It’s 4th May which means two things: Number one, it’s my birthday (the big 30 has arrived!) and number two, it’s the one year anniversary of this Blog! Yes, we’ve reached a whole year and boy did it fly. As a matter of fact, the 30 years went pretty quickly too!
I can’t quite believe that it’s been a whole year since I started this blog and a whole year since I wrote about my plans for the last year of my 20’s. Oh, how naive early 2020 Stacey was! I may not have done half of the things on my 30 before 30 list but, in the biggest plot twist of them all, it turns out it doesn’t matter at all. After this year, and all that’s come with it, the list seems quite unimportant these days. Little did I know the appreciation I’d have for simply popping round to a friends house for coffee or going to a cafe for brunch! I may not have done a UK road trip or had a fancy 5 * meal in London but I have learned a lot, created a lot, and I may be ever closer to figuring out what the hell it is I want to do with this life of mine.
I’ve been talking for a while about wanting to mark my birthday on the Blog and whilst originally I was supposed to go through the 30 before 30 list, it now seems irrelevant. So instead, I’m going to talk about 30 lessons I’ve learned over the last 30 years, in the hope it may resonate with a few of you. Look out for the special inputs from some of my family members throughout!
30 Lessons for 30 Years
Lesson 1 – Success isn’t linear
One of the biggest misconceptions, I spent literally years believing, is that success is a one-way path. You start at the bottom and work your way up, that starting again would be foolish or wrong. You could be CEO of a company by 25 and realise this life isn’t for you. You could be 45 and decide you need to go back to school to realise a passion you’ve hidden for decades. I believe success isn’t a measurable thing, it is an emotional one. If what you are doing isn’t making your heart sing, for the most part, don’t let fear get in the way. Who cares what other people think – all that matters is what you think.
Lesson 2 – There is no timeline for life
Did anybody else play the board-game “Game of Life” growing up? The premise is to make your way around the board, meeting life milestones as you go. Graduate, get married, get a job, have children, get promoted then retire. Whoever gets to the end with the most money, wins. Luckily, life doesn’t have the same restrictions as a Hasbro game for kids. It’s totally cool to colour outside of those lines society likes to keep you within.
Lesson 3 – It’s okay to be different
Actually, it’s not just okay, it’s recommended. The majority of us spent our whole childhoods wanting to fit in, without realising that being our true selves is how you meet your true friends. There’s nobody else just like you, so wear what you want, do what you love and love who you want. Be unapologetically you!
Lesson 4 – Never work with friends
I’ve had jobs since I was 14 years old and I have met some of the funniest, kindest, most interesting and wonderful people I’ve ever known in those years. However, there is a difference between working with friends and having work friends and, in my personal experience, it is a really important line to define. Of course there will be exceptions to this rule but I think that the best way to strain a friendship is to start working together! Having to navigate a professional relationship, whilst being close friends outside of the 9-5 is a lot to handle and only for the bravest. Avoid if you can.
You might like: Toxic Friendships and How to End Them
Lesson 5 – Stop wasting your time on people that don’t deserve you
If you’re currently spending time with someone who isn’t treating you as you deserve, consider this your divine intervention to send them on their way. If it doesn’t feel right now, it won’t feel right in five years so stop wasting your precious time! You have so much to give and receive.
Lesson 6 – Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today
As a self confessed queen of procrastination, this is something I’m working on everyday! Seriously, tomorrow you with thank today you for clearing that to do list or doing that housework!
You might like: Productivity 101 by a Self-Confessed Procrastinator
Lesson 7 – Stay curious
Just because your school days may be gone, doesn’t mean that your education is over. Never be afraid to ask questions, pay attention to what is going on the world and if something bothers you, never stop talking about it. The most powerful people love public complacency, it is only when people come together that true change can take place (please see the whole of 2020 for proof).
Lesson 8 – Don’t sweat the small stuff
The amount of time spent arguing, fretting and crying over things that you won’t even remember in 5 months time is huge. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed in a situation, take a step back and ask yourself if it is worth the energy it’s stealing from you. Some of the biggest arguments I’ve ever had have felt like the end of the world at the time. Now, I couldn’t even tell you what they were about.
