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  • Writer's pictureJessica Stough

30 Before 30, A Letter to My Younger Self – Part 2

“Cause sometimes you just feel tired; Feel weak and when you feel weak; You feel like you wanna just give up; But you gotta search within you; Try to find that inner strength and just pull that sh*t out of you; And get that motivation to not give up; And not be a quitter, no matter how bad; You wanna just fall flat on your face and collapse.” – Eminem

Has it officially set in that I will be thirty in less than two months? Yes. In fact, as I write this sentence, I have a countdown on my phone that is reminding me that I am only 1 month, 2 weeks, 1 day, and 3 hours from the big 3-0. Am I bothered by it yet? No, and honestly, I don’t think I will be.

I think we all have our “what ifs,” our “should’ve / could’ve / would’ve” situations, our regrets, and our thoughts on how we would do things differently if we had the chance to go back. Honestly, I don’t have a lot of them myself. That’s not to say I am perfect (because I most certainly am not).

It is to say that I am a firm believer that each decision we’ve made in our past has shaped us to be our present selves. Each and every fork in our life’s road has brought us to where we are, made us who we are, and allowed for us to live life to our fullest in this exact moment. In addition, I just don’t feel that there is ever any reason to dwell on the past, as it simply cannot be changed.

Plus, in addition to the countdown to 30, I have countdowns for our next vacation and the next Buzz Run on my phone. Why would I dwell on the past or whine about turning 30 when I have so much to look forward to? Now, let’s delve into the second half of my thirty before thirty.


30 Before 30, In No Particular Order – Part 2

  • Learn to love the art of running. Find your niche early on. As someone who just preached “no regrets,” this would be the only thing that I would try to re-direct my younger self to. I was so caught up in thinking I wasn’t good enough, fast enough, or talented enough to run that I never thought to try anything other than ninth grade track. Spoiler alert: I hated it and quit after that one season – but! I love running now. I truly believe had I been exposed to a different kind of running (maybe cross country or even road races) back then, I would’ve found the love of running so much earlier on in life. Instead, I thought track was the only version of running and hated it for years.

  • Follow your dreams. This, seriously, sounds so cheesy – but it is so true! There are so many people out there that are just scared. They’re worried people will judge. They’re worried they’re not good enough (hey, look – that’s me with running in high school!). They’re worried they won’t succeed. I’m here to say that no matter the amount of fear holding you back, just do it. Delve into starting that race. Write that book. Start that blog. Open that business. Do it. Maybe it’ll flop, or maybe it will turn into something beautiful, but you will never know if you don’t first follow those dreams.

  • Keep exploring. I mean this in two ways. First, think about the obvious travel sense of exploring. Find new places, eat new foods, engulf yourself with new cultures. Also, though, think about exploring in life. You’ve never played guitar, but kind of want to? Explore that. You want to take a self-defense class? Get in there. You want to go back to school? Hell yeah, educate yourself. Do you remember the very first thing I mentioned in my 30 before 30? Nothing good ever came from the comfort zone, so get out there and explore the uncomfortable things.

  • Trust your gut. If ever there was something on this list that could literally save your life, it is this one. Typically, following your gut isn’t life-or-death, but it honestly can be. I’ve learned over the years to listen to what my gut has to say. I’ve had to make some difficult decisions because of it, but I’ve always found that once the dust settled in those situations, it was for the better. If you have that weird feeling in your gut, follow it.

  • Love deeply. I know, I know, cheese alert over here. Because of that, I’ll leave this one short. Just be sure to soak up all of the people in your life that you love and that love you. This doesn’t just mean significant others or family. Love your friends, love your people. Emotions are meant to be felt, so feel them fully.

  • Quality over quantity – you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most of your time with. Make sure that the tribe of people you do surround yourself with are your people. If you surround yourself with a bunch of people who don’t have aspirations, who sit around and wait for things to come their way – I hate to break it to you, but you’re going to be doing the same. However, if you make sure to spend time with people who have their priorities straight, those that care about their friends, work, and hobbies – you’ll be more like them. Positivity breeds positivity, so make sure to surround yourself with positive friends and people who will help push you to be the best version of you.

