30 Things I'm Glad I Did Before 30
That's right, lovers: next week I'm turning the big three-oh. Dirty thirty. Updating to version 3.0 in this crazy app called life. Yeah, I'm shaking my head in disbelief too…
Inspired by my upcoming birthday - and plagued by the question 'Where the hell did my twenties go?' - I created a list of the top 30 things I'm glad I did before 30...and I strongly recommend that everyone have a go at doing the same.
Oh, and for all of you out there who are just stepping into your twenties and wondering what the hell to do?
Head's up. This. Is. For. You.
Grab a pen, paper (or last night's pizza box, old exam, whatever), and start jotting down some ideas. These pointers are golden, baby...
1. Fall in love
I’m talking madly, truly, deeply, head-over-heels, lose-your-breath love. The stuff that fills you up, turns you inside out and makes your heart swell with the deepest satisfaction and joy.
Total entrapment. Pure giddiness. It’s the shiz. By far, one of my greatest accomplishments.
2. Complete a degree
Four years of sacrifice, but a lifetime of satisfaction.
3. Travel alone
I stress the ‘alone’ part most vehemently. It’s all well and good to take a holiday with your friends or family - and I strongly advocate that too - but the experience of travelling solo, of making your own way through the world, of dealing with the perils and promises of adventures alone, and of learning so much about yourself and what you are capable of, is invaluable.
My advice? Just. Do. It. You’ll thank me for it later…
4. Take a hot, young, French lover
Yes, I am serious, and no, this is not a Julie Delpy movie. This is one memory I will look back on with total affection - and maybe just a little bit of pride - when I am old, grey, and losing my mind in an aged-care facility.
Trés génial, ma chérie…
5. Live overseas
Making a life and creating a home for yourself in another country is no easy feat, but it is worth the effort, expense, and emotional upheaval. Just as travelling alone will help you to find yourself, living overseas will help you connect even more deeply with that spirit and make best friends with it forever.
Your new life - and all the magic it has to offer - is just a plane ticket away, I promise.
6. Learn to accept my body and love myself
Stretch marks? Yep. Cellulite? Ugh. Thighs that look like they belong on a plump spring chicken? Sure do. Scars, bumps, bruises? Tick, tick, tick. Yes, m’dear, I’ve got the lot...and I’ve come to accept them all, just as they are.
Sure, there are days when I look at Miranda Kerr and I just want to wail with jealousy while simultaneously reaching for the Ben & Jerry’s, but mostly I’ve come to the gentle conclusion that:
a] I will not grow any taller than my current stature of 5’2;
b] I am not going to be auditioning for Australia’s Next Top Model in this lifetime; and
c] I have more in common with Bridget Jones than Bridget Bardot.
And I’m cool with that.
On the plus side, I do have incredibly long, thick, shiny dark hair; big, green sparkling eyes that ‘melt the world’, according to one ex-boyfriend; clear olive skin that rarely blemishes; and - if I do say so myself - a pretty decent rack.
The moral of the story? Accept your flaws and celebrate your scores, babe.
7. Build a network of incredible friends
All over the world. All walks of life. All amazing individuals. You know who you are. Big love, amigos.
8. Have a wide variety of careers
Fashion retail assistant. Medical receptionist. Customer service rep for a sports store. Office manager of a salmon-processing factory (yep, you heard right). Real Estate agent. Systems administrator (whatever the hell that is). Receptionist. Accounts manager. Executive Assistant. Intellectual Property guru for Australia’s largest group of surf, skate and lifestyle brands. Professional student. Waitress. Primary school teacher.
Variety is the spice of life, my friend…
9. Forgive, forgive, forgive
10. Overcome anxiety and depression
Simply put, this part of my life sucked. 8 years of silent suffering, intense pain, complete confusion, shame, doctors, pills, counselling, and a few minor breakdowns along the way.
Now, I’m 15 months cured of panic attacks, and 9 months free of medication. I kicked that shiz to the curb, bro, and never looked back. I now lovingly own my headspace: completely, wholly, and without fear.
11. Take responsibility for another life
He may have four legs, a fluffy tail, and answer to the name ‘Muguay’, but parenting my lil’ dude has been one of the most rewarding and loving experiences of my life. My constant companion, my most faithful friend, my study buddy.
Simply put, my world is better because of him.
12. Be different
Pierced my tongue at 17 - a brief commitment. Legally changed my name at 26. First tattoo at 27; second at 29. Dozens of different haircuts and colours. Little glasses. Chic glasses. Geek glasses. Contacts. Changed my style constantly.
Just because I wanted to. Loved every moment.
13. Be grateful
Every. Damn. Day.
Once upon a time, back in the glory days of hard-house techno, I was a raver baby.
Think: hot pink fur miniskirt + neon fluffies (kinda like legwarmers) + glow-in-the-dark bracelets + Japanese Manga-style high pigtails with UV streaks + a pound of glitter, and you have me, circa 2002-2005.
Dancing to 180 B.P.M was my nirvana.
