I can’t believe I’m thirty! I feel like I’ve been in denial for a few months that I would be leaving my twenties behind. I’m not sure what it is about our society but once you’ve bypassed 29, you’re not “young” anymore. Then there is almost shame attached to it. I don’t agree! I still feel young. I feel like I’m living my best life. I wouldn’t trade my life or how I feel at thirty than I did at twenty. Instead I wanted to share the Top 3 Things I’ve Learned in 30 Years. I would have also encouraged my 20 year old self to do these things.
1. Don’t Compromise. Don’t settle for less than the best. Don’t sacrifice your dreams.
When I think of the most important decisions that I’ve made in my life and how blessed they have become, it didn’t come through compromise. Two of my best examples are marrying my husband and buying our first home. You know when you’re single you just wonder if you could ever find the perfect person? You may think, I’ll just date this person instead because they are pretty good but not quite perfect. Perfect doesn’t exist anyway. But once you compromise in relationships, it ends up being a waste of time.
When I met Jason, the words compromising and settling were not in my vocabulary. I didn’t know that I could meet someone who was literally perfect for me and checked all of the boxes. That is why we have Ephesians 3:20 engraved in our wedding rings. That Scripture is summarized by the phrase “More than enough”.
When Jason and I looked for our first home it felt similar to the dating analogy. At first our standards were really high and we tried to stick to our “must haves”. When the supply of decent houses in our price range depleted, our standards depleted with them. Jason and I dragged our realtor to every available house in our vicinity, even if it was ugly. We were just desperate to find one and that wasn’t the right attitude. God protected us from compromising on our house purchase when we lost hope. We made an offer on a tiny house in a terrible location. Someone came in with a full cash offer that day. Another house had been on the market for 365 days and all of the sudden someone else came in with a cash offer that day too.
Finally, our house came on the scene in an unconventional way. It wasn’t even on the market because it was set aside just for us. We now love everything about our house. We have all of our “must haves” plus some. It didn’t happen because we lowered our standards.
2. Find mentors who are where you want to be.
I have loved photography since I was a little girl. When I decided I wanted to pursue photography professionally instead of as a hobby I sought for help. I reached out to some local photographers but they weren’t responsive or the best fit for what I needed. A few years ago, I stumbled across an online webinar for new photographers. I was mesmerized. I didn’t know there was such a thing as online photography education at this level. I discovered that these webinar hosts were professional photographers who were just like me in the beginning. They were kind, thorough and cared about my growth.
Now oddly enough these mentors haven’t met me in person and they probably don’t even know my name. But how they educated and shared their heart for their work connected me to them. Their education courses introduced me to an amazing community of lifelong photography friends who I can walk alongside in this entrepreneur journey. Finding my mentors may seem unconventional. But it was life changing for me. I wouldn’t be a professional photographer without these mentors coming alongside me and saying you can do this, I believe in you. Thank you Amy & Jordan Demos and Katelyn James for always cheering me on.
I have to sneak this one in without too many tears. Two of my dearly loved mentors are my mom and dad. They are not only amazing parents but also amazing pastors. I wouldn’t be where I am in my marriage or my walk with God without their example.
3. Travel when you have the opportunity.
One of the best experiences of my life was traveling to New Zealand in college. I had the decision to take Spanish III or do a cross cultural experience. Well that was a no brainer. I chose to go somewhere that I didn’t think I would have the chance to easily visit again. New Zealand is also a photographer’s dream! I started my journey there with a clean slate. I left all worries and cares at home and enjoyed the new opportunity.
I saw the most incredible landscapes and sunsets. I went camping (big deal for me). I watched dolphins, whales and swam with seals in shark infested waters (long story). I heard God’s voice and let him speak to my heart many times over. I made lifelong friends. Traveling made such a huge impression on my life. New Zealand has a special place in my heart and will always be my favorite.
I could probably go on and on about these top 3 three things I’ve learned in 30 years because they’ve made a huge impact on my adult life. I am so thankful for the opportunities that God has presented to me. I could have made a choice in each of these scenarios to reject the great things he had placed in front of me. I’m grateful for the things that I’ve learned. I’m looking forward to this new decade in front of me.
Thank you to my wonderful husband who is always willing to be my assistant photographer.