Where we are now is temporary. In a year, two years, five, we’ll look back on this moment and giggle from the ignorance of it. Or we’ll feel our hearts swell with nostalgia. Or we’ll have completely forgotten what it looked like. As they say, this too shall pass.
What they don’t speak about is the excruciating patience it takes to get through the thick of it. No one is saying, this too shall pass (in a month). If there was a countdown of some sort, a sister could relax. But when I feel fixated on the forward motion, it does me (and my creative pulse) a lot of good to accept where I stand now. It helps to acknowledge what I’ve already passed through. So in honor of patience, presence, and in the hope that you too can notice what you’ve already passed to get to where you stand today: an open letter.
Dear Last Year’s Courtney,
You’re 29. Get over it. Thirty is going to be fine, in fact, better than fine. Thirty will come no matter what and being brilliant at 30 isn’t about being popular and successful and wealthy beyond measure, it’s about being more you than you were before. You are going to see parts of the country you’ve never seen before, make more authentic connections with people than ever, and begin to create a bundle of days that look just how you want them to look. Thirty is about authenticity and freedom. Get into it.
(Addendum: If thirty was about authenticity and freedom [which it most sincerely was], 31 is about pushing yourself further out of your comfort zone than you ever have. Alley oop, my love.)
Think today is the calibration of your whole life? Think those dishes matter? Think you’d never in a million years get a cat? (Keep the name Aggy in mind, just in case.) You are so wrong, sweet thing. Each time you make a resolute never-to-be-altered statement about Life with a capital L, just remind yourself that you might be full of shit. And that this is okay. And that if you don’t allow that drastic evolution to work on you, you’ll lose yourself.
A couple of thoughts for making your days a little dreamier:
1. Your control issues are boring. They cut you off from opportunity and the people who want to love you. Everything will get done on time, and if not, the world will still rotate on its axis. Stop looking at your calendar, there’s nothing to see.
2. You have great, big dreams, but even those colossal goals aren’t big enough. You are stopping yourself by naming every moment and pretending like you know what the hell is going on. You are painting yourself into a corner by suggesting you must be one thing and one thing only. The world is messier than that. So are you.
3. All you gotta do is ask. Most people with access weren’t born with it, they got it with either relentlessness or good timing or both. Be relentless at inviting yourself to the party.
4. Listen to the many wise people (mainly your father and father-in-law) who have told you that you can always make more money, but you can never make more time. There’s a reason this advice comes back to you so much.
5. Success ain’t a thing. It’s an idea, yes. It’s an idea that helps us drive in a certain direction, yes. But it’s not the soul-carbonation that will make your life bubble over with brilliance. You know what will, dear one? Presence.
6. Please, for the love of all things good, just hang out once in awhile. Over-productivity is not productive. It also makes you a terrible conversationalist at parties. When you even go to them.
7. When you are competitive, you are a hoarder of your energy. When you are passionate, you are generous. If you find yourself holding on too tightly to labels, positions, identities or social standings with that old competitive edge, it’s probably not something you care about. Please let go.
8. Stop trying to change people. Let them live. They didn’t ask you.
9. Environment matters. If you’re trying to work, make it a good one.
10. You are loved. So do what you can to give that love away and then some. Especially to the people who are mean to you. Even when it’s toward you, it’s not about you. Duck out of the way and toss them your kindness.
11. Listen more than you speak. Learn more than you teach.
12. You belong to no one. Your time is your own, your dreams are your own. You’re a free agent, love bug. Stop pretending like it’s any different.
13. It is loving to give others clarity. Even if it’s painful clarity and even if it alters your relationships. When done right, clarifying can be a loving act.
14. You will be unfollowed by people on social media. This is not personal. This is clarity.
15. Messing up is very, very, very good for you. You should fail more and fail harder. You are going to take these lessons and alchemize them into authority. The more battles, the more battle scars. Those are currency. Let them land.
16. Do not write anyone off. Just remember, you’re not always that easy to take either. Give second and third chances to the people you love. Let time work on them and you and then approach them with the openness you’d hope to get in return.
17. Creatives are leaders. Leaders go first. It might be scary, sweet thing, it might be lonely. No matter. If you want to transform the world at any level, you’ve gotta start with you.
18. Just, ya know, take a deep breath here and there.
19. Expect the good in everyone you meet. More often than not, they’ll rise to your expectations.
20. Don’t rush so far ahead. It’s good up ahead, for sure, but the more you rush, the more you miss. Keep this Annie Dillard quote with you at every moment, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our life.” Spend your day in this moment. It has beauty in it.
I’m telling you right now, it’ll be okay. Breathe in and out. Affirm. Give more of yourself than you ever have and protect more of yourself than you ever have. Live at your edges. Surprise yourself with how far you can go.
This Year’s Courtney
P.S. If you’re working through your own impatience, grab the No-Fail Plan 6-Week Workbook (normally $8) for five bucks with this code: septemberLOVE. And if you're one of the amazing people who already grabbed one, enlist your tribe by passing your discount on to a friend!
A version of this post was originally published in October, 2014.