I'm finally 30. Honestly, it's felt like a long time coming. I'm an old soul and my 20's were kind of a buzz kill, because I've always felt much older on the inside, like, definitely mid-60's.
For only being 30, I feel like I've learned a lot in a short period of time. I've had unbelievably beautiful experiences and devastating ones that helped me grow. So, as I celebrate this launch into a new decade, I'm sharing the 30 things I learned before I turned 30.
1. Outgoing people can be introverts.
I spent a lot of time thinking that because I am outgoing, silly and enjoy public speaking that I was an extrovert. It took spending a month in Laos to realize I was drained spending time with people and needed to recharge by myself. I've embraced that I prefer cooking dinner at home after a long day rather than going out to dinner with a group.
2. Listening is a hard, but valuable skill to learn (and use).
Around five years ago I realized I talked too much. I would act like I was listening, but instead I was thinking about what I would say next. Sometimes I'd keep talking about something when the conversation had changed just because I felt it was important.. I was missing out on what people were actually saying. I stopped "listening" and started listening. It's amazing what you can learn when you listen.
3. Love isn't always enough.
Sometimes, love isn't enough to save a relationship. Not just a romantic one, but friendships and family too. You can love someone completely, but if the relationship has too many cracks, it's time to let go.
4. You don't have to run a marathon because everyone else is.
Right out of college everyone was running marathons. I started to get a complex about it: "Should I be running a marathon too?" No. I freaking hate running. Comparing yourself to what others are doing and their accomplishments can only make you feel inadequate. Instead, focus on the opportunities you have and things you actually like doing!
5. Excuses are a bad habit.
I had a boss once tell me, "I understand why this happened, but you just give too many excuses." I was so shocked and embarrassed. Had I really been relying on excuses to justify my mistakes and failures? From then on I made a commitment to just own it when I effed up. Even if you have a valid excuse, owning your mistakes goes a long way with people.
6. Self care isn't selfish.
It took becoming a mom for this one to really sink in. Six months into parenthood, I was fried. I was working full time, figuring out being a mom, trying to find time for my relationship, start a business and go back to school. I was exhausted. When I started carving out time for myself, I noticed I started to excel in the other areas of my life, because I wasn't a walking zombie anymore. Start focusing on self care, it's never too late.
7. You can't change other people.
I didn't learn this from a young relationship, I learned this through my brother. Most people know I lost my brother to addiction at the age of 19. We loved and supported him fiercely and he worked hard to stay sober, but sometimes, as much as you want to take the reigns for people, you can only sit back and watch. Which leads me to my next lesson...
8. Grief is a parallel road.
Losing my brother changed my life. At the time I thought it was only in bad ways, but with time I've realized all the beautiful things that have come from it too. However, I'll always be traveling on a road parallel to what life would be like if he were here. It's right in my vision, but I'll never be able to get to it. That's what grief is like as time goes on when you lose someone you love.
9. Life's too short to not eat the cookie.
I spent so many years of my life worried about how I should look. I struggled with disordered eating and made myself mentally sick trying to strive for perfection that was unreachable. Instead, I learned tools to help me remember food is meant to nourish my body and my soul. I eat to fuel my body and don't stress if I want to dive into that cheese board, because that cheese is good for my soul.
10. Being weird is timeless.
I don't know how, but I've always been authentically who I am. I'm not sure how my parents taught me that trait, but I'm working hard to teach that attitude to my daughter as well. It wasn't always awesome and I was bullied a lot as a kid, but as I got older, I felt more confidence in my weirdness and personality. Being authentically and weirdly you is always in.
11. Want to be heard? Be quiet.
Another mom lesson: people listen to you when you speak softly. Is my daughter having a tantrum? I'm going to get on her level and speak as quietly as I can. She can't help but stop to hear what I'm trying to say. People not listening during a meeting? I'm going to stand and speak softly to make everyone around me crane to hear me. Works every time.
12. Meditation changes everything.
This is just fact. Evidence shows that meditation is proven to change your brain to promote less stress, increased happiness and even an improvement in your immune system. Just do it already.
13. Mommin' ain't easy, but it's worth it
I had always wanted to be a mom and getting to do this job is my favorite thing ever. That being said, it's really hard. I wasn't expecting to have so many moments of feeling like I was failing, losing my patience or just feeling inadequate. No one talks about those things. I've tried hard to get to those topics with other new moms, in hopes it lifts them to know we've all been there and they're doing just fine.
