Today, I am thirty.
I don’t think I greeted twenty with nearly as much reverence as I do turning thirty today. I’m sure at twenty I was just impatient to get to twenty-one and then to twenty-two so I could graduate college and start my life.
The beginning of this year brought us the ten year challenge and everyone’s nostalgic trip back in time. I held onto mine, knowing I’d really want to do it today instead.
Thirty Things I Did Between 2009-2019
-Committed to my writing major at UCSD and became a film studies minor. Best decisions ever! I remember the remaining years of college as the time my creative well was the most fulfilled. Still miss it.
-Made many new wonderful friends.
-Moved into my first apartment with the best roommate.
-Had my heart broken.
-Started IsleofBooks.com as a book review blog and it’s still going today, though the content has evolved over the years.
-Got the second coolest job I’ve ever had helping do archival research for a book.
-Graduated from college.
-Ran an open mic night at UCSD for a year.
-Got my first real job.
-Met and fell in love with my soul mate.
-Moved into my first apartment alone.
-Became a manager for the first time.
-Discovered several professional passions.
-Moved into my first house alone.
-Got my California real estate license.
-Wrote, sold, and published several short stories, poems, and lots of non-fiction pieces to various publications.
-Found first one writing group then another which tremendously helped improve my writing.
-Got an Honorable Mention for a story in a writing contest.
-Had a story come out in a physical book.
-Joined a book club like I always wanted.
-Acquired a dog, two cats, and another horse. These animals really stack up!
-Traveled to two new countries and several new cities as I committed to visiting at least one new place every year.
-Attended many professional conferences both inside and outside San Diego.
-Invested tremendously in my own mental health and personal growth.
-Learned to travel alone.
-Joined a networking group.
-Attended the weddings of many of my childhood best friends and watched them welcome babies (with more on the way!)
-Celebrated five years at a job, the longest I worked anywhere.
-Decided to leave my job and start my own business.
-Started that business and 1.5 years later, we’re still going full steam into 2020! We’ve expanded outside of California and have worked with people in sixteen states and counting.
And tonight I am heading to Belize for a quick vacation with my boyfriend and some friends. Starting my next decade in a new country, checking one more place off the travel bucket list.
And because of course no significant milestone birthday should be without a list of at least a handful of things I’ve learned over the years, here are the five most important lessons I’ve gleaned from three decades of life:
1. Time is Your Most Precious Resource
From the moment we’re born, the clock is running. Time is dwindling down. We can’t pause it, freeze it, rewind it, slow it down, or create more of it. All we can do is make choices on how it’s spent and continuously reallocate it. That’s it.
2. Relationships With People Matter the Most
What does it take to achieve any level of success? If you ask me, it’s learning how to build relationships with others. And not just to serve your own goals. Treat people well, do your best for them even when it inconveniences you, remember them in all life’s little moments, and you’ll never want for a friend or an ally, no matter how dark the night.
3. Self-Awareness is Key
Before you can do anything for anyone, including yourself, you have to know who you are, what makes you tick, what energizes you, and what wears you down. If you pour the time in to understanding yourself, learning to trust your gut, and recognizing the little hints that your life is out of alignment, you will unlock your own personal guide to being your best self for you and for others. But if you don’t do the work of figuring yourself out first, you’ll always be left guessing at what you need to perform at level ten.
4. Self-Care is Not Selfish
Noticeably absent on this list is my list of goals for the next ten years (and beyond!) of my life. Yes, I have them. No, I’m not sharing them here today. All except for one. I’m declaring 2020 the Year of Me because I’ve finally internalized that self-care is not selfish. See point three of knowing what you need to operate as your best self. Then read it again. Slowly. Backwards. Underline. Make notes in the margins. Self-awareness is key and self-care is not selfish.
5. You Only Live Once, So Why Not Do The Most?
I’m known for going above and beyond. For doing too much. For engaging in activities that aren’t the most logical on paper. Things that don’t scale. Taking the harder route to avoid doing the easy thing. Partially that’s how I’m wired and partially it’s because I often don’t see the cleanest route to get somewhere. And while that often leaves me feeling overwhelmed, tired, and used up, it also often leads to the most magical moments of serendipity. Many wonderful relationships, opportunities, and experiences came because I went further down a path than I should have gone, said yes to more things than was healthy for my mental health, and sometimes made poor decisions with my time. I can point to many moments where something I regretted saying yes to in the moment (and did it anyway) led me to a wonderful new client or referral. A decision that made no sense to others (and actually, even to me) put me on a path to meet someone with just the piece of information I needed for an answer I was holding on my heart. Those things I thought I didn’t have time for (and actually didn’t) were usually the gateway to breathtaking moments of peace and serenity.
Yes, I could do with a lot more rest and down time (see point 4, Year of Me), but when I look back over the last ten years in particular I can honestly say, I did A LOT with the time that was given to me. And for that I feel infinitely blessed because time is a gift given unequally and indiscriminately.
Wherever you are today, I challenge you to look at your one precious life and ask yourself if you’re doing the most to live a life filled to the brim with moments that matter, a life without regrets, a life worthy of the light you carry.
Photos: Jarnard Sutton at Nardcast Media