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.
I tell a story in the book about this time in Oxford when somebody stole…