What to know about your Thirties

What you need to know about life in your thirties… reflections on turning 33

In How I got Here, Living Abroad by CarlyLeave a Comment

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August 23rd, 2017. I awoke in a small stuffy tent, on the banks of one of the largest lakes in central Asia, just after sunrise. Before the mosquitoes and sandflies joined us, but after the pink fairyfloss sky of the earliest morning.

Issy Kul Lake Kyrgyzstan

Thirty-two years old dawned bright, but that day, that trip, wasn’t easy, there were super high highs and challenging lows, which really set the tone for the year ahead.

I pushed myself to wake up in Kyrgyzstan for last years birthday, and this last year, on reflection, has been all about that push and pull of the thirst for new adventure, and need to maintain a solid base and listen to what my heart and body needs.

Vienna Districts Guide - where you should live in Vienna Austrian Adaptation

Thirty-two has been a year of revelations, of really getting to know myself and finding that I could take responsibility for my place in the world and meaningful contributions to it. It has been wild, and difficult and inspiring and incredibly motivating and frustrating at the same time.

I don’t have ’32 life lessons from turning 32′ to share today – if anything, I’ve learned this year that those lessons can turn on a dime.

But I do have a lot to be grateful for over the last year. A wealth of experiences and privilege that I’m appreciative of, and so today here’s what I love about being in my thirties, and why I’m so looking forward to the next year ahead rocking this decade

Why your Thirties are better than any other decade

You give so little  f*cks what anyone thinks

The best, most satisfying part of my week these days, is coming home on a Friday night from Vienna city centre, normally at the very-reasonable hour of 10-11pm and seeing twenty-somethings milling on station platforms, awkwardly trying to impress each other, to pull off that outfit, to fit in.

The satisfying part isn’t revelling in their struggle – but its knowing that is behind me, that I don’t have to go to the clubs (that I never really liked) in clothes that aren’t quite me, to impress boys I know don’t appreciate me for my brain.

Ellmau Tyrol Austrian Adaptation

Knowing I have a cosy bed and book awaiting at home AND that I don’t need to go somewhere cool to impress other people or ‘keep up’.

God bless your thirties for the confidence to say ‘No’ to shit you don’t enjoy doing, because you no longer give AF what people think.

Oh, and this book from Mark Manson definitely helped me give less fucks. Try it for yourself!

You know your personal limits & set your professional boundaries

This can also be filed under ‘learning to say no to shit you don’t like’ but in a slightly different way. I’m talking about finally defining, setting and communicating your boundaries in work, family relationships and friendships.

In your twenties you’ll say Yes to everything, trying to run around and be the perfect daughter, bestest-best friend, dream employee and all around gold-star human.

In your thirties, you know what you are capable of, know your value and can definitively state your worth and personal limits.

That negative Nancy friend who always drags you down? No longer getting the guilts about not calling her.

That family obligation that really drives you up the wall or takes away from your own family time at home on a Sunday night? Setting expectations on that one, now. See ya once a month!

That colleague that keeps asking you to ‘help’ on a project or task by dumping it on your desk and taking the glory? Nuh-uh – you know the game now and are focussing your energy on delivering and working on things that light you up inside.

For me, my thirties have brought clarity around what is (and isn’t) worth my time, personally and professionally. 

Making me reflect on what things I do out of habit and obligation, and what is actually delivering value to my happiness and contribution to the world.

It might sound selfish, but giving your total, full energy to something you believe in and WANT to do, is so much more satisfying than half-assing a bunch of shit out of obligation.

And the funny thing is – people don’t hate you for setting your own boundaries, as long as you are honest and upfront about the reasons why, without being hurtful.

‘Sorry I can’t make it to your underground  cave rave sponsored by a dirtbike company, I’m just not into that, but can I shout you a coffee at this amazing brunch spot next week?’ is a thousand times better than going to said rave, being grumpy and not yourself.

Viva la thirties & old lady life.

You know what works for your body

You’ve figured out that high waisted skirts are never going to work, hippie 70’s kaftans or 60’s shift dresses will always look like potato sacks with your proportions, and preppy headbands are cute on Blair Waldorf but look absurd when you try.

You’ve figured out your style, outgrown fast-fashion trends (hopefully by supporting more sustainable brands) and know before trying something on whether it will work on your body or not.

