Whoever said your life doesn’t start ‘til your 30’s obviously wasn’t doing it right. Life doesn’t have to be so damn tough in your twenties.
Yes, there have been moments of uncertainty, questionable choices and anxiety due to crippling debt, but that’s what my early 20’s were for! My mid to late twenties have been filled with adventures beyond belief, beautiful connections with people from all walks of life, and a sense of peace with the person I’ve become today.
With this sort of revelation (and, in line with my 29th birthday), I thought I should collect and write down what I’ve learned so far in my years on this planet for:
1) My own selfish reasons so that I can either reflect or maybe laugh at this list on my 39th birthday and,
2) Maybe (hopefully) inspire people to stop saying that being in your 20’s is horrible and that you only REALLY live in your 30’s/40’s/50’s etc.
Enough chit-chat, let’s get into it!
Here’s what I’ve learned so far in my 29 years…
1) It’s goooood to become a lot more cautious with who you surrounded yourself with.
I’ve always been pretty good at this, even in my teen years when things were awkward & mean girls were in their prime horrible state, but my 20’s have taught me that life is too damn short to have crap friends. Being a sensitive and emotional Libra means I pick up on people’s energy, which can be wonderful at times but also has the potential of being toxic AF.
2) Procrastination can legit cause stomach aches.
I had the idea to make this list probably in July and here we are, already in October and I’m just starting to actually write sh*t down.
Cool cool cool cool (enter Jake Peralta voice).
But for real, stress induced stomach aches are a thing and a lot of the time they’re completely avoidable if you don’t leave everything to the last friggin’ minute!
3) Some people may judge your worth/ happiness on your relationship status.
Luckily, it has nothing to do with you!
Recently, I was at a wedding where a distant relative of the groom introduced herself to me and immediately noticed I wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. Turns out, she was only interested to hear if my cousins and I were in serious relationships and if marriage was in our near future. Sorry to disappoint, lady.
In what world is that the most interesting thing about a person??
4) There’s no such thing as “too many self help books”.
I used to be ashamed of my collection of self help books when I was a teen and would hide them behind my fiction novels so people wouldn’t question my sanity.
Now, they’re displayed front and centre in my multiple bookshelves alongside my Horror stories, Chelsea Handler memoirs and comic book collection. My books have a HUGE range in genres and that truly represents who I am.
5) Yoga and trail running can be just as helpful as a therapy session.
Yes, speaking from experience.
I’m one of those people who openly talks about seeing a therapist for years (sup, Bell Let’s Talk?). She was a big part of my life from ages 17(ish) to 23(ish), so of course I will occasionally bring her up. But, once I felt like I no longer needed her in my life, I spread my little butterfly wings and found other things I love doing that can be just as helpful as crying on a couch (JK JK JK).
For me, those things are yoga and trail running. Sometimes with friends, sometimes solo; depending on the mood I’m in. But they will both always leave me feeling chill and clear-minded.
6) Your parents are not perfect.
No, that’s not a shot at my mom and dad, it’s reality.
I grew up thinking my parents had the answers to everything and that they could always tell me what to do to make things better.
But guess what?
Sometimes they don’t because they’re friggin’ HUMAN BEINGS who are also just learning as they go… And that’s okay. I’ll still always call my mom for life advice, cooking help & to use her Costco card.
7) Inspirational quotes can work wonders.
My favourites are mostly hippy-witchy sh*t where the main theme is to keep being a boss (just a boss, not “lady boss”, cuz UGH). Inspirational quotes aren’t just for Pinterest, friends. Scatter them around your world like fairy dust and they will subliminally start working their magic.
Mark my (not so inspirational) words.
8) You can never watch The Office from beginning to end then start back at episode one too many times.
Plus, there will ALWAYS be an Office quote to go with every life event. Test me.
9) Dates that are planned through an app will ALWAYS be uncomfortable.
I tried Bumble a couple times. Don’t need to go there.
10) Sometimes it takes 2-3 shitty jobs to land that one kickass job.
And holyyyy, it’ll be worth it in the end! I had to bust my butt for what felt like forever to land where I am now and I’m so damn grateful I toughed it out.
