Time Off and Turning Twenty-Nine

Last week I entered my thirtieth year on Earth.

Although it was mid-week, I was able to see most of my family during the day and enjoy a meal with friends in the evening. During the course of events, and in a semi-serious but light-hearted tone, I was asked the following question:

‘So are you feeling the doom and gloom of the inevitable aging process?’

I stopped to think.

The countdown to your thirties typically punctuates the end of the youthful, mistake-making, and formative era of life. At least, that’s what we’re told. But I have found it to be mostly true. In my twenties, I finished university, started a career, traveled far, bought a house, and certainly made my fair share of mistakes. But things are beginning to settle down. In September, I am marrying my wonderful partner of ten years.

These are all fairly typical achievements, and I count myself lucky to have fulfilled them. But they weren’t exactly the reason behind my answer. The truth is that I didn’t feel gloomy at all. If anything, I felt optimistic, peaceful.

This might have been the effects of the pint of Italian lager slowly radiating through my nervous system, but for the first time in a long while, I felt as though things were moving in the right direction for me. And it wasn’t because I was following the status quo, metaphorically ‘checking off’ of my life ambitions. The feeling came from somewhere deeper.

Of course, writing books has been a large part of that. My initial intention was to take a six-month break to concentrate on setting up my writing career. Many explained to me how difficult that would be, and they weren’t wrong. It is tremendously difficult. You spend a lot of time in isolation, figuring out where to start, you doubt your words, and question your own sanity at least once a week. However, I have made a start on the path which is right for me. I have relished the freshness of the challenge by diving head first into the unknown and cultivating the self-belief required to be successful. Finally, I finished my first novel, started my second, and organised a lot of my own thoughts, beliefs, and actions in the process.

Still, it wasn’t only these things that formulated my answer. I realised that overall it was the time that I found most instrumental. It wasn’t the hours of writing, reading, and researching but all of the moments in between. I had time on my hands, something I hadn’t fully appreciated since my summer holidays as a child. Whilst growing up, I felt I was unable to take time for myself. I had the type of mind that always wanted to progress, to achieve, to know more – even when the body just wanted to eat biscuits and slob on the bed. This is something else I noticed – that it’s ok to go easy on yourself every now and then – in fact, it is crucial.

We all try too hard. We put too much pressure on ourselves. We work long hours and neglect the things that are important – our families and children, our hobbies, our selves. It’s ok to step back and have a mental-health day, week, or month. Look after number one and all else follows suit. Realising this has been incredibly liberating.

Thus, the start of March marks the end of my dedicated time for reflection. Now, sitting in my local coffee shop like a true hipster, drinking a decaf soy latté, I look forward to shaping my future and filling it with more writing, more reading, but not just that – more time.

So, just for fun, here are a few random things I have realised over the last few months:

  • Be yourself at all times.
  • Sitting in a chair for eight hours a day fucks your posture. Move.
  • Friends and family are valuable. Make time for them.
  • Live, improvised comedy can be torture.
  • Our mind is a tool to use selectively. We must also feel.
  • Think of the whales, don’t buy that plastic straw.
  • If you ignore the truth you are only lying to yourself (and others).
  • The time is now. Be present. Be non-judgemental. Just be.
  • Friends drift apart.
  • We must learn to forgive.
  • Thirty minutes of yoga a day can save your life. Probably.
  • We are all on unique journeys. Don’t compare.
  • Soak up some rays.
  • Wisdom comes from reading.
  • Time is more valuable than money.
  • Beans are a great source of protein.
  • Consider throwing away your television, but don’t actually do it, because Netflix.
  • Be patient. Is there really any need to shout or get pissed off?
  • Stretch it out. Exercise.
  • It’s fine to reassess your beliefs, question things, and change. It’s called growth.
  • You are not your thoughts. They are only a part of you.
  • Volcanoes are awe-inspiring.
  • Meditation is a practice.
  • Words are powerful, choose them carefully.
  • It doesn’t matter what others think. All that matters is what you think.
  • Your phone is not your god.
  • Sit outside at night sometimes and look at the stars and the moon.
  • What you don’t know could fill a warehouse. Truly know that you know nothing.
  • It’s better to freeze those brownies rather than eat the whole batch in one go.
  • Stay open-minded to new information.
  • Progressive metal is multi-layered.
  • Love yourself first. Then others. It’s not selfish, it’s just the way the world works.
  • Maybe Phoebe is the best Friends character after all.
  • Be thankful, be grateful. Be what you wish to have.
  • Pobody’s Nerfect.
  • You are in control of your destiny, no-one else. Take responsibility.

Turning twenty-nine was not at all depressing, as might be expected. Maybe turning thirty will be different, but for now, I look to the future with optimism and gratitude. I am thankful for giving myself the time to reflect. It has given me the opportunity to enjoy greater peace, clarity, and health. I encourage anyone who is tired, struggling, or confused about the world to consider taking a break. Circumstances may mean this is not easy, but it could save your life.

I now know what I need from my life, and how I can get it. It’s not simple, of course. Control is something we want but cannot have. However, can all give ourselves enough space and time to build the foundation to support our dreams.

So it’s ok to give yourself time off! Who knows what will happen?


Want to share some of your wisdom? Reply below!

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