Jackie Quinn-Piper
February 03, 2016 1:20 pm

My birthday is coming up, and it has me thinking about a few things, the sort of questions that always tend to pop up: What have I accomplished? Am I headed in the right direction? Should I be doing something else? What am I going to eat for lunch?

This usually leaves me a little anxious and guilt ridden.  However, this time as I am coming further into my, ahem, early thirties, I realized that I am not doing too shabby. I realized that the things that people call mistakes are really just experiences—things you do that help you make better decisions later. If I didn’t go through them, I wouldn’t be where I am now.

I lived on my own in a terrible apartment

I took what I could afford. Sure, I didn’t have a door to my bathroom and had to hoist up a shower curtain in its place, but it was OK. My cabinets in the kitchen hung off their hinges and every once in a while I spied a cockroach happily making its way across my bathroom wall, and every night I could hear the neighbors blasting their television where I could mute mine and just watch the same channel. It was a humbling experience, and I was terrified the first month but eventually I got used to it. I bought some things to hang on the wall and I tried my best to make it as pretty as possible, visiting the clearance section of Anthropologie. And then I felt pretty amazing. I was doing it, I was being independent and I had my own space. It was a space with no air conditioning, but it was my own.

I let go of love that wasn’t working

Breakups are hard. They can be something that really ruins your day. (Or week, or month.) But once you rip that band aid off, you and the other person will be better off. You don’t ever want to live a life where you are not being true to yourself. It not only affects your own well-being, but the other person’s. If it’s not working, its time to cut the cord.

I switched jobs…a few times

I found myself at a place where I worked strictly just to put myself through graduate school. When I finally graduated, I ended up staying there two more years. I started looking and finally found another job in a field that I have now realized is my calling. At the time, it was part-time and it was temporary. I didn’t know if it would work out. Luckily, after six months, they brought me on full time and offered me a higher position. It was risky, but it took getting out of that current position to get me where I wanted to go.

I moved, and then I moved and then I moved again…

In order to take that new risky job, I had to move to a different city. My now husband, then boyfriend, received a job offer in a city about 500 miles away. This would mean again giving up a lucrative job, but on top of that, I would be taking another big chance. As my mom put it when I told her, “You’re moving with no job, with a boy who you don’t know will commit.”  Now, I don’t know if I would have taken that chance, but at that time, it made the most sense to me. And it worked out.

I know not all scenarios end up perfectly, and while I was lucky enough to have my experiences work out well, they don’t always do. But I am glad that I took those chances and they were things that my twenties afforded me to do. So thank you to my twenties. I wouldn’t be the same without you.

(Image via Comedy Central)

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