Now I turn 30, a time when I have seen other people get reflective, or sad, or emotional in some way. I don't really feel much, beyond excitement for what is hopefully going to be a lovely evening. I've been looking forward to 30. I've noticed a trend in my 20's: the older I get the less I worry or care about things out of my control.
I've seen a fair few people attempting to complete a list of 30 things before they are 30, aptly called 30 before 30. When I first saw such a thing a few years ago I contemplated making a list of my own. However, I've become a lot more self aware in my 20's, too. I realised pretty quickly that I'd make a list, focus on it, perhaps achieve a few things, be unable to achieve others due to finances, time or circumstances, and then forget about it until just before my birthday. At that point I would look at the list and wonder what I'd done with my life.
Instead I've decided I'm going to list 30 things I've done this decade, some of which are small, some are big.
So, here goes:
- I had my first kiss.
- I got my first boyfriend (is there a better way of saying this? I got someone just sounds a little odd and possessive to me...anyway, I digress)
- My boyfriend and I managed to make it through 18 months apart, whereby we were in two different continents, dealing with terrible internet connections and often a 12 hour time difference
- I moved in with my boyfriend,
- We got engaged.
- We got married.
This is pretty much the sum total of all photographs of us together. I've resolved to take more pictures of the two of us.
Brilliant photograph by Amy at Take Aim Photography
- I completed my LLB (International).
- Oh, yeah, I studied abroad for a year, hence Corey and I spending 18 months apart.
- I took a gap year to save and earn enough money in order to complete a masters.
- In January 2012 I graduated for the second time, with a Human Rights LLM
- I made some wonderful friends in my 20's first at university, then through work, and finally through the internet.
- A few years ago I got on a train to Manchester, then one to London, to meet people I'd only ever talked to over blogs and twitter. Some of those people were at my wedding. One was my bridesmaid.
- I've learnt to let go of friendships, for one reason or the other. I discovered that, even when necessary, this can cause a lot of pain, and the grief of friendships lost can last for years,
- I did Belly Dancing classes, and would like to start them up again if I can only find where the person teaching the classes has set up her studio.
- I took Burlesque classes, and was disappointed to have to miss the last few - they involved the popping of strategically placed balloons.
- I learnt to run again. Of course this is a skill that we all have, but instead of running a few metres and having to stop because my heart was pounding and I was out of breath, I learnt how to run for half an hour at a time.
- I completed a race for life. Granted I walked for most of it, but I had worked the 6 days previously, plus it was a pretty hot day...ok, fine, whatever, I wasn't fit enough to run it. However....
- A year after the Race for Life I completed my first 10k obstacle course run. I completed a second WOLF run 3 months later.
- I went to Rome twice, a place I had wanted to visit since I first learnt about the Romans.
- Corey and I had two holidays in Edale, where I discovered I quite like hiking.
- We took a trip to Norfolk during the month of February - I learnt that winter camping is not for me.
- We went to the Isle of Skye - a place I longed to return to. I vaguely remembered the first trip there with my family, although my memory was only of torrential rain and very deep puddles on the road. My second holiday there with Corey was far less rainy and a lot more memorable.
- After 9 years together I finally took Corey to South Africa and showed him a few of the places of my childhood.
- We honeymooned in the Lake District - a place I had wanted to visit for years. Although we spent most of our time napping, we managed to complete one of the walks that was in a book I had given to Corey - 50 walking routes to Britain's most spectacular views.
- I learnt how to crochet and knit. Apologies to anyone who has ever had my handmade goods thrust upon them.
- I bought a DSLR and have started to learn how to take good photographs.
- I began German lessons in the hopes that maybe one day I will be proficient in a second language.
- I attempted to lose weight and discovered something. I discovered that when your body is capable of running 10k, of pulling itself over walls and dragging itself through mud, that actually weight loss wasn't going to make me like my body more. Using it in various different ways, pushing it, discovering its capabilities was.
- I learnt how to let go - this is a skill I will need to continue to build on as I still find it difficult. However, this is probably the most important skill I've learnt over the past 10 years. There are things I can control and things I can't. Sometimes even the things I can control are only controllable to a certain level. I learnt to try to focus on the controllable.
- I have begun to realise that failure isn't really the terrifying thing I was brought up to believe. I'm slowly learning that it's important to try in order to discover what you want, who you are, and how to make yourself happy.
Perhaps the most important thing I have done and I have learnt over the past 10 years, though, is that I am not responsible for the happiness of other people. It is up to me to be the best person I can be, to ensure I don't hurt other people, and that I look after those around me as much as I can. However, I can only control my own happiness. While I can certainly help to make others happy, their happiness is not my responsibility,. It's been the most difficult lesson. It's been difficult to break free of living my life in a way that was aimed at making others happy and proud, often at the expense of my happiness. It's been difficult to realise that I am not here to live up to the expectations of others. But it's been a lesson that's very much been worth learning.
I am a happier, more confident person than I was 10 years ago. The next 10 years will bring with it its own challenges. I may end the first year of my 30's in a new country. I very much hope to be able to purchase a house this decade, have children and finally get a few pets. These are all uncertainties at the moment, though.
One thing I know is, there will be no 40 before 40 list. However, I'm pretty sure I'll still do plenty of things, learn plenty of lessons and try plenty of things in the coming years.