My years of having hover-over-your-shoulder-bosses, being underpaid and under appreciated made me tougher but also a hell of a lot more appreciative of where I am now.
11) Mountains are equal parts super f*cking awesome and super f*cking terrifying.
Ok, so I kind of knew this as a kiddo too, but I only TRULY felt it about half way up Mount Kilimanjaro last year.
It doesn’t matter what kind of confidence you may have going into a trek up a massive mountain, it can be taken away from you in an instant. So, what I really learned was to have serious respect for mountains and to fully understand that they’re in charge.
12) More than 4 days of dry shampoo is never a good idea.
I don’t think this one needs any further explanation.
13) Attending a wedding is approximately 1000 times more enjoyable than being in a wedding.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some beautiful experiences with friends and my sisters as they’ve tied the knot. But, I’ve also had some not-so-beautiful moments where I was close to just being like “I’M OUT”. Weddings tend to show some seriously true colours.
What I took away from those Bridezilla experiences was that I COMPLETELY understand why people choose to elope and that I will never treat my friends like they’re the Andy to my Miranda (The Devil Wears Prada, anyone?).
14) It’s okay to say no to things you don’t wanna do.
This one took me a while to actually GET and practice daily.
Maybe it’s the FOMO, or maybe it’s the people-pleaser in me… Either way, I found myself being completely burnt out many, MANY times in my 20’s until one day it just clicked.
I. Can. Say. No. What a glorious concept.
15) There’s a crystal for every ailment/mood/stage of life.
Whether or not you believe in crystal/energy healing, it’s something I believe in and know has helped me over the years.
The first time I walked into Crystal Dawn, my now go-to gem shop in the Byward Market, I could feel the magic. It was about 5 years ago now and I was in the middle of a sort of identity crisis. I don’t really remember what initially brought me into the store, but I know it happened for a reason (KIZMET!).
16) Practicing being happy in the moment is so, so, so, so important.
I used to have the word Santosa written in places in all over my apartment. It’s a Sanskrit word which translates to “contentment” or “satisfaction”. It’s also an ethical concept in Indian philosophy and used in yoga.
The other night, I was out for dinner with a friend. I noticed her necklace said “hygge”, which is a cozy kind of lifestyle in Denmark and Norway and also encourages contentment in the moment. I had read The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well, so I was familiar with the term.
It was, however, a nice little reminder the other night to practice exactly that. It’s a tough one at times, but once you get in the groove, it starts to become second nature.
17) A bottle of wine is not a meal.
Cereal and beer, however…
18) You can buy greeting cards in bulk.
Last year, I found my mom’s giant box of greeting cards and it blew my mind. For years, I was that chump who would go to Shoppers and spend WAY too long reading through all the cheesy ones to find that one golden nugget.
Now, I go to Milk in the Byward Market on my lunch break and buy 10+ at a time. It’s genius!
19) Reading more will inspire you to WRITE more.
Ryan Holiday totally influenced me on this one. His monthly reading list is absolute bananas and makes me realize that if he can read as much as he does with his insane schedule, then what’s my excuse?
BRB, going to go dive into my book.
20) Always carry more cash than you think you’ll need when traveling.
Ok, so I’ve learned this over my many years of traveling (ESPECIALLY when traveling with my dad) and I know that I should carry lots of cash, but I’m still absolutely horrible at it. I’m 100% the girl who relies on being able to use Apple Pay for everything.
21) There will always be a Sia song to match a mood.
Sia has sung the soundtrack of my life since I was 17.
Girlfran’s there for me in times of sorrow, loss and sadness, but even more importantly, in times of celebration, bliss and hard-core training. Plus, the song Titanium has freakishly followed me on every single trip I’ve been on from my European Contiki tour in 2012 to a beach shack in Surfer’s Paradise, Australia to a tuk tuk in Mumbai this past Spring.
22) Some of your teachers’ words will always stay in your mind with you, even years after graduating.
My mom and dad raised my sister and I to have mad respect for teachers. It really stuck with me throughout my life and to this day, there are a few nuggets that pop back into my head time and again that will always remind me of the wonderful teachers I’ve had over the years.
One that comes to mind is from my all-time favourite prof at St. Lawrence who looked me dead in the eye and said “You’re going to be a copy writer, I know it”.
