As most of you may know – having read Ilaria’s uuuh-mazing blog post – I have recently reached my 30th birthday milestone. I initially had some apprehensive feelings about reaching this age, but somewhere along my three-and-half week birthday holiday, I embraced the start of the new decade. Also, given the number of hours I found myself thinking about nothing at all (bliss!) it really allowed me to reflect on what I have learnt in my 20s, and the things I am looking forward to in my 30s.
Having known what I know now, what would I tell my younger self to prepare her for reaching 30 and ‘real’ adulthood? I put together my thoughts on turning 30 – some are shorter thoughts than the others, others a little deeper, so here goes:
Left: 30 in London. Right: 22 in Thailand
1. Wear sunscreen every day. It might have avoided the pigmentation (sweetly referred to freckles) on your cheeks from hours lounging on the Jammie steps, and stopped you from having to look into expensive options of laser!
2. Wrinkles are inevitable (sadly).
3. No excuse should keep you away from exercising (almost) daily. All the years of doing nothing will eventually compound; but it can be enjoyable once you get into it.
4. Embrace your body – yes, it is not perfect, it does not have Kayla flat-abs but it is YOURS and when you work hard for it you deserve to love it and all that it does for you.
5. On that note: be grateful for your body, flaws and all. Learn to love your legs (genetics don’t change, hunny) because regardless of what they may look like they function. Perfectly.
6. If you love it, you can pull it off. Stop saying you are not a ‘hat’ person; all it takes is confidence to wear it.
7. Happiness is yours for the taking – choose to make it yours every day.
8. You can never give too much love to your cherished people. Nobody died thinking: I wish I had loved less.
9. Travel. But don’t be naïve enough to think you can do so without money; life is a matter of priorities and if you want to travel you can find a way to do it. There is no substitute for allowing yourself to experience a different part of the world, and make you more grateful to be South African every time you return home.
10. Learn to appreciate your quirks: you are clumsy, uncoordinated and generally useless when it comes to physical activity. People will laugh when you play badminton. Smile and giggle about it and yourself – with grace, because it is part of who you are.
11. Do one thing at a time, and do it well. Life will become about the ‘glorification of busy’ and multi-tasking. Focus your energy on doing one thing – the end result will always be better.
12. Live moderately: find your own balance in life.
13. Work hard: it never killed anyone. Plus everyone needs to pay their ‘school fees’ at some point. Do it while you are young so you might not have to do while you are old.
14. Healthy eating – that truth is 90% of any weight loss battle conquered.
15. Learn to relish your cheats in moderation, without guilt.
16. Pick your battles, in every sphere. You will never have it all – the earlier you accept that, the easier it will be to choose what is really important to you.
17. Spoil yourself once in a while.
18. And spoil those you love.
19. You will never be more beautiful than you are to the person who loves you. It is a gift – treasure it.
20. A blow dry is the easiest way to improve any look.
21. And… chipped nails the quickest way to ruin any look.
22. Your timing is the best timing. Never let anyone question the decisions you make (“but 26 is soooo young to get married”) and when you choose to make those decisions.
23. Learn to meditate – so the last ten minutes of a yoga class can be enjoyed, and for your sanity in the midst of chaos.
24. A glass of wine around a table with quality people can make any bad day feel better.
25. And when that doesn’t help: peanut butter. From the jar.
26. Take your time to think complex situations through. Sleep on it, or take those thoughts for a run. Clarity may prevail, and irrationality is cast aside.
27. Accept people come with agendas, but choose not to consciously partake in these.
28. Read! Read! Read! There are some books, quotes, characters that will live in your imagination for years, or will help you escape reality during challenging times.
29. When you give – money, time, or knowledge – do it freely, and without seeking recognition. It cheapens the act.
30. Remember: No person, or life, is perfect. At the times when it looks like people lead perfect lives, it is because they have a list (like this) and are living by all those things they accept about life and themselves 🙂
I had asked Sean and Ilaria to read this piece before publishing and both of them said to me that it was a true reflection of me. For me, that is the beauty of reaching 30: the ability to accept oneself, flaws and all, and embrace life.