Turning 29: Redefining Life's Stages

I turned 29 last month.

We ran off to the water to escape the wake of buyers making offers on our house and backing out, car trouble and career moves, and to forget the viscous house selling cycle we were caught in the loop of.

To just be.

Without a preconceived plan, we hit up Lemonjello’s in Holland to take coffees out to the beach. The winds were high that day, making the hot cup in my hands even better and perfect for the cake in the back of my car. It was a chocolate and flourless recipe by the Mast Brothers—I’ll have to give it to you. It’s only four ingredients and stupid rich and dense and perfect.

We soaked in the hours—the day to ourselves—unfussy and unplanned. For weeks we’d both been so stressed and worn to the bone, I just let myself alone. I didn’t reflect on the past year, not because I don’t believe in its importance, but because I didn’t need to. Instead of looking back at what I accomplished, I let it all go. Stayed present. Tapped into my senses. I’m a serious advocate for giving your body what it needs, and that day I just needed to be clear of mind.
I believe society holds preconceived notions about where you should be and what you should’ve accomplished in your 20s. But I call bullshit.

I used to get down on myself when I’d read about other twenty-somethings nailing a lofty position in New York or Chicago. As I got older, I realized I didn’t want New York. I didn’t want Chicago. Or Seattle. Or Portland. Or San Fran. Or even hip Palo Alto. 

During my last year at college, there was a major push by the faculty to get out. Detroit didn’t even count. Just move away. Get out of here.

But I didn’t want to. I had a mad and fierce conviction about it too. This was my home, and this place had marked me. I knew the roads well, and had history with its cities. I grew up on the water and never felt more at peace when I’d return to it. It’s where my ancestral tree took root from Germany, and where my parents were living out their golden years. I found my love for Michigan wine in the summer, road-tripping up US-23, and all the hidden gems like Hollander’s and French Paper Company. The four seasons were in wild distinction, there were peninsulas and islands to explore, and mad beer to experience.

And I was going to strip myself from all this… in the name of the job?

No. I’m not done here. And my sole purpose in life is not about chasing the corporate dollar to prove my “worth” to the Joneses.

No. The job doesn’t define me. My identity falls somewhere deeper. Somewhere unshakeable. Somewhere between a place of empathy and acceptance. A place of mindfulness and essentialism. Where the care and keeping of relationships with others as well as your own body presides.

So hello, 29. May this be a year of growth, opportunity, contentment, and courage. And to hell with the standard benchmarks.

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