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29.

Today I am 29 years old. When I was a teenager, I couldn’t even IMAGINE myself this old. Did you feel the same way? Like you couldn’t picture yourself after a certain age?

As a February baby, I always feel like my year truly starts after my birthday. It’s early enough in the year to “count” as the start, only about 40-ish days into the Georgian calendar year. Our year can really start whenever we say it does.

I suppose this is the only perk of having a winter birthday. When I was younger, I was jealous of my friends with spring or summer birthdays. They could have parties outdoors, while I almost always had mine at a bowling alley or roller rink — what else is there to do in the depth of Michigan winter?

Birthdays seem to come around faster as you get older. People always tell you that but I recently read it’s something to do with how long you’ve been living and how a year to a four year old is a quarter of their life so time really does seem longer when you’re younger. Now it all just feels so fleeting and I find myself wondering how it’s all gone so quickly.

In pure INFJ-fashion, here are some highlights from my 28th year and what I’m looking forward to for the end of my 20s, all mashed up into one.

I’m learning you don’t have time for everything and that’s okay.

There’s another thing they tell you before you become an adult: you don’t have time for everything and you’ll eventually have to pick and choose how to use your limited time. I have found that to be entirely true the older I get. I know I just don’t have the time (nor the energy!) to do or be everything anymore. I’m still making peace with the fact that I can’t be super-woman, but with each year, it gets easier to let certain things go or just let certain things be enough.

I had a successful first year as a full time photographer.

The last year was one of the first times in my life that I was able to dictate how I spent much of my time. It was the first year I spent as a full time business owner. Before that, I had spent nearly two years hustling on the side while getting married, renovating our house, etc. I NEVER stopped. I knew when I quit my job that being able to pour my attention and self into my business full time would only help it grow. And it did. I ended the year essentially replacing my full-time job’s income (but not the benefits. I really miss my health insurance at my last job).

Finances aside, flexibility is a major reason why many people gravitate towards the entrepreneur lifestyle and it takes a lot of adjustment to go from working ALL of the waking hours like I was in 2018 to creating work hours, and not working TOO much in 2019. I don’t know if I have hit a balance in the busy season yet, but I’m working towards that this year so that I can give my best self to my clients ALWAYS.

We took a 3+ month road trip around the US and it was the best thing we’ve done in our marriage.

My 28th year started on Padre Island on the Gulf of Mexico in Texas during our 3+ month road trip/sabbatical around the United States. Despite all of the heartache to come after our trip (basement re-finishing hick-ups, a longer then we thought job search for Josh, some major medical issues/bills for me), I would never take back those months of travel and wish we had taken a full year on the road.

I look at our r-pod in our backyard, just waiting for spring, and miss the simplicity of living in 100 square feet. It wasn’t without challenges, but it showed me how little you actually need to survive. I love our home (which is small and cozy too) but man what a gift that trip was to ourselves. I hope we get to do it again someday. Don’t worry, though, we have ZERO plans to sell our home and live on the road full time. Josh’s job is not flexible enough for that and I don’t want to be a destination photographer.

I discovered my enneagram (finally)!

I really like self-reflection and self-awareness. It’s part of what makes me an INFJ. But I know the enneagram is all the rage and I spent most of the year thinking I was a type 3. But then I finally read The Road Back to You and figured out that I was a type 1! This was so helpful in understanding myself, but I’m still working on being a healthy type 1.

Things I’m Looking Forward to: Finishing the Basement Project

After we came back from our trip last May, we started finishing our 900 square foot basement. We had decided to take on the project while Josh was looking for a job so he could devote some major time to it. We are in the very final stages of finishing right now (just some closet doors and finishing baseboard touches), so hopefully soon I will get my office and guest room back. We know it’ll all be worth it when we get to enjoy the space, which doubles our square footage!

Things I’m Looking Forward to: Picking up a New Hobby

One of the things that happens when your hobby becomes your job is that you no longer have a hobby. I think one of the problems millennials have is that we are taught to always be hustling and that everything we do has to be really good or possibly make us money. But hobbies are just supposed to be fun things that maybe we aren’t the best at but we enjoy.

This year I’d like to try some new things that aren’t photography. I already like to cook and do that a lot. So far I have been reading a lot which I think helps manage my anxiety and makes me think about storytelling differently. I’m planning on trying painting and maybe calligraphy as a hobby. I’m going to keep reading and try hard to make time for it even during my busy season because it’s good for me. If you know some good books, send your recommendations my way! I’m always taking them.

photo by dearfern.com

Things I’m Looking Forward to: Ending my 20s in a Place I Never Thought I’d Be

Okay, I might be slightly stretching the truth here because if you know me personally, you know that I don’t like getting older and that I have a hard time with birthdays. As I end my 20s this year (unbelievable really) and I look back on this decade, I really can’t believe that this is where I’m ending it: working for myself, doing something creative, something I never thought was even POSSIBLE for me.

If you’d have asked me at 22 when I was graduating college and having panic attacks about my future where I’d be at 29, I would have told you the following: (1) anywhere but Detroit; (2) not married; (3) not a homeowner; (4) probably climbing the corporate ladder somewhere; (4) possibly a graduate degree holder.

MADALYN MUNCY-PIENS

I am NONE of those things at 29. I’m the OPPOSITE of those things.

I think this just goes to show how different our lives can turn out even if we plan otherwise. When asked at job interviews about my “five year plan,” I always HATED that question because my “five year plan” never came to fruition. I always hit a fork in the road or swerve. Five years ago, I never planned to start a business. If I had stuck to my plan, you see where I’d be above: not with Josh, not in my home, not living here, and probably in mountains of student loan debt. And I probably wouldn’t have Nora as my dog, which is the saddest part of all.

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