I can officially say I am in my mid-30s and life cannot be any better. I went to Miami (travel guide coming soon) to celebrate my birthday with a week of sun bathing. I have been reflecting on my past experiences, failures and successes and I have to say I would not trade any of these lessons I’ve learned in my thirties. These experiences have helped me grow. For instance, I don’t sweat the small stuff anymore. I’ve stopped nitpicking. You couldn’t get me to post a bikini picture of myself a year ago, yet today, I have one on Instagram where I proudly show off my thick thighs in an Eloquii swimsuit.
1. Love the Skin You’re In
I’ve never been happy with my body, even when I was in the best shape of my life teaching fitness classes. I allowed others to project their insecurities on to me and in turn, I didn’t celebrate what I had. I am in the worst shape of my life since a few injuries set me back but I have finally accepted my imperfections and learned to love them. You only have this one body to live in so why reject it? Learn to love your imperfections and don’t stress too much over the last ten pounds.
2. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
3. Quality Over Quantity
Back in college and in my early 20s my mantra was “the more the merrier,” however after realizing what a mess I had made of my life, I learned to choose quality over quantity. One of the first things I learned was that I didn’t have to buy every single thing I saw that tickled my fancy. I just had to buy quality pieces that would last a lot longer instead of filling my closet with unnecessary things that would fall apart in a matter of months.
This lesson is quickly learned living in New York City where space is tight and every inch of your apartment is sacred. And that also goes for friendships and jobs. If you’re not happy with your friends or they’re not enriching your life, it’s time to let them go because you’d rather have less friends who are reliable than a multitude of friends who disappoint.
4. Be Your Biggest Health Advocate
I used to think that doctors knew everything and had my best interest in mind. As I got older I realized that most want to rush you at the office to see the next patient. I went through several doctors before settling on the current ones I have and I’m glad that I did. Now that I’m in my thirties, I can’t stress enough how important it is for a woman, everyone for that matter, to be his or her biggest health advocate.
If you feel like there’s something wrong with your body, you know your body better than your doctors do. So make sure that you keep on them and don’t allow them to prescribe you unnecessary drugs and protocols. I’ve had doctors prescribe me medicine for high blood pressure or pre-diabetes when I didn’t need them. They decided to prescribe me medicine instead of doing the proper blood tests and taking the time to diagnose my problem.
I even had one doctor tell me that I had anxiety and suggested I go on anxiety medicine just because I kept coming back to his office to get the proper diagnosis. I started keeping a medical journal so that I could show him what was happening on a day to day basis for one straight week. It turned out my condition was acid reflux. Go figure! This is especially important for women as we get older. We need to learn to be our biggest health advocates so that our doctors can be responsible and prescribe us the right course of treatment for our conditions.
I’m not saying go on WebMD and self dignose, however I implore you to make sure that you are not just taking your doctors word for it. You’ve also got to do your own research to make sure you’re on the proper treatment for your specific condition. Don’t be afraid to work with your doctor to tailor your meds. Above all else try to ensure your doctor isn’t over medicating you. On a final note on being your biggest health advocate, make sure to schedule and go to your yearly physical exam, dental appointments as well as gynecological appointments. If you’re looking to be a mom one day, make sure to talk to your doctor about fertility and the proper vitamins.
5. Learn to Edit Not Only Your Closet but Your Friends
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Take Calculated Risks
7. Keep Learning and Growing
One of the most important lessons I learned after college was to keep learning and growing even though I wasn’t continuing my education with a masters or PhD. No matter where life takes you, you can never stop reading or educating yourself on improving the skills you’ve acquired. Learning comes in the form of reading a book on a subject that you love or want to know more about. It can be in the form of taking a class at a local college or at a community center or a simple as studying on YouTube.
I wanted to learn how to code so that my blog could be a lot more in polished. I did that by signing up for lessons on Khan Academy to learn more about CSS and Java. I’ve been able to modify my website when I need to without paying somebody to do it for me. I’ve also learned to vet my developers and know when they’re lying or trying to upsell me. Continuing education through skill improvement is something that’s very invaluable and will keep your brain sharp.
8. Start Building a Legacy
What is an ocean but a multitude of drops?. I used to work at The Root, an African-American news website in New York City as an event planner. We worked with many companies on events but one of the most beneficial events I planned for our client Prudential was on wealth buidling. Their big focus was on Legacy building in the African-American community and I learned so much from that.
I learned that it’s important to start saving and saving early so we will be able to leave something behind for our children one day. Sure we might seem invincible in our twenties and thirties, but time flies when we’re having fun. We need to stop and evaluate our choices in order for us to put some money away, we’re able to live comfortable lives into our retirement age. So if that means skipping that occasional sample sale or that extra macha latte it’s worth it. Five dollars here and five dollars there will eventually add up. So start saving now for a rainy day.
9. Prioritize Your Time
Now that I’m in a committed relationship my time is very, very precious. And it’s really sad that I had to realize that while in a relationship but it’s not too late to learn that lesson. I’ve learned to compartmentalize my time. A part of my day is dedicated to my career and my blog, another is to friends and family, and the last part is dedicated to my relationship. Every single day, week and month, I make sure that I spend quality time with each segment of my life. I try not to spend my time frivolously but to make sure that when I do spend time with friends or family, it’s quality time.
10. Learn to Be Alone, Not Lonely
The very last lesson that I’ve learned and it’s one of the most important ones is to learn to be alone but not lonely. This is the most mature thing you can ever do for yourself. Again, another lesson that New York taught me. The city is so big and has millions of people but it can be one of the loneliest places on earth.
Once you learn to love being alone, which comes from being able to prioritize your time, and choose quality over quantity, you will truly see that alone time is one of the most precious times you can have in your day, week or month. I take some of my alone time for manicures and wine, or to read a good book, or just to hit the gym and run on the treadmill to gather my thoughts.
Alone and lonely are two different things, one is voluntary, and one is involuntary. Alone time can help you to define and refine your goals and objectives, and to truly learn to love yourself. On the other hand, you can have a lot of friends and be surrounded by a lot of people but feel so lonely. Learn to know the difference between these two and start living a life that you can love when you are by yourself.