On Turning Thirty

Today marks my thirtieth lap around the sun (it’s still the 17th in Canada…) Thirty is a daunting, anxiety-inducing age for many people. We spend so much time writing down goals and resolutions, trying to figure out how we can become better versions of ourselves — smarter, thinner, prettier, the list goes on… But what about embracing exactly who we are in this moment? Rather than looking forward with plans for the next decade, it feels like the right time to celebrate the woman I’ve become and share a few lessons I’ve learnt about myself along the way.

At thirty, I can finally confidently say that worrying about what other people think is a waste of time. I’ve spent years caring about what others think of me and trying to fit a particular mould. In the past, I wanted to be liked by everyone, valuing their opinions of me above my own. The older I get, the more I know exactly out who I aspire to be and care less about being liked and more about being respected. 

I don’t have to live up to others’ expectations nor should I be expected to live up to society’s standards. Success, like anything, is relative and you’re not going to want the same things you wanted when you were younger. It’s taken a lot of trial and error, but I’ve stopped caring so much about how things should look and have embraced how things actually are.

The desire to be at the best party and to hang out with the cool kids is no longer a thing for me. I now want to plan my social life around those who give me energy and love; those who make time for me and put in what they take out. In the past, I’d make excuses for those who would subtly put me down or make me feel small, but I don’t have time for that anymore.

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On the other hand, spending time alone, actually alone, without your phone or external distractions is absolutely essential. It can be unnerving, for sure, but it’s the best way to check in with yourself to see how you’re really doing. There have been times when, from the outside, everything in my life looked amazing. It wasn’t until I checked in with myself and realised things were not okay. 

There’s a lot of focus placed on the end result, the destination — we all love ‘before and after’ photos and seeing how far we’ve come. But you know what’s even more interesting? The process. The process of becoming older and wiser, becoming healthier, happier and more financially stable — these are all habits that take time and aren’t exactly linear, but they should be both therapeutic and empowering, even invigorating. I read a quote the other day, “You are becoming — and you should take your time.”

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The better you know yourself, the better you’re equipped to find someone who complements not completes you. I was only single for about three months of my twenties, but Nick and I did several stints of long distance throughout our twenties. While most people view long distance as a curse, in retrospect, it’s enabled us to become the best versions of ourselves. When you meet the love of your life at a very young age, the likelihood is high that one or both of you will have to make some pretty big sacrifices. Nick has always been 100% supportive of my dreams. From encouraging my solo travel to supporting me when I considered dancing on a cruise ship for nine months. I’m lucky to have met someone who understands the inevitable challenges of a relationship, but has decided to tackle the difficult stuff together.

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And the absolute best thing about getting older? I’ve started to get to know myself better with each passing year. To become better acquainted with yourself is such a gift. As a thirty year old woman, I’m learning to be patient because everything comes at the right time. I’m no longer trying to fill a void because I’ve finally realised that I am everything I need.

“You’re so hard on yourself.
Take a moment.
Sit back.
Marvel at your life:
at the grief that softened you,
at the heartache that wisened you,
at the suffering that strengthened you.
Despite everything,
you still grow.
Be proud
of this.”

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Photography by Reuben Looi

 

4 thoughts on “On Turning Thirty

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