Thoughts on Turning 29

Tomorrow is my birthday. Tomorrow I enter the last year of my twenties. I feel like it should be more profound. Birthdays always make me reflective, but this year feels like it came too fast. The last year has been an endless whirlwind and I’m still processing a lot of 28 and what it means to me. I feel like I’ve grown a lot in the last year of my life, but that growth hasn’t always been the most well received. I’ve spent a lot of this last year trying to listen to my boundaries and my limits, trying to say No more, focusing on self-care more. I’ve gotten myself out of some toxic environments and hurtful relationships. Change is good. But it’s also very hard. My good days of 28 have been some of the best days of my life, and my bad days have been some of the worst.

I am grateful to my twenties for making me stronger. I’ve learned a lot of beautiful lessons and have encountered some amazing people. I am grateful that I enter this final year of this decade surrounded by people who love me in a way that I am humbled and overwhelmed by constantly. And I am grateful to have had the wisdom to let go of those who did not love me.

I’ve come a long ways in my twenties. It hasn’t always been graceful, it hasn’t always been pretty, but it has made me who I am today. And I like who I am today. I am old enough now to know that I know better, while also knowing I have so much more to learn.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I would tell my twenty year old self, if I could, knowing what I know now. I don’t really believe in regret, and I think mistakes are paramount to becoming strong. If there are things I could go back and change I probably would. But should I? Either way, these are the things I would tell my twenty year old self:

-Focus more on female friendships. Boys will always be there (and all you have to do is swipe to meet them) and the boys that are there now really aren’t worth your time. You both have a lot of growing up to do. And you are missing out on some amazing women. Stop worrying about if and when you will get married, and start focusing on forming stronger relationships with the women around you. Because soon you will all be in your corners of the world and it will be much harder to connect with them. In nine years you won’t be scrolling Facebook lamenting some boy it never worked out with, you’ll be lamenting all the amazing women you had a chance to know but were to distracted to realize it.

-Take care of your injuries better. Right now you are young, but your body is going to age rapidly in your twenties. That hip flexor you pulled and still ran a 10K on, don’t do that. Rest your injuries, ice them, stretch them. You may not feel like you need it right now, but Future You needs it bad.

-Travel more. This is my main advice to college students. Travel as much as you can, as often as you can, as far as you can. Right now things like hostels and teaching English for pennies sounds like a fun time. Go adventure now. Study abroad for a whole year. Travel after you graduate. Work jobs and save all your money to go travel for months at a time. Travel more.

-Pay attention to who shows up for you, and spend more time with them. And be a better friend to them. Help your friends move, go to their shows and concerts, show up for them too. Don’t just be down for a party, be down for life.

My twenties have been incredible. I have made some amazing friendships, I found a supportive community that I still don’t know if I deserve. I made an impulsive decision to adopt a cat and it’s probably one of the best decision I have ever made. I traveled alone. I fell in love. I learned that I am a lot stronger than I ever thought I could be. And I am ready for whatever 29 has in store for me.


5 Things I Wish I Knew 10 Years Ago

Ten years ago I was 18. I had graduated from high school, I was about to start college, and the entire world was in front of me. It was a very exciting time. I was blissfully naive and thank god for that. I have gained a lot of wisdom in these last ten years that I am I glad to take with me into the next ten. And even though I haven’t been in school for six years, the start of a new school year still makes me both reflective of what has been and hopeful for what is to come. So I started reflecting on these last ten years and what I wish I had known at 18 that I know now at 28.

These Aren’t The Best Years of Your Life

And thank god! Don’t get me wrong, college is an amazing and formative experience. I am so glad I went, but I would never go back. When I was 19 I loved living on a floor with 50 other women, sharing a shoe box with my best friend, and having lots of boy drama. I was happy to give up sleep to socialize, go to class, have adventures. But the college years are so transitional. Everything is in a constant state of change: your roommates, your schedule, your job, your classes, your home. And with every step, every change, comes a new life lesson. College does an excellent job of easing you into “real life” things like cooking, cleaning, paying bills, managing your time. But everything feels like scraping by. Working multiple jobs just to cover rent, eating Kraft Mac and Cheese multiple times a week, drinking alcohol that comes from plastic bottles.

Now I have a career and I no longer live paycheck to paycheck. I have a home and my own space full of things and people I love. I have a pantry full of delicious healthy food. My friends and I still go on adventures, but they are on a much more epic scale. My life has stability, I get to do the things I want, and I don’t have to choose between fun or food or sleep. But most of all, I know myself so much better now than ten years ago. I know what I want, where I am going, and my dreams are now plans.

I used to believe that college was supposed to be the best time of your life. So many people told me that these were the best years of my life, that I could never get this time back, to make the most of it, yada yada yada. And to some extent, that’s all true, you should make the most of your college years – but you should make the most of all of your years. And I’ve found every year I enjoy life more and more. I am having way more fun at 28 than I was at 18.

Don’t Waste Time on Shitty Guys

Unfortunately I think this is a lesson we only learn through experience. And when I was 18 I didn’t have a lot of experience. And so I suffered some shitty guys, some shitty games, and some shitty experiences before I learned what I was looking for, and more importantly what I am not looking for. When I was 18 I thought it was an ego boost to “win” the guy who was going after multiple girls; I believed all the talk even when the actions never came; I thought jealous or territorial behavior was a sign that he really cared; I had all kinds of misconceptions about physical expectations and my right to say No.

I wish I had valued myself more when I was 18, I wish I had respected myself more when I was 18, because then I could have taught all of those boys how to value and respect me as well. I wish I had more confidence and understood how awesome I was and that I didn’t feel like I needed to prove that or diminish in order to “win” a guy over. I wish I hadn’t measured my self-worth on whether or not a guy was in my life or not. Because once I loved myself the way I needed to be loved, once I stopped worrying about guys, once I really enjoyed who I am, I found a great guy who reflected all of that back to me. And I really realized how much energy I wasted on shitty guys.

