2015 was a big year. I turned 30. I travelled to my favourite places and saw my favourite people. I celebrated the (very) bittersweet 5-year anniversary of purchasing my first house (also known as the end of my first mortgage term) only a few months after agreeing to end the 7-year relationship with the man who shared that home with me. I learned how to live alone. I felt like I was really growing up in a way I’ve never felt before.
It was a doozy, and who knows what 2016 will bring… But it seems fitting to kick off my first post of the year with some random thoughts that came to me over the course of 2015. Call it 30 years of “wisdom” (used with overly enthusiastic air quotes since I feel neither wise nor old enough to give advice). Or more accurately, call it a cumulative list of musings gathered from countless discussions with family, friends, myself, and readings from this brilliant female duo you may be familiar with – Amy Poehler and Tiny Fey.
Here, in no particular order, are an aging 30-year-old lady’s thoughts:
1. Meal planning is quite possibly the best thing I did for myself in 2015. I’m so glad that I committed to sharing my menu adventuring on this blog because it made me accountable to myself and my invisible online friends to keep it up and I benefited by building a repertoire of meals and techniques to maintain a (relatively) healthy diet and stable routine. I’m still at it in 2016 in a different kind of way – but I feel like I laid the groundwork for keeping this going for the rest of my adult life. On a related note…
2. Being an adult is hard. Why does nobody tell you this when you’re a kid?! Seriously. This is no walk in the park. Meal planning, making and keeping a budget, working hard and trying to find work-life balance, maintaining adult friendships, being in a long-term relationship with a partner, trying to be responsible while simultaneously trying to enjoy life… None of it comes easy. I still haven’t figured out this whole grown up thing, and I’m not sure I ever will.
3. Nobody ever grows up and nobody ever really feels their age. The week I turned 30, I told my mom that I still felt like a teenager and she responded that she still feels like she’s 30, so I am now convinced that age is a weird abstract concept and that nobody anywhere in the world actually feels like a real-life grown up. (Anyone care to argue this point? Are there any responsible adults reading this blog?) I think the reality is, we just go along year after year and figure it out as we go. At certain points in time we stop and realize that years have passed and in those fleeting moments we see that we are constantly growing and changing without realizing or understanding how. Really, we’re all just big kids.
4. Impatience is an ugly trait and I need to remember to slow down. You’d think I would learn from the past – the whole time I was a kid and teenager I just wanted to grow up so I could be an adult and live my fabulous life. But, uhhh, see above, point #2. Being an adult isn’t that much fun and I wish I could go back in time to tell myself to stop rushing. And here I am now, just as impatient as I was all those years ago, wanting to move forward and race through this totally weird and uncertain time in my life even though my future is just as ambiguous. I’m impatient ALL THE TIME – whatever I want, I want it NOW. It’s something I really dislike in myself and need to work on.
5. I don’t care as much about making my hair do things it doesn’t want to do. I used to blow dry my hair every other day (I’ve got a bad case of straight hair envy) but since the day I turned 30, I sort of stopped caring about wasting my time trying to tame my crazy curly-thin-but-sometimes-thick-wavy-can’t-decide-what-it-wants-to-do hair. As soon as I let it go I got all kinds of compliments, and, even better, I started to feel more like my real self – as though I was saying to the world, “Yeah, this is my frizzy hair. It’s part of who I am. Deal with it.” Now I can’t imagine myself wearing my hair any other way. (Although I won’t lie – when I get my hair cut and professionally blow dried, I still looooove the look of that silky straight hair.)
6. I am starting to love my body by appreciating and caring for it as though it is a temple. This is happening in a few distinct ways. I started to moisturize my whole body on a daily basis. I floss my teeth almost regularly. I now jog / run / walk a few times a week on a treadmill at the office gym. (It is soooo boring but feels so good to be exercising!) And the most special treatment my body gets is the wonderful practice of yoga, at least twice if not several times a week. Yoga. Wow. It feels amazing and it’s one of those things where I really can’t find words to describe how it makes me feel, except to say that I come out of every session feeling powerful and in control of my body and life.
7. There really is not enough time in the day. With my new routine of treadmill or yoga after work, I’m getting home later than ever so by the time I make dinner and clean up, it’s almost time for bed. Now that my house is for sale, I find my weekends are occupied with keeping the house tidy and clean (while fitting in yoga in the morning). I still have the weekend cooking parties that I adopted in my year of meal planning but the process is even more rigorous so I can pre-cook as much as possible ahead the weeknights knowing that I will be home so late. No matter how hard I try to get up early to tidy on workdays when I have a visit at the house, I somehow get into work later and later. How does one fit in everything they need to do on a daily basis? Getting back to writing the blog has felt nearly impossible, not to mention trying to get myself out more so I don’t become a crazy cat lady who lives alone forever without friends or acquaintances or lovers.
