Turning 31. A note to the girl that went before.

It’s October!

In my books October equates to three things.

  • The start of autumn proper (hello Hygge Season!)
  • The hideous annual search for a winter coat.
  • My birthday!

So, as I turn thirty one, which I suppose means I’m officially ‘in’ my thirties, and because I set this blog up in reaction to turning thirty, today I’d like to reflect on the year, and write down five things I have learnt as a result of entering the fourth decade of my life.

I wish I could go back and tell my twenty-year-old self to embrace these life lessons – but I suppose the realisation is all part of the journey.

Prioritise Loved Ones.

If the last 12 months have been about anything for me, it’s family.

As regular readers will already know, last summer my dad was really sick, and it has certainly had a lasting impact on me. It brought up all sorts of bad memories that I thought I had dealt with – but had obviously repressed somewhere in my cavernous mind. All of my childhood fears about loved ones suddenly not being there all came flooding back. I lost all my grandparents – and some friends – in very sudden circumstances as a child, and I think I had underestimated how much this had left me with a fear of sudden loss.

But through my EMDR & CBT therapy, I’ve learnt to embrace the present rather than focus on the distant past, or throw myself into the distant future.

Now I savour every single moment I get to spend with my loved ones, and try to be fully engaged in the moment.

In my speech at my wedding I mentioned how scared I had been to approach the day, worrying that I would be overwhelmed with sadness for those who couldn’t be with us. But looking around the room, the loving faces smiling back at my new husband and I, the hearts of all those who had brought us together and then moved on, were more clear and present than ever. They always will be.

Love your family and your closest friends hard. Go easy on them when they so often annoy you! Let things pass, the bigger picture will always be that they have your back, 100%.

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See the world, when and as often as you can.

I have a wandering heart. It craves adventure and romance, discovery and culture.

Luckily I’ve managed to satisfy this element of my persona with travel. (Perhaps for you it’s reading, or films, or exercising, feel free to contextualise as appropriate!)

By travel, I don’t necessarily mean far-flung foreign lands (though they are nice!)

I just mean, the places your feet carry you when you’re in need of something that you can’t quite put your finger on.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit Budapest, Amsterdam, The Isle Of Skye, Copenhagen and Madeira in the last 18 months, but sometimes the trips that have filled me with the most satisfaction have just been a day trip to Bristol on the bus, a meal at a restaurant out of town, a concert or a walk along the coastline.

Nature is my greatest healer, the one element of wedding planning that I hated the most was not having enough time to be planting in my garden!

I’ve been careful to write ‘as often as you can’ into this tagline – because there are days when making it to the backdoor of your house can be a journey. But always appreciate your feet on the ground and the world around you, no matter how far you can make it on any particular day.

Next year I finally get to conquer my longest journey yet, and my most anticipated. I’m spending January in New Zealand. I’m sure that is a whole other love story just waiting to happen.

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If in doubt, do it!

Throughout my twenties I held myself back. In many ways. I said no to things I shouldn’t have, I didn’t tell people things I should have, I gave up on goals because I didn’t believe in myself.

This year has become the year of ‘fuck it, say yes.’

If you really want that job – apply for it – the worst that can happen is you don’t get it and something else will come along eventually.

If you’re not sure whether you can afford that night out, you’re not sure you’ll enjoy zip-lining, you’re not confident about going on that hen party because you don’t know anyone other than the bride, just go with it. It’ll probably cost less than you think, it won’t be as scary as you think, and strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet. I haven’t had one experience this year that I’ve looked back on and thought ‘I should have said no.’ (My bank manager may beg to differ!)

Pushing yourself beyond what you are comfortable with is the only way to truly grow – believe me I’ve learnt that the hard way as I’ve undergone months and months of therapy.

Even writing this blog has been hard at times, I’ve shared things I hadn’t told a soul previously & I’ve questioned myself countless times before pressing ‘publish’ – but – receiving messages from people, often strangers or those I hadn’t connected with in years, to say they felt the same, to offer support, or even to say thank you for being so honest and helping them to realise they aren’t alone, has been life changing for me, and priceless.

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Friendship comes in many forms – all are important.

We live in a world of constant connection. Literally and metaphorically.

It’s easier than ever to keep in touch, but that also means it’s harder than ever to leave people behind.

For me, this year has been an eye opening insight into the many ways friendships can be formed, but also how they can fail.

I’m not going to dwell on the latter; you can read more on that in my previous posts.

But I do want to focus on the small encounters and connections that have lifted me up and made me feel enveloped in support and positivity through a difficult time. Obviously this is aside from my wonderful best friends who know who they are – and undoubtedly without whom I would certainly not survive, let alone flourish.

This one is for:

– The Twitter friend who replies to every single one of your tweets.

– The Instagram pal who laughs at your stupid stories or compliments you on your home décor.

– The school friend who suggests a night out for old times sake

– The work colleagues who message you to ask what time you’re having lunch.

– The girls on that hen party you eventually said yes to, and that you actually end up wishing you had met years ago.

– The doctor who tells you that you are going to get through this because you’re stronger than you give yourself credit for.

These moments, these tiny glimpses of humanity that on the surface are fleeting, but underneath are so significant, these are the connections that reassure me that this life is worth fucking living.

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Be true to yourself– no matter how hard it might be.

Simply put;

You know your intentions – don’t doubt them.

You are responsible for your actions – own them.

You are the only one who can push yourself forward – or hold yourself back.

You are, in the words of Rupi Kaur, Here. Living. Despite it all.

neil gaiman

Oh, and, if you’re reading this, twenty year old Beth. Here’s a secret special hint just for you.

Don’t worry about a thing. You’re about to meet this guy.

IAN

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