In less than 3 days now I turn the big 3-0, The last few months have been a crazy whirlwind of mysterious illness so I’m only just posting this now – 3 months after the fact. Turning 30 isn’t nearly as scary as people would make you believe. As my 20s have progressed I’ve grown into them, into adulthood and into myself. Now as I embark on my 3rd decade I feel a confidence that I honestly never thought I would feel. It isn’t the only thing that I’ve learned or that has changed in the last 30 years, so here are 30 thoughts on 30 – lessons, thoughts and anecdotes from my life.
1. I can do anything and be anything.
Yep, lets start with the biggest broadest statement out there. There are things I’ve done in the last 10 years that I could never have imagined myself doing. I’ve done things I’ve been told I couldn’t do, or shouldn’t be able to do. I can do anything and be anything I want to be if I put my mind to it.
My limitations have changed in the last 10 years, and while I feel like I can do anything, my health conditions mean that some things aren’t possible. I’ve had to learn to live with them and more importantly to accept them and how they have shaped my life.
Change happens. Well, duh, right? Yet there are so many people in the world who cannot handle change. I grew up watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I think that helped my adolescent brain incorporate the big issue of dealing with change. In Buffy change happens constantly, and sometimes it feels like the end of the world, sometimes it IS the end of the world. Sometimes people die – or come back from the dead – and life goes on. Life always goes on.
4. Someone for everyone.
I am a nerd, always have been, so you can imagine how my dating was non-existent when I was a teenager. My heart got broken, ripped to shreds, stamped on and so forth and I often believed that I would grow up to be a crazy cat lady (ok, maybe I still did, but I’m not an alone single crazy cat lady…). I am fortunate to have found the one for me, the person that completes me and helped me heal the wounds others made. It sounds like a cliché, but I firmly believe there is someone for everyone in the world, that one person who will complete them. I know a lot of people who haven’t been as lucky, haven’t found that person or believe that they have so many problems or emotional baggage that it will never happen. It will. None of that makes a difference when you find that person because they will love you for who you are, every part of you including your faults.
5. Trust your instincts.
This is another cliché and one that I still fail at sometimes; if someone gives you the willies or gives you a bad feeling, trust your instincts. We are taught so often that if we have a problem with someone then the problem must be us. No, not always. Sometimes first impressions are correct and that person who seems like bad news, IS bad news. Just because everyone else loves them doesn’t mean they’re a good person, it just means they’re good at hiding their true colours.
6. Loving Faults
Love is about loving every part of someone, it isn’t about loving just a few parts of someone. Someone who truly accepts you will love you for your faults, they won’t turn it into a ritual of emotional abuse. You have the power in any relationship to speak up and say ‘please don’t do that, it makes me feel bad’ and if your partner laughs at you or argues with you – run. That is a part of emotional abuse and it is so easy to not even realise it is happening, especially if you suffer from depression or anxiety. Even if your partner doesn’t understand what is wrong their concern should be not harming you, not arguing their side of the story.
7. One day at a time.
Whether you suffer from the black dog of depression, chronic pain or are just going through a rough time, remember to take one day at a time. Nothing matters except for that moment, getting through it and moving on to the next. Take your time, relax, and ignore other people’s expectations. Do what you need to do. It isn’t selfish, it’s looking after yourself.
8. Take a chance.
Life is scary, people are even scarier and lets not start on relationships. It is very easy to just curl up in a ball and hide from the world, avoiding people and never taking a chance. Taking a chance is scary, but it can be amazing and life-changing (in a good way). The worst thing that can happen if you approach someone is that they say no. And if you don’t take that chance? You’ll always wonder, you’ll never know what could have been and you’ll be wasting time on something that isn’t worth it. Once you’ve taken that chance, for good or bad, you’ll know where you stand and that can be a very uplifting and freeing experience.
9. Good does exist.
It is so easy to be overwhelmed by the negativity and horrors of the world, or just by our own personal experience with others. I was bullied a lot from early childhood and even at one point as an adult, and it is very easy to just push people away after those negative experiences. It becomes difficult to trust in others, to offer yourself up to new people and not worry about being judged. Yet there are people out there who are different, who are loving, caring and supportive. It may take some time to wade through all the bad apples, but good people do exist and good things can happen to you. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
10. Religion doesn’t necessarily mean good.
There is this assumption that everything good, that every good gesture must be the result of religion and a religious person. If something good happens and is posted on social media the amount of comments about “God” astounds me. I’ve met religious people who have not been the pillars of the community that they claim to be, and have been examples of the worst types of people around. In recent events religions, especially certain middle eastern religions, have been brought to our attention again. Religions are complex organisms, communities of people, not just a few. I was taught non-Christian religions at Primary School, I had a classmate who was Hindu and celebrated those holy days. To me it was just a part of life and that experience as a child stuck with me.
