I don’t think something spectacular happens when you hit your 30s. I remember waking up on the morning of my 30th birthday thinking “I will never ever do this again” after one two many red wines (I’m sure hang-overs get worse when you reach the magic number!), but really it’s just the same as making the transition into any other year of your life. Having said that, I can think of some changes I’ve made since leaving my 20s, and here are five that are for the better.
1. Getting enough sleep
This is more to do with living with a partner I guess. If S goes away on a business trip, I tend to stay up till all hours finishing some task for work, studying, watching Netflix in bed… I’ve never been someone that needs a lot of sleep, but I think I have a better routine than when I was in my 20s.
Back when I lived in London, I was the first to suggest going out after work, and especially as I lived so far from the office, one of the last to make it home. I never thought anything of staying out till the last train and still making it back to my desk on time the next day, running on coffee and very little else.
Then there was the time when I was trying to do a full-time job and set up my own business. The thing that always had to go was sleep. There weren’t enough hours in the day for all the things I wanted to do, so I just made my days longer and cut out on the sleep!
If I got chatting to someone interesting online – no problem! I’d stay up all night and the next day I’d just have more coffee!
I can do these things now in my late 30s, but they catch up with me a lot quicker and I don’t honestly know how I kept up that kind of thing, often doing it more than once a week and then crashing at weekends!
I’ve always had a pretty flexible relationship with boundaries, especially if I’ve convinced myself that I can do something. I guess now I’ve just realised that just because something is possible, it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Also I don’t have anything to prove.
Part of the problem in my 20s was that I wasn’t massively happy at work. It was a way to bring in the money to pay the bills and holidays, but I struggled to feel fulfilled, so looked for this elsewhere in my studies or voluntary work – which all happened at some time in the middle of the night! Yes, I’m a night owl, and it’s so easy to fall into those patterns.
Having no 3-hour commute also helps now. I can cook at a reasonable time and don’t have to fight to get my evening back because half of it has been eaten away by time on the train.
2. Saying no to things I don’t want to do
It’s not like I’m the world’s biggest people-pleaser! If I didn’t want to do something, I’d do all I could to avoid it – from the age of about 3!
But I think in the past there were times when I said “yes” to things because I thought I should be able to do them.
I refused to let the fact that I don’t drive stand in my way, so I’d agree to go to something with 2 train changes and a trek into some completely unknown part of town – because I wasn’t going to admit defeat. Now I just think “screw it! That’s more hassle than it’s worth and I’ll spend more time travelling than I will at the event! It’s not worth my effort!”
There were times when I didn’t want to admit that I don’t enjoy really loud places with big crowds – so I’d just go because I had convinced myself that I should be able to deal with it. Now, I can do it if I really have a reason to, but quality is better than quantity, so I’m more choosy about what I commit to. And far from being left out or having less things to do, my natural tendency to get involved in a lot of things means I still have plenty of options.
3. Having a better skincare routine
From the age of about 10 I had one of those plastic storage baskets filled with toiletries, perfume, moisturisers etc. It’s hardly surprising that the interest continued on into adulthood.
It’s not like I never bothered in my 20s, or that I went to bed every night in my make-up. But since starting the blog, I’ve learned a lot more about the products on offer, what my skin likes, and what you need for a good skincare routine. I think, apart from those few hormonal days when it feels like your skin hates you, I am reaping the benefits of this now.
4. Throwing out the shoes that I can’t walk in
It started off as an act of defiance. I was told that, as someone with a visual impairment, I should buy sensible sturdy shoes! So the first chance I got, I bought the highest, most painful heels I could find, and insisted on walking in them! Not all the time, but any time I was going out somewhere. I also kept a pair at work – because even I drew the line at running for the tube in heels.
I wasn’t bad at it either – yay for high pain tolerance threshold. The biggest problem was that my guide dog couldn’t understand why I suddenly wanted to walk more slowly.
To be fair, I didn’t have any shoe-related accidents as some of my sighted friends did. They did make life harder though – I remember on my 30th birthday celebration just taking them off and walking back to a friend’s flat in my tights because I was done with the shoes!
Of course I’ll get some nice ones for the wedding and I do need some new ones anyway, but I’m past the point of needing to prove that I can do something just because someone once told me not to! A true sign of growing up perhaps?!
5. Accepting help
This is still work in progress, but at least I’m getting better at it. I didn’t have any problems asking for practical help from my friends – like the time when I thought I had a mouse (I didn’t) and the time when the toilet cistern fell apart. But when it comes to anything involving emotions or generally not being ok, I’m usually the one who leaves it till the worst has passed and the solution has been found before I tell anyone that there was even a problem.
Relationship break-up? No problem! Wait a month or so before telling anyone so nobody sees you in bits!
The best way I can describe it is using a quote from a book I read – “it isn’t that I always try to keep things from people – it just didn’t occur to me to share”. I was too busy trying to fix things and overlooked the fact that I maybe didn’t have to do it all on my own.
That, combined with the fact that people always came to me with their problems. Somehow they just kind of expected me to be strong and coping with everything. I didn’t like to shatter the illusion! By the time we were done with the other person’s problems, I had no energy left to talk about mine.
Also, I’m not particularly emotional in front of others. That doesn’t mean I don’t have emotions, but I’d rather cry on my own somewhere than have to listen to people trying their best to help but somehow missing the point because they assumed everything was somehow connected with my visual impairment. Blind girls have the same kind of boringly normal problems too – just like anyone else their age!
If I’m angry, the whole world can know about it. If I’m sad, you may well miss it unless you know what to look for.
That isn’t good though, and living with S has taught me that you need to let other people in sometimes. Just because there have been times in the past when I felt pretty much alone with getting problems fixed, it doesn’t always have to be like that. Sometimes there are people there who would be more than happy to help if I’d let them.
Even last year when I had the accident at home in the middle of the night, I could and should have told people sooner. I had countless offers of help – the first message came within about a minute of my blog post about the whole stupid experience. There are people who want to help me, but I have to be willing to let them.
So yeah, still working on that one, but when you compare now with 10 years ago, I am getting better at it.
So how about you?
In what ways are you kinder to yourself than you were 10 years ago? Let us know in the comments.
More from Unseen Beauty
If you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually once a week, you can sign up using this form.
The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.