30 Lessons I Learned By 30

This post originally appeared on my new page, Cappuccinos & Chaos. Head there to read more.

Today just happens to be my birthday, and not just any birthday at that. The big 3-0 is finally here, and I am not sure how I feel about it.  As much as I swore I wouldn’t have an existential crisis I couldn’t keep it from happening. Maybe it just comes with the territory of getting older. No matter how settled and seemingly on track our lives are there is always that hovering feeling you should be doing more. I will say that I am not nearly as panicked as I have been in years past. That has to be a positive sign.

I’m also going to take the liberty of blaming this year’s birthday crisis on the compounded stress I have dealt with over the past month. Anxiety and stress generally trigger more anxiety and stress. That is something I have learned over the years and something I am trying to combat. I’ve spent enough of my life having anxiety attacks and learning to deal with my triggers. I have no interest in spiraling into an anxiety attack triggered by anxiety. That is just madness, and I won’t allow it. Or, more likely, as I said, I will at least actively battle against that type of vicious cycle.

So, here I am. This is 30, and I am facing the need for introspection. This year, I am giving in to that need by reflecting on my life and what I have learned so far on my journey. Instead of fighting off the deep thoughts and curiosities I have decided to embrace them. I’m starting to think that this is part of growing as a person. I have to accept that I am the type of person who has frequent existential thoughts and questions my own journey through life. By embracing that fact and addressing it, I can put myself at ease and move forward. Self-doubt is just like anything else in life in the fact that ignoring it will not make it disappear. I’ve decided to continuously address my concerns with myself and make changes in areas I feel have stagnated.

Reaching the age of 30 does not mean that I can no longer grow and enjoy new experiences. There is no age limit on our goals and dreams. In fact, the older I get, the more stable my life becomes and therefore the more likely I am to find success in my personal pursuits. As I began thinking of the things I would still like to do with my life I couldn’t help but reflect, as well. I know there is more to learn and plenty left to see in this life. However, it would be foolish to think I have wasted three decades on this planet because that is far from the case.

Regardless of the route my life took, I have arrived here at 30 with a fair amount of wisdom already accrued. I have been fortunate enough to endure learning experiences which have left me with lasting impressions. Now I will share with all of you some of the lessons life taught me these past 30 years.

 

 

