“Like wildflowers, you must allow yourself to grow in all the places people thought you never would” – E.V.
So this is the last week I will live in my 20’s and I am very excited about it. I never thought I’d feel this way at this stage in my life. From a very early age, people talk at length about not really enjoy getting older past 30, but I have no plans on turning 30 for the next ten years. I have learned so many good lessons, even the ones that make me cry when I think of how stupid I was or rather hard-headed, because I am sure someone gave me the perfect advice and I just didn’t want to follow it. It’s something special to learn from mistakes, maybe I am wrong, but I have always been a fan of learning. So going into my 30’s, I kind of feel like it’s the first day of school, and as I’ve mentioned before, I was excited about every single first day of school. There was no exception. For three simple reasons:
was going to happen. This is how I view the future, it’s still exciting and I am just a little more equipped. As I get older, life might not be easier, but if you allow life lessons to teach you, you get smarter or that’s the goal.
But I am not going to lie, all of this reflection comes at the same time as a couple of my favorite athletes and I subconsciously feel as if we’re doing this together. My favorite football player retired this year, and it was announced that my favorite basketball player will be inducted into the Hall of Fame later this year. Yes, I am referring to Peyton Manning and Allen Iverson and there is definitely a connection here. Trust me.
If you haven’t read or listened to Peyton’s retirement speech, you should, it’s definitely one of the best sports speeches of all time, but clearly I am biased. But there is something that he said towards the very end of his speech that resonates very strongly within me:
“When I look back on my NFL career, I’ll know without a doubt that I gave everything I had to help my teams walk away with a win. There were other players who were more talented but there was no one who could out-prepare me and because of that I have no regrets.” (source)
I am sure there are some people who would argue about his talent level, but it is very true that very few out-prepared him and because of this he had no regrets. I am sure there are things he wished hadn’t happened, but when you give it everything you got, and it doesn’t work out, you can’t help but not have regrets. And I would have to argue that is the way to live. There are definitely experiences that give me a little anxiety when I think of them, but I don’t regret them. How can I? Our experiences and mistakes make us unique, but as we get older it is harder to live this way, with no regrets. There are so many external factors, such as family and friends, society or the lack of money, status or power, telling us how to live or how we should live, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Forget the milestones you haven’t hit, who decided them in the first place.
Christians often talk about having a child-like faith, we can similarly take this approach towards the way we live with an adult perspective, and this is why I am excited about gething older. I want to approach life with the heart of a child but with the experience of an adult.
So moving onto A.I. a.k.a Allen Iverson. A few weeks ago when the NBA Hall of Fame induction was announced, Iverson did a number of press interviews and his quotes also resonated with me as I contemplated the end of my 20’s.
But before we go there, we must look at life through three phases.
Phase 1: Budding (from the beginning – from birth, new idea or new experience)
Phase 2: Maturing (the largest part of our life – This is the part where we’re really living and the most growth happens)
Phase 3: Knowing (Experienced and the time to give back – a wise savant)
Often people think of the cycle of life, or the phases of life occur in one cycle. But to me, we go through this cycle of life a couple of times in every area of our life it seems. In some areas, I am still maturing and very far from being the wise savant that I want to be and others I have already done several cycles. This happens, because even though in some areas we have learned and grown, life knocks us back down on our feet and you have to learn something completely new about something you thought you knew a whole lot about (i.e. being laid off from a job, lost a loved one and learning to live without them, etc.)
I thought Allen Iverson described this best while fighting back tears about becoming a Hall of Famer:
“It’s hard to be a Hall of Famer, I had to fight, I fell, got back up, fell, got back up, fell, got back up, it’s still going on in my life right now” (source)
This is the cycle of life that is real. You fight. You fall, but you get back up. And at this point in life, I am very comfortable with living with this cliché. Because some cliques are just freaking true. More over, for those who are unfamiliar with Allen Iverson, he was known for one thing in particular, something I consider most important in life – heart.
Sports commentators we’re surprised when Allen Iverson, a mere 6’0” would compare himself to the likes of LeBron James and others in today’s league, but it was all about the heart:
“Their heart…and the way they compete… The fight in them. That’s why I would say LeBron. LeBron ain’t got none of my game, but his heart is all mine.” (source)
And LeBron only seconded what Iverson said, by stating that while he was not able to take any part of his game from Allen Iverson, he was inspired by his will:
“I watch Jordan more than anybody for sure. But I’ll watch tapes of A.I., too. I don’t take anything from A.I.. Well, I do — his will. They say he was 6 feet, but A.I. was like 5-10½. Do we even want to say 160? 170 [pounds]? Do we even want to give him that much weight? And he played like a 6-8 2-guard. He was one of the greatest finishers we’ve ever seen. You could never question his heart. Ever. He gave it his all.” (source)
So as I enter into the land of 30, I find myself with the same child-like feelings of giving it my all, even when the cards are stacked up against me, but at least in a more slightly thoughtful manner. This is why I am excited. I have learned to say no, one of the hardest parts of growing up for me, so that I can continue to be excited, and passionate for the things I love, to have time to lead with my heart. So more than anything, I want YOU to stop and think about whether you have decided to live the way you want to live or are you only living by how you think you should live. It’s never too late to decide to act differently…. don’t be afraid to fly.