“The lights are flickering. Intermission is over. The second act is beginning.”
I turned 30 almost two weeks ago, and these words that were written to me in a birthday card have stuck with me ever since.
I’ve spent much of the past two weeks thinking about what I want my second act to look like. I know the promises I’ve held onto as well as the new dreams that are taking root, and I truly feel like I’ve never been wiser and more ready for what’s to come.
But there are also old habits and ways of thinking that are nothing more than completely disastrous. They have kept me in bondage and have consumed my thoughts and my time and have ensured that I was focused on things of zero importance rather than on what really matters. They have kept me from fully evolving into everything that I want to be.
And they have no place in Act Two. So I’ve had to take the time to examine my life, figure out what can stay but what has to go. What areas need to see serious change. What places have I been held back the most. Where am I allowing myself to remain imprisoned.What do I need to never do again.
It’s easier said than done, but some things cannot come with me into this new season because all they produce at best is bondage, laziness, indifference, and self-hatred, and at worst, emotional and spiritual death.
So this is my list of things to let go of and leave behind. Things to stop entertaining and to stop giving any power to in my life.
Here’s to a beautiful second act.
30 Things I’ll Never Do Again:
1. Hide behind other people in pictures. I wasted too much time in my twenties hiding because I hated how I looked. But life’s too short to spend time hiding. I want to allow myself to be seen.
2. Use exercise as a punishment for enjoying food. I’ll never again treat my body poorly or force myself to do something I don’t enjoy doing just because I ate food.
3. Co-opt other people’s dreams. I have my own race to run.
4. Cut my own bangs, no matter how many Pinterest tutorials I watch.
5. Make excuses to not celebrate my friendships. I’m really good at neglecting my friends. I get busy and forgetful, and I’m not one to think far ahead and make plans. I want to be more intentional about pouring into the friendships I have and celebrating the people in my life.
6. Be a single-issue voter.
7. Justify where I am in life to others. I have absolutely nothing to prove to anyone.
8. Ignore my gut feelings. The worst times of my life came from moments where I ignored a warning from the Holy Spirit because I doubted my ability to hear from Him. I listened to every voice but His and found myself in really hard and broken places. Never again.
9. Diminish who I am because it makes other people uncomfortable. I’ve learned to accept the fact that some people just won’t be able to handle who I am, and that’s okay.
10. Refuse to acknowledge someone else’s pain just because I don’t understand it. It’s easy to brush away the very real experiences of others because they are unfamiliar. I’ve learned more and more recently how important it is to listen to the personal truths of others and refuse to reduce real people with real pain to cheap political talking points.
11. Mistake emotional manipulation for true friendship and love. Real love empowers, encourages, uplifts, and cheers you on always.
12. Use cynicism as a defense mechanism.
13. Take good health for granted. Living with PCOS has shifted my perspective a lot on what a gift it is to be in good health, and my disorder is absolutely nothing compared to what other people have to deal with on a daily basis. I want to live in gratitude for every single good day.
14. Live with the constant anxiety of not being good enough.
15. Not write something down because I think I’ll remember.
16. Live my life on an elusive, imaginary timeline. Nothing teaches you more about not having to accomplish anything by a certain age like being 30, single, and childless. We should all strive to constantly grow and change and evolve, regardless of our age and season of life. I refuse to live a life governed by man-made time constraints and stupid rules.
17. Confuse keeping the peace with being a peacemaker. When I was younger, I thought being a peacemaker meant keeping everyone happy and avoiding conflict. Not speaking up, not sharing my own truth, all in the name of peace, because it would cause too much trouble. Because good Christian girls are sweet and quiet. But I know now that being a true peacemaker is about calling forth justice and light to the dark and broken places in our own lives and in the systems that we are a part of. It isn’t divisive to speak out against real problems. I won’t ever again apologize for stirring the pot, or when it’s necessary, for dumping the entire thing out.
18. Spend money on something I don’t really like just because it’s trendy.
19. Sit on the sidelines. I’ve sat on the sidelines of my own life too many times because I was concerned I would look stupid. But not anymore. I want to dance and laugh and sing and take part and enjoy every single moment of this precious gift of life.
20. Take myself too seriously. I think it’s important to laugh every single day, and I’ve learned the art of laughing at myself and sharing my embarrassing stories with others so that they can laugh too.
21. Let age become an idol. We live in a society that is completely obsessed with age and youth. The older you get, the more you can feel that in certain areas of life (especially church). But you end up in a dangerous place when you become so fixated on age that you begin judging your own and other people’s ability and worth based on how old/young they are. God will knock that idol down quick.
22. Ignore my spiritual needs / wait for other people to meet them. I want to go where the Holy Spirit is drawing me to go, even if that means I have to buy my own communion and light candles and listen to hymns all by myself.
23. Make important decisions based on the opinion of others.
24. Argue with someone who gives me a compliment. I’m learning to just say thank you.
25. Fail to practice regular self-care. I used to go and go and go until I was completely mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. I learned the hard way almost two years ago how important it is to care for yourself and make yourself a priority. No one can pour from an empty well.
26. Forget to put on sunscreen.
27. Go to sleep without taking my contacts out. Don’t do it, friends. Your eyes are pretty important.
28. Worry if people like me. It’s just too exhausting to care that much. The right people will always love me.
29. Obsess about appearance. Am I gaining weight again, how did I look, ugh my hair is too short/long/frizzy/flat, etc etc. So much of my mental energy has been consumed with an unhealthy obsession over how I looked. I have tied an enormous amount of my own self-worth to my appearance throughout my life, and that can’t come with me into a new decade. It’s great to care about yourself and do what you can daily to be healthy and strong, but at some point, the obsession has to end. Other things just have to be more important.
30. Feel bad about saying no. No one can do everything. I want to give my best yes to the things that really matter and are really important to me and let everything else go.
There truly are no words to verbalize how deeply thankful I am for the lessons, growth, change, and freedom I found in my twenties. Jesus has been a constant friend and has proven His faithfulness to me over and over again in ways that I’ll never deserve. I’m a completely different person than I was even just a few years ago, and it’s all because of His mercy.
So I’m starting Act Two with a greater desire than ever to live my life for an audience of One, hand to the plow and never looking back. Leaving behind the things that are only weights to tie me down, and pressing forward with my gaze fixed on Him. With nothing to prove to anyone, just fully trusting in Christ.
Because it’s all from Him, all for Him, and all to Him.
“The lights are flickering. Intermission is over. The second act is beginning.”