I’m turning 30 at the end of the month and unlike many in my situation, I’m looking forward to adding that figurative checkmark to the mythical box next to “survived my 20s.” I’ve not really been much of a fan of my 20s; you’re no longer a kid and you’re not quite an adult throughout most of the decade. Struggling becomes a way of life so much so that if you find yourself comfortable, you think, “What’s going to go wrong?” I’ve always felt that my 30s are going to be a better fit for my personality. I can say with confidence that I finally have my shit together and am happy with where I am and that’s just at 29. Imagine what the next 10 years could look like…
If you consider yourself a writer (which I believe having a blog with upwards of 900 followers places me in that category) then it’s almost a requirement that you need to have at least one “____ Things I’ve [Verbed] Before ____”, which presently I do not. Actually you’re currently reading one, but I refuse to title it as such so as to not be so cliché. Joke’s on you…?
Here are my 30 Things I’ve Learned Before 30:
- The art of eating. The mechanics of eating is not the hard part; it’s developing a healthy relationship with food that will be sustainable and nourishing to your body. When I was in college I lived off of hotdogs, ramen, and Oreos. I still had a high metabolism and between walking around on campus and working my many jobs, I easily logged over 10,000 steps a day; things balanced out. Fresh out of college and into a new relationship, date nights became an almost nightly occurrence compounded with frequent Sonic milkshakes and many nights spent eating chocolate crème pie as my ‘reward for surviving the day.’ I was living the life of culinary luxury (or so my post college-self thought) and packing on the pounds in the process. It wasn’t until I became affianced that I switched gears and learned about my nutrition in preparation of my wedding. I learned that you have to take an active role in your eating habits and find how to balance your needs and wants in a healthy, sustainable way.
- Move your ass. Along with learning how not to eat like a child for eternity, I have also gained a better understanding of the importance of body movement. Sitting on the couch and watching tv is literally the easiest thing to do and sometimes it’s a needed mental break from reality, but going for a walk is just as important. You may not think you’re getting much out of just putting one foot in front of the other, but your muscles, tendons, organs and everything in-between are doing what they are meant to do and are thriving in the process. Be kind to your body and your body will return the favor.
- Save. Becoming an adult means making your own money and learning what to do with it. Unless you want to be working through your 70s/80s, start saving as soon as you can. A regular savings account with whatever bank you make deposits in is fine, but if you want to feel like a real adult start a ROTH IRA. I learned about them in my business finance class in college and to be completely honest, it’s the only take away I have from that class from the entire semester. Well that and the fact that a financial calculator is a thing…
- Adventure is everywhere. Exploring a new city? It’s an adventure! Getting lost in Walmart? It’s an adventure! Trying a new food item that looks a bit suspect but you’re told is a delicacy in another culture? It’s an adventure! If you find yourself outside of your comfort zone, changing your perspective can be all it takes to make you more at ease.
- Question everything. Why is the sky blue? [It’s not because of the reflection of the ocean Mrs. Merrill…] Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? [Nope. That notion is a result of really good marketing by food companies] Who exactly was Christopher Columbus and why is there a holiday celebrating him? [He was a homicidal wannabe monarch who instigated the two greatest crimes in the history of the Western Hemisphere: the Native American genocide and the Atlantic slave trade; why do we have a holiday paying homage to him???] You learn very quickly once you leave public education that most of the information being fed to children is watered down versions of what really happened. Do your own research, form your own opinions, be your own scholastic champion.
- Look ahead. Struggling through a rough day? At least you have that last slice of cake waiting for you at home. Can’t seem to get out of a depressive rut? Schedule a girls weekend complete with a little shopping and a stop at your favorite brunch spot. Having something to look forward to is so important for your mental health; it acts as a reminder that things won’t always be so dull and/or stressful.
- Be a doer. Become a DIYer. I promise you–there is a YouTube video on how to do it if you’re not sure. Figure out how to change the oil and replace a bulb or even the whole headlight kit on your car. Learn how to change out a light fixture and how to patch drywall. Develop a basic understanding of sewing and plumbing. Not only will you save money from not having to hire someone to do these simple tasks, you’ll feel an immense sense of achievement from doing them yourself.
