Today I’m turning 30. I can still remember when I thought 30 was old. I was in high school, and I’d look at my coaches, teachers, friends’ older siblings in their 30’s and think, dang, that person is an Adult. Look at them living in their own house, going to work, wearing collared shirts and rocking pennies in their loafers.
This was before Adult had become a verb with innumerable memes to illustrate it. This was before memes. This was before the advent of Facebook, when AOL messaging was all the rage, and I’d wait with fingers crossed for the Internet to dial the house line. Sometimes I’d get a connection, but most of the time the line would putter out, and I’d be left wondering who was going to prom with whom and where the weekend kegger would be held (and busted).
It’s pretty crazy, all the changes that we’ve seen in the last decade alone. A device with the entire world’s knowledge in my back pocket? WTF. I’m still blown away with the Goracle at my fingertips. And then there’s other world wonders like Tinder, gluten-free anything, and the election of Donald Trump.
Yep. A lot has happened in the last ten years, including this lady’s 20’s.
I think it’s safe to say that for most people, the 20’s involve some serious struggle-bussing through craptown. Yes, there were plenty of moments when cruise control was on and the views proved spectacular. But there was a lot of self-doubt, confusion, and misguided attempts at said Adulting followed by brief reversions back to teenage-hood.
Now that the dirty thirties have arrived, I don’t feel old. On the contrary, I feel vibrant and at home in my life like never before—all thanks to a decade of trial and error. Below, I share 20 things I learned in my 20’s.
1. Eat good food. This is first because I truly believe it is the most important thing we can do for our bodies and minds. Put the healthy stuff in your mouth.
2. Everything in moderation, even moderation. Sometimes you eat nachos for dinner. Sometimes you do a cleanse and drink green juice for a week. And then sometimes you get blackout drunk and wear a cowsuit downtown, carrying a ski pole in one hand and a fire extinguisher in the other (true story). It’s called balance, and without the extremes we wouldn’t know where that center lives.
3. Always pack layers. Especially when you’re traveling to the desert and/or the Rocky Mountains. I swear, every time I forget my warm coat it shit storms. Even if you think it’s gonna be hot because it’s July, PACK YOUR PUFFY.
4. Invest in a nice bike for commuting. This was a game changer for me. I’m still a fair-weather bike commuter, but when I do bike, I’m always happy I did. I wasn’t happy, though, when I was pushing my Huffy from 8th grade up hills and consequentially I biked way less.
5. Know this word: projection. It’s common knowledge that we all have things we need to work on to be better people. But if someone makes you feel bad about who you are or what you are doing, ask yourself: is this really about me, or is it about her/him? More often than not, it’s the latter.
6. Set intentions. When you write down what you want, and create a plan to get it, you will either get it or something that is just as good. It’s MAGICAL what happens when you do this simple act of writing down what you want.
For example, I wrote down in my early twenties: start a writing center. Eight years later, it happened. More recently I made the goal of climbing 24 5.12s in my 29th year. Although I didn’t “make” the goal, (I’m at 22), without setting the intention I may not have pushed myself in the same way I did with it.
7. Most things take longer (and often more work) than you think they will. So often I would make a goal or have an expectation, and when it didn’t happen as fast as I thought it should, I would get upset with or down on myself. Sometimes I wish I could go back to my younger self and kindly ask her to please chill the f out.
8. Buy good headphones. Preferably the ones that are noise-cancelling and big and let everyone know that YOU CAN’T HEAR THEM.
9. Cut out as much plastic as possible. I was recently on the Oregon coast, and seeing all the little plastic bits washed ashore was depressing. Cutting out as many plastic utensils, bags, lids, straws, and little knick-knacks (flossers, shavers, etc.) as possible in our individual lives will make a global difference.
10. Support local farmers. This is the easiest, most effective way we can create positive impacts on our local and planetary ecological and economic systems.
11. Take more walks. I like to run, and to climb, but there’s something about moving at a slow, non-goal-oriented speed that makes me feel sane.
12. Lift weights. (Or do body-resistance strength exercises.) I recently heard a lecture on how strength-building is super important for longevity. How we age, the speaker stressed, is an option. A lot of times we accept getting weak and fragile as inevitable. And though this is true to some extent, we can also continue to enjoy our bodies well into old age.
13. Wear clothes that make you feel comfortable. I’ve all but given up on jeans, opting for jeggings. If I’m bloated, I’m gonna rock my stretch pants and say this is me today. This is me with an eight-month old dairy demon in my belly.
14. Wear clothes that make you feel like a sexy-ass bitch. Because confident is the hottest thing you can be, and we should all celebrate our bodies because they do a lot for us. (I don’t always feel this way, but I’m working on it.)
15. Too much Fireball Whiskey will ruin you for a week. Nuf. Said.
16. There is also such a thing as too many nuts. The raw food diet has its hazards.
17. Living a life of passion is a choice. I firmly believe in this one. There’s a powerful cultural narrative that stresses “practicality” and “stability” over everything else, including health and happiness. But if we’re not happy, and if our lifestyles are making us stressed and sick, then what’s the freaking point? I’ve met innumerable people who have decided to leave their “secure” jobs in search of something more meaningful and fulfilling to them and they’re more profitable than ever.
18. A day on the couch, blowing through a whole season of a fave show, is absolutely necessary. Because too much passion and goal-getting is also a thing.
19. Don’t stress about the things you did and didn’t do or say. More often than not, other people won’t remember or care. And if they do, a simple apology can (usually) fix the situation.
20. Celebrate your freaking birthday. Because the world’s only gonna get one you. And because cake.