Age is of no importance unless you’re a cheese.

-Billy Burke


Well, I’ve officially been in my thirties for nine days now, and I got to tell you that I feel exactly 0% different. Apparently, crossing the threshold in “old lady” territory (per my little sister) does not endow you with some sort of secret knowledge of how to conduct yourself as an adult nor the instant ability to not care what other people think. In fact, I’m fairly certain that the older I get, the more I realize that I really have absolutely no idea what I’m doing, though I may be getting better at pretending like I have it together. (Thanks, Instagram!)  I may be older, but there are still dishes to wash, meals to prepare, and adorable cat videos to watch while eating no-sugar-added ice cream because you had a bad day.

However, as I look back over the past ten years, I realize that so much has changed since baby Sarah turned 20 in 2008. I’ve traveled in Europe, gotten married, and worked full-time for over 5 years now. I have a better grasp on things like W-2s and how to say Pinot Grigos so people don’t mock me anymore. I’m less concerned about who is dating who and more concerned about how much I have in my emergency fund savings. I hope that when I’m (gasp!) 40 that some things will be drastically different about the way I think and act. I decided to choose 8 of them to share with you all today and that future Sarah will be able to see how accomplished she is after a decade of working on these important tasks.

1. I finally learn how to fold clothes properly.

Do not judge me, okay? I am incredibly proud of the fact that 80% of the time I remember that I washed clothes and put them in the dryer before they turn disgusting. I am even so accomplished that most of the time that I get them out of the dryer, fold them haphazardly, and put them in the drawers they belong in within an hour time frame of them finishing. But when I watch my husband fold clothes, his skills honed by nearly two decades of working in retail, I feel like I need to step up my game. I see him covertly grabbing his shirts that I just folded and put away and re-fold them. I do try to not just ball up the clothes and toss them in the dresser, but I also get incredibly frustrated when my clothes don’t look like I just grabbed them off the Old Navy sale display and I give up. I can usually repair most of my folding sins with a little time in the dryer, am I right? However, I do want to get better at this important life skill so that I don’t look like a hot mess when I travel and so I can avoid my nemesis, the iron. Perhaps, Ryan will tutor me in the ways of properly fold a long sleeve shirt or camisole. He’s tried to before, but I had more important things to do like binge watch Netflix and eat chocolate.

2. I can drive on the interstate like a normal person.

When I was 17, a crazy twenty-something with a big blue truck pulled out in front of me and forever changed my perception of driving. A few years later, I was rear-ended by a young driver going too fast in the rain and was simply not able to stop in time. I was not injured physically by these incidents, but my anxiety would go through the roof whenever I had to drive somewhere I wasn’t familiar. I worked hard after moving to Virginia to get over this fear because it’s just not sexy to arrive everywhere sweaty and shaky. At first, I’d just drive to the library and the grocery store on my own, but over the past 6 years, I’ve gotten significantly better. I no longer avoid certain social gatherings because I have to drive somewhere I’ve never been before. However, I’m still learning to not be anxious while driving on the interstate. The speed, the maddening drivers changing lanes with nary a thought to using turning signals, and using those awful merging lanes still get my heart racing and can leave my white-knuckled if the traffic is bad. I have my Google Maps permanently set on “avoid highways” and absolutely will take a longer way to get somewhere if it means I can avoid taking the interstate. I want to get over this fear, to be focused but not afraid, to be confident in my ability to navigate them without consistently second guessing myself, and to trust that 99% I should be perfectly fine. Driving the interstate does not mean certain, fiery death, particularly if I’m vigilant and drive as though everyone is seeking to smash into my car.

3. I actually remember to take my vitamins.

My mom is constantly telling me to take probiotics for my irritated stomach or Vitamin B12 for the fatigue , but do I remember to do this? No. Ryan extols the virtues ginkgo biloba to me and how it will improve my memory and make me more focused, something my scatter-brained self needs desperately. My doctor gently reminds me that because of PCOS and my pale skin, my vitamin D levels are low and that I should take a daily dose of that to help raise those numbers, and my friends on Instagram extol the virtues of everything from fish oil capsules to Ovasitol as vital supplements to add to my repertoire. And yet, I can’t seem to remember to take these pills until about 10:45 PM at night when I’m snugly tucked away in my bed and completely unwilling to get up and pop 17 pills in my mouth. But, I do want to live longer, be less ditzy, and take less nausea medicine so I am determined to get myself in the habit of taking my vitamins. Perhaps, in this fourth decade, I will finally pick up the habit without needing my parents to do their ridiculous but completely motivating “she took her medicine” dance they did when I was a little girl. Though I’d totally be up for it if they did, cell phone video covertly recording it so I’d get a piece of that viral fame.

