13 Things I’ve Learned Before 30

30th

It’s here. The day has finally come…well, it’s coming tomorrow.

I’m turning 30!

It has hit me in different ways on different days, but overall I’m looking forward to this new decade of life. It’s hard to believe all that has happened in the past 10 years (the usuals: graduated college, worked a few jobs and finally found a job I love, got married, moved, bought a house). Still waiting on the get a pet and have kids thing.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to recap 13 lessons (my bday is on the 13th after all) I’ve learned over the years that I hope to take through my thirties and beyond:

1. Be confident and assertive

I feel like I’ve really learned to come out of my shell in different ways over the past decade. I remember when I studied abroad in England and had to learn to be assertive at the pub bar to get my order in. With life, I’ve learned that it’s OK to stand up for yourself and others and let your voice be heard.

2. Good communication = good relationships

Even though I work in communications (as a marketing writer), I’m always working on my communication skills. With all of the friendships and marriage conversations that I’ve had in the past few years, I’ve realized that good communication is key…to a lot of things. Be honest instead of holding frustrations inside. Communicate straight with the source, instead of gossiping. Over-communicate rather than under. It will serve you well in your relationships and the work world.

3. Career isn’t everything

This was a hard lesson to learn in my mid- to late-twenties, but it was also an important one for me. I’ve always been more of a high achiever, and it was difficult for me to be at jobs for years that didn’t put me exactly where I wanted to be in my career. It wasn’t until God helped me learn that career isn’t everything that I could let go of trying to prove that to others. And then I found a killer job, so that worked out in time. Work is important and a great way to connect with others and use your God-given skills, but there is much more to life (relationships, family, community, volunteering, etc.). I’ve benefited greatly from putting my faith and trust in something bigger than my career.

4. Friends come and go, but true ones stay

This may sound sad, but it’s a good lesson. Friendships are wonderful, but it’s likely by the time you reach your late twenties that you have a small but core group of friends. I really enjoy having friends from my childhood, college, past workplaces, current work and church. There were times when I wondered why I didn’t have lots of people inviting me to their homes every week, but I value the infrequent time I spend with true friends. With the good ones, you can always pick up where you left off, no matter how long it’s been.

5. Sleep on it

This is a huge lesson I hope to take with me into my thirties. When you wonder if you should do something, talk to someone, publish something, argue with a coworker, cry about something, etc., you should sleep on it. You will make much better decisions (and not do rash things you will regret), if you give yourself some time to cool off and chill out. Trust me on this one!

6. Busy time is better than bored time

As someone who stays busy (but who doesn’t these days) with an ongoing freelance project, a blog and a full-time job, I can sometimes get a little worn out or wonder where my weekends ago. But, when I think about what life would be like if I was bored and unmotivated, I would much rather be working toward something. Although I think a balance between working and relaxing is important, it’s a blessing to have projects and people to interact with.

7. Take a sabbath

Feeding off of #6, I have the tendency to burn myself out at times. i can be a little too motivated and not know when I’ve reached my limit. But, throughout my twenties, I’ve taken time to have a sabbath, or an entire day (I do this on select Sundays) to not work. There’s a reason why God did this after He created the Earth. We need time to rest and recoup. I encourage others like me to take an entire day off every once in awhile to eat with friends, read a good book and even grab a cat nap.

8. Find your community and be transparent

One of the important ways to survive this crazy world and growing up (when does one actually stop growing up?!) is to find your community and be transparent with those people. For me, I’ve been lucky to find community at my church, with my family and at my workplace. I cherish these friendships and try my best to be honest and transparent about my strengths and weaknesses. It’s amazing how others can contribute to your life and build you up when you need it. Enrich your life by contributing to your community and bringing others together.

9. Panic is the enemy

I took an improv class at a marketing conference last year, and I’ll never forget something I learned there: Panic is the enemy. We did this game where one person tried to sit in a chair, but the rest of us were trying to stop them. It’s hard to explain, but the lesson really hit home. Panic is the worst thing you can do in any situation, and there’s no reason to panic. I try to remember this when I take things too seriously, and it’s a good lesson for worriers, too.

10. Perfection is overrated

I definitely have perfectionistic tendencies, but thanks to some serious workplace lessons (like working at a daily newspaper) I have been able to slowly drop my desire to be perfect. And I couldn’t be happier! Perfection is unnecessary and overrated. It’s OK to make mistakes, and you don’t have to beat yourself up about it. When you mess up, pick yourself up and take the lessons you learn with you.

11.  Listening is an essential life skill

There rarely is a day that goes by that I don’t use the listening skills that I learned as a journalism student. Listening has opened so many doors and given me so many ideas over the years. It’s really true that everyone has a unique story…and most people will open up if someone listens and responds to them. Take time to really listen to the people around you. It’s a skill that will never be out of style!

12. Never stop planning and trying new things

I’m a planner through and through, and I also love coming up with ideas and trying new things. I feel this has served me well by adding many wonderful experiences to my life. I hope throughout the rest of my life I continue to plan (whether it’s celebrations, dinners out, trips, etc.). Creating occasions to look forward to is an art, and it’s wonderful to share that with others. Also, travel is a great way to learn more about yourself and grow in many ways.

13. Food opens doors

The lesson that food opens doors has been one that I’ve learned again and again and again. Cooking food for others has created frienships, comforted people and made them feel welcome at my table. And eating at others’ tables has made for a unique place to exchange ideas, encouragement and laughter. And connecting with the local food world has allowed me to contribute to people who are farmers, gardeners, cooks and restaurateurs who have a passion for bringing people together. Overall, this blog has been a great outlet for me to make some of those connections myself and for that I’m grateful.

Here’s to the next 30 years. If I’m still blogging then, you can bet I will have another round of lessons to share!

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