I’ve never liked my birthday very much.
And it’s not because it means that I turn another year older, it’s more about the time of year.
It’s way too close to Christmas and as a child that sucked. Now as an adult, I feel like my birthday is just one more thing to tack onto the holidays for everyone else. Aren’t we all busy enough already?
So no, you’ll never find me announcing “IT’S MY BIRTHDAY MONTH” or planning my own party.
But the one thing I have always liked about my birthday is that it’s close to the New Year. Every December 16th I turn a year older and less than two weeks later the year changes with me. And since I was born right on the cusp of 1989 and 1990 – my age has always reflected the last digit of the year.
So while I turn another year older and flip over the calendar to 2020, I think it’s only fitting to reflect on the past 30 years. (Whoa that’s weird to say.) I’m entering a new decade and so is the world. That’s pretty cool right?!
And I know, I know. Aren’t there enough of these lists floating around the internet? Probably. But this is my list and I’m the one turning 30 today 🙂
Here are 30 things I’ve learned at 30:
- You don’t have to hang out with anyone who is negative or makes you feel anxious or upset. Don’t tolerate crappy people or situations that stress you out. You’re under no obligation to be around people who steal your joy or make you feel bad about yourself.
- Relationships are the foundation of happiness. Your friends are your sounding board, your console and your support system. You can try to convince yourself that you don’t need friends, or even new friends at that – but you do. Guard your friends, protect them fiercely and chose them wisely.
- It’s true what they say – when you meet the person you’re going to marry, you’ll know it. It might not be a giant, flashing “love at first sight” moment like in the movies, but it will be there nonetheless. A tiny inkling. A feeling that you can’t shake. A small nudge on your heart that whispers “This one’s a good one. Pick him.”
- Don’t let the internet or anything else rush you. Careers, marriage, babies — these things should be on your own schedule. (And don’t bully yourself about these things either.) There is no set timeline for your life, no matter what you read or what people tell you. Don’t be in a rush to get through your life.
- Being happy for someone else and cheering for their dreams won’t stop you from achieving yours. Someone else’s success does not mean you have failed. True friends cheer each other on.
- Make learning a priority. Formal education and higher education isn’t for everyone, but continuous learning should still be important. How sad would it be to never learn anything outside of your own little world? How boring would life be if you were never challenged by learning something new?
- Anything that you can do to make your life easier tomorrow, do today. This is true when it comes to grocery shopping and meal prepping, packing your gym bag, making a phone call or finishing up a project at work. Keep moving forward.
- Never stop reading. Audio books have made it so incredibly easy to read and learn new things. Always be able to answer the question “What are you reading lately?”
- Working out and being active will do wonders for your mental health. Don’t let your depression or anxiety get so bad that you can’t work out anymore. Be proactive. Working out is my meditation and prayer time. I need it to feel calm and like my truest self. Lord knows how much happier I am after a work out!
- Speaking of working out – the main benefit of exercise is to feel good. I spent so many years working out to look good, but the most important thing I’ve learned is that you should do it to feel good from the inside out. It brightens your mood, helps you sleep better and gives you energy. I crave that constant buzz of endorphins pumping through my body. Once I understood this concept it was a game changer. It’s how I’ve consistently worked out 5 to 6 days a week for over 7 years now.
- Get a pet. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dog, cat, fish or ferret. Take care of something smaller than you. It teaches you responsibility, it helps build your family and it will bring you unlimited happiness.
- A great wedding doesn’t have to cost a fortune. It’s actually rather simple: Marry your best friend, invite your favorite family and friends, play good music and serve free booze.
- International travel should change your life. Make it a priority. Few things besides international travel will help put things in perspective for you. See how big the world is and experience it from a different culture and view.
- The middle of the night is not the time or place to solve your most complex life problems. Go back to sleep. Thinking about your student loans or that annoying work email at 3 a.m. will do nothing but enhance your stress and worry. Chances are you’ll have a more realistic feel for the issue in the morning.
- Jealously is a liar and comparison is a losing game. Both will steal your current joy and rob you of the good in your life. Rise above the negative thoughts trying to distract you from what you currently have.
- Catch more sunrises. There’s magic in watching the world turn from dark to light. The moment right before the sunrises is my absolute favorite time of the day. Everything is blue and faint and doesn’t really seem real. Then suddenly the sky is overtaken with bright color. It makes me feel so damn lucky and grateful. It’s a daily reminder that we get another chance to live our lives with purpose. Don’t waste it!
- Spend less time on your phone. Scrolling mindlessly makes me feel yucky. Plus there’s enough evidence out there that tells us that social media is bad for our mental health. Spend less time comparing your life to what you see on the internet. And spend less time being occupied with your phone while out in public or at an event. Don’t live your life behind a screen.
