At the edge of entering the 30’s, I reflect on the past 10 years that went by. I have to admit it: I’m a late bloomer. In fact, the reason why I left the city was because people were going too fast. That was never a road I wanted to chase. So no, I don’t own a house, or have a family, or a professional career. But damn did I have a good ride!
Here are 10 things I did that truly enlighten my 20’s (please remember that these are personal suggestions taken from my own experiences. They are not things to do, but rather things you can do):
When I travelled overseas to a developing country for the first time, I was only 20. I soon became addicted to discover new places, learn about cultures and the people. This travel bug has allowed me to trot the globe, visiting 5 continents and exploring 25 countries (and yet, I’ve only seen 12% of the world). My travels have educated and shaped me into becoming the person I am today. Travelling will not only open your mind and your heart, but it will also teach you life skills, build your confidence, make you compassionate and appreciative of the differences, and make you grateful and thankful for what you have. Travelling is indeed, the richest experience of my life.
2. Stay active.
Ok, I’m not talking about dieting here, I don’t believe in diets. Drink that wine, splurge on that pasta, enjoy that left-over pizza for breakfast. You’re only 20-something, you are allowed to enjoy the pleasures of delicious food, as long as it’s with moderation. The trick here is to be active, breathe fresh air and have a good balance in your life. You’ll find that the more active you are, the less crap you want to eat. Go for a doggy walk, go skating on the lake, go mountain biking, go dancing, go play outside, go have fun! There are tons of active ways to get that booty moving, and it doesn’t have to be boring. Living in the mountain ranges of the Canadian West Coast for the past decade, I found myself spending most of my time on the mountains then anywhere else. In fact, I am the proud owner of 10 Whistler/Blackcomb season passes, with some years counting up to 100 riding days.
3. Discover a new passion.
You might already have a bucket list with new things to try. That’s great! Try new things, scary things, things you never thought you would ever do. Challenge yourself. Sign up for that mountain bike drop-in class you always wanted to try, get a membership at a yoga studio, start painting, writing, photographing, cooking. You might fall in love and develop a new passion that can lead you to new people, new places, new opportunities. I was always attracted to the depth of the ocean and its intriguing creatures. So when I got PADI certified in Panama, I immediately fell in love with the underwater sport. As of today, I scuba dove in 3 oceans, a total of 51 times, and I still have a lot more on my list!
4. Cultivate personal relationships.
You might realize while you live through your 20’s that there isn’t much left of that panoply of friends you had in your teenage years. People change, develop new taste and evolve in different ways. The importance is to keep close the people that matters and let go of the negative relationships. Choose your friends wisely. Surround yourself with positive and inspiring people. The real friends are the people that will inspire, encourage and support you through the years. They shape who you become. Get to know who the real friends are and keep them close. Also, appreciate your parents. They are the ones that will love you unconditionally no matter what happens. Stay connected, love them in return, you never know when they’ll be gone.
5. Work to live, not live to work.
I work to make enough money to live comfortably, have a fun lifestyle and travel as much as I can. I work hard, but play harder. I don’t want to work my ass off for someone else’s dream. When I’ll have my own business, I’ll make sure I have the right balance with work and life. Working hard in your 20’s toward your retirement years? Really? And then what? Experience life when you’re 65? Sure. But for me, I’d rather do it all now -now that I have the energy, the health, the open-mind and the flexibility. Of course I’m not saying to blow all your money and end of broke by 30. But remember that money comes and goes. You can be financially responsible, but don’t forget to live and have fun, now.
I did my first volunteering experience last year, where I taught French and English to kids and empowered women in Morocco. I also stayed with a charming local family. It was challenging at first, as I felt that I learned more from them than they did from me, but it was the greatest reward at the end, when everyone showed their appreciation with warm hugs and sincere words. Along with helping people in need and giving back to the world less-fortunates, volunteering helps build confidence, increase social and relation skills and gives a sense of accomplishment. To get more information on how you can help, visit IVHQ.
7. Pack up, move, relocate.
You’re young. You might not own a house yet, or have kids or hold a professional career. Pack your things and move to an other city, an other country, overseas. You can always come back if that ain’t working. When I left my hometown at the age 19, I knew I was never going to come back. I moved solo, 5,000km across the country, with the little English I knew, a backpack and a snowboard on my back. Moving away helped me experience new scenes, meet new people, live different lifestyles. I found a home in the mountains with breathtaking scenery and inspiring people -roommates that became a family. And when I got an offer to work in the Caribbeans 8 years later, I jumped on the opportunity and packed my bags again. Along with fear, anxiety and uncertainty of jumping into the unknown once again, I put my life in boxes and flew South where I lived and worked for nearly 2 years -some of the best time of my life, and a roommate that became a best friend.
8. Spend time alone.
It’s ok to disconnect from social life once in a while. Spending time alone will help you reboot your brain and unwind, enhance your creativity and concentration and give you an opportunity to put things into perspective by reflecting on where your life is heading. Play some music, crack a bottle of wine, read a book, watch your favorite shows, dance in your living room, write in a scrapbook, day dream. Do the things you love. Why even not take the road for a few days, fly to a new destination, backpack to a new country. Spending time alone is healthy and beneficial. Don’t underestimate the power of solitude.
9. Meet new people.
Whether it is while travelling, or at a new job, or at a new yoga class, open yourself to others, you never know where that new relationship will lead you. People have different background, outlook on life and each and everyone has something to offer and a beauty to be seen. Meeting new people will help you expand your skills and knowledge, boost your self-esteem, be culturally aware and understand the world. Also, increasing your network can be beneficial for your future. For me, travelling gave me the amazing opportunity to meet people from all around the world, whether it was on a plane, at a hostel or while riding an elephant. Some are acquaintances, some became my best friends. If there is one thing I am the most grateful about my 20’s, it’s for all the amazing and inspiring people I met, from all around the planet.
10. Experience, experience, experience.
Your 20’s are the time to taste freedom, make mistakes, do crazy things, live your own list. No one should tell you how to live your life. Never say no to opportunities, take risks and embrace every moment. Get weird, let loose, embrace your oddities. Have fun. Be wild. Be young. You’re free. My experiences are the fruits of choices and decisions I made. Good and bad. They define who I am.
You don’t have to take the common highway and hurry up to your destination, choose your own road, at your own pace. Smell the flowers. Enjoy the journey. You’ll have your 30’s to figure out the rest 😉
To my friends and family: Thank you for all that enlightened this journey, to the ones that stood by, to the ones that inspired, to the ones that became family. You are part of who I be. The 20’s have been the craziest, wildest and raddest ride. Am a bit scared of letting it go, to be honest, but I’m ready to start fresh and begin this new chapter of life. Time to be awesome! Peace, love and always, believe x