It was enough to keep me motivated to continue writing for HikeAddicts while I was job hunting, which turned out to be one of the reasons I got hired where I am now. So… Thanks, Kathy!
23) Going from brunette to blonde to brunette to blonde WILL destroy your hair.
Can’t stop, won’t stop. I’ve been a brunette for almost a full year now so… Progress.
JK, Totally just tagged my hairstylist in a picture on Insta of the next big change I want to do.
24) When in doubt, go for a walk.
Stressed? Go for a walk. Bored? Go for a walk. Feeling anxious, sore, lazy or sad? Walk it out, bish! Plug in to a really good playlist or an audiobook (or, go for silence if the mood calls!) and walk it out.
It’s equal parts: mood-booster, idea-generator and magic worker. I walk every day on my lunch break and when I have the time, also to the gym and grocery store. Some of my best creative ideas come on my walks.
The others come in the shower. Hot tip of the day: Never get so excited about an idea and grab your phone to write it in a note while you’re in the shower.
It won’t end well.
25) Never put your iPhone on the roof of your car.
Believe it or not, this actually has a happy ending.
Long story short: On my way to the bachelorette party I had planned for my sister, I put my iPhone on the roof of my car and only realized it had flown off when I arrived at the bar.
That sinking feeling that hit when I realized “Ohhh, that’s what that *thump* noise was when I merged onto Queen Elizabeth was” hit me like a ton of bricks. After retracing my steps, I found it ON BRONSON STREET, completely in tact.
I’m gonna go ahead and chalk that one up to the prayer to the karma/crystal Gods I did as I (under a shiny layer of sweat) drove back to the scene of the crime.
26) You need at least one friend who won’t always tell you what you wanna hear.
The range of personality types of my friend group is pretty huge. That’s what I love about them, though. If they were all the same, I’d get bored!
One major thing I’ve learned over the years about friendship, though, is that everyone should have that person in their life who will challenge them. Not so much the devil’s advocate, argumentative type (because we all know those type and NO THANKS), but the friend who will actually tell you when you’re being dumb, sassy, irritable, etc.
This friend will tell you that your new haircut is bad when you need to hear it. Alternatively, they’ll tell you that it’s bangin’ when it is. I like to think that I’m this friend, being as brutally honest as I am, and I hope that my friends appreciate it in me (and aren’t low-key thinking I’m a dick).
27) Having a workout buddy is crucial to sticking with a training plan.
A lot of my friends ask me how I stay motivated to train for my big hikes and runs and to be honest, if I didn’t have my workout buddies, I’d be the laziest couch potato of all time (especially in the winter months).
For me, making plans with a friend to go for a run, go to yoga, etc has about a 99.9% better chance of me not bailing for a night of Netlfix and chicken nugz.
This took me like 24 years to learn, but I got there.
28) Unplug regularly.
Wow, I can’t believe I lasted until #28 for this one because it’s one I feel super passionate about. In a world of likes, comments and algorithms, it’s easy to get caught up in it and trick yourself into thinking it’s important.
For businesses (and yes, in my job), it’s important. Otherwise, for my personal accounts, it’s not.
There’s something SO freeing about going on a hike without my phone or the habit I have of getting to the cottage and plugging it in in my room and not checking it for an entire day. It’s good for the soul.
29) If you’re feeling unmotivated, tell a friend you’re going to do whatever it is you’re unmotivated to do to create a sense of accountability.
A great example of this is literally this blog post. I’ve been meaning to 1) write more and 2) write this idea for ages now so what I did the other night was post on Instagram about it.
The story got quite a few replies from friends and it totally helped to keep me on track and fired up about the excitement I built. POOF! Magic.
There it is, friends.
As I sit here finishing up this post, it’s the night of my 29th birthday and I have to say, going through a total mess of things I’ve learned over the years was pretty fun.
Here I am, entering the final year of my 20’s with a smorgasbord of lessons learned up until this day, with nothing but excitement and anticipation for what life will throw at me next.
I definitely have LOTS to learn still and I’m 10/10 stoked for my 30’s but for now, I’m going to enjoy my final year in this decade and continue to take it one day and adventure at at time.