30: Or, Why I’m Not Freaking Out

No. This is not a “30 things I noticed once turning 30,” post, or even a, “God, I’m 30, but I still don’t have babies,” post. It’s definitely not a, “I’m 30 and I feel myself rotting,” post.

I’m turning 30 in a few days. No longer having “twenty” as an identity is a bit odd…now that I’m sitting in this comfortable leather chair and thinking about my greater existence. Haha, turning thirty for me is not as much of a deal as some. If you’re a fan of the TV show Friends, you know what I’m talking about. They devote the entire episode to remembering each of group turning thirty years old. Rachel is freaking out about getting “old,” and they recall their previous milestones at thirty. I just don’t feel the same. I guess I’m similar to my dad in this respect. It’s another year, and you won’t feel much different afterwards. Now, this gets a little less true the closer you get to 40, 50, 60, and 70. As for me, I’m still young, not old.

Truly though, thirty is a prime time to be alive. I’ve had multiple conversations with forty year olds, or older, saying that their thirties were incredible. You are much less concerned with external opinions about yourself, you’ve arrived in a place where you’re working on your career, you’re dating and figuring things out, or you’re married and also figuring things out, haha. Thirty isn’t always, but CAN be an incredible moment in your life, filled with adventure, experience, pushing boundaries, and self discovery. I know that sometimes I entertain the thought that I haven’t done enough before thirty or pushed myself to where I want to be, but when I stop feeding that thought, I realize that I have accomplished much. I have seen much. I have felt much. I have lost much. I realize that reflection on a year passed shouldn’t be a time of regret, but refocused into a time of celebration and appreciation. In other words, you’re still alive, ha. And God willing, you have years ahead of you to go! Take opportunities when they arrive.

In some ways, I understand our obsession with time and how our yearly birthday is just another reminder that we have such little time on this earth, but flip that around if you can. Take a breath. Take a deep breath. Remind yourself of your friends, your family, and those who actually love the real you. Remind yourself of your happiest moments, and the moments that truly tested you. Remember your victories and the times you cried out to God for help. Remember that you are becoming fuller with each late night conversation you have about your vulnerabilities, each bad day you’ve overcome, each new relationship you build, and each regular day that you found some joy in.

This is my first birthday in my new home, with new friends that I’ve made over the last few months. In my dad’s words,

I have full faith that you’ll find friends Eric. You never seem to run out of them, and I don’t really know how you keep up with them all.

I always laugh whenever my dad tells me that. I guess being an introvert, I don’t seem to want to give myself enough credit for being able to meet people and draw them closer into friendship. Still, it’s new. It’s all new. And frankly, I can’t wait for that to wear off. I know one day, I’ll wake up, go about my day, as I have for months, and I’ll say to myself, “Huh, it kind of snuck up on me but none of this feels new any longer.” Given that a year before I turned thirty God told me to stop moving around so much, and then I got a job that I’ve been working towards since I was eighteen years old, and I moved to Colorado with the full intention of staying here for a while…I think this is going to be a year to remember. Now if only I could finish any of my short stories. One step at a time. One coffee shop at a time.

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The Beginning of the Ending

This year I start the beginning to the ending of my twenties. Three years ago I wrote a piece on my thoughts entering the ending of my mid-twenties. No this won’t be a drawn-out piece on how a millennial feels old, or document my angst towards my wasted youth. No. In fact, it may be one of the shortest pieces I write on the subject matter. (Which if you’re a regular to the site, might be a relief, ha) Continue reading “The Beginning of the Ending”

Happy Birthdays are for Others

September 14th. It was a Monday when I was born. This day is becoming more and more of a day that I just let pass by me. Sure I like birthday parties, having others around me, celebrations, music, cake, laughing at almost nothing, staying up late, and enjoying other people’s company. Of course I love that. Still, I don’t like to make a big deal of something for myself. That’s just not how I do things.

When my 28th birthday was coming up, all I could think about was where I thought I’d be, how old I was getting, what I haven’t done, blah blah blah. But then I realised just what I HAVE DONE. How very much has happened to me. The people I have been blessed to have conversations with, laugh with, know about. I have listened to stories of pain, and joy…sat with people in their darkest, and their brightest. I have felt the weight of a culture nearly forgotten and a people fighting to staying alive. I have learned to be a better professional and a much better human.

Continue reading “Happy Birthdays are for Others”

The Year I Left My Mid 20’s

If you have been following my writing on this site, and you have good understanding about how and why I write, then you know that key life moments usually make the grade, among other inspiring things. Tomorrow is such a life event. Tomorrow I leave my mid 20’s. Tomorrow I turn 27.

