Turning 30 and My “Secret Soul”
This summer, I turned 30. In the weeks and days leading up to the big 3-0, I began to feel very contemplative about my life. Where have I been? What have I done? Where am I going? That kind of thing.
I was also in a hard spot work-wise. I needed more hours but felt paralyzed in my pursuit of them. What types of things do I want to write? Who do I want to write for? What kind of writer do I want to be? I wasn’t sure, and I was spinning my wheels. I needed to do something.
Around this time, I came across this blog post by Hanna Seymour. In it she encourages you to envision how you want your life to look 10 years from now. She wrote this post in light of a job transition she was considering, and while I wasn’t exactly in the midst of a job transition, 30 somehow felt like a transition in and of itself, and my stuck-ness in work needed some un-sticking.
So it felt like the perfect time to, for the first time ever, actually sit down and envision my life 10 years from now, something I’m usually very averse to doing. But with the need for more work and a monumental birthday looming, suddenly thinking about my future and where I wanted to be felt important. I began to wonder if there was something to me I didn’t know, if I had dreams I hadn’t let surface.
What turned up surprised me.
I sat down with my journal, closed my eyes, prayed a little and began to write. I expected great career goals to emerge. I expected dollar signs to appear, speaking engagements, articles in specific publications, numbers, followers—that sort of thing. As someone who’s always dreamed about her writing career, since she was about five years old, I thought I would want to have achieved many things in 10 years’ time. It turns out, I don’t.
Instead of book sales, tour dates and fame, this is what I wrote:
In 10 years, I hope to…
have a family
have traveled to the other side of the world
have forgiven the people I haven’t forgiven yet
be more intentional in my friendships
have a deeper knowledge and hunger for the Word
be teaching in some capacity
be known for my message of grace and truth
be living near a big city, but not in the middle of one
be healthy and active
maybe have three more books under my belt
have a good relationship with Rosie (my niece)
have a deeper relationship with Jenna and Sara (my sisters)
have a looser hold on the world
be living a slow pace of life that I’m comfortable with
have a novel or children’s book series underway
be spending less time on social media
be spending more time outdoors, appreciating nature
have a deeper more intimate prayer life in which I can spend extended periods of time with God, rather than five minutes
be making a decent living, but not too much
be living near water
be home with my family a good amount
Then I went on and on about this house I want to live in that will have this room in it where I write and a garden outside of it where I walk. Toward the end of my 10-year plan I wrote, “I don’t want to climb. I don’t want to race. I don’t want to run. I want to just be.”
I didn’t know this about myself.
I didn’t expect this to be what I wrote at 30, after working hard toward my academic and career goals. But I have to say, it has been one of the most freeing realizations of my life, to know that deep down I really care more about the type of person that I am becoming and the people in my life than I do about what I do.
I had always worried a little that I cared too much about achieving and performance, that I would just keep reaching at the expense of other things. But apparently, this isn’t what I want at all. And I am so, so glad.
I just finished reading Shauna Niequist’s book Present Over Perfect. In it, she talks about this idea of a “secret soul.” The person you really are outside of the person you think you should be.
Maybe I’ve been unearthing some parts of my secret soul lately. Moving toward who I truly am and away from who I thought I wanted to be. It’s funny how we can’t even know the difference, within our own selves.
Two things went through my mind, this morning, when I got out of bed. First, I need to be more proactive in my search for work. Second, I need to send a note of encouragement to Andrea Lucado. So, I’ll get to the first one after I finish the second.
As I read your words I was reminded of my 5 year and 10 year plans. They were plans I made as I prepared to graduate from college. They were very specific plans of achieving this or achieving that. I completed each goal. But…
…My plans were too focused. They didn’t include a family, a place, or even a paycheck. I mistakenly believed that if I achieved my plans the rest would just happen. It didn’t. I put all my eggs in one basket with the idea that success in one area would translate to success in everything else. I focused on the finish line and I thought I had a clear path. I missed amazing job opportunities because they weren’t on my path. I missed out on relationships because they weren’t on my path. But now, perhaps older and wiser, I realize that I had no path. I was just focused on that finish line, that goal. I didn’t realize that the best paths meander. They don’t go in a straight line. The best paths take us to the best things. The best paths have twists and turns, ups and downs. Sometimes they even have a fallen tree that makes you take or make a new path. That fallen tree could be a job offer you never expected or a love you never imagined.
So, Andrea, take the path that has the most turns, hills and valleys. Find the great things that God offers in the journey. Don’t set your finish line in stone. Let the things you experience along your path allow you to move your finish line. After all, there is a joy in the journey.
Wise wise words. Thank you.
So encouraging to me as a writer but more importantly encouraging to me as a gal dreaming with Jesus! I think I might sit down and envision my next 10 years. 🙂
Do it! And I love the idea of envisioning instead of listing. It’s better for we creative types 🙂
Andrea you have hit the ball out of the park. The goals the world values are killing our souls. The goals God values feeds our souls……. Why do we starve ourselves?
Thank you so much. Love your work.
Yes! So strange how we can think we’re feeding ourselves but we’re actually starving ourselves. Good thought.
I loved that you want to teach!! I have always thought you would be a good university prof….I also got deeper things out of reading your blog but I had to jump on that one thought
Thank you Paula 🙂 I’m going to need some tips from a pro like you!
Andrea–what a fantastic exercise, and insight into the heart of your desires. It is a real and ongoing struggle to live in this world that bombards us CONSTANTLY with the lie that more “stuff” will make us happy. This list will shape your future, informing each day about the choices you make.
I can testify that this is such a powerful exercise. Many years ago, when we were in a tough place of “starting over”–3 little kids, no money, and a husband trying to discern next steps after a yucky church staff dismissal, I would journal about the things I hoped for in the future. It provided hope when I felt overwhelmed and hopeless.
Thank you for your words, and happy birthday when it comes!
Thank you, Kathy! It’s that difference between what’s eternal and what isn’t, huh? Such a game changer.
[…] thoughts: Earlier, my mother sent me a link of Andrea Lucado’s blog post “Turning 30.” She then asked me to create my own version, “Turning 18.” And I should list […]
Andrea, I so appreciate hearing from a thoughtful and soul-full young woman of 30! You are on the right track and I can say that with confidence because I know, at age 75, that life can be long and full of achievement and accomplishment and discovery. When you reach your later years (I’ve been through 4 more decade-transitions than you…so far), you will find the satisfaction in what you have achieved, and you’ll find that who you are becoming is still happening if you pay attention. I know that your journey is going to continue to be blessed. Your soul is wonderfully alive and responsive and full of love. You will grow well. Thank you for your vulnerability in sharing who you are…becoming.