What I've Learned in My 30's
I will be 38 years old this year. Just typing that feels weird to me. I don't feel 38. In my mind I feel like I am still 29 or 30.The only difference for me is that I get a little more tired and I have a lot less patience for bullshit. And I didn't have that much to begin with! I have a few gray hairs (we won't talk about those...) but I am wrinkle free (#blackdontcrack) and more confident and comfortable in my own skin. I have learned a lot since entering my thirties. Those lessons have been minor and they have been big, but they have all made up who I am today as a person.
Not Placing Un-Realistic Expectations on Others
People are disappointing. It's a simple fact. And that is not because they are necessarily awful human beings. It's simply because they are human. And by the definition alone are not infallible. Getting past the idea of putting others on a pedestal or placing expectations on them has helped me move past feeling disappointed. And that has actually been rather freeing. We have to meet and take people for who and where they are in life. Now, having said that that does not mean putting up with crap. More often we - especially women- see the "potential" in others and often look past what is right in front of us. As Maya Angelou famously said, "When someone tells you who they are, believe them." A horse is a horse and can never be a unicorn - and we can't be disappointed when the fake unicorn horn we we place on the horse falls off!
Not Placing Un-Realistic Exceptions on Yourself
I am just as hard on myself as I am on others. And just as I have had to let go of being disappointed in others when they don't meet my expectations, I have had to do the same for myself. I am a perfectionist and with that comes impossible standards that I am the only one requiring of myself. I can sometimes only see the flaws or "mistakes" in my work rather than the entire picture and this can rob a person of really enjoying their accomplishments. So now when I feel myself tearing my own work down, I take a breath and a step back and look at the entire picture- and not just the small flaw. This site is a prime example of that. I wanted to create a lifestyle site. But I procrastinated about it for literally months thinking about all the so-called "obstacles" or things I needed before I could start. Until finally one day I made myself do it. Just like that. I forced myself to stopped thinking about all the little things that wouldn't be exactly how I envisioned them and did it anyway.
No One is Paying as Much Attention to You As You Think
In your 20's you can kind of think the world revolves around you. That you are in your own personal version of The Truman Show. Everyone is watching and thinking about you. All the time. And the truth is - everyone is just as self-absorbed as you are. No one is thinking about you as much as you are thinking about you. We are all in our own little bubbles, for better or worse. So stop worrying about what so and so will say about your new hair color, dress, job, etc. and just do you.
Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
"Comparison Is the Thief of Joy". That quote is so true. Just as perfectionism can make us diminish our own accomplishments so can comparing our lives, jobs, relationships. etc to other people's. Social media has been detrimental to people's perceptions of their own lives in a lot of ways. We see shiny happy people on Instagram and think that their lives must be shiny and happy all the time. When in reality: it took them 20 minutes to get that photo, they used Facetune to erase their blemishes and there is a mess behind them on the other side of the room that we can't see. We only get to see the "highlights" of other people's lives. We don't get to see behind the curtain of what it took to create that image. And that is true for pretty much everything. Especially when it comes to our careers and work - everyone had to start somewhere. And what you are often seeing is the middle of someone else's journey. Not the beginning. And no two journeys are the same. And that's okay.
Nothing Comes Easy
I used to think that one day I would wake up and someone would knock on my door with a check for $20 million and then I could finally start living my dream life. Alas that has not happened. Not yet anyway (fingers still crossed). The simple truth is that anything we want in this life that is worth having will not be handed to you. You must work at it and pursue it. There are no shortcuts.
Stop Wasting Time
As I said above, we cannot wait for things to be given to us or to happen to us. Life is short and time feels like it is flying by faster than ever. So if you have always wanted to go somewhere or do something sit down and make a plan to make it happen.
Feel the Fear - and Do it Anyway
This is a recent lesson and one I am still learning. I am not an adventurous person. I am a cautious person by nature. And so I often worry and over-analyze things to the point where I talk myself out of them. And then I am disappointed in myself for not being brave and just doing it. Lately I have simply been allowing myself to feel all that fear and anxiety and worry and then shutting up and doing it. And it's scary but I know that the reward will be so much bigger than the fear was at the beginning.
Stay True to Your Core Values
In my 30's I became "woke". And let me tell you - being woke is a rough. It's hard work and it's not fun. But for me there is no other alternative. I cannot pretend that I haven't see what I've seen, haven't experienced what I've experienced, or haven't learned what I've learned. Being woke is to be just that - AWAKE. And to go back to sleep would mean complicity and consent. At no other time in recent history have I felt that what I believe should and must play a part in my everyday life. At no other time have I felt that I must put my money, my time and my voice where it counts. My "wokeness" in the last few years has been a shedding of a lot things (and in some cases even people) - sometimes painfully. But it is most certainly an awakening.
Growth Should Never Stop
Studies show that one of the main factors in keeping our minds young is to learn new skills and hobbies. Experimentation is not for just when you're in your 20's. Growth never stops. So be a risk taker. Try something new. Take up a new hobby or learn a new language.
Are you in your 30's? What are some of the lessons you've learned? Let me know in the comments.