I turned thirty a few weeks ago. For some it’s considered a scary age but I can honestly say I’m excited about it. When you’re young you have all these ideas in your head about what’s expected of you and who you should be. Sometimes, things don’t turn out the way you planned, but you learn some important lessons along the way. Here are 30 pearls of wisdom I have gleaned in my thirty orbits around the sun.
1. Career progression isn’t always a ladder. I’ve made lots of sideways steps in my professional life and am now in a role where I feel comfortable, content and creative. Despite not always getting more money, I grew rich in experience with each new role and was able to grow as a person both personally and professionally.
2. Work to live, don’t live to work. As I’ve discussed before, finding the right work/life balance has been a challenge for me, but now that I’ve found an equilibrium, my life feels more my own. While I need to earn enough money to pay my mortgage and fund my skincare obsession, I also need time for myself.
3. You can change your mind about wanting babies. When I was in my early twenties I was sure I didn’t want kids, but as I’ve gotten older my mindset has changed. If it happens for me, it’s something I’ll embrace fully.
4. But it’s also ok to not be ready. Knowing that I may want kids some day is fine but I also know I’m not ready. While many of my peers have children or are thinking about it, I know that I want another few years for myself and my relationship. I want to continue to go on outlandish holidays, to stay out all night and sleep in all day.
5. It’s important to dress for your shape. I don’t want to boast but I’ve got killer legs, unfortunately the rest of me looks like a potato. As such, a short, shapeless t-shirt dress is my go-to silhouette. It’s a winning formula and I’m never gonna quit it.
6. Exercise will make you feel better, physically and mentally. I am the queen of procrastination when it comes to working out but the thing is, I know it makes me feel good. The weeks where I exercise 3+ times, I feel happier, healthier and more productive.
7. It’s ok to not make plans. It’s also ok to cancel existing plans so long as you are honest and aren’t letting anybody down. Sometimes you’re tired, pre-menstrual or just fed-up and all you want to do is curl up on the couch and cry at Say Yes to the Dress.
8. Living alone is hard, but so rewarding. I spent two and a half years living on my own before my boyfriend moved in with me. Financially, it was a strain but knowing that being on my own is something I can endure, and even enjoy is important to me as an independent woman.
9. Make-up wipes should be for emergencies only. I’ve started cleansing properly in the last year and my skin is definitely clearer, cleaner and brighter. There’s also something soothing about the routine of lathering on cream and wiping it off with a warm facecloth. It’s become an important part of my evening ritual.
10. Drinking too much wine will give you a hangover. Not only am I an annoying drunk, I’m also a horrendous hungover person and when I’ve been downing wine I become incapacitated. While I know I should cut back on my drinking, this is still something I’ve not quite nailed down.
11. Not everyone will like you. I’m a people pleaser and I find it very difficult when people don’t like me. This used to be something that caused me real distress but as I’ve gotten older I’ve discovered it’s ok for people not to like you. As long as you like yourself, you’ll find your people.
12. Smear tests are so important. I’m so lucky to live in Scotland where the NHS starts giving girls smear tests at 21. My first test showed some abnormal cells and for the past nine years I have received regular appointments and excellent care. Screening saves lives.
13. Learn to cook. The more time I spend in the kitchen, the more I love it. There is no greater feeling than hosting a successful dinner party and presenting guests with a knock-out pavlova for pud.
14. Go to the dentist regularly. I recently took a two year hiatus from visiting the dentist and unfortunately my penchant for red wine and coffee meant my otherwise perfect teeth were badly stained. It took a couple of intense scale and polishes to get them gleaming again.
15. Don’t spend a fortune on mascara. Over the years I have tried out a wide range, from high-end to high-street and the quality does not always improve with the price. I always go back to L’oreal Lash Architect, which at £10.99 feels a bit like a Pret sandwich: affordable but luxurious.
16. The Salted Caramel Khalua will up your Espresso Martini game considerably. I was gifted a bottle and I am now Queen of this classic caffeinated cocktail.
17. Don’t just assume everyone is doing better than you are because of what you see on social media. We’re all guilty of censoring our social activity to paint the perfect picture but the reality is that life can be hard and we don’t always see the whole story.
18. Be kind. Be kind to yourself and to others, I know it’s a cliché but everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.
19. Spend time with your family. Some of the best nights of my life involve sitting at my Gran’s kitchen table with my massive, loud, overwhelming family. I’ll cherish these memories forever.
20. Drink lots of water. Water is good for your skin, good for your teeth, good for digestion and good for when you need five minutes away from your desk.
21. Ask questions. This is important in almost every situation. In a social environment, asking questions is how you have a meaningful conversation. There is nothing more ignorant than someone who takes no interest in others. Professionally, asking questions is how you learn and shows that you are switched on and engaged.
22. TK Maxx isn’t for everyone. Yes, I love the homewares but there are few things more exhausting than trawling through racks and racks of off-season clothes under that artificial lighting.
23. Onesies are as comfortable as they look. I was pretty against the whole ‘adult dressed like a baby’ thing until I zipped my semi-naked body into a feather-soft leopard print fleecy all-in-one. It’s heaven.
24. Being a wedding guest is a little like being a marathon runner (I’d imagine). I have attended many weddings and let me tell you this, it’s a long day with a lot of drinks. Pace yourself.
25. Pushing yourself to the limit can be exhilarating. I’m a total scaredy-cat, so when I decided to sign up for a mountainous 10k in the dark last year my friends and family scoffed. All I wanted to do was quit, but I didn’t. I waded through rivers, jogged/scrambled up steep rocks and ran, on my own, for almost two hours. I was so proud.
26. Get a good black leather jacket. Or pleather, either way, it’s an investment piece. It can be worn with everything and adds a certain edge to even the girliest of gowns.
27. Compeed blister plasters are worth their weight in gold. At the time of purchase you’ll begrudge forking out £5+ on them but after a day breaking in your brand new loafers you’ll be willing to sell your soul to the devil for their cushioned comfort.
28. The Dominos downs exist. It always feels like a good idea at the time but that cheese-loaded, carb-heavy grease fest will leave you feeling full of regret. Until next time…
29. If it’s cold, put the heating on. I got chilblains one winter at university because we were trying to save money on heating. It’s worth spending a bit more cash to not have to sleep in two hoodies and three pairs of socks.
30. Writing lists is hard. There were moments I thought I’d be 31 before I published this post.