I turned 30 yesterday. (Insert moment of silence) ...
Everybody asked me how I was feeling about the milestone birthday and honestly, I had very little anxiety about it. I joked about how I was getting soooo old, but there have been other years that shaken my bones much much more than this one (i.e. 25 and 28). I normally do an introspective post on my birthday about how I'm feeling and what I'm thinking about on that day, and this year I couldn't help but to reflect on the gigantic amount of experiences I've had over the last decade, and what I've learned from them in my 20's. These are in no particular order...
1.) I'm a cat person.
I like dogs, I want one someday... I freak out with excitement when I see them on the trails and want to talk to every single one of them. BUT I like I how low maintenance cats are. They want to be loved-but not too much, they don't like being told what to do, they like a lot of naps, and they like to be left alone-but not for too long. As I write this I realize that these are my traits too... hence why I realized that I'm just a cat person.
2.) Words are weighty.
I've learned that I memorize a lot of words. What people say, how people say things, poems, books, blogs, lyrics... I read into them, I love how words, whether written or spoken are translators of thought. Words basically control the world...
3.) But silence really is golden.
Sometimes sitting in silence and breathing is critical to staying in the present moment.. Over the past year in my yoga practice on and off the mat I've adopted the mantra of "Feel all the things". Leaning in to "Feel all the things" helps to emotionally digest experiences, process past experiences, and observe how you are physically feeling. It forces you to be silent and pulls you back to feeling everything occurring around you in the present moment.
4.) It is crucial to learn to let go of relationships with still people.
What is a still person? Still complaining, still unhappy, still broke, still stuck, still living in the past, still making excuses. Those are still people, and I've learned to not waste my energy on them.
5.) Not my monkeys, not my circus.
Other people's battles are not my own. Plain and simple. I've learned to have empathy towards other people's struggles without taking the burden on as my own. Below is a cute picture of my mom and I with some monkeys that pretended to snuggle while trying to eat our hair. Nothing to do with the lesson other than the cute little monkeys.
6.) I'm not responsible for anybody's happiness or success, but my own.
Have you ever felt like somebody is putting all of their happiness on you, and if you make one wrong move, they will be the ones to suffer the consequences? That's weighty as hell. I'll have none of that. I've learned that when this is happening to me, my stomach feels like it flips upside down and I feel heavy, so in my twenties I've figured out how to recognize when this is happening, and get to rid of it, and sometimes that means cutting ties with a person completely (See still people above).
7.) Always always travel when you get the chance... always.
This doesn't have to mean travel to different countries (Though that's super duper cool too...) There are some amazing places locally and I've gotten the opportunities to travel to a bunch of really spectacular places just by taking a day off, a week off... maybe two. It's always worth it, it's always character building, mind expanding, unpredictable, and exciting.
8.) I don't like being told what to do.
I don't think this one requires any explaining.
8.5 - side note: If I should do something, I also don't like being told how I should do it.
9.) Pick your battles.
This is actually another mantra I've adopted. It kind of goes along with the idea of not sweating the small stuff. I've learned to ask myself in a stressful situation, "Can I control what's going on right now?" if the answer is no, then drop it. If it's yes, do something about it.
10.) ALWAYS have an emergency stash mula of at least $1000 at ALL TIMES.
Again... I don't think this one needs an explanation. But people, things happen.
I do want to clarify that this is a fund reserved for REAL emergency's only. Not a because-you-have-to-buy-Beyonce-tickets-before-they-sell-out kind of an emergency... for me, this has been my unlucky ankle sprain fund.
11.) What other people say or think about you really does not matter.
As long I'm living with integrity and confidence in myself, that will bring me more joy than other's opinions of me or my choices.
12.) QUESTION EVERYTHING.
I've learned that one of my biggest pet peeves (I feel like pet peeves actually isn't a strong enough term for it, but we'll go with it) is when people don't have their own opinions. They simply adopt the opinions of their parents, their church, their spouse, or their friends without questioning why they believe what they're choosing to believe in. Do you believe in God? Cool! Why? Do you believe that you should get your hair cut every 6 months? Do you believe that almonds are better than peanuts? Do you believe that the earth is flat? WHY?
