I don’t know if you’ve heard, but I’m turning 30 this year. That’s a small joke because if you’ve ever visited this blog before, or if you follow me on any social media platform or if you’ve met me in real life even just once, you definitely know that I’m turning 30 this year. I’m obsessing over it. I literally cannot stop thinking about it. And I especially can’t stop talking about. I don’t know why it feels like such a big deal, besides the fact that IT’S SUCH A BIG DEAL! As part of my over-thinking of the whole business, I’ve started reading all these “30 things to do before you turn 30” lists online and it’s astonishing how similarly unrealistic they all are. So I’ve decided to make a list of my own, because not everyone wants to have invested in a hedge fund by the time they turn 30 (note to self: Google “what is a hedge fund before you turn 30”).
One thing that most of the lists I read had in common was: money. They all advised you to invest in property, travel across Europe, take a couple of months off or walk the Inca Trail. I dunno what kind of 20-somethings the people who write these lists used to be, but my guess contains three words and two of them are “trust fund”. My list is a mixture of big and small things to do in your 20’s that don’t all involve asking your parents for more cash. I’ve included a few things that cost money, and some things that don’t. Things I did myself and things I wish I’d done. Things I’d tell my younger self to do and things I hope I will still have time to do before my birthday.
(If you haven’t read part 1 yet, click here)
Like, go on dates with people. Date around. Being constantly coupled-up during your 20’s makes sense at the time, but that window period where you are young and free enough to casually date is so short! I’m not saying don’t fall in love, but it’s a terrible waste to stick with boring, bad or toxic relationships when you could be meeting new people, seeing new places and just having fun.
You will never have as much time to devote to a cause close to your heart. I spent a couple of summers volunteering in Swaziland in my early 20’s and I wish I still had the time to take 3 weeks off from my life to go off the grid and live in the mountains, spending my days painting houses, making sandwiches and playing with kids who want nothing more than a little attention. While I firmly believe that your 20’s should be a selfish period, you can definitely afford giving of your time.
18. Go on a road trip
Camp, stay in backpackers, make an epic playlist. I spent much of my 20’s heading to places like Thailand and India looking for adventure on a budget, but you can find some incredible experiences right here in South Africa. We did a 3 week trip along the East Coast and through the Karoo in December 2017, so if you need some inspo, read this post.
19. Quit jobs
Because it becomes so much harder in your 30’s. In your 20’s you have the freedom to jump around, learning from new teams and environments, keeping what’s good and letting go of what isn’t. Our parents’ generation started at a job when they left school or university and didn’t leave until they retired. But our generation is different. In fact, some employers now see it as more beneficial to hire someone who has has experience at several companies. As long as you’re always professional, and leave on good terms, moving jobs can actually open doors for you, instead of closing them.
20. Find your people
By the end of your 20’s, you should have met enough people to know who your tribe is. This means that you have the friends who you will carry with you into your next 30 years. Don’t bother with the friendships that exhaust you or cause you grief. Cherish the friends who you can’t live without – even if there are only a handful of them.
21. Invest in lasting items
Fast fashion is so tempting, especially when you’re on a budget. But saving up and investing in a great coat, good shoes and a quality bag will save you money in the long run. There are loads of local artisans and designers creating quality items that you can carry with you into your 30’s – support them over the sweatshop retailers.
22. Identify what you won’t accept in a relationship
I for one certainly would not blame you for having a series of ridiculous relationships in your 20’s. These are the years where you meet someone, date them, put up with a lot, get sick of it, stay with them anyway, have your heart broken, take them back and eventually move on. No tears left to cry. But by your 30’s, you should have hard lines when it comes to what you need and what you won’t accept in a romantic relationship.
23. Get proper healthcare
A bitter pill to swallow – taking your medical insurance over from your parents. But if there’s one lesson I learned the hard way in my 20’s, it’s that medical aid is vital. A roof over your head, food on your table (or lap) and comprehensive medical insurance. Those are your financial priorities.
24. Get serious about environmental issues
Single use plastics. The benefits of a plant based diet. These are just two of the many many environmental issues you should be up to speed with by now. Using straws is out of the question. Eating meat on a daily basis is unnecessary and has devastating impacts on the environment. If you’re in your 30’s and still living blissfully unaware of the consequences of your actions on the environment, you’re failing a little bit.
25. Ditch tampons
The average woman will use over 1200 non-biodegradable sanitary products every 5 years. That’s a cost of almost R3000. Using a period cup not only stops these items from going to landfill, but it’s better for your health. A silicon period cup can last up to 5 years, and is easy to use once you get the hang of it. Please don’t be one of those women who are in their 30’s and are still afraid of their own cycle – it’s as natural as breathing and you shouldn’t be grossed out by your body.
26. Figure your body out
What kind of food makes you feel good? What kind of exercise makes you happy? What is birth control doing to your mood? I spent most of my 20’s messing around but this is serious stuff! In your 20’s you feel totally invincible and you bounce back from pretty much everything, but 30 is a reality check. I’ve quit birth control after 10 years and now I monitor my cycle using an app. I’m slowly learning what it feels like to be on a natural cycle and it feels so different – it feels amazing!
27. Take care of your teeth
A couple of months ago I went for a dental checkup and had the first filling of my life. It was like a neon sign flashing “you are getting older and your teeth won’t be good forever”! I’ve had terrible night-time dental habits my whole life (like, I eat ice cream in bed and then go to sleep without brushing my sugar mouth!) but turning 30 has really been a reminder that you only have one set of teeth and having a good smile is such a confidence booster that it’s definitely worth taking care of!
28. Learn to love your body
And not just when you’re at your “goal weight”. It’s hard to get to grips with the fact that you are allowed to love your body even when you aren’t in your “best shape”. When I look back at my 18 year old body now, I think “I was so skinny and I never even knew it!” and that’s exactly what I don’t want to be thinking at the end of my 30’s. I’m trying to learn to love my body even with its cellulite and short legs and even when I’ve been working too much to exercise or travelling too much to care about how many calories I’ve consumed in a day. I want to look back 30 years from now and think “I loved the hell out of that body”. And loving it means protecting it and taking care of it, not wishing it looked different. Because one day this body is going to start failing me, and what a waste it would be to look back 60 years from now and think “I was so able and all I could think about what wanting to be skinnier!”
29. Build a killer LinkedIn profile
Although it might not be as big in SA as it is overseas, LinkedIn is the professional platform you need to take seriously. Keeping your profile up to date with your experience and references will never be a waste of time. You never know, you might decide in 10 years that you’d like to work overseas and having a comprehensive LinkedIn profile will really help your job hunt.
30. Immediately start curating your social media platforms
Roll your eyes if you want to. But social media is real life and if you’re still treating it like it has no consequences IRL you are making a mistake. Imagine you’re spotted by a Hollywood talent agent in the bank and you suddenly become super famous like, 5 years from now, and news media outlets start trawling your social media accounts for anything newsworthy and they come across all the trash you put out there when you were 22 and then totally forgot about and it ruins your life? It could happen!
Here’s to being in your 20’s and living for the now! And here’s to being in your 30’s and living for the now too, but just with a bit more money!