I turned 30 a few months ago. Many people view 30 as the beginning of the end — the excitement of youth wrapping up, real adulthood, and monotony just beginning.
Our society puts way too much stock in a meaningless number. It seems to be bred into us, this concept of life milestones and corresponding ages. Certain levels of success reached before a number of trips around the sun. When you think about it in those terms, the obsession seems rather silly.
The last ten years of my life were essentially one giant experiment: some successes, mostly failures, highs and lows on the extreme end of each spectrum.
Maybe I’m just one of the lucky few, but I view 30 as a fresh start—the life I want to live, entirely on my terms and no one else’s.
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”— Seneca
Do yourself a favor, look at your past with appreciation
I’ve said it once, and I’m sure I’ll continue to repeat it until your sick of me. Your past experiences are nothing but learning opportunities. Your successes prove your capability, and your failures ensure history doesn’t repeat itself.
Good or bad, it’s all growth.
I did a lot of living in my twenties. What I may have lacked in formal education I definitely made up for in life experience.
I’ve had enough dead-end jobs to know that’s a future I want to avoid at all costs. I know the agony of building a career from the ground up, only to have it crumble to pieces because of my own insecurities.
I’ve felt the indescribable high of performing in front of people who genuinely appreciate your craft. Alternatively, having that same craft picked apart and shat on across the internet.
Those years were a crash course on dealing with expectations. Meetings with record executives I idolized inflated my ego, convinced me fame and fortune were around the corner. Only to be crushed when nothing panned out and my phone stopped ringing.
When I tried my hand in the corporate world, a promotion opportunity that seemed guaranteed brought that ego back. Thoughts of a new car and apartment upgrades filled my head. I felt the same crippling defeat when that offer letter never came.
Those ten crazy years involved two cross-country moves, numerous career changes, false starts, and restarts. There was a hundred and eighty-pound weight loss journey and a mental overhaul that completely changed how I think and operate.
These experiences taught me countless life lessons:
- Always bet on yourself.
- Never trust someone based on a title or position.
- Your ability to get up and try again dictates your level of success.
- There are few things more valuable than failure.
- The safe route is rarely the best option.
- Anyone is capable of change.
- Hard work beats talent 99.9% of the time.
- Accountability and complete ownership of mistakes is the only way to recover from them.
I used to look at my past with regret. I’ve grown to understand that it all led me to where I am right now, and I appreciate the darkest days the most.
Psychiatrist Abigail Brenner sums it up beautifully in her article on psychology today:
“The past is done. No amount of thinking about it, energy spent on, emotions invested in it will change that fact. You can’t change what happened but you can change your reaction to it. Instead of thinking negatively about the past — your disappointment, your sadness, your struggle to have something that is not meant to be yours — you can reframe your thoughts and feelings more positively to reflect lessons learned and wisdom gained.”
Use your past to your advantage. Whether you’re embarrassed by those years or sad to see them go, they contain an incredible amount of knowledge and strength. There’s always a lesson to learn.
The future is as bright as you want it to be, craft the story you want to read
Life is what you make of it. Whether you’re turning 30 or 70, the concept is the same.
New chapters can be a scary thing to think about. That obsession with age comes with a whole bunch of preconceived nonsense. You can adhere to that nonsense and allow yourself to be put in a box, or you can view new chapters as opportunities.
I prefer the latter. Those early years came with a lot of life experience, but my lifestyle was at the expense of my mental and physical health. I convinced myself I wouldn’t see my thirties, so thinking of my future had no appeal.
I spent enough time in that mental place to know I never want to go back and enough time on the other side to view every day as a gift.
I challenge you to look to the future with optimistic eyes. What has to change in your life to make the future brighter than the past? What’s stopping you from making those changes?
If your life is one continuous novel, you are the author, editor, and publisher. Reflect on those chapters from your youth, learn everything you can about them. Where you went wrong, what to avoid, most importantly, when did you feel at your best? What gave you the most joy and fulfillment?
Those are the things to keep in mind when writing the outline for your next chapter. It may have taken me ten years of struggling to find my purpose, but it doesn’t have to be that way for everyone.
We are often our own biggest obstacles; getting out of your own damn way can be half the battle.
Be brutally honest with yourself when crafting your outline. Remember you are the one with the pen, and no one else, not society, your parents, coworkers, friends — you.
“The scariest moment is always just before you start.” — Stephen King
I don’t believe my situation is unique. Some find their passion early on, and others are late bloomers. Figuring out what makes you tick doesn’t have to be an overly complicated process.
I feel I’ve gained a new lease on life, and I want to see how far I can take it. Freeing myself from the shackles of obesity and poor mental health proved to me that anything is possible.
No matter how deep a hole you may be in, there’s always a way out, an opportunity for redemption. A new chapter may be exactly what you need. Regardless if it’s your health, a bad relationship, or a career path you’re unhappy with. It’s never too late to take back that control.
You’re always one decision away from changing your life.
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