Deep breath…okay, here goes. Today is my 30th birthday.
There. That wasn’t so terrible. It really helps to type it “out loud.” Isn’t acceptance a step towards coming to terms? Or, is that for the grieving process? Maybe that’s fitting…R.I.P. twenties.
I remember turning 20. Well, vaguely at least. Still in school, protected and tucked away from the real world, college was like living in a carefree bubble. Time was measured in six weekly, one-hour classes, poking and group-collecting on this new thing called “The Facebook,” spring break-planning and prepping, theme parties, shopping for and talking about what to wear on weekend nights out, TV marathons, and late-night pizza binges. I miss you, tailgates, basketball games and bar crawls! My biggest worries those days were finishing papers on time, cramming for finals and having enough quarters to do laundry. My, how things have changed. Except maybe the TV marathons.
While talking with a few of my closest girlfriends the other night, one of them pointed out how far our conversations had evolved from our co-ed days. We discussed jobs, 401ks, married-life and having babies. And, the thought crossed my mind: this is 30. Ready or not, to the world, I’m undoubtedly a full-fledged adult.
It’s not that I’m sad about beginning this new decade. Part of me feels excited. Word on the street (from my mom) is that your 30s are some of the best years of your life. Plus, I’m optimistic that each decade will have its own milestones. Change can be scary though, especially when we’re talking about starting a family, buying a house, and then finding money to afford both. Really, that’s what this new chapter feels like: the beginning of big life changes.
To embrace this change, just over a year ago, these same girlfriends and I made “30 before 30” lists—things we wanted to accomplish before the big 3-0. We planned to help each other stay motivated and cross things off together. My list was pretty ambitious at first. As I added “get a stamp on my passport,” the thought did cross my mind, “Eeeeasy, Devon.” So, I made some minor modifications as the year unfolded. Here and there, I took things off, like the passport stamp, but always replacing them with things I knew I would achieve, or things I hadn’t anticipated doing, but turned out to be “list-worthy.” Hey, don’t look at me like that! No judgment.
Although it started out as a way to make the most of the last year of my twenties, the list turned into something else…a reminder that 30 is just another year––another age. This list marked the beginning of something, just as much as it marked the end of another. It was a catalyst to continue to live life, remembering to never stop setting goals or working towards them…to grow, try new things and take risks.
Enter, Hello Friday. Starting this blog has become the most important item on my list. I’ve spent more time thinking about this goal than any of the others. It’s as if I created the rest of the list as a reason to accomplish this. I have so many ideas for Hello Friday. Maybe too many. Regardless, my hope is that the weekly posts align with your interests. That although these thoughts mean something to me, they translate to your life as well. What I’m trying to say is…I want to date you. Or, uhhhh, I want you to date my blog. Wasn’t that a show on MTV?
And now, because I’m feeling introspective lately, and because, clearly, I love a good numbered list, here are 20 things I learned in my 20s.
- Keep yourself company. It’s okay to be by yourself. And better yet, learn to enjoy your own company.
- You are stronger than you think. Everyone has been there—in moments of crisis, loss, sadness, stress, break-ups, hangovers, job interviews, wanting Chick-fil-A on a Sunday and realizing they’re closed, etc. It may seem as though you can’t even. But you can, and you will.
- Learn to let things go. This is one I continue to work on. There is no point in beating yourself up over things beyond your control. You have zero say how others react and behave. You can only control yourself and your actions. Sometimes things just don’t work. And, that’s ok. Just let it go. “Not every battle is worth winning, and some are not even worth fighting for.”
- Marriage is worth the hard work. Granted, this came in my late 20s, but with a few years of marriage under my belt now, it’s clear to me that there’s a learning curve to married life. Marriage is hard. It takes a lot of work, compromise and patience. But it’s also really rewarding and wonderful; and it’s still the best thing I did in the last decade.
- Take care of yourself. Even though you hate it, go to the dentist. Drink water. Take your vitamins. Try to go to the gym. Sleep is good. Eat a salad. Wash your face. Moisturize. Read something interesting. Wear sunscreen. Your health is important.
