I've officially completed 30 years and I have to say that I've learned quite a bit during my time on this planet so I figured I'd share some of it with you. Some of these are just practical things that I wish my younger self cared about enough or had an understanding of, but with years and experience comes wisdom, right? Others are a bit more meaningful and have helped me grow a lot as a person as I've gone through my personal life lessons. Hopefully you find something that resonates with you here.
*drum roll please!*
The practical stuff that you wish your 20 year old self knew or knew and actually cared about:
1. Have a savings account. If you can, set it up so a certain amount or percentage from your paycheck goes directly to it. That way you don't have to do it manually and give yourself the chance to reconsider keeping it where you can spend it on tacos and beer. This has been really beneficial for me. Because I love tacos and beer.
2. Take care of your teeth. Them mfers are expensive when you don't have insurance and getting cavities filled is really unenjoyable. For the love of having money to go do the things you actually want to do and not spending thousands on your teeth--take the extra two minutes to floss!
3. Wash your face. My acne (yes acne is still an issue for my 30 year old self *insert eye roll here*) is much more under control since I've gotten this habit down pat.
4. Take care of your car. Them mfers can be really expensive, too. Sometimes not having a working car makes you extra appreciate having a working one even if it looks a little rough. Go get your oil changed.
5. Get a 2 year degree at a community college before going for a 4 year degree. It's typically cheaper and there are fewer random classes that have nothing to do with what you want to do. I also feel like I learned a lot more getting my 2 year degree than the 4 year degree that took me 6 years to get. I was also older and had a better idea of what I wanted to do which leads to this next point...
6. Don't be afraid to take a break before going to college, if you go at all. Take the time to figure things out and see if you even actually want to go. There are so many routes to choose from so don't feel like college is the only one. I may have kept from switching my major 5 times if I would have figured some things out first. The important thing is that you keep learning.
These next ones are observations that I've made over the years:
7. Spending time outside is cathartic. Something about being outdoors just puts one in a better mood. The sun synthesizing the vitamin D, the smell of the trees, the song of the birds. Go out, breathe, and just be. This has been so helpful in managing my anxiety.
8.Time goes by really freaking fast. I never actually thought about being 30, yet here I am killin' it. Older people have always said to me that the older you get the faster time goes. They aren't lying.
9. In life most things aren't black or white, but several shades of gray. Just because you have a certain point of view about something doesn't mean someone else's point of view is wrong. Situations are variable. People are different. Remember-you're stuck behind your own lens.
10. It's okay to take time to do nothing. This is one I really struggle with because I feel like I always have to be doing something productive. Sometimes you need to just sit back, relax, and let things go for awhile. And not feel guilty about it!
Here are some simple life tips to keep in the back (or front) of your mind:
11. Don't spend time on regret. You can't go back and do that thing you wish you would have done-or undo that thing you wish you wouldn't have done. Instead consider all of the possibilities in front of you and take action. You could be missing out on great opportunities if you're constantly stuck thinking about what is no longer an option.
12. Don't spend too much time thinking. Thinking and thinking and thinking -aka analysis paralysis-will leave you stuck and overwhelmed. I spent years in this type of mindset and it got me nowhere. Really it's simple. Try something and if it works -great! If not, try something else. Figure things out through action.
13. Truly forgive people. Holding things against people only hurts you. When you can look at the situation and not let it emotionally ruffle you anymore- sadness, anger, humiliation, whatever it might be- that's when you know you've finally let go and forgiven them. If you still talk shit about them and thinking about it still gets an emotional rise out of you- you haven't let it go yet.
14. When you feel truly excited about something GO AFTER IT! Especially if you are a little afraid or nervous, because you're probably doing the right thing. Emotion wouldn't be tied to it if it didn't have great meaning to you.
15. Learn. Always learn. Whether you are self-teaching, getting a mentor, going to trade school or college. Just keep learning.
16. Do not ruminate. This still counts even if there is some legitimacy to what you're ruminating about. Mulling over it will make it way bigger than it actually is and likely create new problems. Either drop it or talk it out.
17. Practice mindfulness and meditation. This stuff actually works if you make the time to practice. It's can seem a little weird or frustrating at first, but the more you do it the better you get. As I've read a lot lately, it's like working out and doing reps over and over to get your muscles stronger. You need to get your mind stronger too. For someone who is an anxious, scatterbrained, MUST ALWAYS BE DOING SOMETHING type-I highly recommend.
