Like most young naïve teenagers, I thought once you hit 30 you were officially old. Why? By that age people you knew generally had their shit together, they’d have a good job, be married with kids and life would just be ticking along nicely. You’d hear the older generations say how age is ‘just a number’ and you never really feel you age, which I never understood, until now.
I had an idealistic plan mapped out for my life, I would become a world-famous archaeologist on Time Team, I would be married by the time I was 25 and I’d have my first baby at 28.
As I got older I realised I was just an idiot. You soon realise life doesn’t work that way, you don’t feel instantly more mature or ready for some life-changing commitment just because you have gone up a number. I’ve been asked ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’ since primary school, and the truth is, I still have no clue. Whatever pays the bills, that’s what I’ll be!
So as I turn 30, what have I learnt about life?
Make time for the things that matter
This sounds far more serious than it’s meant too. When you ‘grow up’ or your career takes off etc its easy to lose sight of what really matters to you. Even if (in my case) it’s making sure you pencil in a hike with your friends or making time to do your own thing. For me, writing is relaxing, whether that be writing letters, blogs or poetry. I love whipping out the parchment, fountain pen and wax seals and writing a good old fashioned letter – regardless of how much of a geek that makes me sound (but I have a Hogwarts stamp, so let’s not pretend you wouldn’t want a Hogwarts letter landing on your doorstep).
As mentioned in a previous blog, my friends and I find it really difficult to find time to spend together, a few years ago we would be hiking and camping literally every weekend. It’s so important to keep those friendships as close as possible because another thing I have learnt, good friends are hard to come by! Cheesy but true!
It’s ok for your plans to change…
As mentioned above, I thought I had my life plan mapped out. In fact, I was absolutely set on having 5 kids and having a really cool job. Now, I don’t even know if I want kids! I’ve wrestled with the idea, over thought it and over thought it again. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t, who knows…does it make me selfish or does it mean I’m just not ready? Whatever the reason you have to accept that priorities in life change and not try and control everything. I didn’t get the cool job on Time Team, but actually, I quite enjoy my job, I’m fairly ‘successful’ and I’m good at it, so on that front I can’t really complain. I still go on excavations in my spare time (albeit occasionally) so I’m glad I stuck with what strange career path I ended on because it didn’t work out too bad.
You don’t just ‘grow out’ of stuff…(despite what the mental health professionals would have you think)
What I mean by this is….when I started self-harming as a teenager there were a lot of ‘support groups’ you could join. Unfortunately, I felt a bit too young to understand what this meant and utilise the services. But it also made me think…I didn’t see a self-harm support group aimed at anyone over the age of 22 (or later, 25). I thought, well this much just affect young people and I will grow out of it, maybe I shouldn’t worry too much about it. Wrong *sigh*.
If I knew there wasn’t this miracle age cure maybe I would have tried harder to sort my issues out when I was younger.
I guess as a teenager/young adult you form habits and coping mechanisms. My advice to anyone suffering from anxiety/depression/self-harm, no matter what age, put pride aside and get help, don’t assume it’s a phase, otherwise, you might end up like me, and nobody wants that!
Although on a more positive note, I do feel like things get easier. I don’t know if that comes with ‘maturity’ or just learning to live with yourself but it can get easier. However the craving to self-harm, for me at least, never has gone away.
I used to hear people say ‘ I hated how I looked when I was younger, now I realise how good I looked’, and I totally sympathise with that. Having spent years hating myself that I look back on pictures and as I struggle to button up my jeans I think…wow, I wish I looked like that now. I guess hindsight is a wonderful thing.
People don’t really change….
Which is good, I don’t want my friends to change, they are awesome! Sure some changes happen, for example, I now drink alcohol (maybe a little too much), I am now a little more girly than I was, I actually understand how to apply makeup and do my hair. On the flip side, I am still the adventurous, curious, get bored easily procrastinator that I always was. I’m also still a bit of a goth. That’s my nature.
Throughout your life, you will meet a lot of people in your life, some will challenge you, some will make your life better, some, worse. But there is no point trying to change someone, they are who they are for better or worse.
Lastly…your not too old to try something new!
In the last 3 years, I have tried white water river tubing, canyoning, wild camping and done my first hikes abroad. Although I still maintain I am terrified of water, however I have found some true passions here. Wild camping for one has been incredible, and once lockdown is eased (countdown is on) I fully intend to get back out there and try some solo trips. It takes some people longer than others to find their passions, but that’s one of the beauties of life…there is always shit to explore!
That about wraps it up. In conclusion it’s taken me longer than most to learn some important lessons (good and bad) about life. There are plenty of character flaws I want to change within myself and I fear I am still in ‘self-discovery’ mode. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to the adventures 30 has installed for me and excited to try new things and push my adventurous boundaries.