I recently re-read an article I wrote earlier this Spring when I almost died in a car accident. It pulled me back into the reflective mood I was in when I wrote the piece, thinking about how short life can be. It also got me thinking about how grateful I am for the life I have now.
I have had some bumps in the road in my 32-year-old life, but I have by no means lived a tough life. Yet, when I was in my 20’s, I was rarely content. I wished I was someone else. I wished I looked different. I wanted things I didn’t deserve. I sometimes loathed myself, who I was. I struggled mentally and I had major body image issues. There were ups and downs, but the downs defined who I was.
Something changed within me in my late 20’s. Through friends and family, books I read, new interests I developed, places I traveled to, I became a better version of myself. I starting having more confidence. I started caring less about others’ opinion. I became more self-aware but less self-conscious. I developed a better sense of my SELF, a better sense of my identity. I started to be at peace with myself. I began accepting and embracing my imperfections.
Sometimes, I wish I could go back in time and share what I know now with my younger self. I would tell my 20-something self to…
Stay in the present. Because that’s all you can control.
It was through yoga and meditation that I learned the importance of being present. I’m no expert at either, but I’ve had moments of clarity and relief that comes from focusing my mind on the present. I learned that if you’re depressed, you’re stuck in the past. If you’re anxious, you’re too worried about the future. You can’t change what happened yesterday, but you can try to have a better day today.
Love yourself first. Because you deserve it.
Also because asking or waiting for others to love you is just too much work. Don’t bend yourself backward to make someone love you. You are already lovable! You just have to love yourself first.
Take the time to get to know yourself. Because that’s who’s responsible for your well-being & happiness
In your 30’s is when a lot of life commitments happen if they haven’t already. Long-term relationships, the prime years of your career, or kids. Not everyone will know what their passion is or what they’re called to do in life. But knowing what fuels you vs. what drains your energy, what excites you vs. what you dread will help you steer your life in your 30’s. Designing Your Life is a great resource to figure this out if you’re wanting some direction in life. It’s one of my favorite books in 2017.
Try new things and develop new interests. Because you may not have the time and energy to later.
I saw some of my friends moved from hobbies to hobbies. Today, it’s bowling; tomorrow, it may be archery. I always thought they were looking for something to fill a void that they had. And maybe there’s some truth to that. But looking back, I wish I did more of exploring when it comes to what I do in my leisure time. Because it’s a luxury to have something you can just lose yourself in doing (video game, drugs, and eating cupcakes don’t count). And the more hobbies you try and develop a long-term interest in, the more things you have at your disposal to relax, recharge, and find your balance. Which are oh-so-important when you’re juggling career, mortgage, and a family in your 30’s.
Accept the mistakes you make. Because mistakes help you learn.
There were things I did in my 20’s that I wish I could do-over. Sometimes I do wish I could go back in time and change my approach, my attitude, and the way I treated people. But I can’t. Instead, what I CAN do is to remind myself what I learned. I can remind myself what it was like when I hurt or disappointed people. I can carry those feelings and never do it again.
All photography by Natalie Alvarado @ Stylenfuse