I had been dreading turning 29 for a couple of months now, it was not a birthday I was looking forward to celebrating. I feel too young to be that old. I really wasn’t feeling ready to be at the end of my twenties, only ONE year away from 30! 

Instead of letting myself be sad about it for too long, I sat down to write a list of the things I’ve accomplished in my twenties, and a list of the 30 things I would like to accomplish before I turn 30. I highly recommend everyone in their late twenties to do the same. 
Some things are serious, some silly, some I can’t even believe I’ve gotten to this age not knowing how to do, and some just because I figured why not. Among those thirty things, the number one on my list was to move out, and I’m happy to say I’ll be moving tomorrow morning (as long as I can get myself packed, which I’m definitely procrastinating by writing this!)    
I’m lucky to have lived in some pretty incredible places since graduating high school, including, New York City, Los Angeles, the Twin Cities, and Napa Valley; however, I can easily say there is no place like home. I’ve been living at my parents the past couple years in order to save money to start a business, yet, having put that dream on hold, I’ve decided it was time to go out and build a home of my own (figuratively, not literally). 
I wrote something, about a month ago, regarding making snap judgments of people you come across on a daily basis. I had recently gone to the bookstore in town for a dinner/book signing with a woman who opened a local restaurant and also wrote a cookbook based solely around Mac and Cheese. I wrote “it was there that I truly realized, nothing brings people together the way food does. Especially comfort food. When forced to sit with other people at a community style table, you are able to listen to the unfolding of their lives within such a short amount of time.” 
I went on to write about the man who sat across the table from me and all the things I discovered about his career path up until this point. And also the cookbook author who accomplished all these other things in the corporate world before ever entering the food industry. I found myself actually surprised by how wrong my initial first impressions of both of them were.
It’s really easy (at least for me) to assume everyone has all these things going for them, and that they got to where they are now on one simple and direct path. Facebook doesn’t help much. It makes the lives of others look so perfect, because for the most part, you only see the good things. 
Since that night, I’ve thought a lot about why the age 29 scared me more than any other age thus far. And I’ve realized that 29 for me doesn’t have to be the same for everyone else. I am grateful that I grew up in a time and a place that allowed me to go at my own pace, and do things in my own timing. I never really succumbed to peer pressure, and no one made me grow up faster than I was ready for. So why does it have to be different now? 
I get caught up in thinking you have to be where you’re going to be for the rest of your life right now, because for some reason it’s hard not to do that. But as I drove home from the bookstore that night I was thinking of my mom and where she was at my age. Married, and a stay at home mom of three, she had followed my dad across the country for a job, away from both of their families. She finally went back to work when Kerry entered Elementary school, although she went back slowly, keeping her schedule the same as ours at Sycamore Valley. My mom has since gone on to earn her Masters degree and a PhD (with the support of my dad), and has built a career for herself that she probably couldn’t have even imagined at 29. And this is why life is so crazy to me. What if my parents never left New York? What if my mom never went back to work? What if, What if…?
Nights like that one are why I believe family dinners are so important. You can learn a ton simply by sitting around the table listening to others goals, road blocks, failures, and successes. Even though I had heard this a hundred times before, and although I was in a room full of strangers rather than family, it was nice to be reminded, as ironically as it seems, in the town bookstore I’ve know my entire life, that you can’t really judge a book by it’s cover, and you can’t live anyone else’s story but your own!