What I learned at 29

by - 2:29 AM

The last year of my twenties has been the most tumultuous, fantastic, scary, amazing, liberating and emotional year of my entire life. 

All images courtesy of Amelia Coffaro 
One year ago right now, I was insanely unhappy. But I had NO clue. I was in denial. The signs were there - the main red flag being the alarmingly emotional reaction I had when my car tire almost blew out on my birthday.

I spent the day crying, with my dog, in the lobby of a Goodyear tire center. At one point on the floor. (My deepest apologies to the men working there that day. I was, for lack of better words, a hot hot mess.)

Someone asked me soon after that - are you truly happy? 

I was surprised. I answered well yes of course. How could I NOT be? I had all of the “things”. You know, the things which were supposed to make you happy - I had a new house in a pristine neighborhood, an adorable dog, a husband, a successful career…I had checked off all of the boxes.


And yet I was unhappy.

But I could not figure out why. So I tried a lot of things - I started exploring new career paths. I made new friendships. I broke off toxic ones. I fell out of love with myself. I made poor life decisions. I decided to escape to Bali. I fell in love again. I quit my job. I started my own business. I learned how to meditate. And I learned the power of unconditional love.

So on the eve of my 30th, I am sharing ten things I have changed or learned over this past year. I hope they inspire, cause you to reflect or possibly try new things in your own life. And please share with me if they do - I am a student and friend first always!

Ten Lessons from 29

#10 - I stopped caring what other people thought. 

This year, I feel like I truly became myself for the first time since childhood. It is the most liberating, exhilarating feeling of my entire adult life.

I finally feel like I have authentic conversations where I don’t fake smile. I don’t ask for others opinions unless I really need their help in a situation. Even typing this a swell of energy goes through my chest and I feel like I can shout out from anywhere in the world - I AM ME - and I would never once care who looked up or what they thought. Because I really and truly do not care.

#9 - I stopped asking for directions.

...and just found my own way. There are so many amazing things I experienced by finding them on my own.

#8 - I stopped asking others for opinions.

Should I call my business this? Should I quit my job and do yoga? Should I become a health coach? (see #7 for what I learned about “should”...) How did I do all this? I developed an attitude of gratitude.

The best part is that feelings of jealousy and materialism have faded into the backdrop. Material things do not carry the same weight for me as they once did, and I feel a genuine happiness for people when they share big life announcements or accomplishments.

#7 - I removed the word “should” from my vocabulary. 

At teacher training, I learned that “should” just means you have created an opinion based on an outside influence - something you believe others or society thinks “should” happen given a certain situation. And when you notice it - and then stop using it - wow. Give it a try for one week, and see how you feel.

#6 - I learned how to listen to other people. 

Really and truly listen. “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” - Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

I have meaningful conversations with people I just met; I find I don’t talk over other people constantly, and avoid conversations that evoke this.

#5 - I decided I would never again make a life decision because everyone else seemed to be doing it. 

(i.e, Marriage. Babies. A bigger house. And whatever other curveballs happen in your 30s)

#4 - I stopped trying to control situations - and let things happen as they are intended to be.

There is a greater plan. We may not know the reasons things happen the way they do until much later. (I like to remind this to my 28 year old self who was sitting on a dock a year ago, crying and asking God why she wasn't getting pregnant.)

#3 - I learned what marriage means.

#2 - I learned how to cultivate my passion into my career.

#1 - I learned how to connect back to my inner self.

I learned I have so much more I want to give, and so much more of a life to live. Essentially, I reconnected to my true self. It was a process, a journey - one which I am still working on every day. 

Everything is a work in progress - you are never “done.” Because then, what would the point be? How could you feel truly satisfied? (hint: you won’t. See: Goodyear tire meltdown.)

Because “things” do not make you happy. Things do not fulfill most of us. Feelings and experiences and emotions - the way you treat people and treat yourself - this is what fulfills us.

But I had to come to this conclusion on my own. I am so grateful for this shift in perspective - this attitude of gratitude - and for the experiences I was able to have over the past year that allowed me the time to reflect and learn so very much about myself.

I am beyond excited for the next chapter - the next decade. The next 30.

And as my dear friend Amelia so eloquently stated when sending me these photos: “What a blessing to be 30.”

Yes. Yes indeed.
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  1. Thanks for sharing your heart,Kat! These are the same things God teaches me EVERY DECADE! You're a fast leaner! Happy 30th sweet daughter in law! Love and blessings, Carolyn

  2. Beautiful awarenesses!! LOVE

  3. Love the insight Kat! Thanks for sharing