Opinion

30 Lessons Learned Before 30

I’m nearing the big 3-0. Not in a year, not in half a year, but in two months. And you don’t need to be one of my closest friends to know: the idea of turning 30 frightens me.

Needless to say, with this big birthday around the corner and New Year just behind us, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my life. And I’ve come to a big conclusion… Am I where I thought and hoped I’d be by 30? Nope, not at all. I’m unmarried, I don’t have children (sorry society, guess I disappointed you in this regard) and I’m afraid my career isn’t exactly where I thought it would be either.

Yet, I am happy, comfortable and totally at peace with where I am at 30. The thing is, I’ve learned a lot over the years and I know that I’ll still be learning a lot in years to come. But I’m truly grateful for these 30 lessons that I learned over my 30 years.

PS most of these are lessons that I only got to learn over the past two years… if you’re younger than me – learn from my mistakes! And if you’re older than me – you’re never too old to learn a new lesson!

1. Morals

You need to figure out what’s right in your own eyes. You need to base this on your own ideas and opinions about life instead of what society tells you to do. And then, finally, you need to follow and stand up for these morals and values no matter what. You may not always win when you do this, but you will always come out on the other side knowing that you did the right thing.

2. Family

I’ve gone through many phases and seasons in my life. During some of those times I wasn’t the best daughter and sister in the world – I turned mean and selfish.

Yet, my family has never stopped loving me. I’ve learned that, first of all, it is an incredible blessing to have a family like this.

And secondly when your family loves you this much, you need to treat them with the utmost love, respect, appreciation, and consideration.

3. People trump things

You know what, when all is done none of the material things will matter. Making money and having a good job, having a nice house with pretty things, having great clothes, eating at fancy restaurants, even seeing the world… that’s all amazing stuff, really. But it means so much less if you’ve alienated everyone you love and now have to do these things alone. The people in your life should always come before the things you want.

4. Take better care of yourself

When it comes to taking care of ourselves we tend to focus either on only the emotional side, or only the physical side of things. Here’s the truth: it’s a balance. If you don’t take proper care of yourself physically (skin, hair, exercise, the food you eat, the things you drink), you won’t feel great. But you can also be in incredible physical shape and in immense emotional pain. Make sure you take care of your emotional wellbeing too. Allow yourself to grieve when things are bad, allow yourself to process the things that happen in your life and find constructive ways to deal with stress.

5. People’s opinions don’t matter – that doesn’t mean you should try to shock everyone

I believe that my generation went through a bit of a phase in our twenties – the I-don’t-care-what-people-say phase. This is great. You shouldn’t care about what people say. But be cautious of getting so stuck in this phase that your aim might become to shock people instead.

Keep in mind that the opinions of the people that you love and respect DO matter.

Don’t go chasing them away because you’re trying too hard not to care about what others say and think.

6. Love every chance you get

My heart has been really, truly broken six times. Yet I managed to take something positive and good from each of those encounters with the big L. But you know, love is more than just something romantic – it’s treating the car guard and the lady packing your plastic bags at the grocery store as well as the person standing at the crossing asking for help, with kindness. It’s caring for complete strangers. It’s not saying hard words, even when you’re angry or feel justified. It’s being good to others without expecting anything back.

7. Society defines love crookedly

1 Cor 13:4-8

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all thing. Love never ends.

8. Protect your heart

People have the power to hurt us, especially when they hold our hearts. Think of that friend who broke your trust, that person you dated but who turned out to be a completely different person than you thought they were. It’s a sad truth about life. So be careful when it comes to letting people into your most inner thoughts. Nothing hurts like a broken heart, and we have a duty to protect our hearts against any form of harm or pain.

9. Hand-pick the opinions you allow into your life

It’s good to get multiple people’s views and opinions on things, especially when you’re having to make big decisions. But choose wisely whose opinions you’ll welcome into your choices – is this someone whose life resembles your own morals and values? Is this someone who understands who you are and where you come from? Is it a person you respect? Value the input of these people in your life, but be cautious not to invite so much input that you get confused or overwhelmed by the ideas of others.

10. Take a chance every once in a while

I just warned you about being cautious, protecting yourself, etc. Now, I’m recommending you take a leap every now and again! Everything can’t be planned. Everything can’t be controlled. So sometimes it’s good to throw your fears and concerns out of the window and take a chance. I call it listening to my heart…

11. Life is worth being responsible

It feels like such a cliché, but life is short and unpredictable. Don’t ruin yours by being negligent and careless. It’s good to have fun, but there is a fine line between fun and being irresponsible. Don’t be the one to cross it. Remember, your actions don’t affect only your own life, but also the lives of those around you.

12. Do things that matter

Do you want to be remembered as the person who was always on the phone, always rude, always made the lives of those you worked and lived with difficult? Do you want to be remembered as the person who was constantly flashing their incredible live on social media? Or do you want to be the person who did good, who helped, who was always friendly, always had a soft word, always had a hug ready for those going through difficult times, the person smiling at a stranger? I’m not telling you to be Florence Nightingale, I’m simply recommending this:

Think about how the things you fill your days (and especially your free time) are impacting your world.

