There’s something about aging that society has taught us to fear. Could it be the fear of not truly living or being closer to death? Either way, there’s this misconception that aging is not a good thing. I, however, disagree! For me, aging is such an amazing concept that, so far, has involved me learning, experiencing and immersing myself in everything and everyone around me. Aging has brought me a wealth of knowledge, loads of love and enlightenment – and who wouldn’t want all of that? It has shaped me and allowed me to live my best life.
So when my 30s came knocking, I welcomed it with open arms. As the weeks and now, months, have passed since my 30th birthday, I’ve realised that my 20s have taught me everything I need to know to be a successful 30-something-year-old. The lessons were endless, but here are the few that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.
From heartbreak to career setbacks, I leant how to be resilient in my 20s. This resilience became more prevalent after getting retrenched in 2013. What followed was a turbulent few years of trial and error, attempting to find my feet, voice, and niche in a sea of freelancers and entrepreneurs.
I can’t count how many times I was rejected and told I wasn’t good enough, but I always found the strength to try again. My career struggles taught me how to keep pushing forward even if it felt like I had been kicked 10 steps backwards. The constant motion of getting up and trying again – no matter how tired I was – has paid off in the biggest ways.
Stop Trying To Meet Everyone Else’s Expectations
Since turning 28, the pressure of getting married, having babies and living ‘happily’ ever after has been continuous. For me, ALL of the above is my choice to make and I will not be PRESSURED into doing anything that I AM NOT comfortable with or ready for. It seems like that in everyone else’s heads, I can’t truly be happy if I don’t buy a house, settle down and have a baby. Funnily enough, being happy is my number one priority and I wouldn’t be living the way I am – travelling the world with the person I love and working remotely – if it didn’t fill my soul with happiness. Yes, marriage and having a family does appeal to me, but it is not an essential to me being happy right now.
Unconditional Love Does Not Exist
Whether it is with your partner, a friend or a family member, loving those around you is not always easy. In my 20s, the term ‘unconditional love’ was thrown around a lot, but as I unpacked these two words, I realised that it made no sense. I refuse to allow people to treat me with disrespect and overstep my boundaries – and then assume that I’m going to love them unconditionally. In my opinion, that is abuse and I’m not allowing that to happen to me!
I will love you for every moment that you respect me and my boundaries. But as soon as you abuse that love, I have the right to stop loving you, no matter who you are. No one owns my love or deserves it just because they may be family, a longtime friend or even a romantic partner.
Self Care Is Essential
I dealt with a lot in my 20s, but my 28/29th year was incredibly difficult. From physically getting sick to emotionally having to pull myself together, I’ve never been more tested in life. For the first time, I had to be honest with myself and people around me about my anxiety. Little did I know that my anxiety was caused by a bigger health issue that I continuously ignored. But just talking about it and saying ‘I’m not ok’ made all the difference.
My anxiety convinced me to finally sort out my health issues. It took numerous doctor visits, plenty of blood tests and coming back to Cape Town (because there’s nothing like the comfort of home), but I’m finally feeling like myself again. To recover, I needed both my body and mind to rest. So I dropped clients that overstepped my boundaries and I started the long journey back to my full health. Taking the time for myself to just rest allowed me to feel like myself again. At 30, I now see the importance of looking after myself – whether it is taking a nap or a week off work to recognize and recover from whatever I’m going through. The cost of taking care of myself has been worth it because without our health everything else falls apart.
My Business Is None Of Your Business
My business is very close to me. I don’t share a lot – especially online – because getting a new client, working with incredible creators and following my dreams is something that I do for myself. It pays my bills and I’m grateful for that. The last thing I want is some person whose opinion really doesn’t matter, to have one about my business. My 20s have taught me to keep my business away from judgemental eyes and rather focus my attention on the opinions I actually care about.
Hard Work Pays Off
On the topic of business, hard work does pay off. There’s no two ways about it. I’m definitely not ‘lucky’ to be where I am today, earning enough to live fully and travel the world. It’s taken a LOT of work, sleepless nights and tears. You can read all the books, do all the courses and have all the degrees, but if you aren’t willing to put in the work to achieve your dreams, you’ll never realise them.
Being Kind To Myself
This world is a real shit show and it can be a tough place to live in. It is therefore important to be kind to myself. Being kind to others is second nature, but being kind to myself takes work. Muting my own harmful and hurtful inner voice is as important as ignoring the negative opinions and comments of others. Once my inner voice was muted I started giving myself the credit I deserved and needed. I allowed myself to see the hard work I’d put into my life and take a vacation without feeling guilty.
Knowing My Worth
Knowing your worth is not only important in your personal life, but also within your career. I get plenty of newbie/part-time freelancers constantly asking me how much they need to charge for their services. My answer is always ‘know your worth’. You know your experience, qualifications and how long a job will take you, so price accordingly.
For me, it took deep into my late 20s to actually know my worth – both personally and professionally. I still have moments of self-doubt and questioning, but I always remind myself of what I’ve achieved and how far I’ve come.
Overall, my 20s were incredible. I made loads of mistakes and overcame plenty of challenges, but through it all, it made me the strong, successful woman that I am today. If I had to add all the lessons, this post would be never-ending, but the lessons above are the ones that I value most and I hope that you too find value in them.
I would love to hear about lessons that you’ve learned in your 20s, so leave a comment below and share your experience.
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