to reach.
Don’t imagine how each of your years is going to look. Set goals, have aspirations, but know that the universe is going to deliver a platter of opportunities and difficulties that you simply couldn’t have planned for. Embrace the beauty of this unpredictability.
At 12, I wanted to turn 13 so that I could be a “teenager.” At 15, I wanted to turn 16 so I could drive. At 17, I wanted to turn 18 so I could be an “adult.” At 20, I wanted to turn 21 so I could have wine with dinner. And then suddenly at 29, I didn’t want to turn 30 for any particular reason. I was simply happy the adventure got to continue, and I get to witness another piece of my life. If we spend our lives constantly wishing for the next year because we believe a specific occurrence will make us happy, we will miss out on what is actually happening around us.
I can honestly say turning 13 was no big deal, but at 12 I got to volunteer on my first political campaign and that experience changed my perspective forever. Learning to drive was great fun at 16 but it didn’t compare to rock climbing in the Tetons when I was 15. Turning 18 does not make you an adult! But getting into college when I was 17 certainly felt momentous. And I have the rest of my life to drink wine over dinner...turning 21 was simply not that special. Birthdays, though, naturally make you think forward to the next year of your life and what is likely to happen and how those things will make you happy. And yet, the only thing that is likely to happen is something completely unpredictable.
Stop for a moment on your birthday, and instead of looking forward, look back to the last year laugh at the things you never saw coming, learn from the things you could not have foreseen, grow from all the experiences you never thought you’d have, and realize that each year will bring a fresh set of these unpredictable and beautiful moments. Feel lucky that you have another year to experience and know that it is this wild, unpredictable, unexplainable journey that is the thing that makes us happy. The journey is the thing that makes us whole.
Your teen years don’t have to look a certain way. Your twenties don’t have to feel a certain way. Your thirties don’t have to be a certain way. Whatever you’re expecting from the next year of your life will likely be different than you thought. Let the experiences of your own unique life wash over you with each birthday you’re lucky enough to have and be excited for the next leg of your path through life.
Tell us about an unpredictable moment in your life? How did it defer from what you expected? Share with us here!
Victoria Santoro is a trial attorney who practices law in Boston. She is also a teacher, speaker, and writer, maintaining her personal blog The Limber Lawyer, and contributing to various legal publications. Victoria is passionate about helping young girls and women not only succeed but also find contentment and purpose. In her free time, she can often be found training or competing for half-marathons and triathlons.
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