I had a lot of amazing times, listened to incredible music, saw some of the world’s best DJs, and learned some important lessons along the way. I also met lots of wonderful people, some of whom are still my closest friends today...even though we’ve all grown up and swapped the doof-doof CDs and parties for Birds of Tokyo and Sunday catch-ups over Sauvignon Blanc. Good times.
15. Break down
‘Cause there’s beauty in it, babe…
'Cause you can't be a downer forever.
17. Have a near-death experience
One sunny Tuesday afternoon when I was 18, I hit a petrol tanker at 100km on the Pacific Highway. It's a long story.
I could have died that day – in fact, just before the impact, I thought to myself, ‘Damn, I’m about to die in a car accident. What a cliché...' – but I didn’t. I was lucky.
But what is even better is that, at that moment, I wasn’t afraid of death. In fact, I was pretty calm and accepting about it. And I have never forgotten that feeling since. So, every day I live my life to the fullest, safe in the knowledge that I’m not afraid of the end.
It’s a pretty rad way to live, actually.
18. Kiss a lot of boys (and some girls)
French kissing in France. Canoodling in Canada. Passion in Prague. Plenty of sweep-me-off-my-feet moments.
What can I say? This hopeless romantic just loves to pucker up…
19. Talk my way into a job with my dream company
Gift of the gab, baby: you can move mountains with it.
“Of course, I’ve had heaps of experience filing trademarks in Guatemala…”
20. Dance on top of a bar
In Switzerland. Again in France…then Italy… and the Czech Republic. Okay, that was a pole, but it was still amazing.
You gotta lose yourself in the moment, wild child.
21. Learn to say ‘Yes’
‘Do you want to go on a date with me?’ Yes.
‘Do you want to have coffee with a complete stranger in Berlin?’ Yes.
‘Do you want to jump on a bus in an hour and go to the bottom of Nova Scotia?’ Yes.
‘Do you want to hop on a plane to Sydney today to go to a concert?’ Oh, HELL YES!
Shake off that nagging fear of the unknown, my dear, and the whole world opens itself up to you.
22. Learn to say ‘No’
Listen to your inner voice. Trust your intuition. Be brave enough to politely decline anything that does not feel authentic to you and your values, regardless of your perceived obligations. Who gives a damn what anybody thinks? At the end of the day, it’s only your spirit you have to honour.
Don’t put up with shit. Don’t allow yourself to be swayed by the masses or popular opinion. Don’t be a doormat. Make your own rules.
23. Live with strangers in share accommodation
Kinda like living in a fun hostel environment, but with better facilities. Great people that become your family, except you can move out if they piss you off too much…
24. Appreciate wine, espresso, and dark chocolate
The Holy Trinity of my evolved pallet. Any one of these treats - or all three combined, in emergency situations - can alleviate heartache, disappointment, exhaustion, depression, or writer’s block.
Getting hopped up on the bean has helped me to produce some of my best work…likewise with the vino.
25. Rock out at Big Day Out
Several times, actually. Rock ‘n’ roll, babetown. Nothing like dancing your ass off in the summer sun.
26. Buy a designer something
Invest in something that makes you feel a million bucks every time you wear/carry it. The rules? It must cost at least a weeks’ rent. For me, that’s my Tiffany & Co diamond padlock necklace and Longchamp Le Pliage tote.
Stylish. Versatile. Classic. Watch out, Prada: you’re next.
27. Get married
Okay, so it didn’t turn out to be the fairytale I’d imagined, but I’m still truly happy that I got married in my twenties.
I’m eternally grateful for the wonderful years we shared together, and I’ll never forget how I felt on my wedding day, walking down that aisle - every bit the princess bride I’d dreamed of being - and looking into the eyes of the man I loved as I pledged my vows.
28. Learn humility
An important value that has changed my life. When you lose all that you hold dear - everything that makes up your identity - you learn to be humble pretty damn quick. And what a gift it is...
It’s also about being able to stand up, shake off the disappointment, shake someone’s hand and say Congratulations. You bettered me today. Sincerely, well done. You’ll be amazed by the feeling it will give you, and your ego will thank you too.
29. Embrace change
It’s crucial for growth; for survival; for self-empowerment; and for finding one’s spirit.
Change is the key that unlocks the door to our innermost desires and dreams. My life is infinitely bigger, better, and brighter because of my understanding and acceptance of this philosophy.
30. Maintain a clean credit record
Because, just like a bad reputation or herpes, that shit will follow you all through life…
Now, it's your turn. To celebrate my 30th in true style, I have decided to give away an amazing, incredible, one-of-a-kind present to one lucky reader.
Are ya ready for it?
I've been lucky enough to collaborate with one of the Gold Coast's hottest, and most promising, emerging jewellery designers [and a dear friend of mine for many years]. Nat Kent, the luxe lover and creative genius behind Nat Kent Jewellery, has created this stunning, handmade, one-off piece to celebrate my birthday - and it's up for grabs!
Just tell me: What are you glad you've done before 30? Leave your comments in the box below.