11. We all judge.
We all want to believe that we’re truly open minded, that we don’t look at something/someone and judge them instantly. The fact is that we do, we all judge. Sometimes we judge based on experience, sometimes we judge based on what we’ve been told. Is judging a natural behaviour? Can we unlearn it? Those are questions far bigger than this blog post, however, I will offer my opinion on it. For me, judging happens but it is how we react to it that defines whether it is a problem or not. Treating someone differently because of something you’ve judged about them is wrong; get to know them and then judge their actions. One definition of judge is “to infer, think, or hold as an opinion; conclude about or assess”. Nothing in there says it’s a mean action, it’s simply a way to think about something and make a conclusion. One thing I have noticed over the years is that people have very different responses to this, and someone you think you can trust or appears to be even more judgemental will quite happily throw you under the bus.
12. People will always hate you for your successes.
It doesn’t matter what you do, why you do it; you could just be doing it to better yourself and your life – because you put the hard work in that they couldn’t or wouldn’t, that makes you a target for their anger and hate. You could be the nicest most humblest person on the planet and someone will still hate you for doing what they couldn’t/didn’t. Stop worrying about them and enjoy your life; you earned your successes!
13. Age doesn’t define us.
I grew up in a period where teenagers were viewed as hooligans. I distinctly remember one time I was sitting on a bus, minding my own business and some old man decided to pick on me. He looked straight at me and started ranting about young people not respecting their elders. My hypermobility syndrome had already been diagnosed by this point and I couldn’t give up my seat even if I wanted to. Yet he chose me, made me feel extremely guilty despite the multiple people on the bus who could have also given up their seat. That is just one example of the elders we’re told to respect. Now I’m 30 I know that being an adult is not really that much different from being a child. Age doesn’t define who we are, it doesn’t make us better people or due more respect.
14. Everyone should learn about internet safety and filters.
I’ve lost track of the many times the internet has been blamed for things. I’m honestly wouldn’t be surprised if someone claimed it was the reason for global warming. I grew up in the early days of the internet, and navigated my own way through everything. Children today have so much more to deal with, and it is their parents/guardians responsibility to ensure they stay safe. It used to be the unwritten rule that you never used your full name online, now everyone does on social networks. If you’re an adult, fair enough, but it worries me how many kids do this without understanding the consequences. Not to mention how many kids and adults have no idea how to use filters to limit the amount they share to strangers.
15. Some idioms are correct, others are silly.
Experience has shown that some idioms are spot on, while others are pointless. People can put a lot of stock into these, especially ones like ‘a leopard never changes its spots’ or ‘blood is thicker than water’. Life is different for everyone, we all meet different people and experience life in our own way. Pick what works for you and ignore the others, don’t stress that you’re not normal just because an idiom doesn’t work for you.
16. If you don’t say something, who will?
There are so many ways now to complain, yet no one ever does. It has become a societal norm not to complain, not to be seen as being too serious or a whiner. If you complain to a business or organisation you can often feel like your concerns are being ignored rather than followed up. In more personal circumstances a complainer is often labelled as being unable to take a joke, causing a fuss and other negative issues. What scares me is that if we all give in to this social pressure bad behaviour will continue. If you don’t tell someone they’re being rude or hurtful, how will they ever know? Everyone has the right to complain, to tell another person they don’t want to hear that, or be treated that way.
17. There’s no such thing as normal.
Pretty simple really; the world is so obsessed with being normal. Wearing the right clothes, having the right hair cut or acting the right way. None of it matters because normality doesn’t exist. It’s a social concept that exists to alienate anyone who doesn’t fit into what people define as normal. And not being normal? It isn’t as scary or as bad as you might think. It can be quite liberating actually.
18. The school yard doesn’t end at school.
The older I get, the more dismayed I am to find so many of my fellow adults have not left school behind them. With age is supposed to come wisdom, or so they say. Many people just can’t let go the pettiness, the squabbles and more importantly the desire to one up their fellows in an imaginary league of coolness and elitism. All we can do is hope they eventually catch up to the rest of us and realise they don’t have the time or energy to devote to their childish antics any more.
