2018. The year of the 30th. At least it is for all of my fellow ’88 babes. It feels like only yesterday I was turning 26, with the messy years of my early twenties behind me and a whole lot of uncertainty and promise ahead of me. I’m not kidding when I say that for about 3 years when people would ask my age I would respond quite confidently with ’26!’. And not because I was in denial and was already lying about my age. But rather, 30 really sneaks up on you. BIG TIME!

Growing up, I’ve never had an issue with getting older. As a child, I loved being around adults. I loved listening to their strange conversations, dreamt about the day I could share a wine over dinner (assuming that as a ‘grown up’ I’d actually like wine – of which I really, really do!). I would be tall enough for all of the theme park rides, be wise beyond my years, have some children of my own and know much more about life than I did at the time. Fast forward a few decades and I love sharing a wine over dinner (so much so I have a monthly wine subscription – token #whitegirl), I’ve been on countless theme park rides (including the really scary ones), there are no children to speak of (at least for now) but starting a family is something I’m still excited/nervous about and hope to be able to do one day (however and whatever that may look like).

One thing that’s still pretty illusive is knowing more about life. Sure, I’ve learned my fair share of life lessons – some of them incredibly tough, some almost breaking me, some making me laugh, cringe in embarrassment, help me grow and some I had to learn a few times. And I know I’ll be learning plenty as the years carry on. Beyond all of that, I’m definitely more confident in who I am (most of the time anyway), I’ve cemented my own set of values and morals, I’ve had experiences I find hard to put into words, I’ve lived a pretty privileged life (of which I’ve become incredibly grateful for), I’ve learned to stand on my own two feet and more importantly to have my own back.

Even if I don’t have my shit totally together, I’ve definitely grown a lot over the years. When I was a kid, I had more confidence than Connor McGregor (and then some) – I was bossy but (somehow still) well liked, talented (I loved drawing, singing, netball, piano and guitar), smart (my teachers wanted to move me up two year levels when I was 6 – ABC’s? Easy peasy!) and pretty much floated through life quite happily (if a little confused by the whole thing). Then came high school – a brutal, confronting, fun, embarrassing and challenging experience. A four-foot nothing late bloomer (puberty didn’t come knocking for this gal until around 16), I was bullied for the first few years (as many kids unfortunately are) then by senior year found myself going to the senior formal with the ‘popular guy’ (does that phrase make anyone else cringe?). I got my drivers licence (on the 4th attempt…), never had a boyfriend (but kissed all the wrong boys) and graduated with no clue what I wanted to do in life. My teenage years are some I’m pretty glad to have behind me! I don’t have a lot of nostalgia for those formative years and you couldn’t pay me to go back and live them over. Mostly down to how insecure I was and the fact I constantly sought validation from other people (most of the time being devastatingly disappointed). Knowing me (a repeat offender), I probably wouldn’t do anything differently and I’d cringe about them all over again!

After school I went on to university – with no immediate career aspirations, I chose a generic degree, completed half a semester and deferred after receiving a High Achievement in Marketing (at least I left on a good note right?). I deferred to keep the door ajar, should I decide to go back and give it another crack, but even then I think I knew deep down that wasn’t ever going to happen. Instead I took up a traineeship with the state government and went on to work for the same department for nearly 7 years (just shy of accessing long service leave before I was 25!).

My early twenties were full of boozy weekends, drunken regrets and a few injuries (on one occasion dislocating my knee in my sleep and on another tearing all of the tendons in my foot and fracturing a bone after missing one measly step…very much intoxicated – Mum was so proud). I discovered I was utterly hopeless with money and that my metabolism wasn’t going to stick around (losing the fight against endless late night french fries and hash browns). Started a life-long obsession with (and growing collection of) shoes. At 21 I met a guy, went on my first (and last) cruise, bought a home with that guy. Fast forward a little and what I thought was a fairy tale beginning ended, I moved in and out of my parents place between renting with friends in the city and adopted two dogs, dyed my hair some pretty questionable colours (black, blonde, purple and red…), traveled to America with family, went to Europe on my own and changed jobs and industries more times than I could count. I went through a period of severe depression, cried more nights and tears than I could count, pushed away the people I loved and who loved me and carried out some pretty self destructive behaviour.

Not to be a total Negative Nancy, but life wasn’t always roses. That’s where having the incredible, tight knit knit family that I do and friendships with some of the best people you’ll ever meet meant more than anything. Learning and growing from those challenging moments, and having the unconditional love and support of those around me is what got me to where I am today. And even if I’m not the most liked, the best looking, the most successful or the most together person out there, I’m my own person, and I have a much better idea (and appreciation) for who I am.

I’m a dreamer (like my father) and a worrier who sometimes gives a little too much of myself. I procrastinate like a pro but always come through for the people I care about. I love potato in all of its forms (especially fried) and could drink gin cocktails until the cows come home. I’m a little neurotic and sometimes get too caught up in my own problems (sometimes when they don’t even exist). I wake up every day and always find something I’m incredibly grateful for. I have a short temper but cool off as quickly as I heat up. I’ll try anything once (I’ve jumped out of a plane, off a bungee ledge and swung off a cliff) and get excited about being out of my comfort zone. I could probably travel 6 months every year and still feel as though I haven’t seen enough of this incredible world. I’m an anxious person and feel emotions pretty intensely with every part of me (I’m just terrible at showing it). I’m a romantic, an idealist and always go with my heart over my head.

I’ve been lucky enough to meet and know smart, talented people! I’ve been humbled, rewarded, loved, hurt, inspired and surprised (in some of the best ways). I’ve learned what it’s like to really understand the cliche that not everyone will like you (and even those that do won’t like you all the time) and that that’s okay – so long as you don’t in turn feel the same way about yourself. I’ve learned that almost nobody has it all together. I’ve learned patience (still learning that one if I’m being completely honest) and that even if I’m not the best at something, it doesn’t mean I’m no good or that I shouldn’t give it a good crack! I’ve learned to choose more wisely who I give my time and love to and in turn have some incredible relationships with some truly wonderful human beings.

The grey hairs are really setting in (I kid you not – I now dye my hair out of necessity), the laugh lines are a permanent feature on my face and I’m no longer the youngest one in a group (call me ‘experienced’). I feel like there’s such a big leap reaching this age – so many people make a big deal out of thirty years, and it honestly is an age where I feel different. I’m generally  more content with where I’m at in life, even things I don’t yet have or haven’t considered I’m much easier on myself in that I don’t have to have it all now. Life’s a marathon baby, gotta take it one stride at a time (and try not to pass out along the way). The finish line, wherever that may be, will come when it comes but there’s no point worrying about that now. You just have to look a few steps ahead and believe you’ve got this – you’ve been in training for years after all.

This year ahead is a big year for me. I landed a permanent position with a company I love working for, I celebrate the milestone of my 30th rotation and before the year is out I marry the man that has my whole heart. 30 seems like such a long way off when you’re 12 years of age – and even though it goes much, much quicker than anyone can prepare you for, so much can happen along the way.

So here’s to more lessons, more mistakes, more love, more heartache, more experiences – more LIFE!

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