It took me 28 years to realise that in order for me to be truly happy and fulfilled, I need to live life on my own terms. Not how others want me to live.
Every day I’m learning more of what this means and implementing boundaries where necessary. But this process isn’t always easy. It’s uncomfortable and can sometimes make me feel guilty.
But I keep reminding myself that my mental health is my number 1 priority. Something I ignored for years.
So, with just a few days to go until I turn 31, I’m reflecting on 31 life lessons that have shaped me into who I am today.
Let’s just say I got the inspiration for this post from my absolute idol, Taylor Swift.
A couple of years ago Taylor spoke to Elle Magazine about the 30 things she learnt before turning 30.
It was mesmerising, inspirational and completely relatable.
Unfortunately, my blog didn’t exist this time last year so I missed out on doing a post like this for my 30th.
But I always say there’s no time like the present.
So my own version is for my 31-year-old self.
These life lessons stem from a wide range of topics, from business, personal life, family + friends, to more light-hearted, funny ones.
It’s going to be a long one, so sit somewhere peaceful, get comfy, eat some snacks and enjoy.
31 Things I Learnt Before Turning 31 (in no particular order)
1. You don’t need to have your shit figured out at 30
Or at 20, or at 40 or at 50 or at 60.
Just do you and have fun.
2. It’s never too late to start over
And you’re never too old.
Something that I feel a lot of people forget.
I started off studying Fashion at University.
Before that I took English, Theatre Studies and Philosophy & Ethics at A level. Subjects that don’t exactly help me with what I’m doing now.
So no matter where you currently find yourself or how old you are, just know it’s never too late to start over.
If you have a dream then just go for it!
3. I really like vegetables
Yes, it took me at least 28 years to stop being a child and embrace vegetables.
Throughout my early to mid-twenties I avoided rainbow food in favour of anything beige and sugary. Even coming up with my all time favourite excuse that vegetables made me fat.
I now absolutely love a vegetable!
Courgettes, aubergines, butternut squash, broccoli. I can literally go on for days.
I now also mainly stick to a vegetarian diet during the week. A big step from someone who used to live off Pret sandwiches and ready-made meals!
4. I’ve learnt to embrace my quirkiness
Since I could remember I always tried to fit in.
I would change my style, the way I spoke, the music I listened to just to blend in with uni friends and later co-workers.
It only dawned on me while I was travelling how different I made myself seem.
I look back now and don’t recognise the person I was when I was working in London.
But that’s the whole point of growing up and growing as a person.
I now love my quirkiness! No matter how awkward I come across.
And I’m loads happier because of it.
So if you feel like you’re constantly trying to fit in, then it’s probably because those people aren’t for you.
Stop trying to be somebody else and just be you!
5. Greece is just the best
Ok, I might have slightly jumped the gun with this one as I have yet to visit every single country in the world and maybe I’m slightly biased, but Greece is simply the best.
After returning from both South East Asia and South America I would head to Greece for a couple of weeks to help me readjust back to European life.
And honestly, it was the best place to end both my trips.
The sea, the fish, the culture, the weather, the sunsets.
Yes I loved every single country I visited but there’s just something about Greece!
So if you have yet to visit Greece then please add it to your list.
I’m hoping to do more travel blogs once I get back on the road and Greece will definitely feature at the top.
6. ‘No’ is my favourite word
Along with cutie patootie but there’s nothing thoughtful I can say about that right now.
7. It’s ok to watch Gilmore Girls over and over again
Because it just never gets old!
8. Self-care practices are essential to my mental health
And essential to your mental health too!
So stop ignoring rest and take the time to take care of you.
Once you start practising self-care you will never look back.
9. Alcohol is not the answer
When I lived in London I drank a lot.
I wanted to hide from my problems and just enjoy life.
The answer… alcohol.
But since turning 30, I’ve realised that alcohol doesn’t cure your problems. It makes them worse and adds a few. Like the guilt you get when you wake up after a wild night.
I’ve also realised that if I have a problem I either need to face it head on or journal it out and find a way to fix it.
I can’t just run away to Timbuktu and expect it to fix itself.
10. The only thing that matters is your own opinion of yourself
Turning 30 gave me a new sense of confidence in my own skin. Something that I never really embraced before. But I’m done listening to the haters, the negative comments and the judgements.
Because the only thing that matters is my own opinion of myself.
