birthday cake with candles

5 Years of Surprises: Looking Back On My Thirties So Far

Well it’s here. My 35th birthday. *throws handful of confetti in the air*

I’m midway through my 30s and with each surpassing day, I’ll tip the balances to being slightly closer to 40 years old than 30.

Someone recently told me that I don’t seem like I am old enough to be 35. I made a joke that it was because I was so young at heart, but they were like, “yes, that’s exactly it!”

Anna and Elsa cardboard cutout

5 years ago, when I turned 30, I had a crazy-big Frozen-themed surprise birthday party. (It was awesome.) My parents even flew into town without telling me and showed up at the party.

My son Calvin was 6 months old at the time. I had quit my job of being a 6th grade reading teacher to stay home with him for one year. I knew I wouldn’t stay home forever, and had pretty much always intended to go back to work after taking a year off.

I figured I would get another teaching job, and life would continue on mostly the same as before (though now with the added challenge and privilege of being a mother.)

How wrong I was. So many unexpected and wonderful things have happened over the last 5 years that I could never have predicted. That surprise party was a foreshadowing of things to come.

For starters, I never got back into teaching. In fact, this very month, my teaching license actually expires (and I’m not renewing it!)

On a whim in 2017, I applied for a few library jobs because I thought that they sounded fun. I had always loved libraries and books and reading growing up, and I sometimes wondered if libraries would be a better fit for me than teaching. I also hated taking home so much work (aka. grading papers!) when I taught elementary and junior high kids. Teaching is not an easy profession!

I didn’t expect to get hired as a Research Librarian that year. I wasn’t qualified for the job and had zero experience working in libraries. I almost accepted another 6th grade teaching position instead, but that door got slammed in my face (and I’m so glad it did)!

I didn’t expect that I would go back to graduate school and get a Masters in Library Science.

graduation cap and gown (2019)

The surprises continued, not only in my professional life, but also my personal life:

I didn’t expect to discover I loved anime so much, and to find myself going to comic cons.

I didn’t expect to place membership at a new church, or realize how equally hard and wonderful that move would end up being.

I didn’t expect to meet people that would become some of my best and closest friends.

I didn’t expect a global pandemic.

I didn’t expect to be dealing with infertility.

In general, I don’t like change or surprises. Often, they are stressful and difficult. I prefer things to be planned out and organized. But without change or surprises, I would have missed out entirely on everything in the list above, and that would have been tragic (except for the pandemic and infertility struggles, obviously).

But honestly, even the bad things I’ve gone through have eventually led to some good. I would never have chosen to live through a global pandemic, but there’s been positive changes from it. I’ve spent more quality time with my family. I’ve realized I was way too busy and needed to slow down. I’ve stayed connected with friends who live out of state because long-distance friendships are way easier with Zoom.

I’m still waiting on the positives from infertility. It’s nice to be able to support others who are dealing with it, and so far that’s about the only positive thing I’ve experienced from it. But I’m expecting to be surprised about this one day.

Maybe one day I will actually be pregnant. Maybe there’s some reason we are only supposed to have one child. Maybe years down the road, it will all make sense why we went through this, why it wasn’t the right time for a new baby. I have faith this will be true. God will continue to surprise me and bless me in better ways than I could imagine. I don’t want to miss out on the good things over the next 5 years just because I’m afraid or they don’t immediately seem like something I will like.

So here’s to change! Here’s to surprises! Here’s to taking risks and getting out of my comfort zone! Here’s to believing that things are working out for the greater good and not being discouraged by minor setbacks or failures!

Here’s to 35!

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