13. Be kind

It’s all about L-O-V-E!

14. Give without hesitation

Again, all about the L-O-V-E! Give out food, help, and love.

15. Don’t wait until tomorrow

You don’t know what tomorrow will bring, or if there will even be a tomorrow. So do it now. Say it now. Don’t waste any more time.

16. Learn to say what you’re feeling without letting your emotions control you

Oh how easy it is to let your emotions get the best of you… so here’s the thing… it’s NOT good to keep things bottled up and we DO need to talk about our feelings. But when you let your emotions control those conversations things can get ugly quickly. So take a few breaths. Think things through. Ask yourself how your words are going to make the other person feel. And then ask yourself what the facts are. Don’t blame someone else for what you are feeling. But acknowledge that their actions lead you to feel a certain way. Don’t shout. Try not to cry. Don’t blame. Simply state the truth.

17. Live by faith instead of emotion

Our emotions run away with us.

We fear, we judge, we anger, we blame, we hurt… and we let those feelings control what we do. Don’t!

Turn to your faith. For me, this is simple. I believe in the almighty and all-powerful living God who gave His Son for our salvation and then sent His Spirit to guide us. So live by the faith of what God tells you, to trust and believe that He is bigger than any of your emotions and that He will come through for you on each of His promises.

18. Some things are meant for you only

We live in an age where nearly every moment of every day ends up online, from that Bible verse that really inspired you to that very funny moment when your best friend slipped and fell in a bar. Here’s the thing – some things are meant to bring joy not only to you but to everyone around you, but others are like a little gift just for you.

It’s okay not to share everything with the world, and it’s okay to keep those special, intimate moments to yourself.

As a matter of fact, it makes those memories even more precious when you realize that it’s like a little treasure you’re keeping for yourself.

19. Honesty really is the best policy

There is a difference between sugarcoating or being polite and simply lying because you’re uncomfortable with being absolutely honest. I’ve learned that honesty applied with a little bit of diplomacy can save friendships, relationships, and even careers. Be honest. Be yourself. Be unapologetically you.

20. Never let fear control you

How often do we not get up and say exactly what we’re feeling, because we are AFRAID? How often do we not go on an adventure, or refuse to give someone a chance because of fear? I used to be so scared of making a mess of my life, that I never tried new things, never took chances, and never gave people a chance.

There’s a freedom in letting go of that fear and simply grabbing life.

21. Stick up for others

This is really simple – if someone says something about another person, don’t take part in the conversation and when you know that what is being said isn’t true, say something. It’s hard at first, but people will respect you, they will trust you, and they will stop gossiping in your company.

22. Stop judging others

Do to others what you want done to yourself. And judge others by the same standards that you want to be judged on. Actually, scratch that. STOP JUDGING OTHER PEOPLE! JUST STOP! You haven’t walked a single step in their shoes, you don’t know the circumstances that made them who they are, and you don’t know what happens when the blinds close at night. People hide pain, insecurity, fear… don’t be the reason someone cries in the shower, or the reason someone doesn’t want to get up and go to work in the morning.

23. Stop judging yourself

I really am my own worst enemy. I take the rules and opinions that I notice society holds and then decide that people are judging me based on that. It took me a long time to realize that this is just another way in which I judge and hurt myself. Being kind to yourself, loving yourself can be extremely hard.

Learn to view yourself through the eyes of the people who love you.

24. Give second chances. And third and fourth ones too

We’re people. We all make mistakes. And when someone truly regrets a mistake they made and sincerely apologizes, we should give them another chance. I see it like this: God gives me a new chance every single time that I make a mistake… who am I then to refuse to give His children second chances?

25. Don’t let five minutes ruin your day

I saw this quote on Instagram a while ago – “Was it a bad day or five bad minutes that you milked all day?”

It’s a pretty hard statement to make, but it really opened my eyes. How often do we allow one bad moment to determine the rest of our day? Is it worth it?

26. Never stop praying

1 Thessalonians 5:17. Prayer is so powerful, it can change your entire day, it can change your entire life, and praying constantly has the power to get you through the day, every day. Because let’s face it – life is hard and we can’t really do it if we’re relying on our own strength.

27. Want something? Ask for it!

This kind off builds on the previous point. Pray specifically. If there is something you want with all your heart, ask God for it. Don’t feel ashamed or like what you’re asking is trivial. God cares for you and He cares for the desires of your heart. He’s a good father and wants to make you happy. So ask. And then believe that it will come to you – in His good timing!

28. Money really isn’t everything. But make sure you can afford the life you want.

I’m part of a generation that started to choose our passions instead of the careers that will bring in the big bucks. This is great, because we shouldn’t let money control us. That being said, we all want to live comfortably. So sit down, take a look at what you earn and consider what you spend each month. If those two things don’t balance each other out, you need to start living on a budget, and you need to find ways to bring in some extra money. Try to be wise in how you spend your money without robbing yourself of the joy of doing fun things.

29. Don’t stop dreaming

And don’t let others steal your dreams. And remember that it’s never too late to make a dream come true OR to find a new dream.

30. God is real. God is good. And God loves you.

I don’t think I need to elaborate any further…

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