For our Work-In-Progress Issue, we talked to women in various stages in life to share their stories of continuously growing, learning, and becoming stronger while gaining more wisdom and grit in this journey we call 'life'.
They say that life truly begins at 30 and that the previous 29 years were just mere training. In a way, it does make sense. We spend our teenage years transitioning into adulthood and leaving our innocent childhood years behind. Then in our 20s, we try to navigate the 'real' world. But by the time we start our third decade on Earth, we're already more or less in tune with who we are, how the world works and our place in it.
For the next instalment of this series, we have Rae of Rae Tries Things to give us a peek at what life is really like in your mid-30s. Read on as she shares the lessons she has learned in life so far and how she found self-acceptance and inner peace.
How different were you 10 years ago?
I was in my mid-twenties a decade ago. I was about to leave my second job and I just broke up with my boyfriend of four years. I remember feeling lost, anxious, and unsure of everything. I didn't know what to do with my life and career. Now, I am generally more at peace with myself and no longer as anxious with life's uncertainties. I also met the love of my life and I’m happily married.
What would you want to change about your past?
If I could turn back time, I would be much kinder to myself. I am scatterbrained, easily distracted, and unorganised. I used to spend so much time ruminating about why my brain works the way it does and wishing I weren’t me. I forced myself to do things the way an innately organised person would. But after learning to love and accept myself, I was able to draw solutions that work for me.
If there's one thing you can tell your younger self, what would it be?
I would tell myself this: "You can't change the things that happened to you and the mistakes you've made. Focus on the present and what you can control."
Rae with her husband
When asked about the things she learned after she turned 35, Rae highlighted the following…
1. If it’s a matter of preference, let it go. I can’t remember from whom I heard this but it saved me from a lot of avoidable arguments. Our finite energy is not best spent fussing over things that don’t really matter.
2. Everyone has their own path. For a time, I tried to comply with societal standards of success, but the more time I spent doing that, the less time I was able to pursue the things that actually make me feel happy.
3. Self-care is not limited to doing feel-good things like getting a facial or shopping. Self-care also includes doing stuff I don't fully enjoy but pays off in the end, like meal prepping, avoiding added sugar, and working out. Right now, I'm the healthiest I've ever been since I turned 30.
4. Take things in perspective and try to see the whole picture. When I'm working on personal projects, I used to beat myself over minor slip-ups. Now, I try to remember to take a step back, because more often than not I will see that overall I'm still going on an upward direction.
5. Buying things on a discount is not saving. You're only saving if money is not coming out of your pocket.
On gaining wisdom
How do you work through the challenges you face?
When I was in elementary school learning multiplication, I thought it was the most difficult thing I could ever encounter — and then I woke up one day realising that I don’t find it as hard anymore. All I remember was I stuck with it and I asked for help from my father.
I'm often reminded of that whenever I'm faced with something challenging. I find that most things are only difficult in the beginning and it is rare to experience something someone else hasn't gone through yet. So I try to shift my focus on just continuing to work on the challenge and asking for help, hoping that tomorrow will be the day I wake up finding that things are easier.
How do you feel about nearing your 40s?
My younger self will not believe I'm saying this but I’m excited about my 40s! I wasn't as adventurous when I was younger because I have a tendency to overthink and make decisions (or just not decide at all) out of fear. This kept me from doing things I haven't done before. In the past several years I have been overcoming it, which means my 40s could only be awesome.
Do you have any goals you want to achieve for the next decade of your life?
I don't have specific goals with defined targets, but I will continue working on two things — health and fitness (both mentally and physically) and tending to my relationships. Everything else is just extra.
Follow Rae's adventures through her blog, Rae Tries Things.
Next, read about how blogger Ena Teo found a clearer path after turning 25.