What I learned from my 30s

My fifth decade on this planet isn’t too far away. Here are some notes I wish I could have given to my younger self.

Forty is just a number. It holds no particular terror for me (and, I hasten to add, is still multiple years away. Multiple, I say.). But looking back to where I was at the end of my twenties makes me realise how much I’ve learned and how much I’ve changed. So here are some things I’d stick in a bottle and throw into the ocean of time with the hope they’d wash up on the shore of my twenties.

  • We’re all self-centred, entitled humans in our 20s. Life will find a way to humble you. You’ll be battered but bettered by it.
  • Being nice to someone isn’t the same as being kind to them.
  • The hurt your mistakes cause becomes painfully evident. Learn from them and forgive yourself for them. Same goes for the mistakes others make.
  • Enjoy the days. Life isn’t a commute — the journey’s important.
  • For God’s sake go outside sometimes.
  • Jump right into your dreams. Over-thinkers die with a long to-do list.
  • “Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.” (Couldn’t find a way to say that better than Lao Tzu.)
  • Secret romances are a sign that your relationship is wrong for you. Fix it or end it. Don’t be afraid of change or short-term hurt.
  • 90% of the people you know are fair-weather friends. This does not make them terrible people, you just need to categorise them differently: ‘friend-lite’ perhaps. They won’t be there for you when you need them.
  • Don’t make time in your life for gossips.
  • You don’t need a 10 year plan. You don’t need a 5 year plan. Even a 3 year plan is tempting Fate to kick you in the jolly-bags. Do what you’re good at, try new things, take opportunities as they arise and meet today’s challenges.
  • Your 30s are when you’ll really start to feel the effects of issues from your childhood. Don’t waste time: get a counsellor, find a support group. You’re not alone.
  • Don’t live inside someone else’s life because it’s easier. Make a life together or make a life alone.
  • Most people won’t stand up to injustice. Those who do are the ones to keep in your life.
  • Never ever stop trying to win your partner’s heart.
  • Adult bullies don’t look like they did at school. They evolve to replace thumps and jeers with fake smiles and damaging lies.
  • You will be betrayed by people you deeply trusted. Don’t stop deeply trusting.
  • An experience is worth a thousand trinkets.
  • At some point, you’ll start to think that people around you seem to know less than you. You are not missing anything, they really do know less than you. This will feel like arrogance, but it is the result of 15 years of experience.
  • The law in the UK is badly broken. Nobody will care about this until they’ve been personally affected by it.
  • Mental illness is debilitating and terrifying. Nobody will care about this until they’ve been personally affected by it.
  • Twitter only contains the wittiest and shittiest of humanity. Don’t take it too seriously.
  • Nothing lasts forever. Except for everything you ever do.
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