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 it. 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’s main goal in life is to have invested in a hedge fund by the time they turn 30 (note to self: Google “what is a hedge fund” before 30th birthday).
The 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.
30 Things To Do Before You Turn 30
1. Try before you buy
Based on my own experience, I’ve realised that your 20’s are for trying things on. Careers, scenes, roles in society. This is your time to really experiment. Think of “inconsistency” as an integral part of this time in your life. Never will you have more freedom to try before you buy, than in your 20’s. Don’t feel the burning need to commit to anything. I know that when you’re 25, it feels like everything is serious and you’re grown up. So let this be a reminder that it’s not all that serious and you’re not all that grown up.
2. Be alone
In my early 20’s I was scared of being alone. It took me some time to realise that being by myself is truly one of my biggest joys. You literally have the rest of your life to live with someone and be in a partnership. Don’t spend your 20’s chasing togetherness. If you can afford to live alone, do it – even if you have to sacrifice other small luxuries! Go to the movies by yourself. Eat at a restaurant by yourself. I have grown to realise that it’s these “alone time” experiences that give me energy and fuel my creativity.
3. Travel by yourself
This is one of life’s great joys. I decided to head to India on my own when I was in my early 20’s, and I can’t say I’ve ever experienced more personal growth. If you think you lack confidence or independence, travelling on your own will show you just how capable and sure you really are. If the idea of heading into a foreign country completely solo really scares you, joining a tour or a group can give you the feeling of being by yourself, while still having the safety of a group.
4. Break up with your friends
Not all of them obviously. Just the ones that you know are toxic for you or the ones that haven’t grown with you. I’ve never understood why we can meet someone, see them romantically, decide it’s not working out and end our relationship with them – and that’s all ok. But we feel the need to cling to friendships for life even when they clearly aren’t working out. Some friends are meant to be in your life for a season – whether that season has been your whole life so far or just a couple of years. And although it might hurt or be awkward, it’s important for you to move on from the friendships that aren’t working.
5. Learn to cook
Not only will it save you money, but it will help you to eat healthier too. It’s also a great way to be social at home and spend time with your friends outside of a party environment. Ideally, you should have one “speciality” that you can cook by the time you’re 30. There are loads of tutorials on YouTube, so start there. Meal delivery services that deliver recipes and pre-packed ingredients are also a great way to learn!
6. Go to music festivals
Even if you don’t know the bands performing. Even if you don’t like camping. Even if you want to faint at the thought of sleeping on the floor. Even if you only go once. There will be lots of time to not go to music festivals when you’re older, because you will just be too tired and busy to take a four day weekend and to not sleep.
7. Try surfing
Of all the hobbies I’ve ever taken up, surfing remains my favourite. I’m not particularly good at it, but the ritual of waking up early, heading to the beach, trying to catch a few waves and licking post-surf coffee off salty lips is truly wonderful. I was really intimidated by the idea at first, being a Joburg girl who grew up watching Blue Crush. But everyone in the water is there for the joy of it – it’s not as hostile an environment as you might think.
8. Go on a hiking trip
When my grandpa was in his 70’s, his knees started to give him a lot of trouble and he struggled with going up or down stairs. I always think of him when I’m on a hike and wondering why we do this to ourselves. It’s because one day we won’t be able to. And that’s not to say that you won’t be able to go on hiking trips in your 30’s (obviously!) but you might at well go on your first one as soon as you can.
9. Really hang out with your parents
Get to know them as human beings, not just parents. There is so much you can learn from them in your 20’s that went right over your head when you were a kid. I really truly love hanging out with my parents and the fact that they will love me even if we have a huge fight is just one of the reasons why.
10. Really hang out with your siblings
Growing up, my sister and I could not have been more different. There was a time I truly thought we would never see eye-to-eye. But as we’ve grown older, our own life experiences and our own personal growth have lead us grow closer than ever. Having a sibling is like having a best friend who knows literally everything about you and your whole family and still loves you and always will. Getting to know your sibling as an adult is a joy you probably would never have been able to imagine as a teenager. Maybe it would be nice to try something new with your siblings like an escape room similar to Fox in a Box Chicago. My friend did this with his siblings and saw a different side of their siblings.
11. Learn what there is to know about your generation
What makes millennials so millennial? What did the generation before us fight for, for us to have? What are the issues we need to be fighting for the next generation to have? Asking these questions and learning about the generation that you’re part of brings into perspective your place in the world and there’s no better way to go into your 30’s than knowing what you’re here for.
12. Make friends with people outside of your scene
There are just so many experiences and conversations and life lessons you’ll miss out on if you don’t. High school is a bubble and let’s face it, you become friends with the people around you because what else are you going to do? In your 20’s you should say yes to drinks with your work friends and weekends away with the friends you kind of know but really like. Don’t limit yourself to the safety of the group you grew up with.
13. Get really into a hobby
One that you don’t make money from and one that doesn’t serve to help you lose weight. In your 30’s you might have a busy career and 3 kids and you might be too busy to spend weekend afternoons painting or baking and you might have too many financial responsibilities to spend money on that camera for yourself. Partying is cool but there are other hobbies!
14. Be melodramatic
There will never be a time where people will be this lenient again. Going through a breakup and feel like your world is ending? It is! Going through a tough time at work and feel like you seriously absolutely like, need a big night out with your girls to blow off steam? You do! Think: ugly crying, dance floor takeovers and acting like the most important person in the room. By the time you’re in your 30’s, people will have less time for the drama.
15. Get treatment for any mental illness
My wish for each and every one of you is that you realise sooner rather than later that treating any mental illness you might be dealing with is the best thing you will ever do for yourself. It can be scary and difficult but no, not everyone feels sad all the time and no, not everyone feels scared all.of.the.time. If there is just one thing you commit to doing before you turn 30 (ideally way before), it should be seeking help.
I know that’s a lot to get through, so I’ve split this post in two parts. You can read part 2 of my list of 30 things to do before you turn 30 here.