5 Words That Have New Meaning In My 30’s

Because it’s harvest time, I’m in the frame of mind to take stock.  This year has been very different from a lot of recent years in my life.  Things changed, there was bad and there was good and there were lots of chances to be challenged in new ways.  Actually, I describe lots of years like that.  But trust me, this one was different.  Anyway, I’m now closer to 33 then 32.  Which is nuts!  I remember being 19 and thinking that was no way I would live this long.

Words are very important to me (surprise surprise) and one thing I’m taking stock of in this season of my life is vocabulary.  Words that have changed the older I have gotten.  I’m not talking about slang.  (But – brief aside – who remembers when crotch chopping was a thing?  I just thought of this at a football game last weekend.  There was a 2 year period when that motion replaced using the middle finger.  Pop culture is weird.)

I’m talking about how the meaning of common words have changed over time. For me.  Random thoughts for Monday!  So here we go – to the list!

1. Luxury

In my 20’s that word was connected with money.  Heavy things.  Shiny things.  Hotels,  handbags, apartment amenities.  Not that I could ever really afford martial luxury in my 20’s, but I did aspire to it.  Since then, I’ve lost interest in that definition.  Now, luxury is connected to time.  Time to sleep in and make brunch on a Saturday.  4 days weekend road trips; 4 unscheduled hours on a Sunday.  Uninterrupted coffee shop blogging.  Quiet afternoons in the sun.    Time.  There is never enough and I always want more.

2. Success.

A similar situation had occurred with this word.  The definition of success was almost entirely made up of financial goals in my 20’s.  Now, I’m more worried about my success as a human being.  Whether or not I am a good friend, whether I’m generous, whether I have principles, whether I bring joy into the world.  What I accumulate matters less and less, what I leave in my wake matters more.  As I move further away from adolescence, I continue to realize that each of us has stuff that we carry around on our souls, and most people are doing the best they can with the weight of that stuff.  Having stuff doesn’t make you special and I hope that when l look back on my own life I can say, “I did the best I could with my stuff.  And I tried to be understanding of other people’s stuff.”

3. Faith
Despite being raised to believe the contrary, I entered my 20’s with the conviction that a higher power probably did not exist and was definitely irrelevant to my life.  I had answers to questions and I thought this made me smart.  Silly silly me.  Try thinking you have answers to ALLL the questions sometime – watch how quickly the disappear.

I exited my 20’s and live in my 30’s, with a deep sense of faith.  I cannot explain it eloquently and I have no interest in arguing over the details.  My life has become a conversation with God; not a study of facts and figures.  Where I once only cared about answers and proof, I now move with my questions and love them as part of myself.  I’ve learned that most of life is gray and living well requires acceptance of uncertainty – more than is comfortable for most, (including me, which is why I work at it every day). That’s why it’s said: faith is being sure of things we hope for and certain of what we cannot see.

4. Relationships
And now for the tough love portion of this post:
Dear 20-Something Me:
Save yourself some tears and know this: mutual respect and mutual benefit are required elements in all healthy relationships.  First, be sure you are giving respect.  Then, if you are not getting it, address it, and if it doesn’t get better, get out.  No ifs/buts and I don’t care how______ he is or how long you have known her.  When you give of yourself, healthy people will want to give back.  Toxic people won’t.  Toxic things make you sick.  Life’s too short to be sick.
Also, don’t forget about the relationship you have with yourself.  It’s important to want to hangout with yourself and treat yourself well – because if you don’t want to, odds are you  won’t get those things from others.
Signed,

The Older, Wiser You.

5.  Pain
When you are young, terrible things seem impossible to survive. We’ve all thought it: surely, if I am suffering enough, the world will stop?  Right?
No.  The sun will disregard how you feel over and over again – and continue to rise. At 21, I didn’t really KNOW that.  When you are young, it seems cruel.  As you get older, it becomes comforting that you may go to bed crying but… the sun always rises.  As one of my long time friends says, “This too shall pass.”   Once you realize pain is temporary, all it’s power is gone.
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