8. Let go of what doesn’t serve you. This is one of the many wisdom nuggets I have picked up from my yoga practice and it’s a beautiful thought that the instructor repeats at each of her sessions. When I feel a negative thought or emotion bubbling up inside of me, I acknowledge it and I feel it in its entirety because I know there’s a reason I feel that way in that moment. But once I’ve felt what I need to feel, I try really hard to let it go. Holding onto anger or sadness or bitterness (or any of that bad stuff) will do nothing to make your life better – it will only bring you down and it gives you no power to move forward. It doesn’t serve you, so move on.
9. Living alone isn’t so bad. The last few months I have adjusted to living alone and I actually quite enjoy it – you can sing as loud as you want, choose what to watch on Netflix, set the menu, and do whatever you want, whenever you want. You make your own schedule and get into your own groove, and keep your home exactly how you want it without negotiating or checking with someone to see if what you’re doing works for them. It’s actually very liberating. (But it can get a little lonely sometimes.)
10. Being alone and being lonely are different things. I learned this fairly quickly as I got used to being single and home alone in a house without another human. Alone time is great. (See above!) You can use the quiet time to reflect on your life, yourself, where you are and where you want to go… all things that sort of get lost in the background when you are surrounded by others. Being alone is a good practice. But being lonely – that’s a different story. Longing for company and feeling like you are missing something by not being with another human isn’t healthy in the way that being alone with yourself is. I think we are made to have companionship, so loneliness is natural when we are left alone for long enough.
11. Dancing is always a good idea. There hasn’t been enough dancing in my life and I intend to make up for lost time in the coming years. When I get those lonely feelings during my alone time, I blast music in my living room and have a solo dance party and immediately feel better. Last weekend I was terribly sick with a cold but I danced out some of the sickness with friends. Dancing is always a good idea.
12. Apparently I have a little feminist rage inside of me. I am acutely aware of what it means to be a woman in the workplace and how it is a different experience for men. It is so subtle and institutional (and certainly not always intentional) but it is always there, underpinning the way we interact with each other. Witnessing it is almost unreal – to sit in a meeting and state a valid opinion and see it get dismissed, only to be acknowledged minutes later when a man says the exact same thing is unbelievable (and insanely frustrating). GIRL POWER!
13. Friends that are gems of the world are precious and we must hold tight to them. This is the sweetest thought that my sister shared with me from a friend of hers and it is the simplest but strongest sentiment to summarize how important it is to hold on to those really special friends in our lives that bring us light and positivity and joy. On a related note, making friends is hard! So hard. It makes me appreciate my gems even more. Now move home, would you? (You know who you are!)
14. Turning 30 felt like no big deal, but turning 31 in a few months feels REALLY OLD. Why? Aging is so weird.
15. Keeping a clean house is a pain but sooooooo nice. Ah, the joys of trying to sell your house. It means that you have to be continually ready to have strangers walk through your home at any given moment… Which is a pain and quite frankly, starting to get really old. I know… it’s a necessary evil… but on the positive side, I have learned that I actually really like to have a tidy and immaculately clean living space. In the past I wouldn’t bother with it but now that I’m in the habit of cleaning up after myself on a daily basis, I just can’t stop. It’s so refreshing and serene to come home to a de-cluttered house.
16. Remember empathy and love for others, always. Empathy hits me like a punch to the gut sometimes and I feel so much for others when I hear about a personal tragedy, but then I tend to forget about maintaining this in day to day life. Having gone through my divorce and spending many, many days in a total daze at work or out and about on the weekend has taught me that we must always try to remember that we never know what someone might be going through and we should always be kind to each other.
17. I’ve stopped being afraid of saying what I want to say. This has been a really big leap for me. I used to worry about rubbing people the wrong way, or scaring them off, or revealing how “crazy” I am, or putting myself into the vulnerable position of being let down after being totally honest and open. But I’ve tried really hard to let go of the fear and just say what I want, when I want. (Of course, always thinking before I speak! I don’t want to hurt anyone, I just want to be honest and truthful to myself.)
18. Everyone’s path is different and it’s important to stay focused on your own. Facebook really challenges this idea because it is a daily reminder of all the things people are doing and achieving – or at least, what they are choosing to publicize. I went so far as to delete the app off my phone for a couple years because I started subconsciously berating myself for not being in the same place as people I went to school with. But then I remembered that we all glamourize our lives online and it really doesn’t matter where others are compared to me, because their lives ultimately have no impact on my own. We’re all on different roads going at a different pace, and that’s OK.
19. It’s easier to care less about what people think the older you get. Or at least I hope it is – there are some days that I question if I have really gotten to the point where I can safely say that I don’t care at all, but sometimes it really feels this way. In the last year, I’ve gotten tattoos on my wrists, starting saying whatever I want at work (and outside of work), I’ve stopped worrying as much about what people think of my appearance by focusing instead on what makes me happy and comfortable, and and and… it’s liberating.
