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What I Wish I Knew At 30

We turned to a group of people we look up to, to share their insights and personal life lessons from their 30s

I just turned 32 a few weeks ago, and to be honest, I gratefully enter this new year with so many shattered expectations and unrealistic mindsets. I used to sincerely believe that I should’ve had my life figured out the moment I slip into my 30s, but I got the rudest awakening ever. Some of my biggest failures and learnings in life happened in the past two years, and that means my preconceived notions about this decade were just too simply naive. I still have so many lessons to go and grow through. For one, I thought overall stability is an assurance I deserve by now, and yet I still find myself doing the cha-cha-cha with new life options I never thought I’d consider. And since we’re being authentic here, the fork road I’m on can feel a bit paralyzing.

This is why I thank God for my older and wiser friends.

I’m a firm believer in mentorship. I think it’s so underrated in this country. I’ve always had mentors around me since my mid-20s, because I know for a fact it’s important to have the guidance, counsel, and friendship of someone who’s gone through life ahead of me. It expands my perspective and gifts me with many golden nuggets of wisdom. In this somewhat confusing season of my life, I turned to some of those I look up to for some insights regarding this personal decade I’m in. I asked: What are three things you wish you knew in your 30s? What did your 30s teach you?

Julianne Tarroja-Rohrer, Singer/Artist

Julianne Tarroja-Rohrer, 40 Singer/Artist

My 30s taught me a lot of things, but what stands out the most is learning how much relationships matter. Your relationship with God, others, and yourself—the quality of these relationships determine the quality of your life. I wish I knew:

1. That relationships are a beautiful mess. I've learned that you've got to show up as your true self if you want to be in real, loving, and nurturing relationships. I've learned that it's non-negotiable to be 100% honest and vulnerable, revealing the good, bad and ugly parts of yourself—not to throw shame, but to cultivate opportunities for healing, acceptance, and growth. True love is an everyday choice that demands the greatest of sacrifices, but reaps the most satisfaction. I've learned that the most precious gift in life is to be fully known and fully seen at your worst, yet still be loved and accepted by someone wholly. These things transcend both your relationship with God, others, and yourself. 

2. That it’s important to be kind to yourself. You're going to make mistakes (lots of it). I've learned how to give more grace to myself (and others). I've learned that I don't need to have all things figured out. Your 30s are where your limits and your resolve will be tested. It's a lot of finding out “what to do” from "what not to do." Your beliefs and values will be put through fire, only so it can come out refined like gold. Moreso, I've learned that my mistakes don't define who I am. What's most important is how and what I learn from them, how I get up, shake the dust off, and walk away stronger and wiser.

3. That not all your friends are forever friends, and that's okay.  I've learned that letting go of friendships doesn't make you a bad person. You will change and so will the people around you. Sometimes, growing apart from someone is inevitable and can lead you to go a totally different direction and want different things. Making room for new friends for new seasons in your life is also healthy. Having a lot of friends is not a bad thing, but I've learned that the quality of your friendships are more important than the quantity.

Sanj Licaros

Sanj Licaros, 47 Founder, The Daily Butlery

1. I wish I knew the power of the internet and social media.
2. I wish I knew the financial crash of 2008.
3. Other than those two, There is nothing I wish I knew. My life has been one great adventure.

Everything that happened in my life, good or bad, taught me something and made me who I am today.  I learned that the joy and pleasure I receive from material things is fleeting. What is really valuable is the time we spend, the love we give and receive from our family, friends and people we encounter. Today, I realize that eventhough my life is smaller with the company I keep, my connection to the world is much deeper. 

Anna Meloto-Wilk

Anna Meloto-Wilk, 43 President, Human Heart Nature

I wish I knew that your 30s are still so young and there is nothing to be anxious about. That it’s not too late to start something new or learn something different. I wish I knew that instead of wasting mental energy on what I think I should’ve accomplished each day, I should relish each moment and give myself a pat on the back for how far I’ve come. I may not be in my ideal state but I’m wiser than I was in my foolish 20s. Progress not perfection. I wish I knew to give myself the same grace I gave to others.

I learned that this is the time to own up to my choices. I can’t blame other people anymore for the decisions I’ve made in my life. I learned that being responsible for myself and for others gives me an immense sense of satisfaction. I learned that when I stretch myself to grow in new areas, it keeps me curious and full of wonder, hence making me feel younger and energized as well.

Joy Mendoza

Joy Tan-Chi Mendoza, 46 Writer, Speaker, Homeschool Mom

RELATIONAL - Seek out good mentors and be a mentor to younger women. You will benefit from the wise counsel of spiritually and emotionally mature women, and you can pass this wisdom on to others.

EMOTIONAL - Contentment and gratitude are the secret to joy and good mental health. Whatever your circumstances, there’s always something to be thankful for, and something to look forward to. The enemy of contentment is comparing and a victim-mentality, so minimize time online and evaluate what kind of media you are consuming. Is following this person, this account, watching this show, this series, reading this book or listening to this podcast, music (or whatever media it may be) making me a more grateful and positive person or is it turning me into a grumbling person, someone who feels like I don’t have enough, I am not enough, and God’s blessings in my life are not enough to experience joy and to share joy.

PHYSICAL - This is a practical one… get your hormone levels checked and take care of your hormonal imbalances because this leads to a lot of health complications in the future. A lot of women suffer from hormonal imbalances that affect fertility, mood, energy levels, sleep etc. I suffered badly from endometriosis later on resulting in major surgery because I did not know I had these imbalances which could have been treated and managed if I had gotten tests proactively.

My 30s taught me to be more gracious—to my husband, kids, extended family and friends. This meant choosing forgiveness and growing in the area of asking for forgiveness. I also learned that I am not in control, and the only thing I can really control is my perspective, attitude, and responses. What liberated me from the need to control everything and everyone was recognizing that God is in control. So if circumstances weren’t always in my favor, if I encountered loss or hurt, I chose to trust Him, His word, His character and His promises. He is loving and good, and He’s faithfully taken care of me.

Roy Chua

Roy Chua, 54, President, Tokyo Brands (Anello, Casio, Seiko, & Owndays, etc.) 

1. I wish I knew that I knew little so I could have been more receptive to things that took place around me.

2. I wish I spent more time time and listen to people who were older and much more experienced than me.

3. I wish that I saw the journey of my encounters as an exciting adventure rather than dreadfully serious.

What my 30s taught me is to understand myself and know what role and position I want to play in this world as an individual.

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Ruminating these valuable, life insights has brought so much comfort and joy to me. I needed these gems from outstanding people who have gone through these prime years. As I learn how to navigate my way through my 30s, I’m realizing there is really no age where we can say we’ve figured it all out, that we have it all together. Life is meant to be lived one day at a time. The answers we’re searching for will come at God’s perfect time, and ultimately, His plans are for our good and His glory. We’re all on different points of our life’s timelines, and to compare my journey to someone else’s is a disservice to myself. As I enter 32, all I know is I just want to be more present in my day-to-day (that means less time spent mindlessly on social).

As I enter 32, all I know is I just want to be more present in my day-to-days (that means less time spent mindlessly on social media); to be more loving, more understanding, but also, to be more tenacious with my boundaries. I want a simple life that isn’t chained to material consumption nor temporal riches. I want to give back to the world and use my gifts to create and spark value. Ultimately, I just want to be more of the woman who God wants me to be.

My expectations of my 30s may be far from what I projected, but I’m excited to sink my teeth into what God is whipping up for me. Here’s to living more intentionally, with grace towards myself and others, and full of gratitude—whatever life throws at me. Cheers to our 30s!

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