Continue reading “The Year I Left My Mid 20’s”

Fulfilled, With More to Come: Thoughts of a 26year old

In a few days, I turn twenty-six years old. Without jumping head first into the endless clichés about what I thought I would be doing at this age, what I’d be earning, or what number child I’d be raising, allow me to let you into my head.

As a very healthy (minus a busted ankle), average height, average weight, educated, Gen Y, you could say that things are going pretty well. Up to this point I have made it through life without breaking a bone (no fault to trying), received a trophy in tee-ball at the age of five, got baptized at 7, class president in the 5th grade, class clown in the 5th grade, won a relay race in the 7th grade, 7th grade: closest I came to getting straight A’s (next time would be in my graduate year, almost 9 years later) made it through junior high school (and that’s actually a great achievement if you know how horrible it is to be alive in a public school from ages 11-13), organized a “See You At The Pole” day junior year, led a Special Needs Physical Education class with my best friend, Corbin Elliott, led a Leadership Course senior year for sophomores (the course that convinced me that I wanted to work with teenagers when I was older), graduated high school with an above average GPA, was awarded the “Matt Corgian Life Award,” senior year, built an addition onto a church in Renosa, Mexico with my friends, went to a highly decorated philosophical college in Grand Rapids Michigan called Calvin College, discovered I wanted to have a career in Social Work, worked at Apple, Inc for two years, became a youth pastor for a year, became Head-Counselor at Dickson Valley Summer Camps, transferred to Aurora University, realized that I wanted to become an International Social Worker, considered the idea of moving to NZ, learned that youths with ‘suicidal ideation’ were going to be the population I would serve, received a Bachelors in Social Work, made the decision to move to NZ, I achieved “Excellence in Academics” during my graduate year, was awarded a Masters in Social Work, acquired my work visa overseas, moved to a country half-way across the world, traveled the breathtaking New Zealand landscape, watched/talked/ate with NZ’s politicians in governmental buildings, and graduated from a very prestigious internship in Auckland called the Maxim Internship.

As I sit here in the dwindling light, in this increasingly uncomfortable wicker chair, thinking about all the things that I have done in my life up to this point, I know in full understanding that my life is only a quarter of the way complete. There is much more to be written, many more knees to be scraped, stories to be told, loves to be had, and breaths to be taken away. I know that.

And let me reassure you that for every good thing mentioned above, there was an antithesis. A few for example: no broken bones? MANY torn ligaments, sprains, and hairline fractures. Trophy in tee-ball? Every other team I would played for after that would never win first place…ever. Made it through junior high? If “making it through” with emotional/physical scaring due to incessant bullying for 6 years, all thanks to my red hair, counts as “making it through,” then I made it through. See You At The Pole day? Add ‘Christian’ to the list of things I was randomly punched in the hall for at school. Wanting to become an international social worker and moving overseas? Well this one takes the cake, because if you asked scrawny, 13-year-old Eric, walking home after getting verbally thrown down in the dirt, for something he couldn’t change about himself, that one day he would leave the most comforting, loving, understanding, and wholesome people in his life…people that cried for him, prayed for him, and were there for him…and move to a country where he knows only a handful of people and nothing else….to work with youths who aren’t given the time of day…..I would tell you that you were wrong. I would tell you that my family have been, and always will be, my rock…and that I would never leave them.

The fact of the matter is, I’m here. Over 8000 miles, (or 13,000 kilometers) separating us, doing what I feel called to do. Loving those I feel called to love. Investing in those young, crazy kids, and seeing myself in them every…single…week. And you know what? It may seem like I regret being here, or that I’ve made the wrong choice, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. A lot has happened since the days that I was a child.  I have seen tragedy. Loss. Hurt. Death. Seeing the vulnerable picked on, seeing the desperate crawl, and seeing the hopeless take life into their own hands and crush it. This is apart of growing up. This is apart of living life. A part of that is also learning countless lessons, making some incredible lifelong friends, seeing some incredible places, and knowing compassion of which I had never before known.

In the end, I hope to chalk a few more things up on my list of life achievements one day…things I can be proud of. A fulfilling job that I didn’t sell out for, a wife who loves me, a family with a kid of our own. A kid that will most likely experience similar trials I went through, but a child that I will one day love like crazy and pour everything I have into. Until then, I’m twenty-six, and instead of thinking back on the things I didn’t do, the things that I regret doing, or the things I don’t have…time is always better spent on the journey looking forward. So with that in mind, lets see what happens next.

Here’s what was next: The Beginning of the Ending –https://ericlukepeterson.wordpress.com/2016/09/16/the-beginning-of-the-ending/