Holy shit guys, I’m 30!

I made it through my third decade. My 20s have been a rollercoaster. From my career to friends and to my own self-development. As I turn thirty I am acutely aware of how much I have changed, I was holding on to a lot of anger from my teens and it’s taken a long time to let go. I step into my thirties aware of who I am, what I stand for, and what I don’t.

But the question is; I’m older, but am I wiser? I wanted to take the time to reflect and to share with you all some of the things I have learn’t over the years. Some you may relate to, some you may not. Some may seem a bit wanky, and you know what? They probably are. There’s been some big ups and downs over the years and they’ve taught me a lot.


30 Life Lessons

1. Luck is a construct
Luck is is the meeting of preparation and opportunity. You don’t ‘get lucky’ sat on your ass at home. ‘Luck’ comes to those who get out there and put themselves in the right place at the right time. You can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket.

2. Forgiving doesn’t mean you have to forget
To forgive someone doesn’t mean you’re wiping away what they may have done, but you are letting go of the anger or pain you feel towards it. More often than not, forgiving someone does more for yourself than it does or them.

3. You can’t change your body until you learn to love the one you’re given
It’s OK to want to change your body, but don’t do it for anyone but yourself and don’t do it out of spite for it. I’ve always had body confidence issues. I’ve spoken about them numerous times before, too. But the biggest thing I’ve learnt is that you can’t spend your time hating on your self. Nothing can change until you are at peace with where you are. You have to say ‘This is what I’ve got and I love it. Now, what am I going to do with it?’

4. Love isn’t always enough
Whether it’s a family member or a partner. Love alone doesn’t make a relationship. You can love someone with every fibre of your being and it can still be bad for you. Relationships are built on trust and honesty too - if those are missing, you’re in trouble.

5. It’s important to say thank you
Never underestimate the power of thank you. Thank you let’s someone know you see them, you acknowledge them, their actions and their intentions and that you’re grateful for them.

6. OK is never good enough.
Don’t settle. A resignation can be the key to open a new door, an ended relationship can be the key to future bliss. This is still one of the best pieces of advice I have ever received. It was in relation to work and gave me the confidence to walk away from a job that wasn’t fulfilling me. I didn’t have another job to go to and I was worried I wouldn’t find one. But what I had wasn’t worth sacrificing my happiness. After a wobbly month or so finding my feet, I found a job I loved and I’m still with the company today.

7. It’s OK to say no
A tiny two-letter word that we often find the hardest to say. But it’s important to say no form time to time, it’s important to have boundaries and to make sure people are aware of them. If you don’t, people will take advantage of them, even unintentionally. It’s possible to be too kind!

8. Love is love
As I was making notes on the things I’ve learnt over the years, I realised, quite poignantly, that I hadn’t put anything down about my sexuality. While I considered myself a reasonably late bloomer, I’ve never had an issue with my sexuality. I’m also acutely aware of how my experience isn’t the majority one. When I realised I was gay, I didn’t freak out or have any worries. Although I took a while to begin to tell people, it wasn’t out of fear; my mum had raised me well enough to be independent in my own thinking and to know who I was. If my family weren’t OK with it, I was strong minded enough to know I’d be OK either way. And while I’ve had the occasion homophobic remarks thrown my way, since that Christmas oh-so-many years ago where I told my mum for the first time, I’ve been able to grow into my life as a gay man with very few cares. I think it was the confidence in my sense of self that radiated into those around you and makes it less of any issue. It’s OK to be gay, it’s OK to love who you love. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

9. You have more effect on those around you thank you think
It’s true; you influence, you teach the young, so think about what you say and do. The energy we emit every day is picked up on by those around us. Whether it’s a flippant ‘That’s so gay’ or ‘Don’t be such a girl’ – these remarks give permission for the continuing imbalances in society. Read The Power of Words

10. Practice what you preach
It’s really easy to say one thing and do another. You have to practice what you preach. And it’s OK to fail at it, I do all the time. But the point is to persevere, to be the change you wish to see in the world.

11. If someone else can do it, so can you
The only thing that limits you in life is your imagination. What do you dream of for yourself? If you’re willing to work for it, you can achieve your dreams, you just have to make a plan and be willing to work for it. One of my favourite quotes from Denzel Washington is, “dreams without goals will stay dreams ‘. Set goals and practice consistency and commitment. ‘Without commitment, you’ll never start, but more importantly, without consistencyyoull never finish‘.


12. It’s not a bad thing to show pride in yourself (just don’t go around thinking you did it all by yourself)
When you work hard for something it’s important to take stock and make time to appreciate what you’ve achieved; to look back and reflect on the journey. But remember that very rarely are you the sole reason for your success. There will always be someone who opened a door for you, stayed late, provided a shoulder to cry on or a pat on the back. Check yourself. We live in a rat race; big cities, bigger egos, mobile phones, social media and the thirst for success. Be humble. Don’t get too big for your own boots.

