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30 Lessons in 30 Years

Today is my 30th birthday. Growing up, 30 always seemed so old, but now that I'm here I feel like it is just the beginning. I am finally starting to feel like an adult. I am becoming comfortable in who I am. I am finally finding my way in this world. Whoever said that your 20s were the best years of your life had clearly not experienced their 30s.

My 20s was a time of learning. It was a time to experiment. When you turn 21 you are told that you are finally an adult. Tuh! Try more like an out of place teenager. You are on your own, but you still go grocery shopping at your parents house. Leading up to my 30th birthday, I spent a lot of time reflecting; reflecting on my previous years and what I would have done differently, the chances I would have taken, and what I would have spent more time doing.

The saying "hindsight is 2020" oddly describes my 20s. While I can't go back and change the past, I can share the lessons I've learned along the way.

1. Live a life you love

Do not live a life trying to please anyone but yourself. Do not take the job or say yes to anything you hate trying to make someone else happy. This is your life, live it accordingly.

2. Express yourself

Your friends and family are not mind readers. Tell them how you feel. You are only hurting yourself when you keep it all bottled up.

3. Take your mental health seriously

Look back to lesson #2. When we are young we don't put much stock in our mental health, but it's just as important as your physical health. You have to work out your mind and emotions just like the rest of your body. Trust me, your future self will thank you for it.

4. Just start

Whatever it is, just start. Is it a business? Start it. Do you want to buy a house? Start saving. Don't wait until the "right time" because it will never come. It may sound cliché, but no one is guaranteed tomorrow, so why not take a chance and start now?

5. Expect more from yourself, other people, & situations

We live in what can be a cruel world, but don't give up on people. Always expect the best. Expect the best from yourself, other people, and every situation you encounter.

6. Find what makes you tick

Look at lesson number one. Figure out what makes you truly happy. What are you passionate about? Try new things, travel the world, and figure out exactly what makes you tick. It will continue to bring you joy down the line.

7. Happiness can happen right now

As humans we often base our happiness on a particular circumstance. We say that we will be happy when we have more money. We will be happy when we get the promotion. The problem with basing our happiness on a future circumstance is that we miss out on being happy right now. We find ourselves in a never-ending cycle constantly chasing the next form of happiness. Remember, the moment you are in right now is something your previously said would make you happy.

8. Happiness is not for sale

Money does not equal happiness. That new purse is not going to bring you happiness. A short-lived high? Sure, but true happiness cannot be bought. Save your money and do the work because true happiness comes from within.

9. The only person you’re competing with is you

I don't know about you, but comparison is one bad mutha! It steals your joy. It makes you feel unworthy or like you are a failure. What I had to come to realize in my own life was that everyone's journey is different. We are all on different paths with different obstacles, and different end goals. We are also all at different points in our journey. You may be on chapter 2, but you are comparing and competing with someone who is on chapter 10. The only person that you need to compete with is yourself.

10. Communication is key

Call me old fashioned, but I still spell out *almost* every word when I text. I'm not going to sit here and lie, I am not a fan of talking on the phone, but I do believe communication is key. Make sure that you communicating with people. You will avoid a lot of confusion and hurt feelings.

11. Read

Whether it is a text book or a romance novel, keep reading. Learning does not end when you graduate. Reading helps to develop your imagination, its relaxing, and of course it can be educational. Never stop reading.

12. Go for walks

This is one lesson I will attribute to the pandemic. Go for walks. Get outside. I remember one day sitting at home at my desk not in a great mood. I told myself I would get up and go for a walk. I would walk until my mood changed. I barely made it around the block before I felt better. Walking is a powerful tool. Walking is one of the best forms of exercise, you can get your daily dose of vitamin D, improve your mood, and sleep better. I call that a serious win!

13. Give back

As children we are often selfish. Unfortunately, for a lot of us the selfishness doesn't end there. We become selfish adults. We are selfish with our time, money, food, and energy. While I fully believe in budgeting all of those, it is just as important, if not more so to give back. Whether you give of your time or your money, I promise you will not regret it.

14. Embrace your imperfections

This is one lesson I am still learning, but everyday it becomes a little more engrained in me. Embrace your imperfections. Actually, don't even call them imperfections. There is nothing about you that is not perfect. Every unique thing about you is what sets you apart from the next person. You are exactly who you are supposed to be. Embrace it.

15. Be grateful

Do not focus on what you don't have, but focus on what you do have. A grateful heart continues to receive.

16. Pain can be useful

Every trial that you have been through has made you who you are. It has given you a unique perspective.

*Often times the pain you have experienced is what helps you to connect with others.

17. Do it afraid

Similar to just start, is do it afraid. Do not let your fear stop you from having an experience.

18. Try anything at least once

What is a life spent in your comfort zone? Do anything at least once. Try anything at least once. At least you can say you've done it.

19. You’re already ready “Action is not just the effect of motivation, but also the cause of motivation”

20. Do your most important task first

Do your most important task of the day first. We often want to knock out a bunch of the smaller tasks and then move on to the big one, but that's backwards. If you wait until you've gotten other tasks done, you will find yourself not getting the big task done at all. The key is to be productive and not just busy.

21. It’s ok to say no (FOMO)

It might be the introvert in me, but don't be afraid to say no. Say no to attending the party or meeting up with friends. You are not missing out by not going to the same club with the same people.

22. Success is what you make it

Society will try to tell you what success means, but find your own definition. Success does not have to equal making $1 million. Success might be having freedom of your time or talking to your family everyday.

23. Workout lol

No, seriously. W-O-R-K-O-U-T. You are not getting any younger! You will not have that body forever. Take care of it. See lesson #12 for an easy place to start.

24. Your job is not who you are

"So, what do you do?" the most common, and dreaded question when you meet someone new. You are not your job title. Your job is what you do, but it is not who you are. It does not define you. There is an entire life outside of work waiting for you.

25. Not everyone will like you & that’s ok

Don't waste your time trying to be palatable. Not everyone will like you and that's ok. You are not meant to be everyone's cup of tea or glass of rose in my case.

26. Take your time, but don’t waste your time

In the words of the late Chadwick Boseman, "take your time, but don't waste your time". Do not rush this journey called life. Each day will go by fast enough, and one day you will look back and wonder where the time went. Enjoy the ride. That dream job or career goal will happen, but do not force it before you are ready. On that same note, do not waste your time and prolong the path. You are only given one life and your time here is finite.

27. Spend time alone

Again, the introvert in me enjoys this one, but it is important to spend time alone. So much of our time is spent consumed with distractions. We are distracted by our phones, the TV, and other people that somewhere along the way we lose touch with ourselves. We are unable to hear our own needs until it is too late. Spend time alone and tune into yourself.

28. More doesn’t equal better

This might be unique to America (sorry), but more does not equal better. We live in a consumer driven world, but once again, it is not things that make you happy. Find what you need and let that be enough.

29. Don’t worry so much

Don't worry, be happy. I know it is easier said than done, but seriously don't worry so much. Let me give you sneak peak of how this all turns out. It all works out. Stop worrying so much and trust that everything will come together in the right time.

30. You won’t have it figured out

Lastly, the big kahuna, you won't have it all figured out. Growing up, we envision how our lives will go. We will graduate high school, go to college, meet the love of our lives, and have babies all before the age of 30. While this can be the case for some of you, it is more likely not how your life will go. That's ok. You don't have to have it all figured out. Heck, you won't have it figured out! Take the pressure off of yourself and enjoy the ride.

Did you enjoy my 30 lessons? What would you add to it?

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