Friday, March 25, 2016

Thoughts on Turning 30...


Wow, guys...I'm 30!  I can't help but reflect on the past decade.  This is the first decade that really matters in life.  The first decade that you're a real person, in the real world, making your own decisions and then seeing how it works out.  (Sorry, teenage years, but let's face it, you kind of suck.)

Like most in their 20's, I did my best to figure out who I am and what to do with my life.  I made a lot of changes and tried a lot of different things.  I went to two colleges, lived in three cities - moving for a total of 17 times since I was 18 years old - I've worked at 3 different firms and survived a handful of relationships, from bad ones to finding the Absolute Love of My Life.

With all of the craziness, and sometimes messiness, that had been my life in early 20's, now, at 30 years old,  I can comfortably look back and say that I don't have any regrets.  Thirty, and no regrets, is pretty amazing.  Not every decision was a good decision but those decisions that were in the not-so-good category were never permanent and I knew that going into them (very important!).

I am 30 and I have built a life that I am proud.  I feel accomplished!  Of course, I have to give a ton of credit to finding the most perfect-for-me person to marry.  Let me get all cliché and declare that he is undoubtedly my better half and brings out the best in me and I'm so, so thankful.

But I don't want to discount that I created this life for myself.  I didn't stumble upon the person that I am.  Somehow I developed some decision making skills that helped me get here and I think they might be worth sharing.  In reflecting on this past decade, I came up with a short list of valuable lessons that I've learned along the way.  Some of you might think my ideas sound perhaps a little cold, but I like to chalk my outlook up to pragmatism and self-preservation.  Any youngsters out there who are interested in how I got to 30 without regrets, please do read on...

*If you're not interested in advice, I included a short preview of my 30th birthday celebrations at the end of the post, it was perfectly relaxing and food focused ;)

Lesson #1:  Be Confident in Your Decisions (and Embrace Change!)

As I said, your 20's is when your decisions are strictly your own so make a lot of them and get some good practice.  I've talked to a lot of people about decisions before I've made them but I always end up following my own intuition.  To break this down, I knew what I wanted to do - for example, I wanted to move to NYC despite having a great set up in Chicago - so I considered the best and worst case scenario of packing up and moving.  As long as I'm okay with the worst case scenario, I went for it and hoped for the best.  Change is scary but if you look at what worse case is, identify what you're really afraid of, it is easy to see that it isn't that scary.

People are pretty frivolous with their "you'll regret it if you do/don't do x".  Don't listen to them.  Make sure you aren't jobless, homeless, reliant on anyone else but yourself, hurt, broke, rushed marriage/having a kid, you'll be fine.  Make sure you focus on what you want - now and long term - and try not to get sidetracked.  I didn't know that I wanted to live in NYC forever, but I knew that I wanted to live there right then.  So I moved to New York.  And then I moved back to Michigan.

Lesson #2:  Spend Your Time on People Wisely

It took me nearly my entire 20's to figure this out but it is really not worth spending your time on people that aren't worth your time.  Defining "worth it" is up to you, but be selective.  Consider any of your relationships - friends, family, boyfriend/girlfriend, coworker, boss, ANYONE.  I know it sounds harsh but if someone is exhausting/stressing/hurting you and you take them out of your equation (or reduce your time on them at the very least), you'll never say to yourself, I wish I would have kept that person in my life that didn't make me feel good.  Look at it this way, you only have so much time and energy and it isn't fair to you or those that are in your life that are worth it, if you're spending that time on someone who is draining you.  Wouldn't you rather give more to those that deserve it?

Also people don't change.  I'm sure there are exceptions out there, but if you don't count on it you'll save yourself some time and heartache.

Lesson #3:  Take Care of Your Body

Take care of yourself with more lifestyle changes rather than cleanses/diets.  It is never too late to improve yourself.  Making healthy choices are so second nature to me now, but I haven't always been like this, it has taken years and years of practice.  I stand by my advice that people don't change but let me tack on that people don't change unless that person wants to make a change.  So if you want to be healthier or feel better, something isn't right, you have harmful habits, just figure out what you want to do, then make a plan of what you need to do.  You can only complain about something for so long until you must make a change or you become that exhausting person I mentioned in Lesson #2.  Procrastination never feels good.  If you keep falling off the wagon, figure out why.  If you had an awesome, feel good day, ask yourself why and so you know what to do in order to do it again.  If you're struggling to reach your health goals, step back and ask yourself why, for example, you aren't drinking enough water or eating enough vegetables, or why you don't make it to the gym (maybe you need direction/structure so bite the bullet and buy a package of classes or cheaper yet, find a workout buddy to hold you accountable).  Get a water bottle, check in with your water intake at certain times during the day.  If you don't like vegetables, don't give up.  Buy a vegetable that is easy, like carrots, and experiment with ways to enjoy them.  Shredding them over a salad, dipping in hummus, toss with olive oil/salt/pepper and roast in the oven, try my Cast Iron Carrots with Curry...my point is, if you if it is good for you, it is worth trying to figure out a way to enjoy it.  I promise if you don't give up, you'll come around to enjoying treating yourself well.

