31 Lessons to Learn Before Your 31st Birthday!
I remember when I was a teenager I’d look at 30 year olds and think, “wow, look at them! They have their lives together!”
And the closer and closer I crept to 30, the more I realized that having ones live together is the great deception of adults everywhere. And we owe it to the younger generations to be brutally honest about what it means to grow up!
Because the truth of the matter is that there are 2 types of people in this world:
People that have no idea what they’re doing in life.
And people who are merely pretending they do!
In the same breath, many people look back on their younger years as “the best years of my life”. In my experience, that’s also bullshit.
Yes, I had less responsibilities. I wasn’t crippled with fear, worrying about how I would manifest the money for rent this month. But my mental health was a dumpster fire. I was consumed with what others thought of me.
And I spent most of my years between 15-25 “joking” about killing myself and in reality attempting to not kill myself. So, as I uncover each lie about the world, I’ve also severely enjoyed growing up.
I am happy and whole. I have a check on my mental health. I am so so loved. And most of all, I care very little about what others think, which has allowed me to be happy, loved and have trust in myself.
This work wasn’t one big change. But many many small steps, culminating each day into who I have become and who I am still becoming. So here are my 31 lessons to learn before you turn 31!
1. Nothing is that serious
The great guise of adult life is that it’s all very serious. That we must make smart decisions and be serious about our lives. Realistically, we are 1 in 8 billion people. Born to 2 other humans who happened to meet, floating around on a rock in space around a giant gas ball. Like, it doesn’t make any sense. I’ve learned that seriousness is a choice. And seriousness breeds worry, sadness and depression. So take life less seriously! Let it be light hearted because whether you take it seriously or not shitty things will still happen. It’s far more enjoyable to live a little more playfully. As my yoga master taught us, “be sincere but not serious”. Mean what you say and show up for yourself, but do it with joy in your heart!
2. You’ll never wish you worked harder
Like ever. When it comes to the end, whenever that may be, you will never wish you spent more hours at work, signed more clients or took less vacations. We work in order to live a life that we love! If you love what you do, incredible news, but still value how you live and who you live it with other your work. Set your boundaries about when you work and when you do not. Be present in your life and with those you love. Because you will regret the time NOT spent with the people you love.
3. It’s the people you love that matter
Leading me to lesson 3. We are social creatures. The relationships you curate with those you love are what really matter. They will get you through your toughest days. They will hold your hand when you cry, celebrate you and love you through ALL things. If anything in your life comes between you and a loved one, it’s probably time to let go of that thing.
4. Book that trip!
You are a beautiful soul, living out a human experience. Allow yourself to experience it all! The sounds, smells, tastes and colours of the world are there for your exploration. Whether you backpack solo across the world or just visit a new town here and there. Collect experiences. They become the foundation of who you are and how you see the world. You were not created to pay bills and die. If you cannot get the time off, book the trip anyway. If you’re scared to go alone, book the trip anyway. If you’re worried about money, book the trip anyway! You will figure it out. And the exponential growth you will find in your experiences will be worth everything you think you have to “lose”.
5. The only thing you really have to lose is yourself.
Money is great. Homes are great. Relationships are great. But you can’t take any of that with you. You’re one and only responsibility in this life is to yourself. Live in a way that feels good to you. Notice who, what and where, makes you feel less than yourself, and maybe stop doing those things. You were perfectly created, to be perfectly yourself. Trust that you know the right answer, that you always have and make your number 1 life goal to be beautifully, gracefully and powerfully yourself.
6. Saying no is actually saying yes.
We get so caught up in life about what we will miss when and if we say not to an opportunity, friendship, relationship or job. But what I have come to learn is that saying no to things that are not fully aligned with my soul and my purpose, is actually saying yes to something that is! It is saying YES: I trust myself, I know my worth, I believe in the divine timing of the Universe and I know something better is coming. Saying yes when you want to say no is essentially just collecting clutter that you’ll have to clean off and clear out at a later date anyway.
