22 Life Lessons I've Learned at Age 30
Today, I turn 31 - and it’s great. It’s the time in life to be confident, capable, more aware of yourself and appreciative of the things you used to take for granted. For me, it’s the beginning of a decade where I’ve found an equal amount of success in life, blended with valuable lessons of failed experience, topped with a bright future of potential still in front of me. What a beautiful chapter of life to sift through!
To hear people say ‘Yeah, but to be young again would be amazing…I’d give anything to be 18 again’ - makes me cringe. Really? First of all, if we’re old now…it’s going to be a long 50 or 60 years ahead. Secondly, is that really what you look back on as your golden age? 18 or 21 years old? With the lack of experience, inconsistent principles, wavering confidence and constant experimentation with who you want to be while pandering to adults around you…Nah, I’ll pass. Those chapters are worth a reread but never a rewrite.
Your 30’s is that enjoyable period when you realize the value of quality over quantity. You have the pleasure of being a functioning adult in society without the pressures of making the most of your 20’s. The enthusiasm, spontaneity and physical well-being (ideally) of being a young person still exists while being able to possess the poise and knowledge of an adult. To me, your 30’s is the passion decade where you’ve finished your self-groundwork - you know who you are and what you want - and are now capable of putting those things into fruition with enough youthful wiggle room for accepted failure.
Regardless, there’s simply a lot to enjoy about adulting. Here are the life lessons I’ve learned and things I enjoy about living my 30’s:
1. You know what you like and know what you don’t…at 30, you can avoid what you don’t Whether it’s people, jobs, places, parties or situations…you’re done with the ‘say yes to everything’ of your 20’s and realize the importance of saying no to certain things because you know the route it takes you down. Been there, done that, no thanks. 2. You’re confident in the value you can bring to a situation and understand your self-worth You’ve spent years building up your talents and are aware of your capabilities. From the workplace to social situations and relationships, you are confident to not settle for less than your worth.
All smiles in Mazunte, Mexico
3. You realize there are some things you will never accomplish or achieve…and that’s OK. In your 20’s there was still this attitude that you could do anything you wanted. Set your mind to it and you could be a professional athlete, rock star, movie celebrity, rocket scientist, millionaire, etc. Well, not to say those dreams still aren’t possible, but there is a weight lifted off your shoulders knowing you no longer have to concern yourself with the absurdity of false hopes. 4. You find yourself being a teacher more often than being a student You’ve spent the majority of your life learning and receiving lessons from other adults, teachers and professors…now it’s your turn to return the favour. You give back to those (often younger) around you by giving advice from the experiences you’ve learned on your own journey. At the same time, you value the importance of always learning – including the realization that the best way to teach yourself is to teach others.
5. You think going to bed early is super gratifying So…I’ve done all the things I needed to do tonight, and I’m tired? Hey, I can go to sleep right now!
Passing out at the Momentom Collective Residency in Nicaragua 2017
6. You don’t care about peer pressure or FOMO – and it’s amazing You’d rather stay in tonight? Done. You don’t feel the need to impress everyone? Nope! You’re thoughts on expensive brand names? I’ll just buy and wear what I want thanks. You feel like leaving a party early? I’ll just say so* and leave - that’s it. (*Even though you mastered the art of the smokebomb in your 20’s…you can now thank the host for a good time without having to feel pressured into a few more drinks) Essentially, your 20’s were all about FOMO (‘Fear Of Missing Out’) which at 30, might as well be translated now as ‘Fuck Obsessing Over Missed Opportunity' (…FOOMO?)
7. Your beliefs and opinions are settled and established, yet you’re still able to appreciate the importance of being open to new ideas Your life principles, political views, habits, religious beliefs, the ideal way to load a dishwasher…you’re happy with your general stance on all the big questions in life. More importantly, you understand when to be open to a new idea…or when to avoid the topic entirely.
8. You know when to cut loose the people and discussions that are of no benefit and aren’t serving you There is such a thing as a bad customer, friend, ex-girlfriend or dialogue. Simply put, empty conversations and energy vampires aren’t good for anyone.
