31 is the new 21

I turned 31 yesterday and I’m so excited and relieved. When you turn 30, there’s all this pressure to be new, improved, changed and suddenly mature. Your 20s are flipping hard, and Graeme and I did it with two babies and then toddlers in tow. Somehow. We started playing house from the age of 23, and at 23 you don’t even know a single thing, never mind how run a life properly. We grew, we learned and through all of it we never let go of each other. I’m grateful. I’m proud of us. 8 years and 2 cities later, we have our solid family unit; a beautiful home, established careers and a mountain of things we still want to achieve. Like everything finally fits. So here are a few reasons why I think that 31 is the new 21.

1. I can barely remember who was at my 21st ten years ago, and I’m hardly in touch with most of them anymore. People who I thought were my BEST, forever friends. While most of my current besties are from my childhood, I think you make your solid friends in your late twenties, and another group after you’ve had kids. Friendships change, careers move at different paces and having a family shifts your priorities. When I say “shift”, imagine a construction site and a very large bulldozer pushing your old priorities off a cliff. In my 20s, I let go of BEST friends who weren’t even friends at all. There’s sort of a “ek vat nie kak nie” attitude that comes in your late 20s and you realize that not all friendships will survive these years. And that’s okay!

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2. You have more money. Scraping by in your 20s and sending your parents please call mes to help with your rent is something that most of us went through. The best of us. In your 20s you learn about credit and savings and investing and interest rates, insurance and bonds and taxes. You make some pretty expensive mistakes. I remember I BLEW my first credit card when I was 20 like why would you even give a 20 year old a credit card. I spent years tidying up my credit record and then years trying to build credit to qualify to buy a house. In your 30s everything sort of evens out, you might stop living month to month and debits off your account no longer break your heart. Sometimes.

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3. I am personally in better shape right now than I was in my 20s. I eat right. I care. I train. I run. In my 20s it was all big macs and 24 hour steers and now it’s all juices and water and salads and wholewheat everything. I never cared about my health, I was like WHATEVER I’M YOUNG I’LL EAT WHAT I WANT and now I’m like “Okay so I really want to live a long and healthy life and not get colon cancer.” I’ve also become more responsible. I used to party like a crazy girl and now I’m like “WHAT IS THIS 3 DAY HANGOVER.” Seriously – what is that?!

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4. Your soul sprouts. I was pretty selfish in my 20s with very little regard for others, the earth or consequence. In your 20s your heart will break. You’ll disappoint yourself, and others. You’ll gain an awareness of others that you didn’t think possible. Only when your heart is truly and completely broken will it be vulnerable and susceptible enough to comprehend how you’ve affected others. There’s a sensitivity and humbleness that arrives in your 20s somewhere, and you’ll never shake it. It will make you a better, more sensitive and caring human being.

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5. Your career will change maybe three times. You might not be working in the field that you studied and by now you’ve probably realized that your degree means very little in the greater scheme of experience. I made monumental professional mistakes in my 20s. I took jobs I didn’t really want, I worked insane hours and I said yes to a lot of things that I should have walked away from. You learn that passion is the very core of any kind of success, and you will never succeed at anything unless your heart is in it. At my 21st, I had just left my Journalism studies and I was working in an old age home and night shift at a hospital’s Emergency Unit. I wanted to be a nurse, and work in pediatrics. I wasted two entire years in the medical field, which I would eventually walk away from. I worked as a TV producer and Multimedia Manager until I found what I was passionate about. You will never feel as confused, lost and desperate as you do in your 20s. Eventually you’re like

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6. By the time you reach your 30s you’ve developed your personal style. Sure it might change later, but you start to build a wardrobe. You ignore trends and fashion and focus on yourself, dressing for your body shape and investing in good quality, timeless garments. What looks good in a magazine or on your best friend won’t necessarily suit you. You discover which colours and fabrics and cuts flatter you. I’ve thrown and given away heaps of clothes over the years and I’ve learned that it’s better to buy one expensive item a month than 4 cheap ones that won’t last three washes and definitely not to the next season. You go from cheap clothes to good clothes like

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7. For some of us, we learn about motherhood in our 20s. You learn a love beyond your comprehension or understanding. Your heart and soul leaves your body and probably never comes back. You become a nurturer, not just with your own kids but with all others. You will never walk past a crying child and you will appreciate and understand humanity in a much deeper and connected sense. Motherhood is amazing. It will test, grow, fulfill and break you.

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8. You will fall in love. With yourself. Your body, your heart, your personality. You’ll accept all your own flaws and setbacks and mistakes. You’ll work through your dark bits and you’ll reach a point where you don’t need recognition or validation. There’s a confidence that emerges somewhere along the line that will really change your life. You’ll start saying no to things, you’ll stand tall in your convictions and you’ll appreciate yourself for who you are. I was really insecure in my 20s and I wanted everyone to like me, agree with me, stand by me. As you grow, your confidence does too.

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I usually get sad around birthdays. Another year of life cut short. A year less with my children, and theirs. Another year closer to losing loved ones, but today… I feel good. Relaxed. Like my wild spirit has silenced and evolved in to a deeper consciousness and understanding of everything around us. I feel… satisfied. Now that all those BIG boxes are ticked, I’m excited to start enjoying life more. I want to travel and expand my studies and keep learning about myself and our beautiful world. I want to kick back and really enjoy my husband and focus more on him and watch him go through his own journey. I love that man so much. He fills my heart with a thousand sunny days, ice cream cones, forests and sunsets. I want to watch my children be children and spend less time consumed by my to do lists and deadlines. I want to write books and stories and poems. I feel ready for anything right now and I really do believe that 31 is the new 21, at least today, right now. Happy birthday to me, and happy it is indeed.

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