Today I enter the last year of my 20s. How did that happen? I swear I just graduated from college, blissfully unaware of what it meant to be an adult. Now here I am, married with a third child on the way, still completely clueless about adulthood. People are like, "Yeah, I refinanced the mortgage on my house." In my head I think, "Is that good or bad? Am I supposed to congratulate them or console them?" Out loud I'm like, "Yeah, that was probably a good move. I would've done the same thing," nodding sagely all the while. The only meats I know how to prepare are chicken and ground turkey/beef. I still have to Google where to dispose of things like batteries and print cartridges. But I hear they teach you all of those things in your 30s, so it's totally fine.
I really am looking forward to my 30s. Everyone talks about your 20s being so turbulent with all of the changes new jobs, new relationships, new kids, and new homes bring. You're still figuring out who you are, and the comparison game is especially strong as you watch your friends do incredible things in their careers at a young age, start beautiful families, or travel the world while living a seemingly carefree life. You constantly ask yourself if you're missing out on something, if you're taking the right path. Apparently in your 30s you become more comfortable in your own skin, so I'm looking forward to that.
But my 20s weren't all bad. In fact, even though there was a lot of struggle and questioning myself, many parts of my 20s were downright fun and enjoyable. So in honor of my last birthday that begins with a 2, here are my 29 favorite things I did or learned in my 20s:
1. (Age 20) I worked in an Irish pub one summer with my sister. Our hours were crazy, and one time I had to get sent home early because my legs were cramping up from being on my feet for too long. But the atmosphere was electric, I made really good money, and my sister and I have so many inside jokes and memories from that summer. Every young adult should experience working in the service industry at some point.
2. I traveled to Ecuador for a 6 week Spanish immersion program with 30 classmates and friends. We were not allowed to speak any English the entire time we were there. It was life-changing!
3. (Age 21) I returned to Ecuador to study abroad for a semester, with side trips to Panama and Colombia. My Spanish improved tremendously, and I learned so much about myself and the world around me in those 4 months. I truly formed some amazing friendships and memories. I can't wait to bring my kids back someday when they're a little older, so I can show them all of my favorite places!
4. (Age 22) I graduated college!
5. (Age 22) I got married to the love of my life. It was a beautiful wedding on a hot July day with all of our friends and family there. Best decision I ever made.
6. (Age 22) I moved to Minnesota with my new husband. It was a hard lesson, as I had really hoped to move outside the midwest after college. I had to learn that God has far better plans for me than I could ever come up with. I ended up meeting incredible people, and working my dream job in Minnesota, and I learned so much during our 5 years there.
7. (Age 23) I chaperoned a trip to Costa Rica. I took a few Spanish students from the school I was teaching at to learn Spanish on the beach, zipline, salsa dance, cook Costa Rican food, and see a volcano. I was scared, and worried I was unqualified to lead a group of teenagers out of the country at such a young age, but I brought them all back in one piece - praise God!
8. (Age 23) I got my dream job teaching Spanish and German in a Lutheran High School. I got to coach volleyball and track, too, which were my two favorite sports in high school.
9. (Age 24) I chaperoned a trip to Germany with a group of 20 teenagers in the German program at my high school. And I got to bring my husband as the male chaperon. We went to a public viewing of a soccer game, ate delicious German food, experienced a high ropes course with our sister high school, observed classes in the German high school, and went out for plenty of Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake).
10. (Age 24) My husband and I took a weekend trip to Paris after dropping the students off with their German host families.
11. (Age 24) Later that year I found out I was pregnant with my first child!
12. (Age 25) I gave birth to my daughter, Philippa Florence. Nothing sweeter and happier than holding your first baby in your arms!
13. (Age 25) I resigned my dream job to stay home with my daughter - my new dream job!
14. (Age 25) Watched my big sister Liz get married to the love of her life. Naturally, my sisters and I performed a choreographed dance at the reception.
15. (Age 26) I went to Nashville for my sister's bachelorette party with my 5 sisters, my mom, my daughter, and a few close friends of the family. It was such a fun long weekend with incredible women!
16. (Age 26) I jumped into my health and wellness business. It felt good to have something to work on from home, giving me purpose, a challenge, a network of supportive friends, and I loved (and still love) contributing to our family income.
17. (Age 26) I watched my sister Molly get married at a beautiful downtown Milwaukee wedding. Another choreographed dance happened. There were donuts at the reception.
18. (Age 26) #europebythedozen happened! That's right! My family of 8 (parents and 6 girls) plus the three husbands, and our daughter Pippa hopped across the pond to spread our Nana's ashes in London. Besides the normal sightseeing one does in London, we had our own private tour of Nana's childhood home and favorite spots in the city. My parents rented a gorgeous AirBnB home in a charming neighborhood to house all 12 of us, and it became our relaxing home base during our stay there.
19. (Age 26) we then took a jaunt over to Paris for a weekend of cafe au lait, crepes, macarons, and wine. The trip culminated with a picnic under the Eiffel Tower. Doesn't get much better than that!
20. (Age 26) we found out I was pregnant with baby #2!
21. (Age 26) My husband got a job offer in Florida days after finding out I was pregnant again. The timing wasn't perfect - we would have to break the lease on our apartment to make it in time for the new school year, and we would arrive mere weeks before my due date, but we decided to take the leap anyway.
22. (Age 27) At 36 weeks pregnant we moved from Minnesota to Florida. Actually, we drove from South Dakota, as we had just attended Justin's sister's wedding there. I was super uncomfortable, tired, and experiencing insane Braxton Hicks, but it was an adventure! A good memory looking back...maybe not a great experience in the moment. Thankfully, I documented our road trip beginning to end.
23. (Age 27) We welcomed our second child Theodore Scott into the world!
24. (Age 27) We visited Miami for the first time with the kids. Justin had a teacher's conference to attend, and we stayed with friends from college. The kids and I did some exploring while the conference was going on. I especially loved Little Havana!
25. (Age 28) I set a huge goal for myself in my health and wellness business and I achieved it! There were a lot of late nights and moments of stress, but it was so worth it. It was the biggest month in my business ever! I am so blessed to be surrounded by the supportive women I am.
26. (Age 28) We're still renting, but we moved into a wonderful, roomy home with a lanai and back yard. I still wake up every morning feeling so blessed to live here!
27. (Age 28) We had a three week trip to Wisconsin planned last summer to visit our families, and we decided to drive up a few days early without telling my parents so we could surprise them for the 4th of July. The surprise was almost ruined by my dad checking the Find my Friends app, but at least he didn't tell my mom - she was still surprised! The trip was so full of fun, laughter, and memories.
28. We found out we were pregnant with baby #3!
29. I attended my very first Packer game when they played the Jacksonville Jaguars this past September.
As I read back through all of these old posts, and relive all of these memories, I am filled with so much gratitude for the life I have lived so far. (Of course, these are just the highlights, and I don't always write about the low points, the tough days at home with the kids, or the self doubt.) It's so fun to look back at almost a decade of good memories to see how I have changed and how our life circumstances have evolved. For this reason, there's no reason to regret growing older, because each day is a new gift to live a new adventure God has placed in your life.
And as one of my favorite quotes says, "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened!"
Alright 29 - bring it on! I'm ready to make my last year in my 20s the best one yet!
Further reading: 28 Important Lessons Learned in my 20s