The last month of my twenties...

I had the sudden realisation yesterday that today marks the last month of my twenties. Yep, on November the 7th I am turning the big 3-0.  I'm actually feeling really good about it, I feel ready for a new chapter and most people I know who are in their thirties seem to enjoy them more than the decade previously.  It's becoming a bit of a blog cliche, but I thought I'd write a few things I've learnt in the last 10 years in the way of telling my 20 year old self to get some perspective...

Spend money on your hair - It wasn't until I was 27 that I stopped trawling the high street for the cheapest deal on highlights, and washing my hair with whatever 2 for 1 offer was available. I now  get my hair cut and coloured every 12 weeks and it's a proper investment, which I would strongly advise anyone doing. Even on a bad hair day it looks a million times better than 5 years before and my hair is an awful lot stronger...

Credit cards are not free money - As the saying goes, if it feels too good to be true it probably is.  I was one of the those girls who suddenly found herself living in one of the most expensive cities in the world earning rubbish money and dreaming of holidays and nice shoes. So instead of dreaming, I got a loan. Mistake. I only finished paying it off last year, and it wasn't even that big. I had very little restraint in my twenties, if I wanted something I just found a way to buy it. I paid for it, literally. In fact I probably ended up paying double with all the interest..! 

Nights in are really cool - You reach a point in your life that an ideal night consists of a Dine in For £10 deal (possibly to yourself), back to back TV you missed out on during the week, and a clean-linened bed which you get into by 10pm.  You still haven't quite realised your alcohol tolerance, but you have discovered hangovers. They're absolutely horrific and they now last 2 days. Gone are the days of pints of wine and sambuca shots (before you head out on the town).

You're going to lose friends - And it will be for the best. As painful as it will be you and some of your closest friends will stop speaking. Sometimes it will just fade, other times someone will scream at you in public due to their own insecurities and you decide enough is enough... (!) Making that cull is one of the smartest things I've ever done, and left me more time to concentrate on the friends that really matter. Granted, I probably have far fewer friends now, but the ones I do are extremely important, make me feel good about myself and never let me down (and I like to think, vice versa).

You are what you eat - I wasted about 5 years of my life feeling fat.  I've had those horrible occasions where I felt so awful about the size of my legs/bum/arms that I've given up on the idea of going out and stayed in all night feeling sorry for myself (and most probably ordered a pizza). Then I took an honest look at myself. I didn't exercise much, I loved sugar (read: booze) and I ate a lot of bread. I started keeping a closer eye on what I ate and realised it was pretty simple: if you eat less, you weigh less and it's the start to feeling a little better. The same with exercise. I've recently discovered I enjoy cycling - as my issue was that I could never find something to do that was enough to tear me from my bed/sofa enough. I try to do 10k three times a week, and every time I get the nerves before and the strong wish to turn around and go home (to eat cake) - but afterwards I feel so much better. I fully recommend it to anyone.

You aren't a morning person - so don't make decisions, form opinions and generally speak to anyone until 11am. Find yourself coffee, make that your focus and worry about everything else after lunch.

Sick days are obvious - no matter how much time you spend creating the elaborate story. Quite frankly, if I had a pound for every sick grandmother I've heard about the NHS would be in even more trouble than it currently is.  Similarly I think Chinese food would have been banned in this country if all accounts of dodgy stomachs were true. It's also the *Most Dumb Idea Ever* to pull a sick day, a) the day after you have told your entire office that you intend to get very drunk, b) the day after a weekend in Amsterdam/at Glastonbury, and c) the day before you are going on a holiday.

Be yourself - I spent a lot of my twenties trying to fit in with the crowd. I wore the clothes every one wore, watched the TV everyone watched and had the opinions everyone talked about. I then realised that the things I loved the most about the people I knew and respected, were the ones who didn't fit the mold. I became a little braver, I spoke my mind (a little too much - another lesson I learnt was not to give an opinion until it is asked for) and I stopped feeling the pressure to like particular music or find particular things funny... I instantly felt like I was being truer to myself, meaning I was an awful lot happier.

Believe in yourself - Similar to above, but generally speaking you aren't going to be able to get much done if you don't believe you can do it. Take compliments (give compliments too, people like them) and take criticism. People often aren't critiquing you to be nasty (and even if they are), their words can only help you move forward.

You'll learn most from the bad bosses - so stick with it.  Having started working for myself this year (after much deliberation) I find myself looking at my previous seniors for inspiration.  I surprisingly found I've spent more time reflecting on the bosses I found most challenging - what I didn't like about their decisions, attitude and management - than the ones I adore (and I've had a couple of those, you know who you are, thank you). I try and think about what made me happy as an employee, rather than just what I want to do as an employer when I have people helping me. It's difficult at times, but 100% worth it. 