7. If it can’t wait, it’s not for you.
There is no rush in life. Apart from our incessant need to rush and move forward. If anything cannot wait for you to decide if this is right for you, it was never for you to begin with. Now, this is specifically for my emotional authorities, living in a sacral, right now world. There is no truth in the now for you! Allow yourself to think about things, does this feel good? Ask for 20 minutes, a couple of hours or to sleep on it. Go get a coffee, have lunch, take the weekend before making a decision. And if it cannot wait for you to feel into yourself, it was never yours to begin with.
8. Let them leave.
If someone doesn’t want to be in your energy, let them leave! Never beg a friend, family member, colleague to love interest to be with you. That’s not how energy works. Energetically, karmically, there are people who you are meant to be with. To love, for a short or long period. Stop forcing people to say. Release them to find the energies they need but mostly release yourself to be fully loved in the way you deserve!
9. You have nothing to prove.
It is not your job to please others. You are divinely worthy of every little thing you have ever desired. But you will never receive these things while trying to prove you’re “good” to another human. It is essentially a mindset of lack. As long as you are doing the things you “should” do in order to feel acceptable you are telling the Universe, “I do not believe I am enough JUST as I am!” And nothing good can grow here. You’re only job is to be yourself, follow your intuition and prove that you are divinely worthy, just as you are!
10. Some people won’t know how to love you.
Not everyone was raised in a love first family. Not everyone is at the level you’re at. Some people simply do not know how to love you the way they deserve. Or they do not feel safe enough with themselves to love you in the way that you deserve. To love, romantically or platonically, is to be vulnerable in your connection to another. You cannot open yourself up to love without opening yourself up to hurt and pain. They go hand in hand. If someone cannot love you, it says nothing about you and everything about their relationship with the world.
11. It’s not your responsibility to teach them how to love you.
When confronted with someone who is hurting, especially once you have done the work, it is easy to fall into the trap of leading another back to themselves. And you can. But you don’t have to. It’s not your responsibility to show them the way. Especially if they aren’t ready. The truth is that most people who cannot love you the way you deserve are currently too scared to accept that THEY are the problem. You simply cannot guide someone who is not yet there. Love them from afar. Send them love. But you need to leave and allow them to continue on your journey.
12. You have to feel your emotions but you can’t let them overwhelm you
I often read things like, “don’t let your emotions get the better of you”, which elicits behaviours of stuffing emotions down, pretending they don’t exist and throwing you right up into your mind (and nothing good lives there). You are a human and part of the human experience is to feel your emotions. Give yourself permission to feel each and every one of them. But do not let them consume you. If you’re sad, be sad, wallow, eat take out and watch 5 hours of Netflix but promise yourself that tomorrow you’ll try again! If you’re angry, be angry, yell, scream, throw pillows but DON’T make decisions in this space. The trick to feel your emotions is to do it alone, sit with it, be with it but try not to interact with others until you’re in a place of clarity.
13. Grief will make you feel everything and nothing.
There is no greater life disrupter than grief. And there is no correct way to feel. Grieving may look like feeling everything so very deeply but it may also look like feeling nothing at all! Give yourself permission to just be where you’re at and move intentionally through each day. Know that nothing will ever be the same, and that it probably wasn’t meant to anyway.
14. Your success is based solely on how successful you see yourself.
Your beliefs create your reality. If you are not experiencing success in work, love, friendships or hobbies, it has little to do with the who and the what, and everything to do with how successful you can truly believe you are. How worthy do you truly believe you are of having the things you desire? What lessons and patterns did you learn as a child that are standing in the way of you having what you want? You do not need to do more, but you do need to figure out what beliefs are stopping you from being all that you truly desire?
15. You’ll never stop missing her.
Your mum. Not a single day will go by where your life is shaped by her absence. The pain will soften. The edges will round off like a smooth pebble but you will miss her all the same. Give yourself every opportunity to celebrate her, to talk about her and to her. Connect with her, and listen when she is near. Because she is.
