“For what it is worth: It’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you are proud of, and if you find that you are not, I hope you have the strength to start over.”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald
Last weekend I turned thirty. For a couple of months I have been dwelling on the fact that thirty is a pretty big double digit and a significant milestone. Seriously, it isn’t that long ago that it was a big deal to live to thirty (what with the plague and all). In my mind thirty meant I was officially an adult, not that I already wasn’t one, but come thirty you kind of have to have your shit together. It is almost an unwritten expectation. For some reason thirty, to me, was coming with strings attached. These strings included retirement investments, future planning, being kinder to myself and a fool hardy nightmare that I would wake up on the morning of my thirtieth and my face would be cracked into a million wrinkles (thanks Lesley for planting that little seed in my brain to grow when you yourself turned 30). Not even a touch logical, but for some reason I secured some anti-wrinkle cream the week before, you know, just in-case. With the big day fast approaching people were very generous to relay to me how they felt when they turned thirty and what have been the best and worst ages in their lives. Not gonna lie, mixed reviews were handed down on the big 3-0. Some people told me their thirties have been the best years of their lives, others stated they spent the year and the months leading up to it in hibernation. I swear, I was not obsessed with thirty, I was just dwelling a little more than I probably should have.
Well, the day came and went. I had the most marvelous time and thirty has been nothing short of wonderful so far. I spent the day with family, friends and almost all of the people I love. I was spoiled silly. I felt loved and I felt grateful. I am going to make thirty count, it is going to be my very best year yet!
In thirty years, I really do have so much to be grateful for. …
- I have an amazingly supportive family that loves me unconditionally (and trust me, sometimes I am hard to love). A family that values honesty, generosity and education.
- I have a wonderful network of kind and compassionate friends that help and encourage me to be a better person and my best self. My sister clearly falls into the first two categories, because really, what is better than a built in best friend that has to love you even when you are being an ass (..because she is also your sister! Ha!).
- I have been given many wonderful opportunities over the past thirty years (I am quite certain I have even taken a few for granted).
- I am self sufficient and I have a job that I love. A job that I feel grateful and honored to be able to do week in and week out. A job where I make a difference and am challenged every time I step through the door. How many people can say that?
- I grew up in a safe and beautiful place. A place that shaped who I am, a place that values community, kindness and generosity over material things.
- I have been lucky enough to travel. I have seen a small portion of the world outside of where I live and that has lead me me to value diversity, become more cultured and to also appreciate even more where I come from.
- I am young, I am healthy and I still have my whole life ahead of me. As a nurse every week I bear witness to the sick and suffering. I also witness resilience, second chances, the wonder of modern medicine and healing. Nothing makes me value my health and well being more than this.
I am sure the list can go on and on but I think my uncle said it the best when he said to me..
“Honey, you are dead a long time. At least we are all on the right side of the grass.”
– The always witty and honest John Ingram
Now that I have been a thirty year old for all of eight days, I thought I would share some of my expertise in the field and few things I have learned over the years..
- Take opportunities when they present themselves. When a door opens it may not be there in a week, a month or a year. Maybe it is applying for a job, maybe it is going on a date and maybe it is a travel opportunity, just be sure to challenge yourself. What is the worst that is going to happen? Maybe you will be told you need more experience, maybe you will fail, or maybe it will just end up being a great story but at least you tried and put yourself out there. Now you can be a better you with those experiences, you can grow, learn what is important to you and be ready for the next door that opens. And maybe, just maybe it will be the best thing that ever happened to you. Put yourself out there, who knows what will happen.
- Grow and nurture friendships. As I am learning very quickly, life gets in the way. Marriages happen, children happen, work happens, life happens and important things like friends can often get put on the back burner. If a friendship has a good foundation this won’t matter. You could go a year without speaking to someone but when you finally do see them, it’s almost as if no time has passed between you. Those are the kind of friendships I am thankful for.
- On the flip side, life is too short to spend time with people and doing things you don’t enjoy. This is a hard one, especially if you are a people pleaser like me. It is OK to say “no” sometimes and it is OK to take time for yourself.
- Do the things you love. Love the ocean? Go to the beach! Love being creative? Take an art class. Whatever it is, do it and enjoy it (as long as it is legal, doesn’t hurt anyone etc. For the record, if you love doing heroin, I am really not suggesting you do that or endorsing it. Please refer to bullet number six if this is the case). Spend time with the people you love.
- Care less about what people think about you. At the end of the day you only have to answer to yourself. Wear crazy lipstick, drink a little too much wine. Care a little less and enjoy yourself a little more.
- Take the time to take care of yourself. Go for a walk, eat the salad, wear sunscreen and live a healthier life. Preventative diseases cut lives short and put a massive tax on our health care system. Diabetes, congestive heart disease and skin cancer may not be totally avoidable but if the opportunity is there to prevent it, take it. A little time spent on your well being now could add quality years to your life. Plus, if you are my friend I guarantee you have heard me say many times “Basal cell carcinoma is not cute, especially when it comes back the second time”. I may have even showed you a horrific picture while urging you to protect your skin. I may have even told you that you will “look like a raisin in ten years” and I may have actually gotten into an argument about sunscreen with you. This is because I love you, so love yourself too !
Happy being your best self all, sorry for the impromptu lecture, I was just on a bad-ass, thirty year old roll…