You are never going to enjoy camping - It's not your thing. Some people love not washing for a couple of days, sleeping in a cocoon/bag and getting really muddy.  You don't. You like Mr and Mrs Smith. Never having experienced that kind of holiday is something you should be really happy about (your 2 day Wilderness experience was enough) because you'd be a nightmare to be around. 

Bullies never go away - they just get older and what changes is how you choose to deal with them. As I've discovered the childish behaviour goes way beyond into adulthood. I've had blog-trolls, Mean-Girls type faces greeting me at events/parties, people sl*g me off behind my back (yup, if the "fading away" bit in the "losing friends" section rings any bells with me - I know) - the works. The way I like to look at it is; approach it head on. If someone has a problem with you, let them. It says more about them than it does about you.  As a friend told me "Don't rise to it, you could give them an ugly look but you can clearly see they already have one."

Smear tests are FINE - so just go and get one. Stop making excuses in your head. They are uncomfortable but they do not hurt.  By the time you are 30 you will have lost dear friends to cancer, friends who will always, always be remembered.

You aren't going to succeed at everything you do - but you will learn from trying. Over the last ten years I've made some pretty epic mistakes (some hilarious, some just down right cringe worthy) but I'm strangely proud of them. I'm so happy to be going into my thirties doing what I love, being around the people I love and having experienced some of the most amazing things in the last few years

Calm the f*ck down - Breathe. Stop worrying. Stop swearing. Have some tea. Ignore the person winding you up (for fun... say what?). Remember you are only human, and sometimes the best thing you can do is remind yourself of that. Whilst eating cake. Oh, and finally: Never lose your silliness - Sometimes dancing on the table, staying for that extra drink, having a pudding, buying the shoes or telling that terrible joke just should be done.

Anna/me, you've done pretty well and you make it to 30. Congratulations.

And the 31 day countdown to 30 begins...


Angie SilverSpoon said...

We have the same birthday!! But I'll be 32 on the 7th. Reading your post I was literally nodding along and agreeing with everything.
1. Most of my teenage years I lived with a black frizzy bob on my head...now I have extensions, highlights and frequent blow dries...some of the best money I spent.
2. I've drifted from lots of friends it's sad but it definitely happens... everyone goes their separate way.
3. With you on the alcohol and the bread...
4. I let bad bosses rule my twenties...I'm so much happier being self employed.

Happy birthday for the 7th!!!
Lots of love,

Catherine said...

You may think it's a cliche post, but it's a great one! Also nearing the big 30 next year and apart from starting my own business (the dream) I literally relate to everything you said-and loved it. Great post x

Sue said...

A lovely post and a moving on and acknowledging the changes post. I hit the 30's quite some time ago and I found it extremely rewarding - you like yourself more, you have confidence and you have more money and if not money - you are generally happier in yourself through coming to terms with what you have learnt along the way. I enjoyed reading it all and found myself nodding along the way. The words "been there, done that" ring very true in this case.

Sandie said...

I am 31 and still searching for this hair dresser that make my hair feel and look like a million dollars. I am London based so wondering if you had any recommendations?

Unknown said...

This post is absolutely brilliant and spot on. I'm 33 and have absolutely loved my 30s thus far. Probably because I spend so much less time worrying about what I should be doing and rather just concentrating on what I actually enjoy doing. Live just feels easier. And I'm all about the night in :) Wishing you a lovely birthday!!

alison*elle said...

I seriously love this post and it came at a great time for me personally. This year has been one of incredible growth for me and I'm finally gaining a lot of perspective on myself/how I react to things, etc. I hope to have as much as you when I hit the big 3-0 in a few years.

xo, alison*elle

Sanja said...

I am a new reader of your blog and I must say I'm really glad I've found you! Besides you seem like a nice and funny person I totally love this post which I find very honest and inspiring. I was 30 one week ago and was thinking about writing on my blog something similar for myself. Now your post has encouraged me to actually do it :)

Anonymous said...

I'm only 19 but hearing honest advice like this is so precious and I really look up to you and your world view! Thank you so much. xxx

Kathryn said...

Ha! Everything you've said it true. The lessons won't stop but the pay-off gets better. Awesome post x

Kb said...

Love this post, just what I needed to read!

Emma Louise Layla said...

"You don't. You like Mr and Mrs Smith." made me laugh. Great list and happy birthday for next month.

Emma Louise Layla x

Hayley Willetts said...

This is such an amazing and TRUE post. I'm not 30 yet, but it's creeping up on me and I can relate to everything you've written about in your post. Embrace it!!!


Anastasia said...

Anna this has just made my night! Epic post and I cant agree anymore about the bullies and the lost friendships! You/we are doing just fine ;) Keep it up :D

Leah from LeahsLifestyle said...

Such an honest reflection. I am still working on a lot of these things - but I have a year and half to get there!

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