16. You were born to be great.
I’ll say it again, you were not created to just pay bills and die! You were born to do great things. But as soon as you are born you are beginning to be controlled. And that’s okay. Your carers love you, they want what is best for you. But you were born to be great. Bring your awareness to all the ways that you’re not showing up as greatly as you could. Where are you showing up as less than yourself? What stories are you telling yourself that are holding you back? You were born to be great, to do great things and celebrate greatly with great people!
17. Drink more water.
Always. The first solution to all ailments is have a glass of water.
18. Your strength will inspire others.
Do not suffer in silence. Your experience is your own but you are a teacher, a guide, a leader. When you feel safe to do so, share your pain. Because you have the words that many cannot muster. The words that will keep another alive in order for them to keep going too! Your strength in being broken is what inspires others. Stand up and say, I’m not okay but I keep fighting and so can you.
19. People are watching.
Number 18 is important because of number 19. Sometimes we feel like an insignificant, one in 8 billion people, person. But people are watching. Whether you know it or not you are inspiring others. They are watching you thinking, “damn, if she can do it so can I”. And as you live more wholly in yourself the more people will come out of the woodwork and let you know what an impact you had.
20. Don’t miss a moment with your grandparents.
Replace grandparents with any elderly family member you cherish, but don’t miss time with them. They lived in a completely different time. They have watched you all these years. They celebrate your wins, your adventures and your independence and there is nothing they cherish more than some time with you. They will not live forever and you may regret not making time for them.
21. Stop explaining yourself.
This life is yours! You do not have to explain your decisions to others (especially as it doesn’t even affect them)! Your decisions don’t have to be logical, forward looking or responsible. They have to feel good! Because the rest of that will follow when you live in joy. But joy doesn’t necessarily follow a logical path. Give yourself permission to say, “I am doing XYZ because I want to.”
22. Taking your education with a grain of salt.
You will learn many lessons in school. Grammar, place value, geography, small snippets of history. But life is and always will be your greatest teacher. The education system is a one size fits all system that fits very few. Question everything you learned in school. Read up on opposing experiences of “history”, have discussions, think critically about what you learnt. Teachings, even those that are factual, always come from the perspective of the teacher. Dive into knowledge and commit to a lifetime of learning, your way.
23. Look for the magic.
There is magic in every situation! Even when your life is falling apart their is a spark of magic in there. A new lesson to be learnt. A layer you no longer needed. A flicker of something new. When things start going to shit start looking for the magic and you will surely find it! And even if you don’t find it yet, looking for magic trains tour mind to find the beginning of something new rather than focusing on the death of the old.
24. Promise you’ll try again tomorrow.
Life is going to knock you down. Spit on you. Kick you in the stomach. And set you a light. And it’s okay to not be able to continue today. It’s okay to climb into bed and cry. To watch 8 hours of a Netflix binge and order pizza. But never give up. Promise yourself you will try again tomorrow. Even just for 5 minutes. Try again. And if it all gets too much allow yourself to feel. But try again the next day. This small promise has kept me alive many times.
25. Heartbreak is not fatal.
You will experience heartbreak. You will feel like your heart is being ripped from your chest and it will feel like you cannot continue. But it’s not fatal. You will survive it. And in a few weeks, months or years, you’ll see exactly why your heart broke and exactly why you needed that lesson right then. Don’t rush yourself. But know that healing is coming. Because it has to.
26. Growing plants will teach you more than you ever thought you needed to know.
I was 30 years old when I dedicated myself to keeping a plant alive. I’d successfully cared for my dogs, so I figured I was up to the challenge. Wrong. Raising house plants and a vegetable garden has caused more emotional rollercoasters than I would ever have imagined it could. But it has taught me so much about myself, my emotional wave, perseverance and the divine randomness of life. I googled all the rules followed them to the tee and some plants still died. I laboured for hours, over months in my vegetable garden for my tomatoes to catch blight and all mold and die in days. My broccolis suffered the caterpillar apocalypse of 2021 and I spent hours (I mean hours) picking off caterpillars and rehoming them elsewhere. There were so many moments when I felt like, “all of my hard work has been for nothing!” only to realize that hard work is never about the end result but the journey to the end. I have learned how to commit to my watering schedule even when everything is dying because by some stroke of luck some of it will survive!
