12 things I learnt over 31 years

When I was younger, I kept hearing about the magical switch from your 20s to your 30s. The rumours included caring less about what others think about you, being more self-assured, being unapologetic about who and what you choose to spend your time on and owning your space in your career. 

I’m turning 31 today, and I can confirm that the rumours are true.

Today I wanted to share with you some of the things I learnt over the past 31 years of my life.

Buying a house is challenging

I think most of us grew up thinking we need to follow a certain trajectory to live fulfilling lives. Part of that trajectory is buying a house, but no one really prepares you for the costs involved. 

Before we bought our place, I was convinced that I’d only need to put down a deposit and take out a loan. I was wrong. There were transfer fees, lawyers’ fees and all kinds of hidden costs that quickly added up to thousands of rands. Not to mention the moving costs and all the DIY we had to do once we were in.

I’m here to tell you that if you can’t afford to do this yet, don’t beat yourself up about it. You’re on your own journey, whether that means renting or buying a little investment property until you can afford to buy your dream home. There’s no need to feel pressurised. You just need to do what makes financial sense to you.

No one actually grows up

When I was in high school, I thought people over the age of 30 were so grown up. This is so far from the truth. No one ever really grows up, and the older you get, the more obvious it becomes. You will still play Sims, watch Harry Potter, buy sweets, save up for a PlayStation… only now you have more responsibilities. 

Intimacy is so much more than getting physical

Intimacy is a kiss on the forehead, holding hands, feeling safe and cherished. Some evenings JP tucks me in, and that feeling of safety and being loved so dearly is so incredibly intimate. 

Intimacy tweet

Tweet by @saintleeuw

Saving is your friend

From a young age, my parents taught me to save. This carried on into my adult years, when I started my first official job and I immediately opened a unit trust to squirrel money away each month. I remember despising those debit orders, but today I’m so grateful that I persevered. Saving has taught me independence, goal-setting and planning, as well as the value of goods. My savings have come in handy when unexpected expenses cropped up, as well as the big moments like buying my first car. 

Saving looks different for everyone, but whatever you can afford will make a difference the day you need it.

Explore popular things before dismissing them

There was a time when I was younger, where I thought I was too cool to like things everyone else liked. It makes me cringe to think about it, but I think it’s a natural part of growing up. I remember not wanting to read A Thousand Splendid Suns because the whole world was going on about it. I finally read it last year and it was one of the most incredible, heart-wrenching, beautifully written books that truly enriched my life. 

Moral of the story, not liking things for the sake of not liking them won’t make you any cooler.

Stay true to yourself in a relationship

When you’re in a relationship, it is easy to take on your partner’s personality and habits as your own. It is important to keep enjoying your hobbies and interests, even if they don’t align with your partner’s interests. Say, for example, you like going to the beach, but your partner doesn’t. Get a group of friends together and hit the beach with them. Don’t give up on it just because you can’t go with your partner. Just as it is important to spend time with your partner, it’s also important to be able to spend time away from them. 

There is a type of exercise for everyone

When I was in high school, I convinced myself I just wasn’t an ‘exercise person’. I wasn’t particularly good at any sports, I didn’t enjoy jogging and I always struggled to motivate myself. In my early 20s, I started changing the narrative by going for long walks on the promenade after work. I then tried pole dancing and yoga, and eventually joined a gym. I found that I actually enjoyed going to the gym, because I can just put my headphones in and do my own thing. 

As I mentioned in one of my previous blog posts, I love hikes and pilates. High school Anja would have never believed you if you had to tell her I’d turn out this way, but I had to try so many things to find what I liked. If you are someone who doesn’t enjoy exercise but want to start changing your lifestyle, I recommend trying as many things as possible to find what you like. And don’t listen to the naysayers who will try to tell you that certain exercises aren’t enough, if you’re moving you’re winning. 

Therapy is your friend

There is no greater act of self-love than therapy. 

Self-help books actually work 

I have found so much wisdom, motivation and comfort in self-help books. Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck was one of my first ventures into the self-help world, but I absolutely despised it. For a while I thought all self-help books were that obnoxious until I read The 4 Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz which was so beautifully written and inspiring. If you find yourself stuck in a rut, try finding a book that inspires you. I like to read self-help books before bedtime, which calms my mind and helps when I struggle with sleeplessness. 

With True Friendship, You Don’t Even Need to Speak Every Day

I have friends who I speak to every other day, and friends I speak to every other month. Both are equally strong. As you grow older, your friendships become stronger, too. You also become more selective about who and what you choose to spend your energy on, which might result in a much smaller group of friends, but ones who will have your back no matter what.

Tweet by @yumiikazi

Enjoy every phase of your life

As a type-A personality, I am extremely goal-orientated, so I am always looking ahead and planning for the future. This has often caused me to miss out on the present. I think it’s so important to focus on enjoying the now while you look forward to the future, and to be careful of trying to expedite your life. 

Adopting a rescue will change your life

I was obsessed with getting a Sighthound from the day I laid eyes on Jenna Marbles’ dogs. When JP and I met, I told him about it and he was on the fence until we saw the most beautiful greyhound rescue on the promenade one day. A few years later, we bought our house, and we lived it in it for a year before getting a dog. In 2018, we adopted Maya from Sighthound Rescue and it changed our lives forever. Knowing that she has a better life now, and seeing how she’s helped us to live better too, is just truly amazing. If you ever needed a sign to adopt, this is it.

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A post shared by Anja Wintour (@anjawintour)

Now that you’ve read some things that I’d learnt over the past 30 years, what have you learnt? I’d love to hear! 

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