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Turning Thirty-Two


Today, I turn thirty-two. There is just something odd about this age - like twenty-three was, or twenty-eight was, you know, the mile markers in between the rest stops - that just doesn't carry the super significance as 21 and 30 did. Although, at this stage of life, there are many mile markers, and those celebratory rest stops are much, much fewer in between. 

Though, it wasn't too long ago I passed a big one - thirty! And if you remember, I loved becoming AND being thirty. To be honest, I enjoyed being thirty-one, and really, thirty-two already seems kick-ass. Call me crazy, my thirties have been VERY enjoyable. 

But as I turn thirty-two, there isn't much significance in the number, but truly, it's about the changes in myself. Thirty was just two years away, and I am already better than that version of myself. This year marked ten years since I've graduated from college (Things I Would tell My college Self), and I am a much better version of myself compared to then too. And cutting the age in half (wow, it's scary I can now do that), looking back at sixteen I had no clue, but truly, still carry some of those childish elements at heart. You have to.

So turning thirty-two, yup, it's just cool. But I will say on a personal note, there are six VERY important things I've learned about myself over the past year: 

1. Don't ever underestimate the impression you've made on others. 

I'm learning to deal with this, especially since I really have always struggled with appreciation and the emotions that come with such interaction and meaning between humans. I admit that. I've always kind of been a loner, and truthfully, have always held a small circle of people I hold those same feelings for. That's tough in this social media world. 

In the past, whenever people thanked me or expressed those feelings, I responded in that "ahh don't mention it" kind of gesture. Truthfully, I meant it. Good deeds really shouldn't have to be celebrated. But I now understand why they SHOULD BE acknowledged. 

I'm learning this now in my role as a student affairs practitioner. I'm realizing the impact I have on young people, and the major ways I do. They return to visit, and I get happy (like truly happy to catch up). And every May, a part of me is happy-sad watching seniors who matured in my office head off to tackle this unique world. 

This world is too evil NOT to let others know how you feel, and how much you appreciate them. Jackie Robinson nailed it when he mentioned a life's worth can only be measured by the impact it had on other lives. 

2. Saying "hello" and smiling is STILL the best force in the world. 

I learned this from my father as early as seven years old, "always smile and say hello to someone, you never know, it might make their day, or even, yours". I still do it today. Some return the gesture. Others don't. Some are so taken back by it, they are uncomfortable in returning it. I do it everywhere. In countries where it's the norm. Or cities here in the States where it isn't. Either way, it's a powerful thing. I urge you to embrace it. 

3. Your intuition is always better than the advice of others. 

Of course, advice from friends and family are good. It's helpful, and often, very thoughtful and caring. However, I've learned sometimes many times, it's best to go with what you feel is correct. This might be in your personal life, a project, professionally, or whatever. There are too many times God speaks to us and guides us, and we're too afraid to listen, and most importantly, too afraid to take that first step on our own. 

3a. Your creativity is yours. 

Ditto on the creativity and innovation you may have. Whatever project or idea you have - do it. DO IT! It's yours, cultivate it, chase it, and make that sucker happen the way you envisioned it. 

4. NEVER stop learning. 

I get some people don't like school. I unfortunately love school. It's probably why I always wanted to work on a college campus. I love the access to thoughtful discussions and of course, the discounted  (or sometimes free) tuition should I want to venture into a classroom. And there is a part of me that really, really, REALLY, appreciates how education can change a life and, the privilege it is to have such access. All of that and yes, I'm totally a nerd. 

But whether it's in the classroom, travel, human interaction, DIY projects, or other things YouTube might walk me through, never stop learning. Never stop limiting yourself. Find your learning style, and continue to add to it. 

And finally...

5. Evolve. 

Continue to find various things you are interested in, drop the things you now dislike, and continue to carry the tentpoles that make you who you are. Don't worry about others who will claim, "you've changed". Good! In one of my favorite lines from Jay-Z, "People look at you strange, say you changed. Like you worked that hard to stay the same."

6. Patience. 

The older I get, the more patient I become. From becoming more comfortable in myself and my leadership style, as well as dealing with a father battling dementia, honing and crafting poise and patience has been a huge attribute moving forward. 

Bonus: Celebrate your damn birthday! Again, I rarely make a big deal out of it, but truthfully, in this life, why not? Thanks to my tag team partner in life (my wife for you DP newbies) for making me see that. 

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