02/04/2015 05:56 EST | Updated 04/06/2015 05:59 EDT

13 Things I've Learned As I Turn 30

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It's hard to believe it's already February, and as 2015 rolls on it's getting closer and closer to a milestone birthday for me. In just under three months, it's the big 3-0!

I'm in a great place in my life and I'm so excited to turn 30. I wouldn't give back my twenties for anything. Although those years were fun, there were a lot of lessons I had to learn the hard way.

Here are some of those lessons learned.

1. People come and go but real friends stay

"Stay in touch! Let's go for coffee some time!" You know the drill -- a coworker of yours is leaving for another job. You get along so well and you're sure you'll both keep to your promise. But time rolls on and you lose touch. It happens. I once read that people enter our lives for a reason (to teach us something), a season (a period of time when we are in a certain place) or, in very fortunate circumstances, a lifetime. I've learned to treasure those who stay.

2. Your health is important. Look after it.

Whether it's the health of those we care about or through our own experience with illness, I learned the importance of my health a couple years before I turned 30. The bottom line is, if I want to live for a long time and also have quality of life, I can't guzzle cheap pop and scarf down 10c instant noodles and expect to be running around full of beans. I've learned to exercise daily and focus on nutrition - not desperately exciting advice, but it works.

3. Your parents were right

There's a social media phenomenon called Sh*t My Dad Says. I honestly wish I had thought of that because my Dad has come out with more pearls of wisdom that I can remember. I've learned that our parents offer us so many life lessons, and if we stop rolling our eyes and muttering "I know, I know" for a second, we can really benefit from their insights.

4. Your teachers at high school were not

You know that John Meyer song? "Welcome to the real world she said to me condescendingly. Take a seat. Take your life. Plot it out in black and white." While I'm no big fan of the American crooner, there's something about that line that stuck with me. I truly believe that many of my high school teachers gave the best counsel they could, but they could only give advice on living a life staying inside the lines because that's what they knew. And frankly, it just wasn't for me.

5. Being popular in high school is not the advantage you think it is

Admittedly I say this from the perspective of a former bullied teen. I used to think that the cool kids in school were starting out in the world with a huge advantage. But as I've traveled the world and traversed the corporate jungle, I've found many successful business leaders were not captain of the football team. Sometimes, facing hardship early in life turns into your greatest advantage.

6. Nothing is certain

Don't count your chickens, or so the saying goes. It's true that nothing in life is certain, and while you can plan diligently and prepare yourself for every eventuality, you can be blind-sided by loss, sickness, trauma and other unexpected life events. As random and unfair as it seems as the time, it all holds a lesson and an opportunity for growth.

7. Relationships are an assignment

I learned that all relationships, no matter how awful they were at the time, happen for a reason. They carry a lesson, which we will learn only if we are willing to look honestly at ourselves and get uncomfortable with the truth of why we make certain choices. It's not pretty, but it's worth it if we want to improve and become a better person.

8. Partying has no mileage whatsoever

"Woo hooooooo! Shots!!" -- okay, I was never a "Woo Girl" but you get the picture. Nights out partying were (mostly) fun in my early twenties, but they gave me nothing but hangovers, regret and a hole in my wallet where $50 once sat. After some soul-searching, I decided to ditch partying in favour of a purpose-driven life. I'm now three years clean and sober.

9. Your purpose gives you clues along the way. Listen carefully.

At the very peak of my time on the Manchester party scene, there was a glimmering light that didn't make sense to me at the time -- every winter I would watch The X Factor in the UK. It was an annual tradition, and it would fill me with so much joy and excitement. Was it because I had secret ambitions to win a recording contract? Nope. I would later learn it's because I love seeing people face fear, overcome adversity and follow their dreams. It lights me up like nothing else out there.

10. Not everyone has your back

This one's a little sucky, but in some cases it's true. Growing up in a small town in England and moving to the bright lights of Vancouver when I was just 18, I was trusting to the point of being embarrassingly naïve. I soon learned to apply a healthy dose of skepticism to my encounters with people who seemed just a little too keen. Rule of thumb -- seems too good to be true? It probably is.

11. Travel while you can

I'm so grateful that I decided to travel when I was younger and free from the commitments of adulthood. Between the ages of 18 and 20 I travelled throughout Canada, the US, Australia and Dubai, finally settling on the Great White North as my permanent home. I'm now a proud Canadian Citizen (British-Canadian, to be exact) and I've called Vancouver home for six years. I reminisce on my backpacker days fondly. Some of the people I met on that journey are still my friends today.

12. When someone shows you their true colours, don't try to repaint them

What's that phrase - "If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and acts like a duck, it's probably a duck." It's so simple it's almost funny. And it's true. What I've learned is that people give us clues - sometimes glaringly obvious ones - about their character. So if someone jokingly quips, "OMG, I'm such a b*tch," believe them. It will save you a lot of grief in the long run.

13. You always have a choice. Always.

"Oh but I HAVE to" used to be my mantra. In my early twenties I felt so obligated to other people that I almost forgot I could make a choice. I've learned that if you don't want to do something, don't do it. Don't promise to see someone you don't like and do something that makes you miserable. Be honest. That way, you'll have more time for all the awesome adventures life has to offer.


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