11. I need to live a life on my own terms, not how others want me to live
12. I’ve learnt to love my body no matter how imperfect I think it is
I’ve always had big boobs!
By the time I was 14 I was already a 32DD and and for the past 10 years I’ve been carrying around 32GGs.
And let me tell you they have been the bane of my life.
When I chat to friends who are all smaller than me they all say “you’re so lucky to have boobs” or “I wish mine were bigger”.
But to be honest with you, I’ve never looked at my breasts in a fond way.
For starters when I was a teen all the other girls got to buy their cute, pretty bras from Topshop while I was dragged into Marks & Spencer by my mum and had to go through the terrible experience of getting fitted.
And the only offering of bras in my size were “granny bras”. No word of a lie, this is what one girl said to me in the sports changing rooms when I was 14.
“Thalia, why do you wear granny bras?”
I was mortified.
And probably cried.
Since then I made it my mission to hide my boobs in any way possible. Under baggy t-shirts, jumpers and coats until at university when I thought it was sexy to be wearing ill-fitting bras and have my boobs basically spilling out.
It’s safe to say I’ve never had a friendly relationship with my boobs. They get in the way and I struggle constantly to find clothes that fit and don’t make me look like Shamu the whale.
But finally I’ve started to embrace my boobies.
That they are a part of me. A part of my family’s genes.
So as I approach 31, I’m looking at my body in a different way. A kinder way.
I’ve put her through a lot and I’m so thankful that she hasn’t given up on me yet.
No matter how nasty I’ve been to her.
13. I will always be afraid of spiders
14. Doing weights at the gym will not make me look like a female bodybuilder
Who else used to avoid the weights and machines at the gym thinking it would make their muscles really big?
I couldn’t have been the only one!
I’ve now realised that doing weights are the best thing for my body (besides yoga) and won’t make me look like Andrea Shaw.
15. You are your biggest fan
Ever since I was younger, I was always looking for validation. Validation for being kind, a hard worker, producing good work or never taking any sick days.
I was so busy seeking validation and bending over backwards to accommodate other people, that I forgot about my own needs and wants.
It’s taken me a while, but since starting my own business I’ve learnt to stop looking for approval from others.
Apart from my partner, I am my biggest fan and every day I cheer myself on for the things I have accomplished.
16. If you fail then get back up and try it again
17. It’s ok to want more from life than what is expected of you
I’m talking about working our butts off at school so we can get into a good university, study for another 3 years and land a 9 to 5 once you graduate all so you can work in the same role for the next 50 years, have kids, get a mortgage, pay into your pension and then retire at the ripe old age of 65.
Yea, that’s just not for me I’m afraid.
I want more from life.
18. Crying is not a weakness
I’m a crier.
I’ve always been a crier.
I was a very emotional child and would cry all the time at school over things that probably weren’t even that bad.
People would tell me to stop crying or get over it which would make things even worse.
I always thought I was weak.
But actually I’m not.
Not only am I physically strong but I’m mentally strong as well. And for someone who as been through a lot, I now realise that crying is not a weakness.
Crying is just my initial reaction to things.
So the next time you see a loved one or a friend crying, choose your words wisely.
And know that they are just processing things differently to you.
19. Laughter is the best medicine
Yes slightly contradicting as I’ve just revealed that I’m a huge crier but my number 1 medicine for a healthy life is to laugh.
Sometimes I laugh in really awkward, inappropriate situations.
Sometimes I laugh for the sake of laughing.
And sometimes I laugh at myself.
Actually, I make myself laugh on an hourly basis.
And currently, I’m laughing because as I write this I’m thinking back to The Office UK episode when David Brent starts talking about laughter during his really awkward business speech!
So if there is just one thing you do today, make sure it’s to laugh.
20. I can bake a really f**king good lemon drizzle cake
All it takes is a gin & tonic and mellow music in the background and I’m baking as though I’m Nigella Lawson.
I know a lot of people turned to baking as their main quarantine activity but I’ve always loved it.
Whereas cooking always seems to be a rush, I take my time with baking.
I find it relaxing and it’s a great way to wind down on a Friday afternoon or at the weekends.
21. I hate cooking
22. Not all boys are bad news
My parents divorced when I was young. And unfortunately my mum never found happiness with the next man she married. I therefore never had the most stable view on marriage and love.
