What my 20’s taught me as I turn 31

Tomorrow I turn 31 and it’s nipping at my heels like a rabid wolverine, so pardon the philosophical self-reflection but it seems as I step firmly into adulthood a certain amount of deep thinking is required.

10 years ago!

Rewind 10 years ago… I was a student turning 21 in the ancient cathedral city of Lincoln. Birthdays in the 20’s were spent hitting the clubs with a group of friends and dancing like no one was watching.

Back then, even though I was studying hard for my course at university, I really had no idea what I wanted to do with my life after. There were many a raised eyebrow and a “sort your life out!” thrown in my direction, along with the snapping sound of heartstrings.

When it boiled down to travel, I planned on quantity not quality. In the summers I packed my life’s belongings into a backpack, hit the cheapest hostels and made the best of friends along the way. I travelled and worked in Europe and Canada, while living recklessly, wildly and wonderfully. It was a whole other ball game back then…

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But I’m glad those years are now behind me, and I’ve learned many valuable lessons as I stumbled along the way and into my 30’s. These are the lessons learned in my 20’s:

Love with all your heart

Cherish the ones you love dearly because unfortunately the older we get, the more people we lose. Nothing will prepare you for that unexpected loss. My mother passed away just over a year ago, and I have many regrets and what ifs. I wish I did more for her and told her every day that I loved her because you realize life is just too damn short.

Experience as much as you can

It’s an obvious one, but the older you get the more responsibilities you gain and you just can’t go out partying every night to the endless hours, taking all those selfies, and kicking it back carefree – it’s just not cool anymore.

Do all the weird and wonderful things you want to do in your 20’s because those memories will last forever! I remember working at a camp in Croatia and you could see the lights of Venice shimmering across the sea at night. After the summer job wrapped up, which involved teaching children fun outdoor activities, I backpacked through Italy and Slovenia with friends. It was an amazing experience and something I would struggle to do now with time and responsibilities.

Prepare for the future and cement those relationships

Work hard at saving to get that house, the car, and build those relationships. The older you get the harder it becomes to save, make friends and find that partner. I was lucky to have met the man I would marry when I was 19-years-old as an exchange student in Canada. Although we were up and down over our long-distant years, once we did finally get together in the same country and married I realized the meaning of True Love. True love is when you would catch a bullet to save your other half because you love them THAT much, and this love grows deeper with each day, month and year.

Keep an open mind

Everyone is on their own journey and judging someone at face value is the same as judging a book by its cover. You never know what they are going through, so keep your opinions to yourself. Remember if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all! It’s that simple. Strong, successful people build others up. They motivate, inspire and push others to be better. Sad, unsuccessful (two-faced) people just hate, blame and complain. Don’t be the latter – life is too short.

Know your worth

I can’t articulate this better than one of my favourite movie quotes of all time, Rocky Balboa:

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth, but you gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that!

Life is a journey and a gift, so have fun along the way. And may you never be too busy, too old or even too “blonde” to follow your dreams and live a life nothing short of extraordinary! Here’s to stepping into adulthood, a new season on my life’s journey.