Lessons I Learned In My Thirties That You Can Learn In Your Twenties
This could accelerate your maturity by 10 years!
Hi! I just turned 35, and I thought I would share with you some of the lessons from my thirties, along with related comics I've drawn. I hope this helps you skip a few of the mistakes I made in my twenties.
1. Healthy eating became exciting once I realized there are so many delicious, healthy foods I haven't even discovered yet.
Tahini yogurt. Last year I discovered tahini yogurt dressing for salad, and it revolutionized my experience of salad. It's at least twice as good as Caesar (maybe 3x). I actually look forward to my daily leafbucket now.
2. Something seemingly harmless that I turn to for comfort might be hurting me.
I realized at one point last year that I used social media to blunt my anxious thoughts. This ended up only making me more anxious at the end of the day. Social media is not inherently bad, but my dependence on it to distract me was. I now am much better at putting my phone away for long stretches of time. I have to critically examine all of my habits, not just the obviously bad ones.
3. I won't be able to be physically present for all my friends all the time.
I recently made a chart of my friends based on how often I'm able to see them (but did not show them lol). Once I mapped out my friends and my time, I realized I had to say no to a lot more invitations! And once I say no, I try hard not to worry about it. Now I have tested it out, and I can confirm, based on reliable sources: Birthday parties still happen if I'm not there.
4. My overthinking often stems from unrealistic expectations I put on myself.
I like to be sensitive but have had to accept this unfortunate reality: Despite my best efforts, I will still hurt people's feelings. Each day, as I make decisions, I do hurt people! It's actually impossible to avoid. Ever since I started to accept this, I have felt more free and I overthink less. That is, I still do my best to be careful with my words and actions as much as I can, but I know I have to act. And then, at times, to apologize.
5. Many of my problems stem from my mutually exclusive pursuits!
I posted this comic in September 2016 and it's one of my most popular! I moved to NYC for an exciting life full of opportunities in the creative fields. I also seek a stable, secure future. It took me years to figure out that while those two pursuits can coexist, they do not pull me in the same direction! So this particular tension in my life is a result of my own choices. (Haha, joke's on me!)
6. Deeper relaxation often takes increased discipline.
Two years ago, I started getting up an hour earlier to draw and read at my favorite coffee shop. I didn't know getting less sleep would relax me more, but now that this is my habit, I show up to work less anxious, more refreshed, and with better ideas. This is a discipline that has increased my peace.
7. Escaping into my imagination is actually more important as I get older.
I'm not kidding when I say I escape into my imagination more and more as I get older. Recently I've become obsessed with making videos of pigeons. I'm 35, and I can't think of anything I'd rather do right now than go film some pigeons and then give them hats and personalities. But this is just the latest thing for me. Every stage of life is meant to be lived imaginatively!
8. Isolating myself because other people don't get me doesn't help.
I can't remember when I started to tell people-that-are-not-my-counselor about my daily anxieties, but since I did, it has really helped. As it turns out, many friends wrestle with the same quiet internal battles I do. This transparency has led to deeper friendships, which has led to more mutual healing.
9. I go through introvert seasons and extrovert seasons.
Being consistently invested in a community of friends is important to me. That is one reason why I'm so involved in my church. Even so, my desire to be around people fluctuates as much as my current projects and my life stages do. When I drew this comic, I was in a season where I needed more space. Now I am starting to feel the pendulum come swinging back the other way. I've learned to become more sensitive to my introversion/extroversion level at any given season and to adjust.
10. Seeing myself change still makes me uncomfortable! Even when I know it's for the best!
As I mentioned, I started taking better care of myself nutrition-wise in the last five years. I gotta be honest, I kind of liked being the laid-back, eats whatever guy. Changing for the better (for me, that means eating more leafbuckets) has been kind of...sad. That's okay though! I don't always have to feel better about changes I know are right. And in any case, I'll always be experimenting with new foods as I settle into a healthy balance between extremes.
11. I have become more and more like my parents, and, well, personally speaking, that is a fantastic thing.
My parents love routines, and I have often thought of myself as being more SPONTANEOUS. But then as time has gone on, I have become more and more enamored with my routines (as is, perhaps, evident from the above examples). I want to say it's the best feeling in the world to become peers/friends of your parents as you get older. (Though I should note, I know my siblings and I are very fortunate with the parents we got!)
12. I like crying now??
I cried the other day talking to a friend, and as I think about it, I'm starting to tear up. This is now kind of common for me?? My tears are flowing. I think as I get older, understanding my tears has become less important than simply letting them roll. I don't need an excuse. I'm a crier now!
13. One of the simplest ways to be a friend is to notice.
If you notice when your friend is making any kind of positive effort or going through any struggle, mentioning that you notice it really goes a long way! It is...incredibly simple to validate other people. Just tell them you see what they're doing!
14. Much of adulthood is just not taking myself too seriously.
If you click on the Instagram post above, you'll see a bunch of positive comments, but that's not always the case. Much of adulthood has been me learning to deal with criticism. And this means separating myself from my work. My work is sometimes impressive and sometimes not! But I'm just a human learning and growing a bit year by year. (I don't say this in the mirror every morning but maybe I should.)