14. The unfailing hiccup cure.
I get hiccups all the time and this is the only trick that works: hold your breath, swallow five times, then hold your breath an additional 10 seconds. Now, release your breath slowly. You're welcome.
15. Relationships are the most important work you'll do.
Being married is easy, staying married is hard. Like I said, sometimes love isn't enough, but if you treat your partnership like a choice, you put in the work you need to do every day. Sometimes those relationships just don't work out, that's okay. My husband and I work hard for what we have, keeping the end goal in mind: retirement dreams of a hobby farm in Northfield.
16. Your parents are people.
I mean this in both amazing and eye-opening ways. I've seen my parents' flaws as I've gotten older, but they've also become two of my favorite friends. I never knew I could have so much fun with the people who raised me.
17. Don't be afraid to jump.
There will always be a reason why you shouldn't try something. There will never be a perfect time. Regardless of if it's making a career change, starting a business, ending a bad relationship or having a kid, sometimes you have to just take the leap. Except for bangs, don't ever take the leap into bangs.
18. Recognize and check your privilege.
Most of us have privilege. Especially if you're a cis-identifying white person. Accept it. Lean into it and learn from it. Do the work it takes to make sure you're being an ally to the people around you who don't have the same privilege you do. Sometimes this work is super uncomfortable and it should be. You'll mess up and look stupid, but you have to keep trying. This is how we make the change for a better world, each person looking at the work they can do on themselves first.
19. Always make time for things you love.
There was a long time I didn't play music anymore. When my brother passed away, I played every single day as a way to feel close to him. I had wondered why it had taken such a tragedy to make me do something I've always loved. Don't let your favorite hobbies sit on a shelf gathering dust. Those special things are what help make your soul feel alive.
20. "Sorry" is a pretty empty word.
There is way too much "I'm sorry." At this point in my life, I've found it's pretty empty. Now, I've come to expect and communicate that I appreciate improved action far more than "I'm sorry". Don't just accept an apology and move on if you don't think it's genuine. The people who care about you will work to make it better.
21. You don't need to reinvent yourself.
You're fine just the way you are. Period.
22. Just ask for help already.
I'm still a work in progress here. I'm incredibly prideful and refuse to ask for help, most definitely to a fault. It's taken many examples of dropping balls and failing to realize it's absolutely a good thing to ask for help when you need it. Often times, asking for help even benefits more people around you.
23. Being honest doesn't need to be hurtful.
A lot of people like to say, "I just say what I feel! I'm being honest!" No, you're being rude. You don't have to be honest at the expense of people's feelings. Always be truthful, but be gentle with people. Being brash isn't a good look.
24. A small group of friends is gold.
I'm not great at making new friends. I'm so shy in this arena and it gives me such anxiety. I use to think my small friend group reflected on me poorly, that I wasn't cool enough or not friendly. Now I realize I've simply been compiling a group of women I can rely on in the worst times and celebrate with during the best.
25. Learn to prioritize.
Stop thinking you're going to get everything done. Give yourself the freedom to choose what's most important and celebrate each item that get's checked off your list. Somethings really are more important than others. It's about quality of work, not quantity.
26. Take care of your damn skin.
Put on sunscreen, start using eye cream now, exfoliate, at least wash your freaking face! Your skin is the first to go, people! Hormones are a bitch and sun damage is real. Treat your skin like gold.
27. You don't have to like what everyone else does
I hate football, don't like coconut water, dislike running with a passion and find manicures stupid. Whatever! I use to try so hard to make myself like the cool things because it meant I fit in. It was exhausting. Now I'm cool with being a huge Doctor Who fan, thinking carbs are the best, unabashedly loving Carly Rae Jepsen and adoring my plain, copper wedding band.
28. Boundaries are important.
We can easily let people creep into our space and take from us. It's okay to let people know you need to cancel plans because you've had a rough day. Thanks to lots of therapy, I became really good at setting boundaries. Sometimes people don't understand, that will happen, but you aren't living this life for them, you're living it for you.
29. Step outside your comfort zone.
Some of the best and most wonderful experiences in my life have been ones that have scared the absolute crap out of me.
30. Don't be afraid of the future.
Aging isn't as bad as it seems. As you get older, life experience really does guide you through. Live in today, because there is literally nothing you can do to predict or change the future. Be happy with this moment.