27. Put on more sunscreen.
Simple but lesson we always need to hear. If you think you’re good, add more. Or go sit in the shade for an hour. And buy reef safe.
28. Fall in love with your cycle.
We are all highly conditioned to believe our periods are gross, painful and something to be discussed only in secret. But my menstrual cycle is what makes me a woman. I carry the power of creation within my body! My sweet 5ft 2’ vessel can create actual humans within my womb. And that is the most powerful essence you will ever experience. When you are living in menstrual shame, you are ignoring the most powerful part of you. That leads to huge mood swings, pain, PMS and discomfort. By just shifting your mindset from “ugh my period” to “I have the power of creation within my bones and this is proof that I can continue to powerfully create” your symptoms can shift. Falling in love with your cycle necessitates that you adjust to it too. Arrange your workouts, commitments and business (if you can) around your cycle. Work with your naturally higher energy and create space and graciousness to go slower as you bleed.
28b. Call out anyone that talks shit about periods.
If anyone dares utter the words, “she’s on her period” (or similar) in my presence, they have invited the full force of my wrath. Because maybe she is, maybe you’re just being a dickhead. But more to the point, if a male was bleeding out into his underpants for a quarter of his life between the ages of 10-50, he would not be expected to carry on like nothing has happened! We, as menstruating people, spend a quarter of our adult life bleeding, I think that gives us some leeway to be a little more sensitive. If you’ve ever cared for a man you love in your life, you will know that a small cold in the end of the mother fucking world and they revert back to incapable 3 years olds. So yeah, if I’m menstruating, I’m experiencing discomfort and I will not be forced to act like I am 100% fine. I’m 100% powerful. But I will call you out.
29. Don’t hesitate to ask for help.
My mother always said to me, “don’t be the hero”. Meaning, don’t struggle through your life when there is someone who can help you. There are no prizes for figuring everything out alone. There is no celebration on the other side that you made it through life without therapy, without seeing a doctor, or without asking a friend for support. Other people have skills you do not, ASK FOR HELP! Invite people to use their genius in your life, so you can remain fully in yours! As a society we can get a little defensive about this one. Because yes, you’re strong! You’re independent. You can figure out anything you need to. But you don’t have to. You have nothing to prove.
30. Get therapy.
Following on, get therapy. Talk about the things you’ve never said. Verbalize the thoughts you’ve been scared to say out loud. Create a space in your life to talk through all the things. I truly believe if every adult in this generation has 6 months of therapy a year, the next generation can do huge things! You get therapy so your children don’t have to! You get therapy because your parents didn’t! Getting therapy isn’t a sign that you’re broken or defective. That you’re mentally ill or something you should be ashamed of. Getting therapy allows you to take a new perspective on life. To see where you may be impacting others without realizing. Overall, therapy allows you to be more at home in your skin, and you will watch your relationships blossom!
31. Celebrate yourself.
It took my 30 years of my life to accept that I am an incredible human being that deserves to be celebrated. It took me 30 years to be able to stand in my own skin and organize my own birthday celebrations. Because I have lived an incredible life and that truly deserves celebrating! There are so many moments that I didn’t think I’d make it through. The fact that I am here, living, breathing, working, moving, writing, dancing and I am happy, is worth celebrating! Because I wasn’t always sure I’d be here. But even if you haven’t experienced the depths of despair and depression, you deserve to celebrate being here and being alive! You came to this planet with a purpose and each and every day you open your eyes you get the chance to pursue that, and that is SO worth celebrating. So celebrate yourself every day, cheers your cup of tea to you and your achievements, sing yourself a love song in the mirror, share the incredible things you have achieved. Because, remember, people are watching and you are inspiring them!
- Rachael Ami