- Let them talk. I have made many an enemy in my almost 30 years (not that I’m bragging) and they have all resorted to slander. Choosing to let them speak their mind and not react is one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned. Everyone is living their own truths; who’s to say what they are experiencing isn’t accurate to them? Sure, defending your name when lies are being spun about you is a natural response, but not responding is also a response and can be a pretty powerful one at that.
- Experience over things. Gift giving has become a sort of specialty of mine and one of the best pieces of advice I give people is to think out of the box. Literally. Think of something that will not fit in a gift box. A pre-planned vacation, a spa day, a scavenger hunt, a subscription of some kind… I’d much rather receive an experience over another candle any day and I’m sure most people would agree.
- Moderation is key. Eat the cookies. Drink the beer. Play the video games. Find what makes you happy and keep doing it–within reason. Too much of a good thing is still too much. Too much ice cream? Brain freeze. Too much pain medicine? Overdose. Too many puppies? Although one might think there could never be enough puppies, think of all the mess they’d inevitably make… Most things come with recommendations nowadays; recommended serving sizes, recommended time frames, recommended age/height/weight… take those recommendation to heart; they’re there for a reason.
- Make your own traditions. Instead of having a turkey dinner for Thanksgiving, make it a tradition of having a build-your-own taco bar and invite your family and friends over for board games. Instead of handing out candy for trick-or-treaters, go to the movies dressed up as your favorite character and hit up an ice cream joint afterwards. Instead of filling and hiding a bunch of Easter eggs around the yard that may or may not all be located, have a silly string war (trust me–it’s much more fun). Just because things have been done a certain way for eternity doesn’t mean you have to. Break the mold and make your own traditions and memories to go with.
- Virginity is overrated. If you’re like me, you were taught to believe that saving yourself for marriage was a requirement for a healthy, happy, fulfilling relationship between a man and his wife. And as we grow older and learn more about the world around us, we find that sleeping around isn’t so taboo and that when males do it, they are just having fun, and when females do it, they’re desperate sluts looking for attention. What loathsome creature originated the idea that a woman is soiled if she’s not a virgin out of wedlock? A woman’s worth is not found between her legs. While I agree that making the decision to become sexually active is not one to take lightly, in no way is it the responsibility of the woman to remain ‘pure’ in order for her to be the best
wifeperson she can be. As long as you’re safe, educated, and aware of the consequences (both emotional and physical), then have at it!
- You don’t have to procreate. Having children is not for everyone and choosing not to have children is not selfish. I enjoy spending my money on myself, I prefer uninterrupted sleep, and I like my freedom. Toddlers are annoying, teenagers are infuriating, and they all cost a fortune to raise; I know–I used to be one. And while I’m grateful to my parents for choosing to bring me into this world, for raising me, and providing me with everything I ever wanted and needed, that does not mean I am required to follow in their footsteps. At least with pets you can leave them alone for most of the day and know that they’ll probably be okay and you won’t be arrested for endangerment. They also won’t fall into the wrong crowd and take up recreational drugs…
- Wear sunscreen. You can still get a tan while wearing SPF; it may be a slower process, but the alternative is developing alligator hide later in life and having chunks of cancerous skin cut out of you, so wear the damn sunscreen.
- Get a crockpot. There are so many meals you can make using a crockpot and the best part is you only have to do the prep work. Many recipes are multistep processes that are time consuming and tedious. Crockpot meals are three steps: add ingredients, turn on, and walk away. You can even make a cake using one! The possibilities are endless and you really can’t beat the ease of use.
- Don’t be late. Time is a valuable thing and wasting someone else’s is blatant disrespect. I once had a band director say: If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re late, don’t bother coming. And I felt that. I understand that things happen and occasional tardiness is a part of life, but perpetual untimeliness is overt insolence. Constantly being late is not a cutesy personality trait; it’s irresponsibility and shows a lack of regard for others.
