Fair warning this will be long.
So … I’m 30 now.
Here’s what I’ve noticed: Immediately my ass got bigger and my stomach also seems to be protruding at an average rate of 1 mm a day. I’m also pretty sure new wrinkles formed overnight right near my eyes as a pleasant birthday surprise. Also, I officially made the transformation from a “Miss” to a “Ma’am”.
All kidding aside, I was strangely and surprisingly VERY excited to turn 30. Despite my mother grabbing at my stomach telling me I look “fluffy” and that I should stop eating pasta (not gonna happen) or my husband calling me “old” but that he still enjoys my backside, I’m happy. And as Audrey Hepburn said: “The prettiest girls, are happy girls” whether or not there are a few extra wrinkles and fluff.
Now in the first year of what I think will be the most awesome decade EVER I found myself reflecting on my 20s. I can look back on that decade fondly and know that I made some great choices, even more mistakes and had some really great times.
This is the advice I would give to my 20-year-old self. Some of it is based on experience and some of it is based on what I wish I would have done. But hey, you live and learn then you screw up and learn some more. It’s how it goes.
1. Be healthy. Take advantage of your 20s and start good habits now. The longer you wait, the harder it gets. Skip fast food, stop drinking soda and for God’s sakes do NOT smoke cigarettes. Ever. Even socially. Period. And just so you know for most of us, your body literally changes come your late 20s. And for the annoying people this doesn’t apply to, move right along. My metabolism basically gave me a giant middle finger and added an inch to my waistline. It happens. It’s real. Get healthy now and it won’t be so devastating. Also, wear sunscreen and drink more water.
2. Date. A lot. How do you know what flavor ice cream you like unless you have others to compare it to? Some people can try one flavor and just get hooked and have it for the rest of their lives and that’s great. For many of us though, we need to try a variety. Get out there! Maybe try some flavors that speak Italian, some that are musicians, Yoga gurus, dirt bike riders or lawyers. (Wow I was really all over the place there wasn’t I?) But you gotta try em’ out. Also don’t confuse the word “date” with “sleep with” – so not the same thing.
3. Travel. Travel. Travel. Some of the best experiences of my life were away from home. If you can find a way to study abroad, do it. Get out of the country and experience a culture very different from your own. Also, try and go somewhere alone. Travel to a place where you know nobody and have to make friends. It’s scary and thrilling.
4. Be your own. Your 20s are the time for self-discovery. Let it happen and embrace it. Try new things and determine what you do or don’t like and feel comfortable with it. Also realize this may change and that’s OK.
5. Sever ties. Evaluate relationships and end those that are toxic. This was a HUGE lesson for me in my 20s. Nobody ever feels like a friend is someone you should ever have to “break-up” with. But … sometimes you do to get rid of the negativity. And that’s OK. You will feel better, lighter, happier.
6. Find something you love then try to make money doing it. I’m still working on the “making money” part of this equation but this is good advice, nonetheless.
7. Learn to say “no”. Revert back to your 2-year-old self and say no sometimes. You don’t always have to be the last one at the office and you don’t always have to go to every party or event. When used appropriately, it can earn you respect and save you lots of stress.
8. Family first. During high school, many of us want to be around our families as little as possible. What precious time wasted but I think it’s a very normal thing to do in our teens. Use your 20s to reconnect with your family and put them first because shit happens and time is something you just can’t get back.
9. Take yoga. It sounds trite but seriously do it, even if it’s just at home. Yoga has literally saved my life. I suffered many many years with pain from a herniated disk in my neck and yoga is the ONLY thing that has been able to stop the pain. It’s a miracle workout. Sometimes I wonder if I would have even suffered the neck and back issues I did if I’d discovered yoga sooner. I’ll never know.
10. Move out. Live alone, if you can, at least once before you’re 30. Walk around naked, don’t make your bed and dance in the living room. Nobody’s watching and nobody cares. It’s freeing.
I can go on and on but I think here is a good place to end.
Now I’m ready to embark on my 30s and come up with a whole new list of lessons learned and mistakes made.