Lesson 9 – If it comes let it, if it goes let it
Life is full of opportunities that come your way or people that will enter your life, sometimes at the most unexpected times. I’ve written before about the importance of saying yes to opportunities, or taking a leap despite fear trying to hold you back, and I am still a strong believer in this. However, just as things may come your way, things leave almost as often. It’s so easy to try and cling on to an opportunity or a relationship that you feel is slipping away but sometimes you just have to let it go. If someone is happy to walk out of your life… let them go.
Lesson 10 – Grief will knock you over, but time heals all wounds
It wasn’t until I reached 24 years old that I experienced loss for the first time. I’d skipped through life for 24 years without really knowing what it feels like to grieve and then, suddenly, there was a succession of loss, illness and more loss. The only healer of grief is time, one day it just gets easier to talk about. Once you get through the worst of it, you’ll realise that there is a privilege in grief. How lucky you were to have such wonderful people in your life, that your only wish was to have them with you longer.
Lesson 11 – Tomorrow is not promised
The only certainty in life is that it doesn’t last forever and we don’t get to know how long it lasts. So stop putting things off because it’s ‘not the right time’. Maybe there never will be a right time and all of sudden you realise you put it off for too long. It’s the oldest cliche in the book but life is short, so make the plans.
Lesson 12 – Learn to forgive
Forgiveness isn’t just relief for the person that has wronged but it’s also a way to gain closure for those that have been wronged. Some things are easier to forgive than others but if it’s taking up more of your energy to hold on to that grudge, it’s time to let it go.
Lesson 13 – Gut feelings are guardian angels
You can do all the research, weigh up the pros and cons but if it doesn’t feel right then it’s not right. Listening to your intuition is the best way to avoid getting yourself in unhealthy relationships or situations.
Lesson 14 – It it costs you your mental health, it’s too expensive
I love this one, so many times we factor everything else into a decision except our mental health. Why do we focus on what something can do for our bank balance, relationships or social status but ignore the effects it will have on us mentally? Not good enough – it’s 2021 and we prioritise mental health!
Lesson 15 – What’s meant for you, will not pass you by
Whilst the premise of ‘having faith’ is built around religion, I don’t believe you have to be religious to live your life by this motto. Sometimes, all it takes is a little faith that the universe has your back to get you through the bad times.
Whilst I was writing this blog, I asked some of my family members to give me one life lesson that they would give to any 20 year old.
From my lovely Mum:
“Life passes by so quickly and we can spend so much of that time making decisions that won’t upset anyone, that often we don’t consider our own happiness. Instead of doing what you think is right for others, do what is right for you.”
From my equally lovely older Sister:
“We need to stop caring so much about what other people think. Stop being a people pleaser and do what makes you happy! Don’t fret about the small stuff, it’s not important in the long run.”
And lastly I asked my 20 year old younger Brother to tell me where he wants to be by 30:
“I want to spend my twenties making sure I prioritise what I want to do, meeting my goals and doing what feels right to me, not anybody else. I hope I stay true to myself and whatever it is I am doing by the time I’m 30, I hope it is benefiting me and my future.”
Lesson 16 – Life goes on
However intense an emotion you are feeling, the one constant in life is that…it will always go on. Through joy, sorrow, excitement and grief the sun will always rise and the flowers will always bloom.
Lesson 17 – Stop following the crowd, sit alone if you have too
We hope this kind of feeling starts and ends with school but thats not always the case. Authenticity is worth so much more than adjusting yourself just to ‘fit in’ with the crowd.
Lesson 18 – It’s okay to pause
I left University almost 8 years ago and, honestly, it feels like I blinked and now I’m here. Time goes by ridiculously fast as an adult, which is ironic given how much we wished our childhood away in anticipation of being older. So, in the interest of getting swept away by time it is really important that sometimes you stop, breathe and think for a minute about whether you’re on the right path. You don’t want to get distracted so much that you forget to make sure you’re heading in the right direction but always remember its never too late to change the route!
Lesson 19 – Stop asking for permission
Say it louder for the people at the back. The only person whose permission you require to do something or make a change in your life, is your own.