- Just because it’s on sale… doesn’t mean you’re saving money. If it’s something you need, then yes; you will be saving money on something you would already be spending money on. Otherwise you are just being coerced into spending money on a good or service that is using human desire as a marketing ploy. We all want a good deal on purchases and companies know this. That’s why there are new deals every day! Learn to think critically about the worth of something, not the cost.
- Be kind. In no situation is hate ever going to be the best option. A billion people have a billion stories; not all of them include rainbows and butterflies. Be the light in someone else’s day; you never know how much good a single selfless act or kind word will generate in this grim world.
- Get a second opinion. No one person knows everything about everything. An individual only has one perspective–their own. Asking a myriad of people for their opinions can only be beneficial. Have a mysterious health condition? Have multiple physicians weigh in. Thinking about making a big purchase? Get quotes from different sources and compare. Not sure how to handle a personal situation? Talk with others to gain a different perspective before proceeding. Even if you think you know all there is to know about something, it never hurts to ask.
- Get the tattoo. Stop stressing over the meaning behind it and just get the damn thing. What’s funny about tattoos is once you have it, you obsess over it for a few weeks and then you never notice it again. Tattoos don’t need deep rooted spiritual, moral, or familial meanings behind them; they can simply be a piece of art. I personally have more appreciation for a well-executed one-of-a-kind piece than an over-done easily identifiable symbol found on most college kids, but hey, if you like those kinds of things, my thoughts on them are completely void.
- Lean in. Learn to embrace change. The only certainties in life are: birth, death, and taxes… or so my business law professor said. Change is inevitable; growth is optional.
- Learn the art of compromise. Compromising is not an admittance of failure, nor does it show weakness. You do not exist to be right; you exist to get it right. Making compromises demonstrates that you care for something or someone beyond yourself which is pretty rad.
- Say I’m sorry. Just do it. Pride is a hellacious beast that feeds off of insecurities. Own up to your mistakes and don’t be afraid to make meaningful apologies when they are justified.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Always. And not just spatially. Have an active role in the company you keep and the content you consume. Everything around you has an impact on your being whether you realize it or not. Know when to cut ties and walk away from toxic people and situations. Learn how to identify sketchy circumstances and avoid them. Some say instincts are a human’s sixth sense; use it wisely.
- Regret nothing. You are who you are today because of everything that has happened to you; the good, the bad, and everything in between. Be thankful for your experiences and how they have shaped you into the wildly wonderful badass you are today.
- Be you. Unapologetically. Fitting in is overrated. Being authentically you takes courage and leads to absolute liberation. The sooner you conquer the urge to conform, the sooner you’ll find contentment.
- Live in the moment. You can’t do big things if you’re distracted by small things. Temptation to obsess over your online presence can be debilitating and is extremely unhealthy. Realize that your life online is no life at all. Social media is nothing more than easily digestible synopses of a fictitious narrative. There will always be someone prettier, smarter, more successful, etc. How much time are you willing to invest in meaningless fodder? Maintain focus on your reality and never stop seeking opportunities to improve yourself.
- Success isn’t one size fits all. Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live. And remember: comparison is the thief of joy.
- Your past does not define you. Who you were 5/10/20 years ago is just a former version of yourself. Grant your past self some grace and turn your life experiences into meaningful lessons. Let your mind, body, and soul heal from past traumas and harness that strength. You are on a journey of becoming an enlightened individual; trust the process.
- Enjoy the ride. This is not a dress rehearsal, nor is it a test drive. This is it–you’re living life. Make it a good one! Fill it to the brim with great memories, treasured relationships, and immeasurable growth. Find passion in the mundane and reflect on the remarkable. Realize pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. Can’t find happiness…? Then make your own.
And there you have it; some overdone, existential white girl shit about growing older from yours truly.
For my birthday this year I will be celebrating by jumping out of a plane followed by getting my second tattoo because I am the definition of a wildly wonderful badass.