Journalist, radio host and SHIFTER columnist, Don Ayiti, shares “6 things that changed when I turned 30 years old”.
As far as I can remember, I was never stressed about the idea of turning 30. After all, turning 30 is an incredible milestone in one’s life. It’s also a great vantage point that allows you to observe your life from a more nuanced perspective and with more objectivity. I couldn’t wait to get to that point…And now I have. The big 3-0 and I have finally met and let me tell you, it’s a lot more strange than I expected. No, I did not have a mental breakdown or freak out about the future and the status of my investments. I felt surprisingly calm as the sudden realization of who I am hit me like a soft breeze. A lot of things changed at that moment, but it wasn’t what I had expected.
Here are six things that changed when I turned 30.
1. I know what I want
And to be fair, I’ve known for a while. But all the life goals and plans that were once a whisper in the back of my mind are now the subject of the conversations I have been having with myself lately. When I was in my 20’s, if someone asked me what my five years plan was, my answer would be pretty basic and vaguely resembled whatever people with a plan should say. But now, this question has become a deep source of reflection for me. I strongly believe that human beings have the ability to manifest their thoughts into reality, which means that whatever I want to have five years from now, I can get. This clarity of mind is quite the blessing to be honest. Because of it, I don’t feel as lost in my day-to-day and I find myself quite motivated to get there.
2. I’m a lot more forgiving
To myself, for not knowing better at the time. God knows I wish I did. To old friends who have now become strangers; I’m forever thankful for your companionship when I was in the dark. To my ex-lovers, thank you for showing me so many different parts of myself. To my parents, who always did the best they could with what they had. To my teachers who couldn’t understand me, but who still tried. To my previous bosses for not being great leaders; I forgive them all.
I might not want to reconnect with everybody who ever did me wrong, but I hold no grudges against them either. They were an important part of my journey and I will never take their contribution for granted, despite how things turned out. Forgiveness does not excuse anyone’s behaviour towards you; it’s meant to release you from it. Completely. I know it’s easier said than done, but there’s something so pure…so serene about extending compassion to those who have wronged you in life because…
3. I’ve accepted that I am not perfect
It’s so easy to point at all the liars, manipulators, entitled, dramatic and arrogant people out there. It’s so easy to point out people’s flaws until you realize that every human being shares the same spectrum of emotions. The longer I fought that realization, the longer I felt stuck.
Despite what we tell ourselves to feel better at night, we’re all the bad guy or bad girl in somebody’s story. There is absolutely nothing you can do about it except learning form it. Accepting that you’ve made mistakes and that you will make mistakes again in the future will save you from a ton of headaches.
People are so afraid to face their regrets that they’ll create all sorts of excuses in their heads to victimize themselves in any life scenarios; that way, they can absolve themselves of any responsibility. I don’t respect that. I personally don’t trust people who deny the existence of their dark side.
Of course I’ve messed up in life. I am not always warm hearted or kind, but I take full responsibility for my past and future shortcomings because I am human. I am flawed and it’s okay. Realizing that you will disappoint people and that they will disappoint you in return allows you to give a much purer form of love because it gives people the opportunity to be themselves, to make mistakes, to learn and to grow.
4. I don’t need to be liked by everybody
To be honest, I don’t even like everybody. So why would I need everybody to like me back? I’m a friendly person and I love making genuine connections with people. Being likable is definitely an advantage when you’re a journalist but it’s not a necessity. I walk in every room I step in as myself. It’s the best way for me to find the likeminded people that I need to talk to.
I don’t care much about being disliked so long as I am being real. That being said, I am not arrogant about it. If I make a mistake or if I accidentally offend someone, I will own up to it and apologize for my faults. I simply no longer have it in me to try to fit someone else’s idea of who I should be just to make them comfortable. I rather be around people who like me for me. These friendships and relationships require the least amount of effort because they are so authentic.
5. I focus on what I got to do
The awareness of time becomes more and more present as you grow older. You only have so much of it and you don’t even know how much. Understanding that will hopefully make you spend your time more wisely. If you’re going to work, WORK! If you’re going to sleep, SLEEP. The best way to maximize your time is by focusing on what you are doing and getting rid of useless distractions. Put your phone down when you’re on a date. Slow down when you’re going for a walk. Make sure to take things in as you go through them. Most importantly, say no to new plans if they’re getting in the way of the things you really want to do.
The older you get, the more you need to focus on what you’re doing to really get the best of it. In my twenties, I said yes to pretty much every project that fell on my desk. I wanted to do everything and be everything. When you get older, you realize that it’s impossible. Your 20’s are for experimenting. Your 30’s require you to focus. That means that you have to make a choice and pick what you will focus on. Once you’ve done it well, only then, can you move on to something else.
6. I be stretching…
It’s very straightforward. Do your stretches or suffer the consequences later. Trust me, future you will be grateful for it.