19. Most people who teased you about your glasses are probably now wearing them too.
A few years back glasses became the cool thing to have with celebrities and fashionista’s wearing them even if they didn’t technically need them. Likewise, many people have grown older and their eyesight has deteriorated. Those that once laughed at your four eyes are now part of the same club. You could even say it was karma.
20. Everyone should have a pet.
Pets are awesome. They provide so much love and happiness (unless of course you’re allergic or phobic) and can help with stress, anxiety and depression. They love back, they need you and give you purpose in life when it feels like there isn’t one. Everyone should have a pet.
21. Everyone is human, perfect does not exist.
Perfect is one of those words in the dictionary I absolutely hate. I frequently tell my fiancé that he is as close to perfect as humanly possible. It is quite scary how much in our world revolves around the idea of looking perfect, acting perfect, having the perfect family and career. None of which actually exist. No one is perfect, and if you know someone who seems to be then recognise that they either have major issues they’re denying or are very talented at portraying a façade.
22. Everyone is different, especially those with the same illness.
On the one hand we’re taught to value our uniqueness, with various religious believes underpinning this ideal. Yet people constantly treat others as if they are the same people with the exact same feelings and experiences. Worst of all is when someone suffers from the same illness as another. I had one physio tell me that all my issues were down to my weight, and as someone who had the same health condition, she knew this was so. I promptly walked out of the appointment. She didn’t care that my weight had increased as my pain got worse, or that I used to be tiny. She just assumed it was because of the weight that I was unhealthy.
23. Illness is not a competition.
Not only have I found disabled people/invisible illness sufferers comparing symptoms, I’ve also had people tell me how difficult their life is in comparison to mine. Any illness sucks. It doesn’t matter what it is, how long you’ve had it, or how much it impacts your life. If you’re ill, you are ill. Mental or physical, something is NOT working right in your body. Those people deserve your love and support, not your frequent attempts to compete with them.
24. Nothing ever goes the way you plan.
I’ve given up making long term or detailed plans, especially with my multiple illnesses. Even without them I doubt anything would go as planned. It’s the nature of life and chaos. Learning to roll with the changes isn’t easy but also a necessity. Give it ago on a small scale and slowly build upwards.
25. Gender equality doesn’t exist.
Gender equality and especially the pay gap between genders has been in the news throughout 2015. Many people claim that gender inequality doesn’t exist, that women can work and vote and that’s enough. As a young woman I distinctly disagree. I get stared at by men, not because I look amazing because I really don’t, but because I have breasts. They do it without shame, and when you stare back most just keep staring. A few may look away guiltily when they’re caught. If workmen come to the house to fix something I can guarantee they will be male and will treat me like an air-headed house wife. If I go to a video games store the male staff will talk directly to my fiancé, or talk down to me. Hell, I’ve even had female staff do it to me. These are just a handful of circumstances.
26. People from the past know the past you.
This didn’t really come to me until very recently when I saw a similar statement on one of those words of wisdom things shared on facebook. I have always been very concerned with the past, with what people think of me and what I had done. While I knew I had changed and overcome past issues, I found it difficult to let go what others thought of me. But that is just it; they don’t know me now. They knew me then, in difficult circumstances and a different stage of my health.
27. Real friends will stick with you through everything – and I mean everything.
It infuriates me when I hear people speak of being badly treated by those who are supposed to be their friends. The fact is that real friends will do exactly what that idiom says; they’ll help you bury the body. I’ve dealt with a lot of teenage angst and mental health issues so I’ve not always been the best friend ever. That means I value those who have stuck with me beyond measure.
28. Harm ye none and do as ye will.
As a Pagan I follow the Wiccan Rede, but this line has always been something I think everyone should follow. Do what you want, live life the way you want to – but don’t harm anyone else while you do it. If you live your life that way then you’re not wrong or abnormal. No matter what society or religion says.
29. Try things for yourself.
While I listen to recommendations, I believe in trying things for myself. I frequently find myself loving movies or books that are slated by others. This goes for other experiences in life; try it, don’t just listen to that friend or relative who tells you it’s a bad idea just because they heard so from a friend. Everyone’s different, remember, so what suits someone else might be perfect for you.
30. Be yourself.
And the final lesson of my 30 years; be yourself. It is very difficult to do, especially with so much pressure from society to conform and act like everyone else. Maybe that works for some people, but others were born quirky with imaginations that need to be unleashed.