20. It’s also easier to be more sure of what you want as you get older. Maybe it’s the divorce talking but things have never been clearer to me in terms of what I want in a partner, how I want to treat that partner, what I want in life, what I want RIGHT NOW and what I want tomorrow. It doesn’t mean I can have those things immediately, but the clarity is wonderful. (Even if that clarity sometimes gets blurred and confused – which it tends to do!)
21. I’m still a hopeless dreamer and romantic who believes that something great is ahead. I mean… I know my life isn’t like a movie (no life is) but I still believe that I will eventually have a great love, a great career, a great home, a great life… Is that foolish? Optimistic? Basic? I don’t really care. All I know is that I believe that loving hard and wanting to love and be loved is a beautiful thing, and sort of the whole point of our crazy existence. I believe it is out there for me, not only romantically but in the way I want to live the rest of my life.
22. A well stocked wine rack is a blessing, but also dangerous. So very dangerous.
23. Logic and emotion are at opposite ends of a spectrum that I cannot master. These guys do NOT see eye to eye but in my brain they are equals, fighting each other constantly with the same weight and pulling me from one end to the other. The emotional side makes me feel ALL the emotions in the most extreme way while the logical side makes me reason with and explain the emotions, either telling me why I shouldn’t feel a certain way or helping me to understand the emotion even if I can’t pull myself out of it. These guys really need to buddy up. It would help me feel a little less crazy. Speaking of opposite ends of a spectrum…
24. Life is paradoxical and confusing. Is it just me? Is it because I’m a Gemini? It seems to me that we are surrounded by paradox and that we must constantly negotiate between these battling juxtapositions whether internally or externally. For example: My current mood includes frustration at myself for being indecisive about a good number of open questions in my life at this exact moment while also trying to hold onto my laid back mantra of “nonetofigo” that tells me to sit back and NOT decide, trusting that things will work out. I feel a strong desire to be alone now that I’m single, but an equally strong desire to have someone special in my life. I feel the need to propel myself forward into a new phase of my life but also feel terrified at the thought of moving forward, instead opting for the safety and comfort of standing still.
25. There could be something to astrology. When I was younger, I remember reading my horoscope in the newspaper nearly every morning, but none of it ever made sense or really seemed to apply. I’ve always sort of appreciated astrology at a distance – not really paying too much attention but knowing the details at a high level. But more recently I find myself really seeing myself and others as those cosmic signs attributed to the time of year we are born. Really though. I am SUCH Gemini. My twins are constantly fighting each other in my head or tagging in and out in my dealings with the world.
26. It is good to challenge yourself to say yes, but just as good to challenge yourself to say no too. I believe so strongly in trying to live with yes energy. It’s this special attitude focused on positivity, an openness to saying yes, and a constant endeavour to push that yes out into the universe so you can give and get it back. For a Gemini like me, it’s hard to keep at it all the time (that evil twin comes out, and she can be a real downer). But I’m working hard to try to say yes more, keeping in mind that it’s OK to say no. A friend reminds me regularly to practice saying yes, but not to forget to practice saying no when something doesn’t feel right or just isn’t what I want.
27. Being uncomfortable can be a good thing. It means that you might be pushing yourself to try something new. It means that you might be opening yourself up to an incredible experience because you’ve said yes instead of no. It means that you might be on the verge of some significant personal change and growth. It means you might be accepting that change sucks but is something we gotta do. Or it might mean that your jeans are too tight. That’s a bad kind of uncomfortable.
28. You have to keep pushing yourself, ALWAYS. Nobody else is going to do it for you. You can be encouraged by others (directly or indirectly) but at the end of the day, they won’t be there to nudge you forward. Push out of your comfort zone, push to keep doing the thing you want to do (or don’t want to do but know you need to do). Push past the fear of saying what you really want to say. Push yourself and great things will happen. But, pushing ourselves isn’t always easy… I know this from experience…
29. Pushing to keep this blog alive is a challenge. Just like pushing myself to run or go to yoga, just like getting myself out of my comfort zone to enhance my life, just like everything that requires giving myself a nudge, I love writing this blog so much and it feels so great to do it… but somehow it just doesn’t come easy. It’s like knowing how good I will feel after yoga but really having to force myself to go sometimes – I’m still working at it.
30. Just Ride. Lana Del Rey knows what’s up: “I hear the birds on the summer breeze, I drive fast, I am alone at midnight, Been trying hard not to get into trouble, but I, I’ve got a war in my mind, So I just ride, Just ride… I’m tired of feeling like I’m fucking crazy, I’m tired of driving ’til I see stars in my eyes, It’s all I’ve got to keep myself sane, baby, So I just ride, I just ride.”