13. Choose experiences over things
There’s a great expression; you never see a U-Haul behind a hearse (U-Haul being a proprietary eponym for moving vans). As I’ve gotten older my priorities have changed. I used to be motivated by the latest gadgets or the constant need for new clothes. But the truth is, you can’t take any of these things with you when you leave this earth. I’m not going to be surrounded by these objects on my death bed. I’ll be with my family and the memories I’ve made are the last things that will go through your mind. It sounds a bit morbid, but with near-misses with the Big C that have plagued the people I love in recent years,  knowing that when it’s you’re time to go, you can go knowing that you lived life to the full is a lot more important to me than what I owned.

14. Style is truly personal
Having now worked in the fashion industry for a decade, I’m come to realise what defines style; and that is that style actually has no definition. Fashion is the transient nature of trends and brands, but style is your own. Style is more than just the clothes you wear, it’s your persona, too. If the way you dress makes you feel confident, this will be how others see you.

15. Life is too short to waste on trying to fit in
I mean this whether it’s physically or any other way. The harder you try, the harder you scrutinise and the more you feel like a failure. Just be you, and you’ll find profession is easier and you fit in better than you ever thought you could. People’s version of how we should act or look changes so often, by the time you feel you’re fitting in the goal posts have changed and you have to start again.

16. Laughter is the ultimate soul food
If you can’t laugh at a situation - or, most importantly, at yourself - then life is going to be hard. Things happen, people change. Find the laughter and you’ll be fine.


17. The deep end is scary but it’s the best place to start, so dive in head first
Meet people, go places, live a life that keeps your heart racing. If you’re not challenging yourself then you’re not living, you’re just existing.

18. REALLY meet people.
We are constantly making connections, digitally and physically…take an interest in the people you meet. Don’t just be pleasant. Be a people person. It will serve you well. People will radiate to you and it will open doors.

19. Knowledge is power, so never stop learning
Be inquisitive. If you don’t get something, look it up! The world’s knowledge is at your fingertips; don’t understand what’s happening with Israel and Palestine? Not sure what that really long word means? Find out! Don’t settle for know knowing.  I do this really weird thing; sometimes when I’m on the loo I hit the ‘random article’ button on Wikipedia and then read whatever it shows me. I’ll probably never need what I read, but at least it’s something new - I’ve never told anyone that.

20. Your health is not guaranteed
You can live your life on organic and whatever-free and still get cancer. You can eat fast-food once a day and live till 90. Life is unexpected and your health can change. So, cherishing each moment aside, be kind to your body. Take care of it; feed it, nourish it and treat it. You only get one, once it’s done it’s done.

21. It’s OK to cut ties
Probably the hardest lesson I’ve learnt. But I finally realised it’s OK to say goodbye to people that aren’t a positive influence on your life. Surround yourself with people who celebrate you and bring out the best in you and vice versa.

22. Take responsibility
Being the bigger person and taking ownership of a problem is one of the fastest routes to fixing any issue. Whether at work or play, taking responsibility shows leadership and a genuine character.

23. Don’t confuse not settling with rushing.
We can all be entitled at one time or another. But know when you truly deserve more, or when you need to do the ground work first. I’m always waiting for the next big thing, or the next promotion. Forgetting to look at the bigger picture and realising I’m exactly where I need to be.


24. Not everyone will like you
This one sucks. I don’t like the thought of someone not liking me. But you have to realise that’s OK. Different folks and strokes. Find common ground where you can but don’t try to build something that has no foundation.

25. Have passion
If you don’t have passion for what you do, why would anyone else? Don’t do anything half-arsed, use your full arse. Have courage in your convictions. 

26. Be kind
There’s reading a bitch to filth and then there’s just being cruel. Know the difference. Read more on being kind.

27. Volunteer
Whether it’s clearing up a local park, helping the ‘young’ (OK, I know I’m not that old) or helping someone raise money. Give your time, your knowledge to someone without expectation of return. There is no better judge of people than their actions towards to those less fortunate.

28. Take a stand
Don’t be a passive citizen. Don’t just stand there. Vote, protest, engage with the world around you. Don’t just sit on your sofa saying ‘If I was I charge…’, ‘oh he’s an idiot’. You’re not an activist sat on a couch shouting at the TV.


29. You are more than what happens to you
Life can sometimes really suck. Like majorly. It can feel as if everything is against you, an unrelenting torrent of shit thrown you’re way. But take comfort in the knowledge that you aren’t the only one feeling this way. You need to take it one step at a time. Take a deep breathe and start again. Bigger, better and brighter days will come. Don’t judge yourself, or others, on your experience. Don’t be held prisoner by them. You can chose not to be reduced by your experience. Choose to grow from it. Read Dealing with Adversity

30. Life is about balance
In the immortal words of the Spice Girls; Too much of something is bad enough / Too much of nothing is just as tough. (I always knew they were smart cookies). It’s a simple thing to live by.

So there it is. The limit of my knowledge in 30 bitesize (ish) chunks. I’m hoping to continue to evolve and grow, hopefully with more life lessons to come, good or bad I welcome them. Maybe in another 30 years I wont agree with any of these, I look forward to finding that out. Peace out, folks. See you at the bar!



Written by Neil Thornton
London-based coffee drinker. Editor by day, blogger by whatever time he finds spare.