Monday, 27 June 2016

30 Life Lessons It Took 30 Years to Learn

Turning 30 doesn’t have to be fraught with worry or panic. This new decade marks passage out of the turbulent times of adolescent self-exploration and 20-somethings trial and error. You’ve learned a lot in your 30 years – much more than you think. Here are some reflections on life lessons I’ve gained as I approach the big 3-0:

1. Age really is just a number. I’ve met 20 year olds with more wisdom than a library of Chicken Soup for the Soul books and 60 year olds with less common sense than my pinky finger. It’s all about what we do with our years.

2. People aren’t judging you as often as you think. Shaking off the teenaged belief that the spotlight is always on us is a freeing revelation.

3. Flossing is actually really important. For the longevity of your teeth and your bank account (dental care is expensive!), floss those suckers regularly.

4. It’s okay to still not know what you want to be when you grow up. I’ve met so many people who have switched their careers and interests throughout life. Following your passion instead of resigning to a lifetime of feeling stuck is the way to go.

5. Privilege is a real thing. Exposure to voices with experiences much different than mine has helped shape my understanding of the world, rather than just my perspective of it.

6. Advocacy is something we must participate in. We owe it to the other beings on this planet (and the planet, itself) to stand up for what is right and for who is being wronged. It is imperative.

7. Budget your finances regularly. Knowing exactly where your money is going each month can help feel more in control when swimming in student loan debt.

8. Feeling embarrassed isn’t the end of the world. See #2. In the grand scheme of things, people won’t remember our embarrassing stuff and it doesn’t really matter.

9. Nurturing spirituality is key. Remind yourself that you are connected to something bigger.

10. Diets can shove it. Say goodbye to dieting and hello to conscious eating that makes you feel happy and healthy.

11. Listen to older generations’ stories before it’s too late. Give life to people’s memories before they fade away.

12. It’s okay to say no to requests. It’s that simple. Stop overthinking it.

13. Simplify your stuff. We do not need all the stuff our consumeristic society tells us we need. Start purging and you will immediately feel lighter.

14. Try new things, damnit. Never liked brussels sprouts before? Maybe you will now. Never gave thought to learning kickboxing? Why not today? Flirt with adventure a little.

15. Start saving for retirement. Boring, I know, but a necessary task to start early. Our generation’s financial future is uncertain, unless we start acting on it now.

16. Comparing yourself to others is a waste of time. We will always feel the urge to size ourselves up compared to what others have accomplished, but it tends to cause more heartache than anything else.

17. It’s time to let go of toxic friendships. If you are in a friendship that is unhealthy, make a clean break and move on. No one has time for that.

18. Prioritize your self-care. Burnout is real for career-oriented folks and/or those in charge of families — all of which 30 year olds are more likely to be. Replenish yourself.

19. Get moving. Finding the most enjoyable way to workout helps with long-term physical and mental health. Get serious about it.

20. Time alone is super enjoyable. The more we grow into understanding who we are, the more comfortable we are with solitude. Spend more time connecting with #1.

21. Nobody has all the answers. We’re all floating through this life trying to figure it out along the way, man.

22. Your body is an awesome, capable, and beautiful powerhouse. We are programmed to judge and favor certain looks, but over time the importance of that fades and we can appreciate our vessels for their strength and abilities.

23. Definitions of success are ever-changing. Sometimes success is defined by not spending the entire evening watching Friends reruns in our sweatpants. Other times it’s completing a difficult, mind-melting project to which we’ve devoted countless hours and tears. Let’s give ourselves some credit.

24. Learn how to cook. It may have been cute to rely on microwavable meals and take-out in your 20s, but the time to expand your culinary skills is now. Take a class, join a community garden, host potlucks with friends — whatever it takes to get cooking.

25. Drama takes a backseat to authentic interactions. Gossip can be tempting, but it becomes less important and more of a nuisance over time.

26. Take a flying leap. If you’ve been wanting to do something drastic like move across the country, go back to school, take an extended trip, or get that pixie cut you’ve always admired, now is the time. Buckle down and plan for what it would take to make your daydream a reality.

27. Become friendlier with your siblings. Yes, you’ve known them most of your life, but you’ve all grown into new directions and interests that are worth getting to know better.

28. The small things matter less. Our coping skills have grown with the rest of us, so use them to get through the minor annoyances in life.

29. You know you can get through the harder stuff, too. At 30, life has handed you at least one major challenge you’ve had to overcome. You can get through the next one, too.

30. You’ve made it. Not everyone lives to see the big 3-0. In many ways, it’s a big accomplishment and we should treat it that way.

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