A lot has changed since I made the initial break from my teens to the twenties.  I think I've fallen into a nice rhythm in life, though.  I work, sleep, eat, hang out with cool people, spend time with God, and even pay my bills on time.  Life is pretty good.  I no longer wonder where to take my car when it breaks down or where the money is coming from for next month's rent.  I feel blessed and grateful.

Several years ago I ran the Elerby Springs Marathon in the foothills of North Carolina.  (If you've never heard of it, don't worry, neither had I.)  As far as I can remember, there were only eighty-seven contestants, so you can wipe any pictures of the glorious moments you've seen on television of the Ironman Triathlon or the Boston Marathon from your mind.  In this small race, water stations were few and far between, and the whispers of wind and tall waving grass replaced cheering crowds alongside the road.

I had two specific goals for my first marathon:  I didn't want to come in last, and I wanted to run the entire way.  Around mile twelve, a fellow racer twisted her ankle, and  I knew I was going to accomplish at least one of my goals.  As far as the other goal was concerned, I knew there were some people who would probably testify that running and waddling are not the same thing, but I counted anything with even a hint of a bounce as part of a job, which is in the same category as a run.

Marathon runners all talk about hitting the wall – that point in the race when you think you can't go any farther.  Most people hit the wall around mile twenty.  I hit the wall around mile thirteen.  It was hot, I was tired, and I didn't know if I was going to make it to the finish line.  So I joggled (a fine blend of walking, waddling, and jogging all at the same time) my way through the next few miles, trying to think about anything other than the aches and blisters.  Around mile nineteen, I saw another competitor in the distance.  Only he wasn't running or even waddling, he was walking.  I reminded myself, I won't come in next to last if I can keep going!  I felt exhilarated as I passed the exhausted competitor, so I set my eyes on the next runner, and then the one after that.  My joggle became a legitimate jog and eventually qualified as a running pace.  My legs felt as if they were on autopilot, beating out a steady pace on the hot, black pavement.  During the last six miles of the race, I passed dozens of competitors and even beat one additional racer in a sprint to the finish line.  I received a third-place award for women in my age category.  Granted, there were only a total of four women in my age bracket, but I accepted the engraved prize with satisfaction anyway.

Running a marathon was near the top of my lifelong to-do list, and completing that 26.2-mile race carried an incredible sense of accomplishment.  Now if you had asked me how I felt between miles thirteen and sixteen, I wouldn't have given the same report.  That's because sometimes it's hard to appreciate something when you're still in the middle of it.  Like the miles of a marathon, some of the twentysomething years are better than others.  That first year out of school can be pretty bumpy, and any time in life that involves a crisis can be difficult, too.  Yet when you stand back and look at these twentysomething years, there's little doubt that they are designed to be some of the best of your life.

The Seven Wonders of the Twentysomething World

Interested?  You're probably expecting a clever use of metaphors that relates life in your twenties to the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.  Well, that isn't going to happen.  Those wonders are mostly gone – destroyed by time and man – and if I were writing this book in my thirties, I could probably pull it off because Id be looking back into the past.  Instead, I'm writing in the midst of some of the most enjoyable and challenging experiences I've faced in all my years.  I don't know if you have experienced these yet, but when you start evaluating your life – where it's been, compared to where it's going – some thoughts and concepts really stick out.  So, without further ado (drumroll, please), here is a list of the Seven Wonders of the Twentysomething World: