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Birthday Celebrations and “30 Before 30”

Today is my 29th birthday! I love birthdays and any excuse to celebrate really. I have perhaps loved less the number attached to each subsequent birthday, but the excuse to treat myself and gather all of my favourite people keeps birthdays top of my list of best days of the year. Plus, I’m a summer baby, so that always helps.

To celebrate this birthday, I’ve had a few pre-birthday drinks, a picnic and a visit to Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre with friends earlier this week, and I’m spending today in Tallinn with my sister at the beginning of a 4-day, 2-country visit to Estonia and Finland. Exploring new places is what makes me happiest, so today we’ll be finding our way around Tallinn’s medieval Old Town and maybe having a sauna, before dinner at NOA restaurant just outside of the city (thanks to one of my readers for that tip!)

The photos in this post are from Henley Royal Regatta last weekend and Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. I’ve also recently embraced the magic that is Instagram Stories, and plenty more can be found on my Instagram: @VStuartTaylor.

Birthdays always get me thinking about life and the universe in a broader sense too. I’ve already written about my reflections on 28, so in this post I’m writing about the year to come: the last 365 days of my twenties. Rationally speaking, I can see that “30” is a socially constructed, imaginary concept of time, and that in reality, the sun setting and rising again from one day to the next is not a monumental shift in the grand scheme of a whole lifetime. I’m human though, so I obviously subscribe to the belief that 30 is a significant milestone and moment in time. There are different societal expectations placed on 30-somethings than on 20-somethings (especially if you’re a girl) and success, achievements and life goals are viewed and measured through different frames. I’d happily stay in my twenties forever and I’m in no hurry to grow up or settle down, but part of me does also believe that 30 is a deadline before which I should fit in as much as possible.

So what do I have planned for the last year of my twenties?

A journal

I miss my daily journaling of 2015 and 2017, so I’ve bought a pretty blue Paperchase diary to capture every day of my 29th year. 90-year-old me will have a hoot reading through the diaries I’ve collected over the years, and recognising each and every single day is a proven way to live more in the present and appreciate the moment.

30 before 30

Long-time readers of this blog might wonder: doesn’t she already have enough to-do lists?? Quite possibly, I confess… But I’m adding another one anyway! There’s my pre-30 wishlist, my 2018 travel wishlist, my Londoner list, my 2018 life goals list (that one covers career, finances, health, studies, etc. and is private), and now I’m adding a ’30 before 30′ list… But this one should be easier to achieve and it overlaps with some of the other lists.

The idea behind this list is not to stress myself out too much about the bigger life goals that I know I won’t reach before my 30th birthday, and to instead make sure I’m having fun in the moment and giving my life as much variety as I can. I borrowed the idea from my good friend Ellie, and various friends and family have contributed with ideas for this list:

Explore London

  1. Swim in Hampstead Heath Bathing Ponds
  2. See an opera or ballet at the Royal Opera House
  3. Buy flowers at Columbia Road Flower Market
  4. Eat at Rule’s restaurant (the oldest in London)
  5. Visit London Aquarium
  6. Watch a Sotheby’s or Christie’s auction
  7. Go kayaking on the River Thames

Learn something new

  1. Take a cooking class
  2. Learn how to cook a roast dinner (confession: we rarely ate roasts at home growing up, so I never learned)
  3. Make my own damson vodka (I made a delicious sloe gin a few years ago and I want another sweet spirit to finish off dinner parties)
  4. Try riding a segway
  5. Try boxing
  6. Find out what a ‘barre’ class is and try one
  7. Try meditation or mindfulness (without falling asleep like on previous attempts!)
  8. Do a life-drawing class

Treat myself

  1. Have a spa day (any excuse!)
  2. Make my own ice-cream or sorbet (I used to make lots as a teenager and it became my breakfast staple)

Keep up my languages

  1. Watch or read at least one Italian film / play / show / book
  2. Watch or read  at least one Spanish film / play / show / book
  3. Watch or read  at least one Portuguese film / play / show / book
  4. Improve my French (I’m starting classes with work soon so this should be easy)

Stay active

  1. Go horse-riding
  2. Go sailing
  3. Go skiing
  4. Try wake-boarding
  5. Play squash (which I haven’t touched since school)

Get out of my comfort zone

  1. Do a skydive
  2. Do a bungee jump
  3. Summit Ben Nevis or Scafell Pike
  4. Do a tough mudder

Travels

Beyond this long weekend in Estonia and Finland, I’ve got trips booked to Provence (France), Slovenia and the Philippines this summer. I also want to visit the Middle East this autumn and squeeze in a few more weekends away. Into 2019, I’ll be heading back to Mürren (Switzerland) for a week’s skiing and the annual Inferno race. Apart from that, my travel plans are wide open!

Work & life

Work-wise I’ll finish my current role in March 2019 and move to another government department in London, as yet unknown which one. It sounds odd that I’ll be entering my thirties on a grad scheme! But I’m enjoying the intellectual challenge of the work, so I’m trying not to focus too much on which rung of the ladder I’m on and its height respective to others my age. Quite a few friends my age are also switching careers at the moment, re-training and pivoting into an industry or profession they’re better suited to, so I’m in good company.

I have to confess that it feels odd to know that I don’t have a move abroad on the horizon… The longest I’ve ever lived continuously in London is 18 months and during my Master’s I moved country every 4 months, so in the back of my mind throughout my twenties I’ve always been plotting and planning my next move.

Not having a “next place” to countdown to is a weird sensation and it’s accompanied by a struggle to grapple with the concept of permanency. I’m not ruling out ever living abroad again, as I would still like to, but for the next few years I’ve decided to prioritise my career and life in London, over the thrill of always jumping from new place to new place.

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So now I will leave it here and start celebrating my birthday and next adventure on the east shore of the Baltic Sea. Here’s to the last year of my twenties and all the birthday celebrations ahead!

Is there anything else you’d have suggested for my 30 before 30 list? Have you done anything similar before? Or do you have any tips for Tallinn or Helsinki?

9 Comments »

  1. This sounds like a great list and you have lots to look forward to… I actually work at Christie’s so if I can help you to get to an auction please do get in touch! I’ve read your blog for many years (starting on my own year abroad in Milan and Valencia) and your adventures always inspire me. xx

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    • Thank you so much Emily – I haven’t yet organised my trip to an auction (nor do I really know how) so I will email you now! And so glad to hear you enjoy my blog, and that you also had a year abroad in Italy and Spain – a winning combination!

      Like

  2. Great idea to have a 30 before 30 list and you’ve got a wide range of activities and goals in there. Not sure about the sky-dive and languages but good luck for each and every one. i did the same thing for my 30th and then again for my 40th so know what a good thing it is to do.

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  3. Exploring Tallinn sounds like a good way to ring in a birthday! Hope you had a lovely day. I just hiked Ben Nevis last weekend (it was the last of the three peaks on my list), and noticed it was much busier up there than it is up Scafell Pike. I’d recommend getting an early start if you don’t fancy battling through the crowds armed with walking poles! P.S. There’s definitely no such thing as too many to-do lists 🙂

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