This month (September) I’ll be the ripe old age of thirty! And here are thirty life lessons I’ve learned in that time.
I know, I know! I don’t look a day over twenty! But on September the 8th 2022, I’ll be celebrating my thirtieth birthday! Thirty years on this earth! Can you believe it? Because I honestly can’t. I’ve lived longer than most adults during the Middle Ages when life expectancy was a brief twenty-five to thirty-three years. Yet, despite this, I feel like I’ve only really been alive over the last number of years. Prior to that, I was lost in a haze of study, work, panic, depression, expectation, anorexia, and an overall flurry of negative consequences.
But, with thirty years of life comes thirty life lessons that I can take with me into the next decade. My thirties are truly going to be the beginning of the rest of my life and possibly the best chapter yet. Until my forties, that is!
It’s taken me thirty years to get here but that doesn’t mean you have to take quite as long. If you take away just one lesson from this post then I’ve done my job. Without further ado, here are thirty life lessons I’ve learned over the last thirty years of my life!
Thirty life lessons I’ve learned in thirty years.
1. If you don’t ask, you don’t get it.
I get it, it’s hard to ask for what you want or even what you need. But the worst thing you can do is to not ask at all. The thought of standing up for yourself in any capacity can be very anxiety-inducing. And if you grew up being told to ‘not rock the boat’, it’s difficult to know where to begin. However, in reality, the worst thing that can happen is you don’t get the answer you want. The world won’t implode, and if people think any less of you that’s on them.
With that being said, it’s important to be prepared for an answer you both didn’t want and didn’t expect.
2. Life is too short to waste time hating yourself.
I’ve spent the majority of my childhood, adolescence, and adult life hating my body and myself as a whole. It’s gotten me nowhere but into a deeper and darker state of depression. Whether the depression came before the eating disorder or vice versa, it doesn’t matter. But what fuelled the flames was how I see myself; both internally and externally.
While self-love isn’t my strongest suit, it’s something I’ve become better at over time. It’s very much a journey rather than a destination, so keep at it! After all, a lifetime of negative self-talk won’t simply disappear overnight.
3. You don’t have to win every argument.
You can simply agree to disagree and leave it at that. Even if they are being hostile, don’t rise to it! You’re entitled to your own opinion on matters and you don’t have to change that for anyone.
4. Ask for help when you need it.
Asking for help, whether it’s for your mental health or something else, takes bravery! It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do but by far one of the most important.
5. Make peace with your past to protect your future.
Moving on from our past can be incredibly difficult. Especially when it comes to forgiving ourselves and even others. However, moving on is a matter of survival, especially when it comes to our brains. Adverse life events disrupt the natural order, instead introducing chaos and even trauma. So, it’s no wonder that healing from our past can be a long and often treacherous path.
But making peace and accepting the past is one hundred per cent possible, and necessary in order to be the best I can be.
6. Don’t compare yourself.
Or your life to that of others. No two flowers bloom the same.
7. It’s never too late to be a happy child.
Yes, even if you’re thirty!
8. Don’t save things for ‘special occasions.’
Burn those candles, use those forks and wear the damn shoes!
9. ‘But will it matter in five months? Or even five years?’
10. What other people think of you is none of your business.
I grew up extremely worried about what other people would think of me. Although I never tried to fit in, I was still very anxious about others looking at me, or talking about me. I needed everyone to like me; I was really nice, so why didn’t they like me?
The truth is that I can’t make everyone like me. No matter how hard I try! It’s just impossible. If people don’t like what I’m doing in terms of my writing, my advocating, and being honest about myself; Then they aren’t worth my time.
11. Your job won’t take care of you when you’re sick.
But your friends and family will.
12. Practice gratitude.
13. Life is too short to be envious.
14. Always be open to learning, even if it means unlearning.
15. It’s good to plan for the future, but don’t hoard.
Money’s nice, but it’s not your only purpose in life. Let’s be honest, when I go it’ll still be here. All those hours you spent in a stressful job, ruining your own health with poor coping strategies and high cortisol levels aren’t worth it just for the six-figure sum.
Remember: You weren’t born to pay bills and die.
So, with a call back to point eight, be sensible BUT don’t feel guilty about treating yourself when you can.
16. Success is not measured by the size of your house.
Nor is it about the car you drive, the zeros in your bank account, the letters after your name, or the degree on your wall. Everyone measures success differently and for me, it’s in happiness.
17. It’s okay to stand out from the crowd.
18. You don’t have to do something just because it’s expected of you.
19. Our parents were, and often continue to be, clueless.
No one tells you what to do in life. You’re not brought into this world with a walkthrough or a guide. Adults, parents or not, are all children walking through life making it up as we go along. We will make mistakes, and learn from them. Sometimes we’ll keep making mistakes until we hit the mark.
Parents and grandparents included. We once looked up to them as adults who had their lives figured out. Now, as adults, we realise that they were clueless. Just like we are. We’re all stumbling through the best we can, doing what we can to survive.
20. If you stand for nothing, you fall for everything.
21. Being different is perfectly fine, in fact, it’s important.
Trying to be someone else can actually be detrimental to our health, you know. It can leave us feeling stunted, and lost, and can even lead to depression.
22. Anything ever worth achieving does not come easy.
23. Peer pressure is a test of your will.
24. It’s better to act and be embarrassed for five minutes than to not act and be embarrassed for the rest of your life.
25. You don’t have to follow the crowd just because it’s the most ‘sensible’ option.
My husband and I are the last people to do something just because everyone else has. Where I’m from the natural progression of things ends with raising children, and then grandchildren. But we’re settled in the fact that the only tiny feet we see in our future are attached to furry felines. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing, even if it seems to be the more ‘sensible’ option.
26. School teaches us the basics. Life teaches us everything else.
Everything worth learning I’ve learned in the school of life.
27. Not everyone will like you.
Call back to point ten!
28. You’re not the center of the universe.
Spoiler alert: No one really cares about what’s going on in your life. And I mean that in the nicest way. I often sit awake at night remembering every awful or embarrassing thing I’ve done in my thirty years. But, in truth, is anyone really going to remember that time I farted in assembly? Or that time I misread organism as orgasm in biology?
I am not the center of the universe. We’re only a small ingredient in a much, much bigger recipe.
29. We’re often scared for no reason.
Especially if you have anxiety.