9. You appreciate your parents even more There is a newfound appreciation and gratitude for your parents as you see your relationship with them in a different light at 30. You start to ask them bigger life questions and greatly value their input. From topics like parenting, home ownership, business ideas, cooking, financial investments…you realize there is so much more you can learn from your parents. It also becomes cool to hang out and travel with your mom and your dad – because you realize that they won’t be around forever.
When my dad out hippy's me in public...
10. You feel the need to grow your own garden Having your own garden becomes both a hobby and practical food source. It feels rewarding to be able to save money while eating the fruits of your own labour…and who doesn’t enjoy fresh herbs and tomatoes?
11. You no longer need to ‘experiment’ with drugs and alcohol Not to say neither are consumed anymore, but you’re done with the experimentation phase of your 20’s. You know what works, what doesn’t, how much is your suitable balance point, and when it’s appropriate. Whether it’s tequila, weed, caffeine or mushrooms, you’ve got your levels and understanding down.
12. You party better – and it's quality not quantity You’ve done this before so you’d rather do it right or not at all. You’re well beyond the social lubricant of ice breaking drinking games. Quality alcohol and nice wine is preferred over the abundance of cheap booze. There’s an added appreciation for good lighting, close conversation and great music, and you can still throw down on the dance floor when the time calls. About time we got this all sorted out!
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13. You’re over one-night stands Growing past the hookup culture of your early years can be such a relief. Not to say that getting spontaneously physical isn’t out of the question…but more often than not, if you don’t foresee a second date or meet up in the near future, you’d rather spend your night surrounded by the company of your good friends.
14. You think dressing formally is fantastic Formal reason or not, nothing says I’m crushing this adulting thing like the ability to rock a three-piece suit or formal evening dress out in public. (It also balances out that craving to sit at home barefoot in sweatpants eating popcorn quite nicely).
15. You enjoy being punctual It’s either because you hate it when others waste your time, or maybe, you’ve finally realized that telling them you’ll ‘be there in 15 minutes’ is a flat out lie.
16. You realize that the best investment of time and money is experience and not material possessions You’d rather invest your time and money into quality time with friends, travel and self-improvement. Gone are the days you’d spend your entire paycheck on a subwoofer for your car or designer purse. While material things will lose their value and need to be replaced, experiences will keep making you richer as the years pass.
17. You gain a desire to fulfill a deeper meaning Whether you call it spirituality, faith, yoga, meditation, or religious belief, there is a pull for being able to tap into a deeper understanding of self. As you get older you start to value the power of intention and ability to be fully aware in the present moment…something you just weren’t capable of wrapping your head around when you were younger.
The views across Playa Escameca, Nicaragua
18. You see silence as a luxury Music is great; talking is important; kids, traffic and background noise can be inevitable…but the older you get, the more you appreciate being surrounded by the lack of all of the above.
19. You understand that failure is just another feature of pushing for your passion You won’t be held back because of the fear of failure and learning from your mistakes only makes you stronger. From relationships to starting your own business, you’d rather embrace not succeeding - and learn from it - than letting it linger as a ‘what if’…
20. You recognize the importance of a de-cluttered life Whether it’s your workspace, email inbox, car, closet, material possessions, kitchen countertop or bedroom...Leonardo DaVinci’s quote starts to hit home: Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
21. You acknowledge that giving back is rewarding for everyone You have an added gratitude for your life, the people around you and the opportunity and abundance that you’ve been blessed with. You realize that passing that appreciation and opportunity forward through generosity and lifting others up only amplifies the value for all involved.
Volunteering at Integral Heart Family Foundation in Antigua, Guatemala
22. You realize happiness comes from within You’ve finally come to terms with the perpetual hunt for happiness…and you recognize it’s not fulfilled from external superficiality or future intentions that never arrive. (I’ll be happy when…) It comes from being comfortable and at peace within yourself in the present moment. And, as Buddha said, Happiness never decreases by being shared.
What lessons have you learned? ~ John Early Playa Escameca, Nicaragua June 7, 2017