And as the majority of women know, when you’re in your late teens to early twenties you seem to crave a bad boy.
This was me.
I associated myself with the wrong men, got screwed over many times and vowed that I would be single for the rest of my life pretty early on.
But out of the blue, I met the love of my life.
They do say you will find love when you least expect it and I always put the middle finger up to that saying.
Like what does that even mean?
But then I did find love when I least expected it.
I found a boy who treats me with respect, loves me for me (and all my weird quirks), doesn’t make me feel like I’m less and makes the best buttermilk chicken burger a girl can ask for!
There’s obviously loads more pros but I won’t get anymore soppy than I already have.
23. Jeans are really f**king uncomfortable
I’ve always wanted to love a jean.
Because let’s face it, they look cool.
I would squeeze into the Topshop skinny jeans as a teen. And later squeeze into mom jeans as an adult.
I would awkwardly sit in them breathing in so as not to have my belly fall over the band. After eating dinner, I would always rush to undo the button and zip so I could finally breathe.
And after a long day of wearing jeans I would take them off and be left with sore, red marks all over my tummy.
So as someone who now seeks comfort in everything I wear, I have learnt that jeans just aren’t for me.
And I’m ok with that!
24. I’ve learnt to ignore the vanity metrics on social media
Now this is a relatively new lesson for me.
When I first started my business it was all about social media.
Content, engagement, stories, visibility, shares, saves.
I would spend hours creating content and then pull my hair out when my reach flopped.
This really affected me. And more so than I wish to admit.
I soon realised that I had a very unhealthy relationship with Instagram.
So I began to limit my time on the app and regularly take breaks.
My comparison to others decreased and so did my fixation with the vanity metrics.
Every day I’m getting better but right now I am just enjoying creating the content I want to create and happy that there are a few people out there who find it valuable!
25. I don’t need a lot of stuff
When I was working at my 9 to 5, I would spend my entire month’s salary on pointless shit.
Clothes, shoes, food, alcohol. Things I didn’t even need.
When I moved out of London everything either went to a charity shop or on eBay.
I was travelling around the world and needed minimal stuff. And let me tell you, being able to fit a whole year of stuff in a backpack is incredibly freeing.
And it’s how I plan to live for the rest of my life.
26. Reading is a gift.
27. Stories aren’t just for children
I’ve always been a lover of fiction but there are still people out there that seem to turn their nose up at fantasy stories or cheesy romcoms in favour of intellectual non-fiction.
I read both. But my preference is always fiction.
Because I love escapism.
I love putting myself in the narrators shoes or imagining my own version of the story.
Harry Potter and YA weren’t just written for children.
They bring out something in us adults. Maybe it’s the nostalgia or the fact that our imagination can just run wild.
All I know is fiction is and always will be my book of choice!
28. The numbers on a toaster represent minutes, not toastiness!
I saw this on a meme a couple of years ago and it just blew my mind!
29. A true friend is someone who reacts well to good news and not to the bad news
I’m not here for toxic friendships.
Or people who love to listen to the drama.
I’m here for the friends who encourage me to grow, encourage me to follow my dreams and encourage me to love myself.
It might be uncomfortable at first to admit that you no longer want toxic friends in your life, but take it from me, they are just distracting you from your other friends who are amazing in every single way.
30. Don’t look back, always look forward
Your past does not define you.
You should never look at your past in shame, anger or regret but learn from it.
I’m a different person to who I was at 24, 21, 18, and 13.
Yes, I did some things that I don’t agree with now and should have reacted to certain situations differently but I didn’t.
And that’s ok.
The most important thing is that I’m aware of my past, I don’t dwell and I learn from it.
So I hope you do the same.
31. I am enough. I will always be enough.
I hope in some way you have related to these life lessons.
Maybe you laughed, cried, nodded in agreement or even thought wow this is me.
It’s so important to take a moment sometimes to reflect.
Writing this blog post was extremely cathartic for me and bought back a tonne of memories.
There are of course loads more lessons that I’ve learnt in the past 31 years and maybe next year I will do one for my 32nd birthday!
But until then, I would love to hear which life lesson(s) resonated with you the most?
Or maybe you have a different life lesson that you would love to share with me.
Drop me a comment below or find me on Instagram and slide into my DMs.
I am always here for a chat.
Until next week,
♡ Thalia xx