Seven weeks into 2015, and just a few hours from my 29th birthday.
I’m not one to get overly hung up on ages and dates, but I did get a bit of a shock at Christmas when I showed my cousin my 30 for 30 list, and blithely declared I had 25 months left to do it all in. She swiftly pointed out that a) maths clearly isn’t my strong point and b) I had 13 months left, not 25.
That list rapidly became ‘daydreams to do’, because my 29th year is already packed full of wonder – there are some things on that list I know I will do in my life, but I also know I won’t do this year – I don’t want to squish in all the experiences, I want to have time to anticipate and then savour each one.
So what have I learned, in my almost 29 years on the planet? Here’s a list, in no particular order:
Sometimes the things you’re most opposed to can lead to the most glorious moments of your life.
I definitely don’t want children (the cats are quite responsibility enough) – but I’m properly excited for more of my friends to have children, so I can be the cool auntie who brings inappropriate presents and has them over for weekends full of sugar and fun.
Living on my own has been one of the best decisions I ever made. And it isn’t lonely.
Occasionally, you’ll make decisions which will change your whole life and turn it upside down. But mostly, you’ll move towards your dreams step by (sometimes painfully small) step.
We overestimate what we can do in a day, but (massively) underestimate what we can do in a year.
Pets are actually small, furry family members, and just as precious as fellow human beings.
I can tassel twirl. And as part of the Paper Dolls burlesque troupe, I also do it on stage. The shy, gawky, nervous 15-year-old me is staring down the passage of time, awestruck and slightly embarrassed and bloody proud of how I’ve dealt with my body image issues in the last few years.
I’ve learned we shouldn’t pigeonhole ourselves too early in life – discovering at 19 that I was creative, after a lifetime of being told I was academic and not creative, was the single biggest revelation of my life to date.
If you don’t like your job, get the hell out. Don’t quit without a plan, but start looking – knowing their shit is no longer your problem when you hand in your notice to a place that’s wrong for you is an amazing feeling.
Your first broken heart hurts like hell.
You learn an absolutely ridiculous amount about yourself from relationships and their endings. Seriously, it was like a crash course in How Carla Works, both times – in very different ways.
Never, ever settle for being second best or someone’s backup choice. You are worth SO much more than that.
Try everything that catches your fancy, if it’s possible – I have a room full of craft materials, half of which I’ll probably never touch again, but all of it has brought me joy and new skills at some stage.
Serendipity and coincidence are sweet – and never get old.
Old friends and new friends are just as precious, but in different ways. Don’t abandon the old in favour of the new unless you have good reason to do so. And don’t assume that just because someone is very different to you, that you can’t be friends. Variety and different perspectives are always good!
Don’t feel guilty about things you can’t control or influence. Spend your energy doing what you can, but remember that everyone has their own free will.
Nothing is original, but no one can do what you do like you can. And never second-guess people’s reactions to what you do. Telling people about my alter ego coaching and course has been eye-opening – the reactions have been amazing from even the most unlikely people.
If you make a daft statement like “I love this house so much, I can’t ever imagine crying while I live here” when you move into a new house, you are highly likely to be proved wrong within the week.
Having good friends within walking distance is unbelievably sweet – especially after close to ten years of trekking up and down the M25 on a regular basis. (I’m still working on getting certain people to move up here….!)
It’s ok to stop doing things you don’t want to do – whether that’s a business, a job, a relationship, a house… it’s good to have a plan first, but you don’t have to do anything forever unless you want to.
Life is too short to worry about your weight or what other people think of you. Wear, and do, what makes you the happiest.
Oh – and if you want to dye your hair, go ahead and do it. I waited 9 years to dye mine blue/turquoise – and while I love that it represents me so perfectly right now, I do wish I hadn’t waited so long.
Here’s to the very last year of my twenties!
With love and unicorns,