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Birthday Reflections: Dirty, Flirty, Thirty (30 Years, 30 Lessons)

Birthday Reflections: Dirty, Flirty, Thirty (30 Years, 30 Lessons)

June 19, 2015

30th birthday letter“At twenty years of age, the will reigns; at thirty, the wit; and at forty, the judgement.” –Benjamin Franklin

According to good ole Ben, I was at the cusp of will and wit yesterday and am at the cusp of wit and judgment today. I’ll take that. Yes, as you guessed, I turn the big 3-0 today/tomorrow (JUNE 20 — depending where you are). That’s 10,943 days.

I’m often asked: if you had the chance to do your 20s over again, would you? Hell no.

While I had a blast in my 20s, I’m really looking forward to moving into a newer and better phase of my life. I often hear about friends dreading and moaning about reaching this new milestone, but I couldn’t be happier about leaping into another decade, armed with all the mistakes, discoveries, experiences, and lessons learned from my 20s, and not to mention, a better sense of self.

Since I’ve started The Cultureur, I’ve plunged into the art of introspection to an even greater degree and have written a personal post to commemorate the year before. For my 28th birthday, I wrote an open letter to my 18-year-old self and for my 29th birthday, I wrote a quick reflective post. So today, for my 30th birthday, as I sit here in Iceland reflecting on the past decade, it only made sense to write a post that reveals 30 lessons I’ve learned about myself and the world in general. Like the next person, I’m a work in progress and always learning.

Most importantly, I’m 30 and I feel so damn good.

30 Dirty Little Secrets for my Dirty Thirty
  1. Success is not linear, so remove yourself from that frame of mind. Do what you want, what makes you the happiest, even if it’s not a popular decision. At least this way, later on if you decide it was a mistake, the only person you have to blame is yourself. Set your own goals, and don’t pay attention to the “timeline” imposed by society. Also, my success is not your failure. Being happy for someone else doesn’t diminish your glory by any means.
  2. You have a finite number of f*cks to give about things; use them sparingly. Don’t waste them on things and people that don’t matter.
  3. TRAVEL. TRAVEL. TRAVEL. Study abroad in college, teach English, volunteer at an NGO for a cause of your choice, do a RTW trip, or anything. Get out there and explore. Learn about the world, different cultures, other ways of living, and more importantly, yourself.
  4. You don’t have to have everything figured out before you hit your 20s. Embrace the constant that is change and your life may never be the same (it’ll be better!). It’s ok if your needs and wants change over time; it’s a sign of personal growth.
  5. Life’s all about the details, so take time to notice the beauty around you. There will always be time for everything. Enjoy the journey instead of trying to “get it done.”
  6. Know your worth and act like it. Never walk around thinking your friends, boyfriend, employer, etc. are doing you a favor by keeping you in their lives. Head up high! Never let yourself or anyone else make you think you’re worthy of anything but the best.
  7. The dirty emotion of jealousy will reveal some of the grossest parts of human kind, but you continue doing your thing and keep it classy. As a wise man once told me, if people aren’t jealous of you or talking about you, you’re not doing something right.
  8. As grand as your vision is to change the world, know that you can’t change everything and everyone. Strive to make an impact in individuals, one person at a time, starting with those around you. If you’ve made at least one person’s life better, you’ve created change.
  9. Invest in your education, but only you can decide when the time is right. If you need to take time off between college and graduate school, do it. You may regret it later if you don’t.
  10. Explore your interests and passions as much as possible. You may not have time later. And if you can convert those into a job, it’ll never feel like work again!
  11. You’ll get a lot farther with collaboration instead of competition. As a very competitive person, it’s all about how you channel that competitive spirit. Don’t compete with others, but rather with the yesterday version of yourself. Know the difference between being the best and doing your best.
  12. You will not like and get along with everyone you meet in life and that’s A-OK, but instead of wasting your time and energy with them, keep your distance. When it comes to friendships, quality over quantity. PERIOD.
  13. Never ever apologize for who you are and what you’ve accomplished. If a man is intimidated by a strong woman, don’t waste another minute there. It’s not your problem and there’s no need to apologize for his insecurities.
  14. Take risks and push your limits. If you do what you have always done then you will only have what you have always had. Take that step on the old dilapidated rope bridge; you don’t know what you might find at the other end. Travel to a new place, risk not planning your next few weeks, and/or say hello to a complete stranger at least once a month.
  15. As Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do rather than ones you did…” AMEN.30th birthday
  16. Go on lots of dates. Finding what you don’t like/want in a partner is equally important (if not more) as finding those desirable traits. It’s one of the best ways to learn about yourself. And some incredible stories to tell your grandkids can come from them. :-) And don’t forget that you can connect with/meet people in the most unexpected of ways. It’s ok to need someone; it’s not a sign of weakness. Don’t get married and have kids because society deems them to be right decisions for you; do it because YOU want to and think it’s the right thing for you.
  17. When people spew a stream of venom upon you, take a step back and know that it’s a reflection of what’s happening inside of them and very rarely will it be about you. Sure, it can still be hurtful, but time to grow that thick skin.
  18. Don’t underestimate the power of ME-time and don’t neglect simple necessities such as sleep and eating healthy. As a perennial night owl, I have to force myself to sleep relatively early at night, but my body thanks me in the morning.
  19. Study smart, work hard, play harder. Don’t forget to unleash your inner wild child every now and then.
  20. It’s easy to forget that as we grow older, our parents age as well. Do something nice for them and be thankful for what they’ve done for you. Embrace the changing dynamic of the parent-child relationship.
  21. At the end of the day, the only validation you need is from yourself. The more you love your decisions, the less you need others to like them. People that love and care about you may not always know what’s right for you. Follow your instincts and trust your judgements. That inner voice is a lot wiser than you may think.
  22. Never change your fundamental core and values for another person. The only person you ever have to impress is yourself. Learn to set your boundaries. That two-letter word–NO–is incredibly empowering and one that will often lead to a higher degree of respect.
  23. Conflict of all forms is inevitable, but the only thing you can control is how you react to it. Stand your ground, be upfront, make your point, and keep it classy.
  24. People will always have something to say about you. If it’s not this, it’ll be that. You keep doing your thing.
  25. You will meet all kinds of people at every step of the way. Assess and reassess at every point. Drown out those nay-sayers at all costs. People will always have something to say about you. If it’s not this, it’ll be that. You keep doing your thing. The golden question to ask yourself regularly is: what value does this person bring into my life.
  26. Be fiercely bold and throw people curveballs; they’ll have a much harder time placing you into neat little categories.
  27. Given the direction our world is going, contrary to the specialization spiel we’ve heard our entire lives, being well-rounded is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
  28. If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no. If you don’t like something, have the courage to change it instead of waiting around until it changes you. You’re the main actor/actress of your life; don’t act like a supporting cast member.
  29. Do not over apologize for everything to the point you’re diluting the power of I’m sorry. Be deliberate with your apologies so it’s not thoughtless and mechanical. Words matter.
  30. When you look your best, you tend to feel your best, and when you feel your best, you tend to do your best, and your best is the best gift you can offer this world. So put some thought into how you present yourself to the world. Do it for no one but yourself.30th birthday letter

A 30th birthday letter

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