Today is my 30th birthday and as excited as I am to celebrate and to start out on a new decade of my life, it’s also a little bit bittersweet saying goodbye to my 20s. My 20s were life changing years! They were the first ten years of my adult life and the first ten years within which I really started to find myself. The lessons I’ve learned and experiences I’ve had over the past decade are going to be pretty hard to top, but I think I’m up for the challenge now that I’m officially a 30 something 😉
In honor of this milestone birthday, here are ten of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in the past ten years:
- Experiences are more important than things. Although this may not be true for everyone, I’ve realized this is very true for me. I value making memories over buying new things because I’ve realized that no matter what happens, you always have your memories to enjoy. I’ve also realized that you usually regret all of the things you didn’t do rather than the things you did. So, I will be happily watching Netflix and HBO Go on my circa 2009 TV rather than upgrading to a new one so that I can afford to go on trips and to go out and do fun things with friends.
- Sometimes it’s better to be nice than to be right. When I was younger, being “right” was very important to me. I have the temperament of a know-it-all and I LOVE dropping knowledge on people. I’m also somewhat competitive, which means from time to time, I can be annoying. One huge lesson I’ve learned is that there’s a time and place for being right and sometimes (actually, more often than not) being nice trumps being right because in the end, only kindness matters. (Do you like how I snuck those Jewel lyrics in there?? I had to!)
- Exercise is about more than just looking good on the outside. When I was 20 I joined a gym for the first time. I weighed probably 110 pounds and my “workout” was running on the treadmill exactly 30 minutes (there was a time limit, I didn’t make this up arbitrarily) a couple times a week to “tone” my body up. It’s funny to look back at that now and realize not only how much I really didn’t know about working out, but to know that future me would be someone who works out religiously 6-7 days a week. I think the biggest key to enjoying exercise has been discovering that exercise does so much more for me than what it does for the outside of my body. For me, exercise is about seeing what I can accomplish. It’s about challenging myself. And about setting goals and getting better, faster, and stronger. Sometimes I wish that I’d found my love for fitness at an earlier age, when I might have been more at a physical peak and/or capable of more, but I’m glad that I found it when I did so that I can carry the lessons I’ve learned into my 30s.
- Comparison is the thief of joy. Oh boy. If there was ONE huge lesson that I could impart upon myself at age 20, this would be it. In the past ten years, social media has only gotten bigger and bigger and with that, it’s become ridiculously easy to compare yourself to other people. Sometimes, the people you spend time comparing yourself to are people you don’t even know. I’ve spent so much time beating myself up comparing my behind the scenes struggles to the highlight reels of other people and it stinks that I would treat myself like that. If there’s one thing I would tell myself at age 20 (or really any age at all) it’s to keep your eyes on your own paper, because comparison doesn’t do anything positive for you.
- You only get one body, so you’ve got to take care of it the best that you can. I’ve come to the realization in this past year (thanks to some health issues) that my body isn’t just a floating orb that just kind of bobs around doing things…it’s actually a delicately balanced organism that runs better depending on how I fuel and take care of it. As stubborn as I’ve been about never giving up my love for junk food and being lucky enough to metabolize it fast, this all goes back to a similar point as #3…your body is so much more than what’s on the outside…what’s on the inside is even more important. If you’re not taking good care of yourself, making sure your body has the nutrients to function properly, then what are you even doing? This isn’t like it is with a car…you can’t trade in once yours starts performing terribly because you never got oil changes! You only get one body and you have to treat it right rather than just living by the motto of “treat yo self” 24/7.
- Invest your heart into good people. Forget about the rest. And also, in order to have great friends, you have to BE a great friend as well. I spent a lot of my early 20s looking for love (friendship-wise) in all the wrong places, so to speak. In my late 20s, I’ve become more selective about my friendships, but what’s funny is, that’s led me to more amazing relationships with more really genuine, kind people than I would have had otherwise.
- Just because something worked for you once doesn’t mean it always will. Be adaptable or get left behind! This is certainly true for my business, especially in this rapidly growing and changing industry, but it’s also a great metaphor for life. If you aren’t willing to change or grow, you will eventually stagnate and no one wants that. It’s important to be open to new experiences, trying new things, going a different way because that could end up leading you somewhere better than you could have ever imagined. Keeping an open mind is key.
- Holding a grudge or holding onto anger doesn’t hurt anybody but you. I could write an entire book on this subject, but in order to not make this blog post 375 pages long, I’ll leave you with this thought: forgiveness is the most powerful thing out there and it’s important for you to forgive people not just for that person, but actually for yourself, because it’s too big of a burden to carry anger around for very long.
- Don’t be afraid to wholeheartedly love whatever it is you’re passionate about. Basically, forget about trying to be “cool”. I used to think it wasn’t cool to admit I was 20 something and went to see Pixar movies by myself sometimes or that I still really love 90s country music. I also went through a phase where I wanted to be really hipster and would all but eschew anything “basic” or “popular”. But what I’ve learned is, the coolest people are actually the people who are most unashamedly who they are. So whatever you love, be proud of it. Love it with your whole heart. Be as excited about it as you want without worrying about what others think.
- Ain’t nobody got time for drama. Really though. If there’s anything that my 20s FLYING by has taught me, it’s that our time on earth is limited and it shouldn’t be full of drama, it should be full of champagne, sunshine, and as many bellyaching, tear inducing laughs as possible.
So, while I’ve learned a lot over the past decade, that’s just a little sample of some of the big lessons I’ve learned. What I gained over the last ten years in both knowledge and experiences could fill an entire Harry Potter sized series, but it wouldn’t be nearly as interesting to anybody but me. Part of me is really excited to see what I’ll think about this list when I look back at the end of this next ten years, though thinking about age 40 is kindddd of scary. I also can’t wait to know what I will add to the list by then. There’s sure to be a lot of things learned within this next decade!
And, as sad as it is to say adios to one of the most life changing decades of my life, it’s also really neat to be starting a new one because there’s just so much possibility ahead!
Before I go, I wanted to quickly share a few of the biggest moments from my 20s (in no particular order)
- Running my first (and ONLY) marathon
- Became a wedding photographer
- Started running my business full time.
- Seeing the world! Italy, Hawaii, San Fran, Florida, Vegas 4 times, Boston, Maine, Chicago, Mexico, and more!!
- Deadlifting double my body weight and climbing a rope…aka my fitness journey
- Finding Lucy in 2008
- Becoming an aunt.
Thank you for following along and for being a part of my journey! I’m so thankful to have the most fantastic friends and clients around. Thank you for making my 20s such an incredible time in my life! I’m excited to make tons more memories through work and my personal life in the next ten years and I hope you’ll stick around to be a part of that too!