- It’s always better to be the person who smiled and waved than the person who ignored the smile and wave. This is true while out running, in the hallway at work or sitting in the lobby at the dentist’s office. Acknowledge other people around you. You don’t even have to have a conversation. A simple smile or head nod is all it takes to show we’re humans and we have some sort of soul that connects us. If Jesus or the president walked by you, would you still keep your head down and pretend to be in your own little world?! Of course not. Better yet, err on the side of caution and just treat everybody like Jesus.
- Never underestimate the power of sending a simple text. People like to be remembered. A quick “Hey thought of you today…” to a sibling or friend can change someone’s outlook and it takes about 1 minute of your own time. A text from a friend telling me something funny that I would appreciate makes my day.
- If it’s not a “Hell Ya!” then it’s a no. You’re in control of your schedule. You can say no to things you don’t want to attend without being an asshole. You don’t have to attend every baby sprinkle, work happy hour or family party if you don’t want to. (Just don’t confuse this with being lazy or being a jerk.) The older I get and the more time I spend working and doing all the other life maintenance things that adults have to do, the more I realize that time is sacred. Guard and protect your time fiercely. If you’re not all in and pumped up about attending something – say no thank you and don’t go.
- If you eat like crap you will feel like crap. It took me years to realize that what you eat is so much more than just how it affects your body from the outside. Fuel your body with food that makes you feel good, but it’s ok to have a little fun. I like to follow the 80/20 rule. About 80% of the time I eat clean and the other 20% of the time I’m out here enjoying life – like wine and cheese. I mean who doesn’t love a good charcuterie board with a bottle – er, I mean – glass of wine?
- You really do need to find a job you love. If you aren’t happy (or challenged) at work then you need to make a plan and change your course of direction. We spend way too much time at work to be miserable while we’re there. (And along the lines of work – I 100% believe that you need to have a work best friend. Or “squad” as we like to call it in my office.)
- Every college student should be poor for a couple years. Sometimes I laugh out loud thinking about making $60 a week while in college. Why? Well first because it makes me appreciate my paycheck so much more now. But also because I like to remind myself that living off $60 a week were some of the best years of my life. Money was the last thing on my mind back then, yet I was so happy. And don’t get me wrong, having money now is great, but the principle of this is never lost on me.
- People change, including you. And that’s perfectly alright. We’re supposed to change and evolve. Imagine looking back 10 years from now — wouldn’t it be a shame to learn you’re still the exact same person as before? In the past 10 years you’ve learned nothing that’s changed you? Achieved nothing that’s moved you? Experienced nothing that’s made you different? Change is good, change is constant and change is supposed to happen.
- My parents are awesome. The older I get the more I am struck by how amazing my own parents are. How many times did they go without so that my siblings and I could play sports or get new clothes? You don’t realize how hard being a parent is or how much sacrifice is involved until you get older.
- Everything really does happen for a reason. And before you roll your eyes, think about it. And I mean REALLY think about it. A thousand little decisions and events have slowly shaped your life. Things that didn’t seem like a big deal at the time have created your entire world. An email I sent back in 2012 eventually led me to landing a job with my current employer. But what if I hadn’t sent it? One night in college in 2011 my friends went outside for a smoke break, which set the scene for me to meet my husband for the first time. But what if we had gone to a different bar that night? While standing in line at the zoo one summer day in 2013, I noticed that the couple in front of me had matching Ironman tattoos. I went home that night and Googled what an Ironman triathlon was and a dream was born. But what if I never saw those people? Things that you’re doing right now are helping to shape and mold your future. It’s so simple and so complex at the same time.
- Actions speak louder than words. And I don’t necessarily mean this advice in terms of a relationship, although that’s important too. Instead I’m talking about taking action with the things you want for your life. If you know anything about me then you’ll know that I’m a woman of action. Talking about your dreams or plans only goes so far. Do you want to run a marathon or lose weight? Do you need a better job? Are you looking to make more friends? Then go out there and do it. Nothing annoys me more than people sitting around just talking about stuff they want to accomplish or do. ACTION MEANS EVERYTHING.
- Everything gets better when you stop caring what other people think. This is easier said than done and there are times I find myself taking two steps forward and one step back when it comes to this, but I strive for it every day. I’m in constant pursuit of no one else having power over my life except for me.
- Gossip gets you nowhere. I know, I know. Sometimes it feels good to vent and get it out of your system. Plus gossip is a quick way to bond with other people. But the older I get the more gross I feel after gossiping about someone or something. I feel negative and simple minded. I know it’s hard, but try to stay away from it.
- Confidence comes with age. I’m not saying that once you achieve a certain level of confidence that you’ll never slide back into old patterns, because there are times that confidence does fluctuate. Instead I believe that the older you get and the better you know yourself – the more confident you become across all aspects of your life. I remember standing outside of a coworker’s office rehearsing what I was going to say because I was so nervous to ask for clarification about a project. (Granted I was 23-years-old and brand new at the company.) But today I would never hesitate to ask questions or for clarification when it comes to work. Confidence is a skill. It takes years of training to improve and constant practice to maintain.