18. Be present. These days it's really hard to be present with everything going on around us. We don't even realize how "elsewhere" we are sometimes until something gives us a good ol' smack in the face. Make an effort to be in the moment with the people you are with. Focus on the project in front of you. Take a minute to disconnect, set your phone aside, and turn off the TV. You can't get time back. Simply be where you are.
19. Move. Don't just sit around watching TV, playing video games, or even reading for hours on end (and this is one of my favorite things to do!). Take a walk, a hike, play some ball, or go swimming. Take a friend or your mom. Our bodies were made to move.
If you implement these next points you will grow and be a stronger human:
20. Be aware of yourself. There are different ways you can do this whether it's through journaling, talking to those who know you the best, or simply taking the time to reflect. In particular, I can't thoroughly express how important I think journaling is (and if you've read some of my other blog posts ya know) Rant. Vent. Get to know yourself a little bit better. See your own growth or lack of it. Use it to call yourself out or pat yourself on the back. When you have a record to go back over, whether it's written or a recording, your self-reflections are going to be much more productive.
21. Take care of yourself first. I'm serious. There's no reason you should consistently let someone or something else come before you. You can't be your best for others when you aren't good on your own. This doesn't mean be a selfish assface that has no cares for others, by the way. Just that if it's been a long day you totally deserve a glass of wine and a bubble bath by candle light.
22. Your time is valuable. Spend it in a way that you deem is worth it. Don't waste it away on people that aren't good for you, scrolling aimlessly through social media, or not taking an active part in your life. If it's not benefiting you why are you spending the time?
23. Be willing to compromise but don't let it change who you are at your core. Sometimes compromise is the best option, but if that means you have to change who you are as a person, and it's a change you don't want to make, then it's probably not something you should do. Learn to bend, but not break.
24. Have people around you that are like minded and want to grow. It's really hard to become better yourself if you don't have people around you that are also trying to grow. When you have growth-minded people as friends you can help boost each other up, hold each other accountable, and support one another when times get hard. If you're surrounded by people that are content with where they are and have no real ambition it's time to find new people.
25. Don't try to change someone's opinion of you. This has always been a struggle for me, but I actively remind myself of the following: if someone views you in a way that is inaccurate don't try to argue with them to prove them wrong. Let your actions be your proof. Their thoughts have no affect on who you actually are.
26. Sometimes you have to do some things you REALLY don't want to do. Go to that class you absolutely hate. Work that job that stresses you out. Get out of bed at 4:00 am so you can get a workout in. I get it. For real. These things have a reason, but sometimes you just have to look a little harder. That class will get you the degree you want to get that job you've been dreaming about. That job you hate is getting you experience that you really need in order to start your own business. That 4:00 am workout makes it so you won't have to go after work and rush dinner and miss time with your kids. The idea is that for a little while you do some things you really don't want to do to pave the way to be able to do the things you really do want to do.
27. Live your life on purpose. This is SO important. If you want to reach any kind of goal or dream for yourself you have to live intentionally. You can't want something big and then just wait for it to happen. You have to figure out what it is, make a plan, and put in the hours and effort. Every. Single. Day. On the days that get really hard having that goal in front of you will keep you going. But you have to tie it to your "why" which leads to my next point...
28. Find your why. What is it that drives you to do what you do every day? Hunger drives us to eat. Thirst drives us to drink. Sometimes just the fact that we have bills to pay gets us to drive to work. What makes you want to start your own business or lose the weight? Freedom to work your own schedule, design your own way of running a business, be able to run a 5K, or keep up with your kids...when your alarm goes off why do you get up and not hit snooze? Find out what makes you tick and lights you up and get after it. When the hard days come you'll be able to push through because of your why and because...
29. Discipline will get you where you want to go. Once you start living each day intentionally in alignment with your why and working towards your goals your life will start to change in the best kind of ways. It will become habit and second nature to live that way. When difficult circumstances rise up- unexpected schedule changes, illness, financial issues, not enough sleep, etc- discipline will keep you on track. Motivation gets you started, but discipline keeps you going. Even if you fall off for a second-discipline will bring you back.
30. Priorities are shown by your actions not your words. It's simple. If you say going to church is important to you, but never go, then it's really not. If someone says you're really important to them, but they rarely connect with you, then you're really not important to them. If you say getting healthier is important to you, but you eat a bag of potato chips while binge watching Netflix regularly it's really not. Take a real close look at yourself and see what your priorities actually are.
It's been awesome reflecting on my own growth and seeing how much I've changed over the last decade. Your 20s really are a giant ball of WTF AM I DOING?! The great thing is that it allows so much room for learning and becoming. Don't just let life pass you by. Pay attention. What things have you learned in your time on this planet?