You might like: Why we need to stop being afraid to fail
Lesson 20 – Be kind to yourself
We need to start talking to ourselves like we would our best friend or even a younger version of ourself. So many people, myself included, spend so much of our early lives picking ourself apart or comparing ourselves to other people. So, next time that voice in your head starts telling you you’re not good enough, kill it with kindness. We’re all just doing the best we can!
Lesson 21 – Be kind to others
As important as it is to be kind to yourself, it’s equally important to be kind to others. You never know what someone is going through, so watch your attitude with strangers, even if you’re having a terrible day and never, ever leave horrible comments on Social Media. Check in on your friends because sometimes ‘fine’ doesn’t mean fine.
Lesson 22 – Find a TV show that soothes the bad days
Bad days are, unfortunately, inevitable and the kindest thing you can do for yourself is to have some dedicated go-to’s to make these days better. For me, watching an old favourite TV show on the sofa with a blanket is the perfect tonic. If you’re after recommendations my favourites are Friends, Greys Anatomy and New Girl. It works I promise!
Lesson 23 – Listen to more music
Music is a beautiful thing and there truly is a song for every mood. That moment when you listen to a song for the first time and you get goosebumps up and down your arm. Or you hear some lyrics for the first time and feel like it could have been written for you – MAGIC. Dance/cry/sing like nobody’s watching.
You might like: When in Doubt, Dance it Out
Lesson 24 – See more places
I have been very lucky to visit some beautiful places in my life and it’s something I’ll never get bored of talking about. I really recommend, if you are in a position to do so, looking into visiting some countries that have a completely different culture to the one that you are living in. Sometimes we can get wrapped up in believing that our world is the only one that exists but once you step out of that bubble, you realise just how different cultures can be.
Lesson 25 – Appreciate the little things
Lesson 25 is sponsored by Coronavirus. There’s nothing like a global Pandemic to make you realise exactly what’s important to you and it turns out it isn’t materialistic items or fancy titles, it’s seeing your family on a Sunday or going to the movies with your best friend. Find what it is that warms your heart and appreciate it, always.
Lesson 26 – It’s okay to be alone
If you meet the love of your life and are lucky enough to have them love you back – you’ve won the lottery. You get to spend your life with your person and you have permission to rave about that for the rest of your life. However, if you are staying in a relationship, that should have ended a long time ago, because you’re scared to be alone, that’s not good enough. It’s better to be alone than to settle because ‘alone now’ doesn’t mean ‘alone forever’. Plus, there is power in knowing you are not dependant on anybody. It means anyone you invite into your life is there because you want them, not because you need them. Also, I can make furniture and fix boiler leaks and I’m going to rave about THAT for the rest of my life.
Lesson 27 – Speak up or no-one is going to hear you
This can be a tricky one, especially in a work setting. Imposter syndrome is real and it’s holding us back! Your opinion or perspective may just be the very thing that someone needs to hear and the moment you realise that what you have to say is just as important as anyone else, is the moment you are right.
Lesson 28 – Sometimes it doesn’t work out and that’s okay
That feeling when your expectations get dashed, or something doesn’t work out the way you thought it would, is tough. There will be times in your life where you will feel disappointment, perhaps more than you think you can take, but look for a silver lining. Perhaps it didn’t happen because something better is headed your way.
Lesson 29 – Not everyone will like you and that’s also okay
This is specifically for the people pleasers out there or the sensitive souls who rely too much on peoples opinions of them. Some people won’t get you and despite your best efforts, some people just will not give you the time that you deserve and that is absolutely okay. The good news is that, for every person that doesn’t, there will be so many more that think you are amazing. Focus on them, listen to them and direct your energy into building those relationships because anybody else’s opinion of you is none of your business.
Lesson 30 – Stop being afraid to do all the things you really want to do
Lastly, and perhaps the most important of them all, don’t let fear get in the way of doing all of the wonderful things you want to do. Future you will thank you for it.
There you have it, 30 lessons for 30 years. Let me know some of your top life lessons in the comments!
Time to head off into this new decade and embrace all of the wonderful things I hope it will bring! Twenties – over and out.