  • People will come and go. Those five people you surround yourself with will change, and there is no stopping it. You may have some that stick around for years and years, you may have some who will be there forever, but you most likely will also have some that aren’t in your circle long. That’s okay. Be sure to remember the good times, appreciate what you’ve gotten from them while they were in your life, and continue to see the good. Don’t get hung up on those that have left – if they’re meant to be there, they will be.

  • Live life with no regrets. I mentioned this earlier already, but it truly is something that can make or break a person’s spirit. I just don’t feel that there is ever any reason to dwell on the past. It's over and done, so focus on the present and future instead.

  • Learn from your mistakes. Although it is important not to dwell, use anything that might be a “negative” from your past as a learning opportunity. You’ll be an even better version of you for it (and especially be better off not getting stuck in the past).

  • Enjoy the journey, but also enjoy the destination. I hear too often that life is about the journey, not the destination. Although I agree that the journey is important, the destination needs some love too! If it didn’t, we would not ever be able to sit back and enjoy where we are today. I love my life as it is (my current “destination”), but that doesn’t mean I’m not still on a journey to make it even better. Sit back and remember how great everything is every once in a while, even as the journey continues.

  • Jealousy is not worth the energy. This one is hard for me. She has this, he has that, I wish that were me – we all know the drill, and we’ve all had that thought about someone at some point. When I find myself jealous of someone’s looks, talent, or whatever, I remind myself of two things. One, I’m not competing with them. I’m competing with my previous self, but no one else. And two, there is probably something else going on that no one else will ever know. That one thing I’m jealous of is just one thing about them – it’s not the whole picture. If I knew their entire story, their whole picture, I may honestly not be jealous anymore. Love the life you're in. Love your own journey and destination – don't get hung up on someone else's.

  • Climb those mountains. Seriously, the best views come after the hardest climbs. I believe this to be true in both life and … in climbing mountains. If we don’t push ourselves to do the hard things, we won’t ever get to see the beauty of what can come of it.

  • You can’t be everyone’s cup of tea. I found this on a Facebook post, of all things, not too long ago. The thought that everyone has a different favorite flavor of tea (or coffee, or pop, or whatever) really stuck with me. We can try so hard to make sure everyone likes us. We can worry so much about what others think of us. However, there are always going to be people that don’t like us or think poorly of us. There’s no reason to pretend to be something we aren’t or act differently than we do naturally. We might as well have the people who truly love us for who we are be those that stick around, right?

  • It’s okay to say no. I’m still working on saying no. As a self-proclaimed people-pleaser, I have a really hard time doing this. I will agree to a get-together or a situation because someone else wants it of me, even if that’s not truly what I want to do. This year, I’ve really been trying to stop and think about things before I agree to them. Do I really want to go do that thing or see that person, or am I just doing it because I feel obligated to do so? If the answer is that I really want to do it, I say yes. If it is just that I feel obligated, I’m working hard to make ‘no’ my response more often.

  • There is always room for improvement. I think back to the person I was in high school, and I think about who I am now. Heck, I even think about the person I was 5, 10 years ago compared to who I am today. I’ve changed and improved so much over the years. It can be easy to just become stagnant and be okay with where we are, but if we remember that there is always room for improvement, we can constantly continue to grow.


My thirties are definitely knocking on the door, and they’ll be here before I know it. With the things that I’ve learned in my life up until this point, though, I am confident that my thirties will be better than the previous decades. I can’t wait to roll right into 30, and see what it, and the upcoming decade, have to offer.

First up on the to-do list, finishing up the planning for our next trip. What better way is there to roll into my 30s than by hopping on a plane the very next day? I really can't think of any, so bring it on, thirty!

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