By Laura Marshall

Very soon I will turn the big 3-0. And though the cliche is that everything goes downhill from here, the truth is I’m looking forward to putting my 20s behind me and embracing my 30s. Before I do, I’d like to take a moment and reflect on all the good times I had and all the important life-lessons I learned over the last ten years.

I know there’s lots of these “things I learned in my 20s, 30s, 40s, etc.” posts. But I’m going to subject you to one more. So, without further ado, here’s 15 things I learned in my 20s.

1 – How To Visit Art Galleries And Appreciate Art

This one is something I only learned very recently on a trip to Amsterdam with Helen. While I enjoyed wandering art galleries before, there was always this expectation that great works of art are, well, great. And therefore that you must appreciate it. But when we visited the Rijksmuseum, with the help of their exhibit Art Is Therapy, I realized that I don’t have to appreciate the great stuff. Or even see it all. What I should appreciate is what speaks to me. Don’t waste hours staring at every single painting, but find what interests you, what inspires you, what you think is great art. Not what someone else tells you is great art.

2 – Red Is Better

For me at least. It’s not for everyone. But I’ve spent all of my 20s being a redhead and it has become a part of my identity. There’s no way I’d go back to being blonde.

3 – How To Live Alone

I was very lucky to have spent most of my 20s living with Helen. But there were times when she moved from Guelph to Toronto, and Toronto to England where I had to learn how to live by myself. And it can be scary. You get lonely. You get lazy. And strange noises make you think someone is going to break in. But it’s also fun to spend one-on-one time with yourself. I just keep the TV on (a lot) to drown out the scary noises.

4 – How To Move To Another Country…

…with no friends, no family, and no support network. The day I moved to Edinburgh was exciting. It was also terrifying. I didn’t know anyone and (though you may not believe it) I am terribly shy. But it was also one of the best years of my life and I wouldn’t be the same without my friends from Mylne’s Court. Together we explored Europe, ate turkey, and I got to introduce them to the joys of Buffy and Doctor Who!

5 – What I’m Passionate About

Disclaimer here, what I’m passionate about still changes. It’s not always the same thing year after year. But, I did find the type of career I want – marketing. Even what I want to do specifically in marketing is still changing. You don’t always have to be passionate about the same thing, but let the passion drive you.

6 – How To Let Friends Go

This one may make me sounds callous, but there comes a time in your life when you need to say goodbye to friends. These can be friends that aren’t good for you anymore, or friends that aren’t really the friends you thought they were. But your time and energy is a precious thing. Don’t use it up on people who aren’t your friends.

7 – How To Travel On My Own

This one is super scary. And even though I had travelled a lot before, the first time on my own I was incredibly nervous. But now I don’t flinch or get nervous going through customs, going through airports, and navigating my way through new countries.

8 – How To Take Public Transit

I grew up in Sarnia where public transit didn’t seem to exist. When I moved to Toronto my eyes were opened to a whole new way to travel. And it took some time navigate the intricate connection of subways, streetcars, and busses. I was so happy the first time I took the subway in Toronto, by myself, and got where I wanted to go!

9 – How To Get Over My Introvert Tendencies

I’m shy. Yes, yes, I’m sure a lot of you out there are thinking “really? No way!” But I am. I am nervous in situations where I have to meet new people and I get very quiet. Before every convention, even when I know lots of people there, I still get nervous and scared. I have to force myself to leave the hotel room on the first day. I have learned how to force myself to be an extrovert, even when I’m not.

10 – How To Do The Things That Scare Me

Don’t get me wrong. I still struggle to do things that scare me. Helen once said to me “If you’re scared then it’s probably something worth pushing yourself to do.” And she’s right. I mean, how else would I have used a water jetpack if I didn’t push myself?

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