Today I turn 30. Here are 30 reflections on life so far, to a younger me: and maybe to you, too.
1. Cold natural yoghurt is a great team-player: it’ll cure sunburn, spots, rashes and anything else your skin may be complaining off.
2. Getting to know yourself is one of the best investments you can make for your own good, and for the good of those around you.
3. It’s OK to change your mind about things.
4. God is bigger and wilder and better than you thought possible: there is no use in trying to fit him into neatly-shaped boxes. Embrace the mystery and fasten your seatbelt.
5. Marrying Dan is the very best thing you’ll do in your twenties: he is a GOOD, good man. Don’t ever let him forget that.
6. Don’t be afraid of getting your heart broken. Broken hearts are what heals the world. Whether it’s human trafficking or a banana, the things that both break and build your heart are the foundations of what you spend your life on.
7. You will have forever friends and season friends: both are wonderful and also perfectly normal.
8. Treating people like beloved human beings is the single most revolutionary act you could ever undertake.
9. Complicated, messy, hard things? You can do them. Just begin.
10. Life is seasonal: learn to accept each season and do your best to appreciate what it brings.
11. There is nothing worse than losing hope. Fight for it, for you and for others. It is never truly lost.
12. You like to use your head, and that’s good. But sometimes, your gut will be more clear than any thought: it’s ok to trust it.
13. Being ambitious and goal-oriented doesn’t make you bossy or cold-hearted: ignore the sexist voice that tells you that and for goodness sake, don’t “get back in the kitchen” (unless it’s to make this chocolate cake which is appropriate anytime, all the time.)
14. It’ll take you 30 years to be ok with being a ‘sensitive’ person. Use it as a strength. Feeling deeply is good.
15. By the time you’re 30, you’ll have visited all but one continent: who’d have thought? Never stop exploring and widening your mind. But do not share water with unfamiliar (or any) dogs.
16. Your family are some of your favourite people in the world: don’t take that for granted.
17. The darkness makes the light brighter.
18. Dating is FUN. Don’t take yourself so seriously. And cherish all the ‘firsts’ – you’ll still quiz Dan about your first date years later!
19. Christmas music is acceptable during at least 50% of the year (September – February, approximately.)
20. High heels are great but I wish you’d learned sooner to pack some flats in your bag instead of toddling your way into work every day!
21. The world is not fair. That will always be hard for you to handle. It’s not up to you to fix it all, but you are responsible for tending to your patch. Find your patch. And then keep going.
22. You’ve spent 17 years in Switzerland and the other 13 in the UK. This is a tremendous privilege. Not everyone ‘gets’ certain parts of your life, and that’s ok. Embrace your experience and cherish the memories from each stage.
23. If you’re feeling stressed, tired or sad, having a bath will make you feel better instantly. Just get in.
24. It’ll take you a while to accept your own leadership. When you do, you’ll work out that it means identifying a problem and getting to work on it: “if you build it, they WILL come.” And when they do, invest in the tribe.
25. You are a social introvert: always remember to keep time to recharge your batteries alone, however much you enjoy being around people. Learn what replenishes you and do it.
26. The best lessons you learn are gathered in the hardest times. I wish it didn’t have to be this way, but it does. Remember it’s never permanent and always look for the treasure, but it’s ok to be kind to yourself, too.
27. Honing your craft is a gift to yourself and the world. Work hard at it. Never stop learning.
28. Do not underestimate the power of a good question. But remember that there are questions that can’t be answered. This is hard for you, but learn to live in the grey and the unknown.
29. You will come to know God by different names and in different ways at different stages. Right now, it is most closely as Emmanuel, the one who is near. Never let go of that.
30. Every human being has innate, infinite and ineffaceable worth. Live every day with that in mind.