Life Lessons: What I've Learned Now That I'm In My Mid-Thirties (Including The Joy Of Missing Out)

My entire twenties, like almost every other person, were lived with an utterly responsibility-free attitude. So much so, that Shaggy's song 'It Wasn't Me' was my soundtrack and motto for the entire decade.

If I forgot your birthday present and gifted you with petrol station flowers? Well, it wasn't my fault I was out partying till 4am the night before. If I accidentally vommed on your shoes? Well, that was the dodgy half-cooked sausage I'd eaten er, while cooking at 4am the night before.

I realised, somewhere down the line, a few hard truths about myself, and then set about trying to change them slowly because I didn't want to be known as Perennially Late, Reliably Unreliable or Person Who Eats Two Packets Of Extras To Mask Vodka Fumes.

Although I boo-hooed into my 30th birthday cake, believing myself to already have one foot in the grave and my looks would soon be long gone, I realised that this was utter nonsense. Each decade has its ups and downs, and there are enough 40, 50, 60 - heck, even 70-something women to make me see that ageing can be an amazing thing if you approach it with the right attitude.

Some of these people possess a peace and calm that I envy far more than a smooth forehead.

Here are some of my life lessons...


As I approached my 30s, I found that people's lives were diverging in ways I couldn't comprehend. Whether people were getting married or having kids, that intensity that marks so many 20-something friendships was fading fast. And I found it really hard to deal with.

If I could prioritise my friends while being married, why couldn't others do the same? It was after a while that I figured out two things. First, if a friend is pulling out of your reach, you may have to let them go because holding on isn't going to make them stay. Second, I had to stop projecting my expectations and code of conduct onto other people, and understand that not everyone is the same. Third, rather than always be the person who would move things around or do anything to accommodate the other person, I had to see my own time as a priority and something of value.

Once I did this, I stopped being mad. As for the friends that couldn't be bothered to meet up or required a three-month notice period to make plans, me being a psycho on Facebook haranguing them for dates wasn't going to make it happen any faster. These friends I've replaced with Netflix and it's a happy arrangement.


I thought I'd be free from the Bank of Mum and Dad but when times get tough, I still run to my folks for a bail out. As you can imagine, this doesn't do wonders for a woman's self esteem. However, what I've come to realise is that my parents actually like feeling needed.

Our bond grows stronger because rather than flumping on their sofa watching Sky and eating my mum's food, I make a point of spending time with them. We're not allowed to answer phones when hanging out, and I'll arrange a special day with either my dad or mum every so often so I have alone time with both of them.


When I was at school, my headmistress gave a us a scary talk (inspired by the teachings of Jane Austen) about how marriage needs more than just love. And boy, was that old harridan right.

Love is wonderful: it's the thing that makes your brain fizz like a glass of Champagne, but when the chips are down, you'd better be sure you have what it takes to go the distance.

For me, this includes trust, kindness and a lot of humour, as well as an understanding that you are on the same page with the big issues from whether you want kids to sharing your responsibilities.

I've also learned that sometimes, what seems like a big issue really isn't, and you have to learn when to pick your battles.

My husband can't fill a dishwasher to save his life and views a television as some mysterious piece of alien technology, but does he unfailingly buy me flowers once a week and picks up the dog poo? Yes he does.


There is a peace and calm that comes with being a career woman in your 30s, something I imagine only gets better as I enter my 40s. I've been made redundant twice and re-hired in the same company since turning 30, and am finally working in a job where I genuinely love what I do.

It doesn't mean there aren't days when I want to crawl under the photocopier and weep, but the important thing is that these are rare. I feel confident in what I do and I feel this informs every other aspect of my work.

It also means that I've started to take mentoring seriously, and I want to be able to empower younger women to get ahead.


I've made leaps and bounds in the last year with regards to self, and I feel the lesson is continuing. When you work for someone like Arianna Huffington whose global message is around burnout and digital overload, it prompts you to do a stock take of your own life.

I somehow went from being a person who literally didn't give two hoots about anything to someone who was gnawed at by anxiety, unable to say no for fear of letting people down.

A heart operation two years ago taught me that I have to slow down even though I am fully recovered, and I have to make more sensible decisions about what I do with my time or burnout is inevitable. Since then, I have made better choices around what I say yes to, explaining to my friends why I can't meet up and trying not to feel guilty about it. It's called JOMO, people - the Joy of Missing Out.

It isn't always easy but I do meditation daily, have banished my phone from my bedroom and on the weekends go for a long cycle ride or a run to banish the cobwebs.

I don't feel like I have all the answers, but I do feel like I am travelling to a place that is more peaceful, restful and in tune with my own body. I feel like with each passing day I'm getting stronger and more capable at handling anything the world can throw at me.

At any rate, I definitely have gotten better at giving presents.