Ahhhh 30. It’s amazing how much impact a simple, two-digit number can have.
This number has become an inflection point for so many – often viewed as the time when your “real life” begins, or should start to at least. In my experience, turning 30 is rarely met with ambiguity; it’s either dreaded or celebrated, but it is marked as a milestone in either case.
At the end of July, after months of teasing about my impending status as an “old lady”, I finally turned 30. Naturally, I spent the weeks leading up to this milestone birthday reflecting on my 20s – the good, the bad and the ugly. As I’m sure it is for most people, my 20s were a study in contrasts, full of transitions and growing pains, bringing some of the best and worst moments of my life so far.
But, as I walked into a small restaurant on Toronto’s east end and was greeted by a room full of my favourite people in the world shouting, “Surprise!” (with many others making appearances throughout the night), I was struck by the defining characteristic of my 20s: love.
Cheesy as it may seem, love has brought some truly incredible people into my life and filled it to the brim with wonderful moments, big and small.
Thinking back over the past decade this love plays out in a million beautiful tableaus, both big and small; from impromptu dance parties to celebrating milestones over coffees or champagne with friends, toasting to new jobs, new skills, or new marriages. I have watched friends become parents in a continual state of awe as to just how they can do it all while raising such incredible, thoughtful little people and I have loved working for some of the most inspiring, intellectual and thought-provoking people I’ve ever met.
And of course, the person who has been by my side for most of those moments. I’m still not sure how it happened, but I’m incredibly grateful that a bond over Entourage and music turned into an uncanny combination of similarities, complementary traits and the best partner I could never have even imagined (I mean, how many people find out on their first date that both their families had the same nick name for them? Thank you Alex P. Keaton🙏🏻).
These are just a few of a million incredible and completely ordinary moments that I’ve had the privilege to experience, and love helped make each of them happen. It also tore my heart apart, provided me a shoulder to cry on and gave me the opportunity to do the same. And you know? It even taught me a few things along the way that I thought I’d share:
Top 10 Lessons from my 20s
- Drink water! And not just one glass – drink WAY more water than you think you should, then drink some more. Men need about 3.7 litres of fluid per day and women need 2.7 – seriously, the Mayo clinic thinks so.
- Find a way to travel – as I’ve mentioned before, traveling used to feel unattainable, but once I made it a priority, I realized I am very willing to give up other things to get out and see the world. On that note, get your passport! It took me way to long to do this 🙈
- Food is fuel – it has a remarkable impact not only on how you feel, but on your mood. Get some veggies and whole foods into your system pronto.
- Make exercise a priority, even if it’s just 30 minutes a few times a week – sometimes that’s the only time you’ll have to yourself all day (it took me a while to learn this one). Nobody regrets a workout.
- Embrace your body for all that it is and all that it isn’t. I know this is so much easier said than done (and let’s be frank, a little cliche), but those flaws you spend hours obsessing over are often the very things other people think make you the most beautiful (or haven’t even noticed). Your body is an incredible vehicle that lets you do amazing things – you can hug, you can smile, you may even be able to jump and do cartwheels – so let’s stop taking it for granted okay?
- Meditate: this is something I tried, dropped and have recently picked back up to varying degrees of success. It’s really easy to let this one slide off your to-do list, but the days when I actually take anywhere from 3 – 10 minutes to be still help me stay focused and calm. Don’t be afraid to try different ways of mediating – what might work for some people doesn’t mean it will work for you. I’ve been testing out an app, which provides quick, guided meditations and has been incredibly helpful.
- Surround yourself with supportive people – people who will build you up, help you dream bigger, give you a push when you need it and won’t be afraid to tell you the truth, straight up to your face.
- Figure out which time of day you are most productive – then structure your day accordingly. Through a lot of trial and error, I’ve learned that I am most productive in the morning, but I never thought of myself as a morning person. Slowly, over the course of the past year, I’ve been going to bed and waking up earlier, which has allowed me to get soooo much done (even on weekends). As much as I hate to admit it, when I have a productive morning, it makes me ridiculously happy and completely sets the tone for the rest of my day.
- That said, be flexible – not everyday is going to look or feel the same, let alone be your ideal day, so be flexible with your to-do list and yourself.
- Start a skincare regime now. Okay if you’re like, Belinda this seems a little contradictory, it’s not and here’s why: your face spends all day long sharing fragments of your thoughts and feelings with the world – take a moment and give it the TLC it deserves (especially in the winter – dry skin, ouch!)
More than anything else, never underestimate the incredible impact being kind and giving others your full attention, if only for a second, can make – say hello, smile and look them in the eye. In our technology obsessed world where “phubbing” is an actual word in the dictionary (side bar, regardless of your relationship status, read this piece).
I think this is more important now than ever. I once interviewed a homeless artist for an article and he shared something that has always stuck with me – he told me that even if they don’t have anything to offer him, when someone passes him on the street and takes an extra second to look him in the eye they can truly see him – it’s an important reminder for both people that they are humans out there in the world and even though their stories may be vastly different, at least they have that in common. It tugs on my heart every time I think about it.
What are some of your favourite lessons from your 20s? Let me know in the comments below👇🏻