Life Update: The Big 30
I recently turned 30 and wanted to write down some of my key lessons. I was pretty scared of that number, but now I’m getting used to it. I realized that it’s nothing scary about being 30 years old. It’s the same as it was; the only difference is the number. Comparing it to my 20th birthday, being 30 is much more awesome. I don’t know if this is how I see things, but my face looks exactly the same as in my early 20s. I look the same, but I feel different. I have to say that I feel so much better.
I was born very weak and with many health problems. I had asthma, allergies to everything, all kinds of dermatitis, chronic sinus infection, constant constipation, juvenile myoclonic seizures, fainting, and insomnia in my teens. All these problems were present in my childhood, my teens, and some in my 20s. I got rid of almost everything, or they are infrequent and disappear quickly. For context, I am not on any meds. So that means I healed naturally. With lots of running, hiking and stress-reducing, I was able to heal my respiratory system almost completely. Running, hiking, and other outdoor activities helped me strengthen my lungs. Asthma just disappeared; I didn’t even notice when. But I know I was asthma free at the age of 13-14. But asthma and allergies were not my only problem. Other problems were probably caused by stress. The school was causing me a lot of stress, mostly because of math; also, I wouldn’t say I liked sports because it was causing my asthma seizures. I hated running in school, but I loved running alone. I also had a lot of stress at home since I didn’t have my own room, and I was never able to relax in silence and peace. The stress cycle was never-ending, I didn’t even realize that at the time, but now I can see that clearly. That non-stop stress caused my insomnia, dermatitis, anxiety, and juvenile myoclonic seizures with fainting on top. These problems started in my teens and followed me into my mid-20s. I got rid of those after I removed all the stress factors from my life. These seizures, btw, are life-threatening. I broke my finger, dislocated my shoulder multiple times, and had severe prolonged lasting headaches because of them.
I realized that the seizures were gone not long after I completed my Masters’s program, rented a studio apartment with my partner, and started freelancing. All these decisions and events led me to better health, and good health is the foundation of everything.
I was 22 when I first moved out of my parents’ apartment. I thought this would remove at least one of my stress factors, but unfortunately, I soon realized that my boyfriend at the time was abusive. My anxiety went through the roof that year, and I had the worst year with my seizures and fainting episodes. My anxiety was severe at that time. In the first minute I woke up, I felt such pressure and nervousness in my stomach and lungs as you would feel before some public speaking event or a dentist’s appointment. I felt like that all day long and usually also all night because I had severe insomnia at the time too. After a year of suffering, I moved back with my parents. I actually got a room just for me for six months because my older sister was staying in Belgium. My anxiety melted like ice cream on a hot summer day. Unfortunately, this didn’t last long because I had to share my room again. Once again, I had zero privacy and no time to relax in peace and quiet.
I was running outside a lot and sitting at the nearest park just to be alone and in peace. I also fell in love with a narcissist that year, so that didn’t help me either! I ended it as soon as I realized what type of person he was. It was very hard, I was still 100% in love with him when I broke up with him, but I knew this relationship was only making me suffer. But every experience can teach us something. I learned something very important from that relationship. I learned that the feeling we call ”butterflies in the stomach” is not love. This is simply anxiety mixed with excitement and adrenaline. This feeling only means that we are not compatible with that person. Differences in our energies are causing that strong unpleasant feeling in the stomach area.
Not long after I ended things with Mr. Narcisist, I started to hang out more with one of my male friends. I actually don’t have any very close male friends, I prefer my girls for that role, but I still like to hang with my male buddies. The energy connection with that friend felt different, and the touch felt like a warm hug for my soul. I acknowledged that this is love. Love should feel warm and safe in your heart and not like an emotional rollercoaster. I don’t know what I thought when I thought that love should feel like some crazy risky, unsafe drive on a broken rollercoaster.
What I wanted to say with this is that it is extremely important what kind of partner we choose. Parter should be caring and supportive, and he/she should definitely not be the cause of your anxiety.