4. I gain some competency in my knife skills.

As I chopped up green bell peppers this evening to make stuffed pepper soup , I did realize I’ve come a long way with my knife skills in the past 6 years. For starters, I can actually talk and chop things at the same time without taking off a finger. My chopped peppers were roughly about the same size, and I didn’t waste much of the bell pepper because of sloppiness. I also have not cut my fingers in an incredibly long time; there have been no incidents of me screaming in the kitchen while Ryan rushes around looking for a Band-Aid in a few years. However, I am painfully slow in chopping things, and I know that if I tried to go faster, my clumsy knife skills would certainly cause me to lose the tip of a finger or likely some other irreparable damage. I would love to feel much more confident in my ability to chop things up and be able to do more precise cuts like julienne or brunoise or at least not have to rely on diced onions from the freezer aisle. I feel like a 30 year old woman should take better care of her knives and be able to actually prepare all her vegetables in the time frame the recipe sets for prep work, but I’m not quite there yet. Hopefully, lots of practice and some detailed YouTube videos will get me there eventually.

5. I stop letting social media drama mess with my head.

I love social media. I love connecting with people that I’ve never met but share something in common with and supporting each other in our endeavors. I love seeing adorable baby pictures from my friends. I love adorable videos about military families being reunited after deployment or puppies becoming service dogs. But what I don’t love is all the drama that comes from social media. I hate seeing politics splashed all over my feed, and every time I try to dip my toe into that realm of social media, I almost always regret it. It makes my stomach hurt when I see people that I care about and respect arguing with each other online, and it makes me angry when I see people who know better saying hateful things about other people who disagree with their opinions. Ryan has had to listen to me many a night rant about people sharing untrue and/or illogical posts on Instagram or Facebook, and I’ve had to take breaks from social media when I feel like it’s affecting me more than I can handle.

I don’t want to get rid of it completely, but I’m still learning to find that balance to keep myself grounded while still connecting because Instagram has been essential to my weight loss success and my blog will flounder if I don’t dedicate time on social media promoting it. For now, I simply hide posts that I can’t handle responding properly with, usually before I have a chance to get worked up about them. I’ve even unfollowed and unfriended people that consistently stir up drama or post things that make me feel bad about myself, my body, or encourage negative thoughts or feelings. Am I heavy-handed sometimes? Perhaps. But, so far it’s working for me, and I hope to refine it as I continue to get older.

6. I finally find some rhythm and possibly actually be a halfway decent dancer.

Okay, Emily and Bethany, stop laughing. So this might be a bit far fetched, but I would like to look like a chicken with its head freshly cut off when I dance. I would like my husband and family to stop laughing at me when I do try to dance. I would at least like to be able to clap in rhythm when we’re worshiping at church. Perhaps, it is a lack of hand-eye coordination. Perhaps, I lack the rhythm in my soul. All I know is that I see what a dance move is supposed to look like, and yet when my brain tries to get my body parts to duplicate the moves, my body twitches and does weird approximations that resemble more of a bizarre, animated dancing crash dummy than a human being. Kind of like this guy in the video only with even less rhythm.

So, I keep doing my Fitness Marshall dance videos for my workouts, and I feel like I’m improving. At least, until I try to film them for Instagram and decide that those videos should actually never see the light of day. I keep trying, but for now for everyone’s protection, I practice alone in my living room.

7. I’ll be a little less quiet.

This is not just about the volume of my voice, though I’d love for people to stop asking me to repeat myself because I speak too softly. No, I’m more speaking about the fact that I let fear of people keep my mouth shut when I should say something. I express myself better in writing, and I doubt that is ever going to change. But I overthink what I should say, and I avoid conflict like a keto diet follower avoids ciabatta and so I often keep my mouth shut. I let other people dictate what is right without speaking up, and I let people treat me like crap without defending myself. Of course, there is a balance between being assertive and being a jerk, and I hope to learn that in my thirties. I’ve been trying to be more confident in my decisions at work particularly and have met with some success. No one has yet made me feel like an idiot for speaking up; most of the time, everything works out great and I’m happy to have stood up for myself. But it’s not natural for me, so it takes lots of practice and  determination to have less obsessive thoughts.

8. I’ll have a healthier relationship with bread.

I’ve been keeping a food journal recently in hopes to discover some useful information to bring to my doctor next time I visit her. However, in the brief time that I’ve been journaling, I am already feeling the sinking suspicion that my insides are not huge fans of gluten. This realization is heart-wrenching for the tiny little girl inside me who would eat plain Wonder bread by the slice as a preschooler if allowed. My dream is to go to Paris and eat at delicious bakeries every single day. I’d pick up a fresh baguette and pair it with some incredibly fragrant cheese and a classy glass of red wine that I’d pretend to taste notes of wood, cherries, or whatever the fancy sommelier tells me I’m supposed to taste besides alcohol. I’d eat decadent chocolate viennoiserie and beautiful apple tarte tatin and never gain a single pound. But alas, I gained a pound writing that sentence, and I’d probably have a belly ache the moment I finished the pain du chocolat. There’s also the small fact that I have polycystic ovarian syndrome, which often makes one more susceptible to insulin resistance, and a high carbohydrate diet seems to exacerbate that by spiking my blood sugar in a most unhealthy way. I know that bread and I are going to have to reduce our contact to occasional dalliances rather than regular, lovely meetings and restrict myself only to its best versions rather than settling for just any old potato bun.

I’m sure there are many more areas in my life that I’d like to see change in the next ten years, but that is the major 8 that I can think of. Hopefully as you all follow my weird but hopefully interesting journey on here, we can learn some of these lessons along the way.