Turning 30: Looking at my 20s Through a Positive Lens

I turn 30 in just a couple days and I don’t remember ever being this excited for a birthday. I turned 18 in high school, early in my senior year, so very little changed there. At 21 I had very little interest in alcohol, so that was no big achievement. And at 25 I was excited to be able to rent a car, but who really thinks about that? But 30, 30 feels different. I have been excited to turn 30 since last year and even though COVID is throwing a wrench into many of my celebration plans, that doesn’t change how thrilled I am to be leaving my 20s behind.

I started writing this post, my first turning 30 post in a potential series (I have a lot on my mind), but it kept taking a sad, negative turn and I don’t want that. Yes, part of why I am so thrilled to be closing the door on my 20s is because when I look at my 20s, I feel sad. I can’t help but recall traumatic memories from the past decade and I feel like I spent a lot of my 20s fighting and struggling to just get by, to just survive. I spend too much time looking at the negative parts of the last 10 years.

But that is life. Everyone has hard times and everyone struggles and no matter how bad I think my 20s were, they made me who I am today (all the good and the bad.) And although I have plenty of regrets, things I wish I would have done differently, things I wish I would have said and things I wish I would have done, the past is the past and I can’t change it. Also, besides maybe telling a few loved ones how much I loved them and maybe letting go of some anger sooner, I probably wouldn’t do anything different.

I know everything I did or didn’t do, everything life threw at me had a reason, even if I don’t see it yet. And although I may not be where I’d like to be in life, if there is anything this past decade has taught me, it is that I can survive anything.

Like I said, I started this post several days ago and it just kept getting sad and negative. And although I still have plenty of trauma to work out, plenty of flaws to explore, and so much growing to still do, I don’t want this post to be that.

A major part of what I want to work on in this next chapter of my life is being more positive and trying not to dwell so much on the bad. I know bad things are still going to happen and, as I already said, there are more sad things I still need to work through, but for now, for the start of this new chapter, I want to focus on the good.

About a week ago, I asked my friends to tell me what they thought were my biggest accomplishments from the past decade. I asked for two reasons; One to get an outsider’s perspective, (I think it’s true for many, but especially true for myself, that we often are so hard on ourselves, we fail to see how great we actually are.) and two, to get my head in the right space to come up with my own.

Thanks to help from my friends and family here are just some of the happy memories and positive things I accomplished this past decade –

  • I got my driver’s license. (I was a late driver. The bus was my friend.)
  • I started three separate blogs – Hole in the Wall, Little Bug, and this one.
  • I taught myself how to drive stick and how to work on a VW Beetle.
  • I went ice skating.
  • I graduated from Mt. SAC with my AA and Cal State Fullerton with my BA, both while maintaining a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  • I taught myself how to hoop dance.
  • I worked for some pretty cool organizations/companies like The Newport Beach Film Festival and Visit Anaheim.
  • I was a Disneyland AP holder for a year and I went to several Dapper Days.
  • I started freelance writing and was actually paid good money for my writing.
  • I held a fundraiser the The Melanoma Research Foundation.
  • I got to see Titus (favorite comedian) and Fall Out Boy (favorite band) live.
  • I flew on a plane for the first time, by myself, across the ocean.
  • I moved to Utah.
  • I moved to Hawaii all by myself.
  • I rented my first apartment and learned to live alone.
  • I got married and tried to master being a military spouse.
  • I went to four Marine Corps Balls.
  • I learned to snorkel and kayak.
  • I swam with turtles.
  • I hiked to hidden waterfalls and tops of mountains.
  • I made new, lifelong friends, that love me for who I am and support me, even when I don’t support myself.
  • I reconnected with family and friends I thought I’d lost, and learned it’s never too late to start over. (If you’ve read a few of my more recent posts and I do see the irony, but you know what I mean, I hope.)
  • I traveled to Kauai, San Francisco, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Joshua Tree and The Hoover Dam.
  • I bought a car.
  • I went camping.
  • I survived breaking down in the middle of the desert and driving through a blizzard (two separate events).
  • I failed. I was scared. I was lost. And I’m still here.

I’m sure I forgot some things and I’m sure some of these may not seem like much. And I realize most people reading this probably don’t care, but this was a good exercise for me and I hope I can use this list to look back on when I start to forget everything I am capable of and how far I have come.

This photo was taken of me right around my 20th birthday and it’s the exact energy I want to take into my 30s.

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