- You are not defined by your 9 to 5. It’s about balance and prioritizing. And in my opinion what I do outside the office is really what matters most.
- Two words: renter’s insurance. Because sometimes hot water heaters burst.
- Less is more. This applies to so many things: eyeliner, hashtags, UV rays, Taylor Swift songs, hairspray, all the carbs, denim-on-denim, tequila, spray tans and perfume. Some things are just best in small doses.
- Don’t take sh*t. As a twenty-something I let a lot of things slide, because I didn’t have the guts or confidence to stand up for myself. At this point, I’ve gone to war with AT&T, successfully disputed a parking ticket and even convinced Best Buy to make an exception to their return policy. The point is, don’t just accept what you’re handed or told at face value. Question, stand-up for yourself, don’t settle, and get your money back!
- The little things count too. Try not to lose time waiting for the big things, because sometimes it’s the little, ordinary, everyday things that count the most. It doesn’t have to be a special occasion for something special to happen.
- Get a hobby. Find something that makes you happy and then invest your time in that. Trying new things and sorting out your interests are an important part of personal growth.
- Take care of your friendships. It’s a special thing when you truly connect with someone. Recognize those true friendships and nurture them. Surround yourself with people who give you positivity and support. And be sure to show them the same love in return.
- Don’t be so hard on yourself. You didn’t make it to the gym, you forgot a birthday, you didn’t get through your to-do list. You’ll be ok.
- Fear less. In my twenties, and even now, I have struggled with letting fear paralyze my personal growth. It has kept me from doing a lot of things I wished I had been brave enough to do. Truth be told, I’m scared of many things. Spiders, planes, scary movies (especially ones with creepy children), sending mass emails, parallel parking, the weight room at the gym, deep water, any sort of “surgical scenes” on reality tv shows, and on occasion, the dark. That being said, I’m also conscious that life is too short to let your fears deter you. I purchased this domain name a year ago. A YEAR AGO! Since then, I’ve neglected it—leaving it empty to collect internet dust. This, mostly because I was too scared to do anything with it. Just for fun, last Halloween, I went to a psychic. She gave me some advice on my future adventures in blogging: “You have to give yourself permission to take the first step.” Regardless of the outcome, take the first step, do the thing that scares you. Everyone has that one thing they keep putting off until all the circumstances are “just right.” Maybe tomorrow, maybe after I lose 5 pounds, maybe after I get a new job. Don’t wait for that maybe or, you may be waiting forever. Do it now!
- Make friends with your mechanic. Regardless of how often you drive, routine oil changes are important. Show your car a little TLC every now and then. “Winterize” it…whatever the hell that means. Or else, it will make you pay—literally.
- Diet or don’t. But seriously, don’t beat yourself up about it. You had a bad day, don’t let that become a bad week. (Also, diets always start on Mondays, amiright?) So, enjoy your weekend and eat the donut. Just don’t eat a dozen donuts, because everything in moderation. You’ll do better on Monday.
- Worry less about what others think about you. Because really who cares? Haters gonna hate. It’s not your responsibility to please everyone. There are much more important things to spend your energy on than worrying about if everyone likes you.
- Live within your means. There will always be someone who earns more, has more, spends more. Focus on making the most of your current financial situation. Budget, pay off your credit cards, save when you can, and don’t worry about where you are in comparison to others. And while you’re at it, try not to invest in fashion trends. For the sake of my wallet, can we all just say a prayer that colorful denim makes a comeback?
- Carrie Bradshaw is kind of a liar. I love a good SATC marathon just as much as the next girl. But really, 20-somethings, you can’t believe everything you watch. Carrie’s collection of Manolos, spacious city apartment and thriving career aren’t an accurate measurement of your own personal success.
- Learn to listen. And then become a really great listener. This especially applies to your parents & grandparents. Even if you’ve heard their stories a million times, listen still.
Before I end this post, I want to say a few thank yous. Like I mentioned above, I’ve been talking and thinking about this blog for a while. And during this time, I’ve received the sweetest encouragement and support from some very special people. Thank you! And thanks to YOU for reading this. I hope you decide to continue the journey with me.
Let’s do this, 30!
See you next Friday! xx, Devon