Bottom line is this: I don't care what you believe in, but have integrity to stand behind your beliefs before you truly adopt them as your own. Don't just say you believe in something because somebody told you it's right, or because you're subscribed to a certain religion or political party. USE. YOUR. BRAIN.
13.) I'm no good to anybody if I don't first take care of myself.
If I'm not close to 100% I need to take a nap, go to yoga, go on a run, eat a snack, whatever, before I can be the best version of myself, which is the one I like to offer to others.
14.) Food really affects EVERYTHING
Aside from obvious allergies that will affect you adversely, I've learned that what I put in my body really has a HUGE affect on me. This doesn't mean that I always eat healthy, because I don't, and I definitely love my sugary treats. This more means that If I am craving something, it's normally because my body is low on some nutrient. Food affects my mood, my weight, my productivity, my confidence, my skin, EVERYTHING.
15.) Comparison really is NOT the enemy of joy.
I think women may be more guilty of this, but the consensus is still out. I do believe that comparing yourself to a specific individual is not healthy and it can be a spiraling rabbit hole of not feeling like you're enough. Comparison CAN become a dangerous battle that can tear down your self confidence, if you let it. However! I have found some great role models that I like to compare myself to and it helps me grow. I have a couple people that I follow on social media that are athletes (and YES they have amazing bodies) that I compare to. But I keep this in mind: that person obviously works REALLY hard to have a healthy mindset, to maintain a solid training regimen. So I compare meals, workouts, and draw energy and motivation off of these people instead of comparing physical features. I also follow a lot of women that are incredible outdoorsy adventurers and instead of thinking " ahhh shoot, this girl goes to so many amazing places, why do I never get to go to these amazing places" I draw inspiration off of her energy, her creativity, and her ability to get to cool places and I go and find my own cool place.
I've learned to find a way to draw motivation from these individuals and I have found SO much joy in it. ... I guess it's really about perspective.
16.) Being creative has brought me more joy than any job or degree.
Taking photos of beautiful places, blogging, vlogging, painting, playing piano, practicing yoga in a creative way, has always brought me more joy than any other of my pursuits. I've learned that when I'm feeling trapped, or too routine, all I need to do is to do something creative to balance back out.
17.) There are lots of different kinds of success.
I think for a lot of people my age, and especially my parents age, and also our society as a whole there is still a stigma that the greatest success of a woman is directly related to her ability to be a good mom. I think being a good mom is AWESOME, if that's what success feels like to you.
Here's the deal. I don't want to have my own babies, I really enjoy working, and I really enjoy working on random business endeavors that take up a lot of time. I like traveling when I want, and I feel fulfilled when I'm working on my friendships and creative business ideas. This is what makes me feel most successful. This is my version of success for myself, and it looks different from one woman to the next. I really hope that perception and acceptance of what a successful life looks like changes, because I get really peeved when people place their ideas of what a successful life looks like on me. (See lesson #8). AND If you don't agree with this, See lesson #11.
18.) Find something you love to do for a physical activity and do it often.
Running, weightlifting, yoga, tai chi, pilates, cycling, swimming, biking, kick boxing, climbing WHATEVA... pick something... love it. do it. I've personally found that running, weightlifting and yoga are my faves, so I pick one of them every day to do.
19.) Parents are actually quite cool and pretty fun to hang out with.
You're welcome, mom and dad.
20.) Be authentic
I think a lot of people get stuck in the idea that acting serious makes you mature. This is a lie. Be authentic, it's more fun. Being yourself is way better than being considered a fake.
Also, being your most authentic self attracts people that are like you... so in turn, you'll have more authentic friendships. Win-win.
I have a lot more lessons that I could talk about here but I told myself I would stick to 20. If you have lessons that you've learned in your 20's, or anxieties about 30 I would love to hear them in the comments, or a direct message. If you think somebody could use some inspiration - feel free to share this post.