You all know you should wear sunscreen but don't forget your neck, décolletage and hands ;)  Thanks to Elle and Mama Joy for teaching me those lessons about 5 years ago!

Lesson #4:  Take Care of Your Mind

This goes hand and hand with taking care of my body for me.  If I'm not physically feeling good, my mood suffers.  One major self-realization that I made in the last decade is that I'm somewhat introverted.  When I was younger, I wanted to be the social butterfly, but it took me stepping back and accepting who I was to realize I couldn't keep up with a social butterfly and be truly successful and happy.  Managing plans with people has to be a balance for me.  It's not worth feeling guilty for saying "no" when I really want to go home, cook a healthy dinner, curl up with a book, get a full 8 hours of sleep and then feel awesome enough to go for a run first thing in the morning.

I also realize now that I was a pretty anxious teenager/child and was at risk of becoming an anxious adult.  However, since I realized this about myself, I now resort to dissecting a situation that is troubling me, instead of giving in to overthinking a situation that is troubling me.  This has hugely helped me to cope with normal (and sometimes not normal) life stressors.  If something is stressing me out, I revert to Lesson #1.  If someone is stressing me out, I try to put myself in their shoes, assume they aren't trying to hurt my feelings on purpose, maybe something else is going on with them, maybe they are stressed.  Essentially give them the benefit of the doubt and don't blame them for making me feel a certain way.  No one can make me feel a certain way, only I can make that choice.  I choose not to let them bring me down.  It is too exhausting.  Letting go of what I might have thought was stressful and starting over with a fresh outlook with a person has been awesome.  If it happens again and again, I revert back to Lesson #2.  Sometimes it is you.  Sometimes it is them.  Proactively step back and figure it out to save yourself some time.

Lesson #5:  Travel Whenever You Can

I think traveling helps you with Lesson #1 and Lesson #4.  Life will likely get more complicated as you get older, assuming your responsibilities grow over time, and so I fully encourage you to take any excuse you can to travel.  It makes settling down feel awesome too because you know more about yourself if you step out of your comfort zone (home) and experienced something that you can't experience without going somewhere new.  Of course it helps that I married someone who also values travel so we've continued to prioritize traveling as a couple but quite frankly I can't imagine spending my life with someone who didn't think traveling was important.  The obvious hold up on travel is that it is expensive but it doesn't have to be, you just have to get creative and proactive.  You just have to do it.  Your friend is having a bachelorette party in Charleston?  Guess what, you get to split the hotel room six ways so you go.  Another friend is working in Germany and wants to meet up in Vienna?  Find a cheap Air BnB to share and you go.  You and husband don't have plans for the year?  Find somewhere to go!

As far as not having time to go somewhere, sounds like Lesson #3 and Lesson #4 might be worth reassessing...anything is possible, you just have to adjust your priorities.  If you don't want to adjust, maybe it's not so important, and that's okay too.  With that, I have to caveat this lesson with, if you like to travel, travel whenever you can.  Some people don't like to travel and while I won't understand it, I can respect it.

Lesson #6:  Don't Ignore Your Finances

While this one is important enough to include I don't really want to get into details because everyone's situation is different.  But it must be said, don't ignore your finances!!!  Save or at least have a plan to save.  Know the interest rate on your debts.  Set up a budget and stick to it.  Keep track of where your money goes (hello Excel and Mint!) Don't live beyond your means - this one is hard sometimes and I've definitely been guilty of this in the past but that's why it is a life lesson learned!  By at least not ignoring your finances, you take ownership and hopefully you can set yourself up for success going forward.

Hopefully my apparent "seize the day" approach on so-called growing up is somewhat helpful, inspirational or, if nothing else, amusing to you - thanks for reading!

If you have it in you, continue reading below to preview my food-centric 30th birthday celebration...

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For my 30th birthday we decided to celebrate with a lot of food and relaxation since I was just 2 days away from 40 weeks pregnant.  Drinks and dancing were not in the cards ;)  We started off the morning at Zingerman's Roadhouse for breakfast.  Then watched Bridge of Spies and lounged and then eventually made it out to Aventura for a birthday dinner!  We skipped dessert at the restaurant for some Talenti vanilla ice cream with peanuts at home.  It was all exactly what I wanted for my birthday <3

{Zingerman's Roadhouse Grits & Eggs}

{A light lunch at home with homemade pesto, tomato, avocado and leftover bacon from breakfast}

{Aventura:  Tomates Asados, herb roasted tomatoes, fried capers, boquarone, lemon aioli}

{Aventura:  Croqueta De Pollo, potato, roasted chicken, thyme, honey aioli}

{Aventura:  Goat cheese with lemon jam and baguette}

{Aventura:  Bolones Espanol, pork and beef ragout, pappardelle, shaved manchego, basil, espelette pepper}

{Aventura:  Pescado Blanco Tostado, pan roasted white fish, yukon potato puree, caper butter, berbed bread crumbs}

{Two days shy of 40 weeks pregnant, puffy, happy and ready for bed!}



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