5 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Turning 30

By Marie Tan

Photo Credit : Marie Tan


As I sit down to write this letter-of-sorts to my younger self, the cicadas and crickets and other night insects outside are singing – nature’s very own a cappella. My child is asleep, my day is done – and I think that life is overall, good.


My life as it is today though, is nothing at all that my 20-something year old self could have imagined. If I were to tell her what the first three quarters of her third decade of life would have in store for her, she would have laughed out loud, twirled on a heel and sauntered away, thinking this was all a joke.


Ah, the tumultuous years that await her. If I could, these would be the five tips I’d share with her to help weather those years ahead.


1. Learn to love your double chin.

Hey, it’s going nowhere. So the sooner you embrace it, the more at ease with the rest of your body you will be. You’ll be a happier person for it.


If you hold your head up, tilt your face at a certain angle and have your photos taken from higher up, that double chin you were born with will be less apparent.


But it’ll always be there. Through your skinny days, through your fatter days.


Photo Credit : Marie Tan


And one day, your little child will reach out and grab for it and gurgle. You’ll teach that child that mama not only has two eyes, a nose, a mouth and chin but also a double chin. When he reaches out to tap that double chin of yours, you’ll actually smile and be glad you’ve got that double chin of yours. Truth.


2. There’s no real ‘right’ decision ever to make.

You will make the best decision that you can for yourself, based on the knowledge you have at any given moment of time.


New information gained afterwards or hindsight may cause you to believe that you could have made a ‘better’ decision. But honestly, stop second guessing yourself. Or wonder what your future self will say.


Hindsight is always twenty-twenty; the decisions that you make in the present will of course have an impact on your future. But, you know what? Every day that you get to live is a series of opportunities to make a different decision: one after another, after another. You’ll be fine.


Photo Credit : Marie Tan


3. And even if you don’t think you’ll be fine, you will be!

Because each ‘disaster’ you encounter will present itself as an occasion to build resilience. And that, dear younger self, is what your twenties is all about. And your thirties too. And probably your forties and the rest of your life!


With each situation you encounter where you think you’ve just about hit rock bottom, or completely messed up, you’ll find the chance for redemption, for reinvention, for renaissance and for rebuilding.


4. Meditation and exercise.

If you can start doing these sooner (and the more consistent you can be with these), the better you will feel about yourself, those around you and your life situation. Persist at finding the time to exercise your physical, mental and emotional muscles. Your older self will thank you for that.


5. Maintain the relationships that matter to you – even when the going gets tough.

Yes, personal boundaries are important and ever changing. It will be a constant learning curve discovering what you will stand for and not in relation to others, and vice versa.


While people are ephemeral – in the physical sense at least – the memories of those who matter last forever. So make as many memories as you can.


Keep in touch with those who knew you before you became who you are today. All while being open to potential new connections. It’s a bit like gardening: sometimes you’ve got to prune in order for greater growth to emerge; other times, you’ve got to keep a nurturing eye and be proactive to make sure that what you care about stays alive and thrives.


Photo Credit : Marie Tan


There are so many more things that I could say to my younger self.


That you’ll find your vocation, get tired of it, and rediscover your passion for it again. That you’ll end up setting roots in a foreign land you never thought you’d end up in. That you’ll find yourself living through circumstances you didn’t know could exist.


That there’ll be days where you’d pray like never before.


That you’ll learn how to cook chicken rice, and make samosas and siew yoke.


That you’ll figure out that it’s actually, really, alright to have things not figured out.


Be well, look forward to everything :)

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