After a year or two, I rented a studio apartment with my current partner. That was also the year when I completed college. To be exact, it was 2019. With these events, my two major stress factors were gone. I was done with school, done with abusive boyfriends, and finally had my own space. But there was another thing to take care of. I needed to find a new job with these elevated costs of living. I was still working at the local electronic music club as a photographer, which was fine as a student job but definitely not enough to cover my rent and other living expenses. With all my health problems, I was anxious about starting a corporate job. I was just in the middle of building my website and updating my resume when covid happened. So the opportunity to go to job interviews was practically gone. I didn’t have any income since the club where I was working as a photographer had closed its door. I didn’t have the time to wait until the lockdown was over, so I started thinking about freelancing. I remember how motivated I was. I signed up for almost every existing freelancing platform and started taking one gig at a time. My freelancing business took off quickly, and I could soon cover all of my living expenses with freelance money and also save a ton! This was the final decision and event that balanced my health and body for the first time in my life. Running my own business is a big factor that helped me overcome my health problems. Having a supportive partner is a big factor as well. If I wanted the freelance business to work out, I needed to work for 8 hours too. I was at home, but I was working. This is something that your partner needs to understand. I am not a stay-at-home mom, I am self-employed and work from home 8 hours a day. Your partner needs to support you in your unconventional career decision. This doesn’t mean he/she expects you to do all the household work because you were at home all day. You will do it together after you both finish work. Or you can divide tasks. For example, food is a big pain in the ass because you have to eat every day. We go grocery shopping together because it is easiest to carry all the stuff back home. I am the one who cooks, and he is the one who does the dishes. We both like it this way. I love cooking, and I don’t mean to brag, but I’m pretty good at it. On the other hand, I hate hate hate doing the dishes. And this is how you achieve balance. I could not run a business if he wanted me to do all the household work alone. It’s simply impossible. Being my own boss and not being supervised is a significant factor that is beneficial for my health. Having my own rhythm and managing my own time is also major for my well-being.
So here we are now. I consciously removed all the major stress factors from my life. Without any meds, my anxiety is gone, insomnia is gone, dermatitis is gone, and juvenile myoclonic seizures are gone. It turned out that all that was needed for me to heal was to remove the stress factors from my life. It is extremely important for me to have my own space. My partner goes to work at 7 am and comes home at 5 pm. This alone time is so essential for my well-being. It is major to have this work-life balance figured out. For example, I work 4 hours in the morning and 4 hours in the evening. I take a 2-3 hour break in between to go hiking or running and to have brunch and another cup of coffee. It is very unhealthy to sit behind the computer for 8 hours straight. Dividing the workday into two is one way to increase your well-being.
Being your own boss and running your own business is definitely extremely challenging. Don’t get me wrong, it becomes easy with years, but when you’re first starting out, it’s hell. When I started freelancing and selling my art, I felt very challenged by time management. You know what I mean. We spend all of our childhood, teens, and early 20s in the education system. This means that other people are managing our time. We have to be somewhere at a specific time, and we have to do something at the exact time. If we like it or not, we have to! If you urgently need that extra hour of sleep, you can’t get it! School is just preparing us for corporate jobs, so we can be obedient workers until we retire. So after our years in education, we get used to the fact that other people are in control of our time. When you start your own business, you face the challenge of managing your own time. It can be hard at first, and some people get depressed for the first few months because of the lack of productivity. And when we are not productive, we don’t feel good about ourselves. When you’re your own boss, you have to create your own tasks; there is no school or boss to tell you what to do. This can be challenging. As a business owner, you have to set goals and timelines. What helps me with time management the most is a good old planner. A good planner is a real game-changer. I like to use hybrid techniques for time management and productivity tools. I find a combination of analog and digital tools extremely helpful for my business. To keep track of my orders and commissions, I use google tasks! I tried many other digital tools for business owners, but none worked out. I love google tasks because you can pin an email related to your task. I prefer using a physical planner for events, appointments, meetings, deadlines, and other time-specific tasks.
I also use my planner for setting my morning routines, my physical and mental health activities, travel planning, and other activities. I created this planner to increase productivity, set goals, get the most out of 24 hours, to control mental and physical health. If you’re like me, this planner will support you through your daily life.