Invest in Great Friendships

This is a lesson I feel I relearn every few years. Learning to distinguish between the quality friends and the people who are just using you is a life skill. Much like learning not to waste time on shitty guys, you have to learn not to waste time on shitty friends.

After college I realized I had a lot of party friends, but they weren’t solid friends. They were always too busy to help me move, every hang out was filled with booze, we drank to get drunk, gossip and drama ran wild. What once was a good time was quickly burning out, and I needed more from my friendships. So I started branching out, meeting people through hobbies rather than parties, investing in friendships that took root.

A few years back I realized I had a lot of one sided friendships that were draining a lot of energy out of me but they gave me no real support. People who would never commit to plans with me because what if something else came along, but then wanted me to drop whatever I was doing if Friday came around and they had no plans. People who took days to respond to text messages. People who, once I stopped reaching out to them we didn’t see each other any more.

I’ve gone through a couple of periods of refining my social circle in my twenties. And I think that is a very healthy part of growing up. Your good friends will always make themselves known, and they will always survive the refinement. Good friends aren’t flakey, they lift boxes, respond to texts, invite you out, know when your birthday is, and still know how to party. Distance isn’t a factor, schedules always work out, and simply spending time with you is good enough to be worth their time. When hard times come you are there for each other.

Learn to spot the good friends and be the good friend. The great friendships stand the test of time, define your twenties and beyond, and make life so much easier. Invest in friendships that go with you phase to phase, that live life with you, that define you life.

There is More to Life Than Work and Money

One thing about school that is both wonderful and incredibly misinforming about life is how structured everything is. Take these classes, in this order, and get this result. Everything is focused on getting a degree, a GPA, there is a formula and sequence to it all. And as long as you follow all the steps you get the prize. Then you graduate, the economy is shit, and the job market is flooded, and there is no clear set path to a prize and you realize you also have no idea what you actually want to do with life.

And that’s ok.

My early twenties were spent working multiple jobs to make ends meet, staying in jobs I hated because I needed the income, interviewing for endless jobs and getting no where. And at times I felt completely lost.

What I wish I had realized earlier is that life is about more than work and money. I wish I had realized the jobs I enjoyed the most were more about who I was working with rather than what I was doing. I wish I had thought out of the box more and challenged myself. I wish I had taken advantage of my years of just jobs and traveled more, lived abroad, and had more adventures. I wish rather than being discouraged by the lack of formula I had taken advantage of that. I am only just now realizing no one defines my future but me, and why can’t I retire at 40 and move to Italy? I’m only just now realizing all of those “wouldn’t that be fun” thoughts don’t have to be wishful thinking.

Try New Things

When I was 18 I was a very picky eater, I had never left the country, I had never traveled alone, I didn’t like wine. College was actually really great for pushing me out of my comfort zone on every level possible. The first time I studied abroad I was on a cay fourteen miles from shore, accommodating picky eaters wasn’t on their agenda, and so if I was hungry I had to eat what they made. And that’s when I learned that I actually enjoyed a lot of foods. I came back from that trip a changed person. I had caught the wanderlust bug and would voyage off on another study abroad trip eighteen months later (and eventually work in travel for three years) and I had a new found love for food.

In the last ten years, the more I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, the more I grew. Being open to trying new things, getting out of my comfort zone, has lead to many adventures around the world. I’ve met new people, found new hobbies, discovered new foods and drinks. The last ten years would have been very boring if I hadn’t pushed myself and gone after experiences that came my way.



What have the last ten years taught you about life?



Solo Traveling

For several years May has been a big travel month for me. I worked in travel for a few years and I tried taking advantage of my travel perks as often as I reasonably could. And after several consecutive years of adventuring in May, I find myself nostalgic for the experiences.

Two years ago I went on a very unique adventure. I went to Bali for 16 days all by myself. It was a magical and transforming experience. I swam in waterfalls, I had monkeys sit on my lap, I ate pineapple at every meal, and I spent my days enjoying the most glorious ocean. I also spent time processing some big life changes that were going on at that time in my life. It was an incredible life moment that I am continuously grateful I actually took.

Solo traveling creates a lot of opinions. There are always those who are quick to fear and forewarn about the dangers of solo travel, particularly as a woman (and they aren’t without warrant). And it’s further proof that this world is just a more dangerous world for a woman to walk than a man.

Warnings about taxi rides, about talking with strangers, about pick pockets, about watching your drinks. Growing up, women are conditioned to never go anywhere alone. Simply being a woman is to be a target for rape and assault. The stats back it up, women are more likely to be the target of violence. Traveling alone goes against all of that conditioning, and challenges everything we were ever taught.

And it is liberating.

Bali is considered one of the top ten safest countries for solo travel. And it definitely felt like it. I met incredible people, both local and fellow travelers. I experienced a new culture. It’s absolutely fascinating being in a country not defined by Christianity. I ate incredible food. I felt alive in ways I never had before, because I was alone, because I was challenging the norm.

I’ve always thought of myself as a fairly independent individual, but being alone for 16 days on the other side of the world required me to be dependent on myself in ways I never had before. I did entirely my own thing and every last detail was entirely up to me. I was alone, but I never really got lonely. I grew up a lot on that trip. And I am continuously grateful that I had the guts to follow through with it.

Yes, there are real dangers to going out alone. But if you keep your wits about you, you’ll be fine. And if you’re brave enough to do it, you’ll discover something truly spectacular on your solo adventure: Yourself.