30 Lessons I’ve Learned By 30

  1. Don’t worry so much. Most of us spend way too much time worrying about things we have no control over. As someone with anxiety, I struggle with this quite often. It is such an unnecessary habit, though. An old friend from my teenage years had a great turn of phrase that I find myself quoting more and more these days. “Worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair. It might give you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” Think about that the next time you’re caught in a worry circle and I promise it will help pull you out of it.
  2. Be present in your life. The world is chock full of distractions these days making it easy to miss out on what’s happening around you. Put down the devices, get out of your head and engage in the world around you. Make the time you have with family & friends meaningful and memorable. Connect with nature and experience new cultures while traveling. Don’t let life pass you by because you were too distracted to enjoy it.
  3. Don’t be afraid to communicate what you want. Nobody can read your mind. Nobody. If you don’t speak up for yourself and let people know what you want then chances are you’ll never get it. The ability to effectively communicate your viewpoints and desires will get you much further than you think in life.
  4. When you drink alcohol, make sure you drink lots of water, as well.  Ideally, you should have some water periodically throughout the night. However, if you don’t do that be sure to hydrate excessively before going to bed. Just trust me. This simple step will make all the difference in the world the next morning. Bonus points if you also take a B12 before bed; it will cut the hangover pain in half.
  5. Experiences are far more valuable than material possessions. Don’t buy into the consumerism hype that things will make you happy. Your money is always better spent on experiences that will broaden your horizons and make you a richer person.
  6. Eating fast food & processed foods will always make you feel like crap. Sure, its convenient and probably tastes good but consider what you’re putting in your body. These foods wreak havoc on your insides and aren’t worth it. There are way too many healthier alternatives available these days to keep eating McDonald’s.
  7. Let go of your grudges. If somebody hurt you badly, then they don’t deserve to be taking up space in your head or heart. Let go of the anger and resentment and replace it with positive points from your life.
  8. Bring sensible shoes. I love my stilettos as much as the next girl, but after hours of dancing in them, I have never once regret bringing a pair of folded ballet flats in my purse. Heels may look great, but they really kill your feet and back. There is no point in staying in pain for the sake of fashion. Be comfortable and happy.
  9. Don’t allow yourself to live in an echo chamber. It is vital to both personal and societal growth that we expose ourselves to opposing viewpoints. Debate your beliefs with people and have an open mind when presented with a differing opinion.
  10. Eat the ice cream. Stop making food the enemy. Eat what makes you happy and practice moderation. Indulging your snack cravings is a guaranteed mood booster, and besides, snacks are delicious.
  11. Nurture the relationships in your life. Go on dates with your spouse. Make time for your friends. Spend one on one time with your children. Have dinner with your parents. The people in your life are more important than your possessions, your career, or anything else. You won’t ever regret the time you spent with loved ones.
  12. Always splurge for good toilet paper. Seriously, cut your corners elsewhere.
  13.  Never make another person feel insignificant. Words have incredible power, and you should always use yours to lift people up and be kind. Never dimish or judge how another person lives their life or makes their living. Unless you’ve lived their life, you aren’t entitled to pass judgment.
  14. Always trust your gut. Your instincts exist for a reason, and you should never brush them aside. If something doesn’t feel right than chance are it isn’t. Likewise, if you think there is something you need to do then don’t let anyone tell you different. Don’t be pressured into letting other people make your decisions for you, especially if those decisions don’t sit well with you.
  15. You’re never too old or too cool for puppies & babies. There is nothing more pure and perfect in the world than a baby or a puppy. Drop what you’re doing and give in to the urge to snuggle whenever you come across one. That snuggle high will carry you through the rest of the day.
  16. It’s important to spend time getting to know yourself. Being authentic is an admirable and much sought after quality. There was a whole period of my 20’s where my actions and interactions led me down the path of profoundly understanding who I am. Genuinely knowing oneself comes with a heavy dose of comfort, security, and confidence as well.
  17. The only person standing in your way is you. This is a really invaluable lesson, and while so many people say it, they don’t fully understand it. If you hate something about your life, change it. If you aren’t where you want to be in life, then you need to hustle every day until you are. If you’re unhappy, stop being unhappy. You are 100% in control of your life. That gives you the power to become motivated and do anything you can imagine, but it also gives you the ability to drag yourself down. Chose wisely.
  18. Read often. Reading keeps your mind sharp, so read anything that interests you. Whether its classics, non-fiction, or graphic novels just grab a book and start reading.
  19. Be a good listener. The people around you want to be heard. When they come to you needing to vent or looking for advice actively listen to them. This means putting aside anything else you have going on to give them your complete attention.
  20. Perfection does not exist. Stop striving for perfection and instead work toward progress. The pursuit of perfection is making you sick and unhappy.
  21. Walk away from toxicity. If a person, place, job, or any situation, in general, is emotionally draining you then you need to walk away from it. Don’t allow negative energies to drag you down sap your joy. Nobody deserves to be stuck in a toxic environment. I promise that once you leave the poisonous haze that was surrounding you that you will flourish and realize how much more is possible without it.
  22. Stop comparing yourself to others. You progress through life at your own pace. Don’t worry about the people, just enjoy your journey and love yourself.
  23. You can’t please everyone, so stop trying. Be who you are, love what you love, do what you enjoy. Fuck any person who tries to belittle you for that or diminishes your happiness.
  24. Failure is a stepping stone, not a roadblock. Everyone fails at some point throughout their life. Chances are you will fail many times at many different things. It’s important to recognize that failure is not the end of the road. Dust yourself off, adjust your approach, and keep moving forward.
  25. Don’t waste time with romantic relationships where you’re not valued. We’ve all had our fair share of bad relationships. The thing is if you are unhappy and feel unappreciated or disrespected you need to walk away. Don’t be scared to leave just because your comfortable or you’re anxious about the unknown. Everyone deserves to find someone who loves them and will treat them well so if your current beau isn’t living up to what you need and deserve then say goodbye. While nobody likes to be alone, it’s worth spending some time alone and waiting for the right person.
  26. Chose your battles. Not everything that upsets you requires a fight. Next time you’re gearing up to fight ask yourself if this fight will matter in a year. If you don’t think you’ll still be upset in the long term than don’t stoke the flames and beat the war drums. I have trouble with this one myself, but I have been getting better about stopping and evaluating whether something will affect me long term.
  27. Invest in yourself. Take some classes, practice self-care, eat well. You need to be your own biggest fan and always push yourself to be the best version of you possible.
  28. Open the good wine! You know that bottle you’re saving for the “right time”? Well, the right time is now! Stop saving things and waiting for a “better” moment. Celebrate the fact that you’re alive, healthy and adulting.
  29. Try something new.  Take a risk, travel to a new country, or eat new foods. Step outside your comfort zone and do something different. Chances are you will find a new thing to love and be mad you didn’t try it sooner. Stop being afraid of the unknown and start treating it like the next great adventure.
  30. Age is just a number. You’re only as old as you feel and act. Naturally, you should behave responsibly as an adult – especially if you have a family. That said, though, you should enjoy life and hold onto that spark that makes everything enjoyable. As cliche as it sounds, you should always work hard and play harder.

Did I miss anything? What are some of the best life lessons you’ve learned throughout life? Let me know in the comments!

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