I’m midway through my 37th year on this planet. In those 37 years, I’ve decided the 30s are the best years. I realize that’s a pretty bold statement from someone who (hopefully) isn’t even halfway through her life. Yet, I feel confident these years are the platform that will carry me successfully through the decades to come.

Here’s what my 30s have taught me:

Turning 30 isn’t that bad. To be fair, I’ve never been one who’s been bothered by numbers, but me turning 30 didn’t stop the world from turning. I figure it’s an age many aren’t afforded, so I choose to embrace it and be grateful. Besides, as I stated, it launched the best decade of my life.

By your 30s, you’ve grown up a bit.

You’re likely at a place career-wise that you can sustain a living on your own. You’ve likely found a career that’s a good fit, and you’re not wishing your life away in a dead-end job.

RELATED: The Gift of Your 30s

Most of your bad choices and wild hairs are behind you. Can we all just say thank you that we were still mostly pre-cellphones back in our wild and wooly days?

My opinion of me is more important to me than your opinion of me.

My 30s have given me the confidence to believe in myself. I no longer strive to meet your approval. I am confident in myself and the choices I make with or without your blessing.

I know what I’m willing to settle on and what I’m not willing to compromise on. This means personally, emotionally, in my career, in my family, the whole shebang. To my point above, I have the confidence to be me. I won’t settle for less than I expect. I won’t settle for less in what I expect of myself or what I expect of others. Call it what you wish, but I call it intentionally owning my life with confidence.

Not compromising also means I don’t compromise on who or what I give my time to. If it’s important to you, you find a way to make it work. If it’s not, you let it go. This is true for the people you let into your life as well. Choose wisely.

RELATED: Life is Too Short for Fake Cheese and Fake Friends

At this stage, some hit-you-in-the-gut life moments have happened. Whether that be your own health scare or that of a loved one, death, or some other significant loss, you’ve fielded it. Those moments have given me the tools to deal with loss.

It’s taught me to hold on to what’s important and let go of what’s not.

Loss and near losses give us the ability to cope with more of the same that’s going to come in later years. They’re life lessons however hard they may be to learn.

I’ve learned how to fail. Those who say failure isn’t an option are wrong. It’s OK to fail. But what’s important in failure is what you take away from it. It’s learning how to handle failing gracefully. It’s learning from the failure and making improvements moving forward. It’s not wallowing in the failure, but rather overcoming it to shine brighter. You can’t appreciate success without at some point having failed. How you handle that failure is what makes the difference.

Don’t dwell on the past. Much like dealing with losses, dwelling in the past keeps you there.

I’ve learned to let go of what was, forgive what needs forgiven, and learn from it (good and bad), but leave it there. Don’t let the pain, embarrassment, shame, hopes, whatever they were, keep you from living the life you have before you. If you spend too much time looking back, you’ll find you’ve missed the gifts that were right in front of you.

RELATED: To The 30-Something Moms

Forgiveness heals. It took me a long time to understand that. When I withhold forgiveness, it hurts me way more than the person who hurt me. Whether that person ever actually apologizes to me says more about them than it does me, but how I chose to handle the hurt says a heck of a lot about me.

My 30s have, by no stretch of the imagination, been without trials.

Actually, most of the biggest trials I’ve dealt with in my life have happened in this decade. Yet, I feel a peace about all of them that a younger version of me wouldn’t have been able to feel. I’ve learned to lean into my faith in God, and the circle that I keep close. I’ve learned to trust God’s plans more than my own because I have no control over tomorrow anyway.

These lessons didn’t happen overnight. They’ve been a culmination of the years. Yet, I know in my heart the 30s have been the best because they’ve equipped me for the future. So to all of you dreading hitting that milestone, rest assured that while a night in on the couch may not sound as exciting as a night on the town, it actually is. It’s another lesson age will teach you. Besides 30 is just a number, right?

Holly Lemons

Blessed by God to be the mommy to four beautiful girls, wife to one amazing husband, and an elected official. Crazy, a little...blessed beyond what I deserve!