I always thought 30 was super old. I couldn’t really imagine getting there either. Then as each year in my 20’s ticked upwards, it felt less elusive, and more like a decade I couldn’t wait to dive into. Also, totally not old.
I recognize in 2016, 30 looks different for me than it did for my parents when they turned 30. I’m not married yet. I do not have children. I’m exploring and traveling more than ever. I’m expanding my fulfilling career as a #girlboss, and far from what some might call settling down (even though I do live in house with my beau and our two dogs).
As my 30th birthday month has come and gone (March), I couldn’t help but reflect on the 30 things I’ve learned thus far.
My 30th birthday weekend in New Orleans, with my man. Both tired and hungover here, but always giggling.
Where I am today, compared to when I turned 20 seems like light years of difference. Yet, I am still me. Which is perhaps the most grounding.
Here’s what I’ve come to know to be true:
1. Having merit, being trustworthy, and giving someone your word is everything. Don’t take that lightly. If you don’t take it seriously, don’t give your word. Show up when you say you’re going to show up. Flakiness is lame.
2. Friendships – my girlfriends – are just as important as they were when I was 20, to today. Don’t get too distracted by those dates or casual guys/girls who don’t last. Friends are where it’s at, and their support and backbone will always be at the cornerstone of your life. Make time for them.
3. Related to number two, I subscribe to Shine Theory, “I don’t shine if you don’t shine.” Surrounding yourself with successful, powerful women is something you do when you’re confident, and proud to call those women friends (versus resent them or be jealous). Ann Friedman shares: “I want the strongest, happiest, smartest women in my corner, pushing me to negotiate for more money, telling me to drop men who make me feel bad about myself, and responding to my outfit selfies from a place of love and stylishness, not competition and body-snarking.”
4. Study abroad. Get out, travel. There is no reason to not spread your wings while you are young. Sure, you can travel throughout your whole life. But the less responsibility, the better. Go see the world. Seriously.
5. Don’t compare your beginning or middle, to someone else’s end. We all are at different paths and who cares where someone else’s life has ended up, compared to yours? Expectations are rarely as they seem and it’s okay if they’re not met. Go with plan B, C, or D.
6. For me, love was storied in my 20’s. I had four longterm relationships over the last ten years. Heartache is inevitable. Although I never meant it to be exploratory, it’s often a time when you are learning, and figuring out who you want to be as a partner, trying to understand what works or what doesn’t and what your deal breakers are. Don’t use your 20’s as an excuse to not take care of someone else’s heart. But also know, you may not always succeed. That’s okay. Learn from it. Apologize. Forgive.
7. Laughter has and always will be the best medicine. Keep it coming.
8. You’re never too old for a pajama party sleepover with your best girlfriends.
9. Asking for what you want is powerful. Sure, you may not always get what you want but being explicit can set us free.
10. Be open to the journey. I would never have thought this is where I would be when I turned 30 (or who I might be with). We can never know where we may end up and don’t try to predict it.
11. Standing up for what you believe in is sexy. Don’t go with the norm or what’s “cool”. You do you. This is attractive and the best way to live.
12. The nice guy doesn’t always finish last. Watch out for those nice guys (that really are so much more than nice, you’ll see). Really. The “bad boy” is not what it’s all about.
13. You begin to realize that as you grow into adulthood, your parents are human just like you and make mistakes. The older you get, maybe you’ll get closer, and realize your divide is less. On that note, don’t blow off your parents or grandparents for that matter (if they’re still around). You don’t know how long they’ll be around (or anyone for that matter). Make the time.
14. Risks are worth taking. Hardly are the falls ever as bad as we think. I find I worry more about things, that never end up happening and the 5% “worry” that does come true, I have come out alive.
15. Love openly. Kiss more. Dance when you feel it in your bones. Give long hugs. Look people in the eye, yes, even strangers. Smile.
16. Take care of your body. No longer do I lay out in the sun for hours without sunscreen. My hangovers are worse too. Your body is your temple, and you are what you eat. I indulge with the best of them, but taking care of myself internally and externally has become imminently more important.
17. Saying no is okay. Say yes to only the things you truly want to do and make your heart sing. Don’t say “maybe” or be wishy washy, just say no if it’s your truth. It helps everyone in the longrun.
18. Show up when you say you will. Period. The people in my life do. Those that don’t, slowly start to fade into the distance. We’re adults, start acting like one.
19. Make time for self reflection. I feel like much of my 20’s was a roller coaster, going at top speed. Now I like to make time to go on solo retreats, more yoga, more meditation.
20. This one I stole from Glamour’s 30 things every woman should have and should know by the time she’s 30″(I highly recommend it). You should own: “a set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra.” Amen.
21. You are the author of your story. Nothing else gets to define that but you (despite what other people may say).
22. Get savvy with your money. See a financial planner. Learn how to budget. Invest perhaps. Lean into a 401k or RothIRA if plausible (both of which I have, but had to learn a lot about in my 20’s as I stumbled through it at first).
23. Have hobbies. I always find it odd when people don’t do anything else outside of work. It’s important to have things that you enjoy, where you can hone your craft, and expand your mind and body. For me, I’ve got: traveling, food blogging/writing (I call it a “jobby”), hiking, snowboarding, uncovering music, fly fishing, yoga, dogs, gardening, DIY-ing around my home, reading, scouring to find the best new restaurant (to name a few).
24. A lesson that was hard for me to learn, was being completely honest with myself – at all times. I would procrastinate big, challenging decisions even though I knew deep in my bones it wasn’t right for me. When you set yourself free, and are aligned with who you are, it is the most freeing experience. For everyone really.
25. I know nature isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. But for me, getting outside with no building or skyscraper in sight is everything. Getting mud/sand/grass between my toes, laying lazily and looking up at the sky, camping under the twinkling stars, listening to the wind and birds chirping alongside a running mountain stream – all these things make my heart soar.
26. Be accountable. Stop blaming other people for your experience, your feelings, your [fill in the blank]. Take some responsibility. Maybe that might have flown in your 20’s, but nah…not now.
27. Be an adult. Unnecessary drama seems so high school, but unfortunately, I see it all the time. I surround myself with people where that’s not the norm, and be open to talking honestly. Those that avoid confrontation just can’t get through life.
28. Own furniture that wasn’t purchased from Craigslist and/or taken off the curb of the road. I’m all for budgeting, hand-me-downs, buying used, etc. but there’s something to be said about a great piece of furniture you earned and own. Not until my last year of my 20’s did I finally get rid of the from-the-curb couches I had and bought a beautiful matching set. I can’t tell you the amount of times I get compliments on these houndstooth beauties, and the number of times we sit and lounge on these are worth it on its own. Just part of growing up.
29. Learn to trust your intuition. Never has my intuition or gut been off. Long gone is the time where I shove away what I feel deep inside of me. Listen to that voice! And honor it.
30. Know when to walk away and when to dive in head first, arms wide open.