I fondly remember the morning of the 18th birthday. I was on my way to school and I got into the car with my mum and I looked over and said with the utmost conviction something along the lines of how old I felt that particular morning. It never occured to me how I would feel being a month away from 30.
For anyone born in 1989, this year is a big one. It is the year we turn 30 and I, for one, had hoped that by this time I would have my life together. Unfortunately I don’t, and I often feel overwhelmed by life and that is nothing to be ashamed of. I know that I am not the only one, there are friends and acquaintances who are unfortunately in the same boat that I am in although I have often compared myself to people younger and older than myself.
Let me put it into context: I am turning 30 in October, currently unemployed and I do not have a degree. I am, however, currently studying towards a qualification, I am trying to make healthier choices with regards to my diet, and I launched my blog.
When I was younger, I never imagined that I would be a housewife living in a foreign country where I do not speak the language, and completely financially dependent on my partner. In fact, the thought of not being financially independent scared me, so you can understand my hesitance to leave my full time job with my own income and my independence. When I broke the news to my friend, she immediately told me that I was making a mistake.
In some ways, leaving my job was definitely a mistake, but in other ways it wasn’t. If I had not left my job, I would probably never have launched this blog, I would never have started my amazing journey of self-awareness, I would never have started this journey of personal development and realised how powerful thoughts are.
To be completely honest, I wished so many weeks and months away, I don’t feel as though I am turning 30 this year. It is a sad thought, I know, but it doesn’t make sense to me to dwell on all the events of the past. I prefer to make use of the time I have ahead of me to make the most of all the opportunities that lie ahead.
Turning 30 of course comes with a lot of expectations. Parents expect grandchildren, your career is supposed to be on track. I fulfill none of these expectations simply because I do not wish to. I made a choice to have a different life that may not have turned out the way I planned, but I definitely have a clear vision of my priorities moving forward. Turning 30 for me simply means the beginning of a new era, a chance to reinvent myself, a chance to be the person I want to be in order to fulfill my own expectations of myself.
My 20s were never a time for experimentation, a difficult upbringing forced me into employment straight out of school and while I resented that fact, it showed me how hard I am capable of working. A good work ethic is an asset. I never got the opportunity to party with all my friends every weekend or to socialise outside of the world I grew up in and for a while that was something that made me sad but moving into my 30s now, I appreciate being someone who prefers to stay home because that means that the only sacrifice I have to make in order to achieve my goals is to turn the TV off and abstain from Netflix.
Turning 30 also makes me reflect on the many who never got a chance to reach my age. Waking up each day is a blessing and getting to any age is an even bigger blessing. Everyday on social media, we hear about the passing of family members, friends, acquaintances, and our favourite celebrities. We are constantly reminded by our mortality and health scares in this day and age have become normal with the high stress lifestyles we lead. During my time as a housewife (especially in the early months) I spent most of my time laying on the couch and binge watching all of the shows I never had time to watch while I was working. For a while, it was fun to sleep everyday, stay up all night, and eat whatever my heart desired. The effects definitely showed on the scale and when I could no longer fit into my clothes. While this might not have stopped me then, speeding towards 30 has definitely opened my eyes to the health risks associated with an unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle.
Reflecting back on this, there are a few things I regret about the past few years. The first being never taking the initiative to take care of my body and to practice self-love. It is one thing to say that you love yourself, and a completely different thing to prove that you actually do. Self love is reflected in the choices you make in all aspects of your life. Will Smith said that the definition of discipline is self love. He goes on to say that self love is where you have actions towards yourself that is loving. A question that really stuck with me regarding self love goes something like this: ‘If you treat someone you loved the way you treat yourself, would that person be happy?’ and that is something that a lot of us need to examine. We often put our needs on the back burner when someone needs something, or we feel obliged to help when we do not have the emotional or physical capacity to assist and then wallow in guilt that we were unable to help out. It is not always our place to assist, and sometimes the other person just needs someone to vent to in order to get it out, no assistance needed. In these times, communication is important. You have to remember that you cannot pour from an empty cup.
My second regret is not taking more risks when it came to my career and relationships. There were often times when I was younger (which is the best time to take risks because you have less to lose) when opportunities were presented to me and instead of making my own decisions, I relied on a parent or someone who was older than me to dictate which path I should follow. This followed me well into my adult life and has led me to look for approval from people who should definitely not have a say in my life at all. I learnt that asking for advice is not an invitation for someone to tell you exactly what decision you should make in order to be happy.
My third regret is not working harder in school. I recently read Carol Dweck’s book Mindset (I recommend you read it as soon as possible!) and it made me realise that for the large part of my schooling career I had a fixed mindset. (I will go further into this in another blog post later in a review of the book) Had I worked harder, I would have probably gotten better grades and wouldn’t take every failure as the end of my good grades. I was good at math when I was coddled by the teacher and in a higher level than the rest of my peers but as soon as I felt I was not good enough, my grades dropped and with it went my confidence in learning.
We all have regrets, but the way to overcome them is by changing the way we live in the future.
What are you doing today to live your life on your own terms?
-The Uninspired Blogger