This goes for health too – you know that creamy pastas will sit badly on you for days, that your skin shines when you nourish it with green vegetables and sleep, and that walking instead of driving, cycling and incidental exercise really does make a difference on the ‘ole waistline.

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Cake and coffee always works

You’ve learned the hard way which hangover cures are needed depending on severity of the night before – dried almonds for a dire day, salt & vinegar chips for mediocre and on lightly seedy mornings a chocolate croissant and an aspirin will do the job.

You also know how to dodge those hangovers, with slightly better wine, and 1-2 quality cocktails instead of 7 sugar bombs made of questionable contents.

So while your day to day life (still!) feels like a shambles in your thirties, at least the basics are coming together in your  – hangover survival, basic health and style!

Being a lame-ass dork is totally fine

I have absolutely no shame in owning up to the things that make me a total nerd burger these days. Any illusions of being ‘cool’ I ever held are long gone, and I can freely admit to the following:

  • Ke$ha is my one true girl-pop love, and I’ve definitely rocked out to her entire discography more than I ever did to Beyonce. (But, guys, she collaborated with Iggy Pop! And Dolly Parton! And shitloads of awesome rock legends!)
  • Historical fiction is my JAM, preferably with romantical or dramatic overtones, and obviously the greatest book of all time is Outlander – the ultimate historical fiction drama epic novel series.
  • I’d rather get up at 6am in the morning for Yoga and writing, than stay out ’til midnight to visit a trendy club
  • Yes, I do happen to know the historical background of the Hapsburgs rule over most of Europe for 700 years and I will tell you about it anytime we pass a palace – I will also squee like a 12 year old on arriving at said castle.
Stockholm if you're uncool Austrian Adaptation Carly Hulls

Clearly I’m being way super cool here

You take the life lessons from everyday things – not movies, books and TV

Once upon a time I would have looked to fiction, rom-coms and drama TV series to figure out if I was ‘on track’ in life. But nowdays I’ve recognised that (duh) lessons come from your everyday experiences – none more so than travel and pushing your boundaries.

What did I learn in the last year?


That sometimes the adventure you planned for, teaches you lessons you never expected. Kyrgyzstan was rough, and beautiful and we will be back in 2020 for the nomadic games, but we’ll approach it completely differently and come prepared for the climate, and stay in proper accommodation!

That the people who love you most, will always turn up. They might be late and in a leopard print onesie, or only there for 2 nights, but they will show the fuck up and party with you barefoot on an Indonesian island just for the fun of it.

Terralogical Photography

Our wedding was the best night ever – and I have my wonderful tribe of friends and fam to thank for that, not to mention the incredible photographers, videographers and wedding vendors we worked with to make it all come together.

That your family can still surprise you, thirty years into the game – the stories, the gifts and the wedding speeches that leave you speechless.

That making the big, life changing decisions is never, ever easy and there is never a ‘right’ time, only the moment you have right now, to do the best you can.

That therapy works, mental health is imperative and you slowing down doesn’t make the world stop spinning on its axis.

Portrait of a woman who can’t quite believe her lucky life, to be living in Austria, on her birthday 🎉🙌🏻 I’m so ready to move beyond the last year of super high highs and crushing exhausting lows. 32 was a year of ups and downs but I’m grateful for the storms that helped me recognize when sunshine comes breaking through. Every day I feel I’m getting closer to the person I’m meant to be – and every friend, reader and family member who supports me from near and far helps get me closer, step by step. So thank you for being here, for making me better and bearing witness to a hell of a ride! 33 – I’m coming for ya, and I’ve got a helluva plan ahead 💪🏼💁🏼‍♀️ Ps How ridic is this lake in Tirol?

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That I can no longer pull off or ethically justify fast fashion, plastic wrapped vegetables and non-sustainable travel habits.

We’re working to reduce plastic and waste in our everyday lives, and now when I shop I always opt for the sustainable fashion option and question the ethics of the brand I’m supporting. Because once you start questioning, you realise there isn’t really another option but to continue….

That ‘festively plump’ can be sweated off with Supercycle classes and determination in the depths of winter.

That surrounding yourself with people who lift you up and inspire you to your best version of yourself is the only way to grow and trust yourself.

As part of the incredible community from Monica Stott’s The Blogger Course (the very best of all the blogging courses I’ve taken FYI!) I’ve met and worked with some inspiring businesswomen and made friends with people who constantly elevate me, push me to do better and convince me daily this blogging thing isn’t a waste of time.

That no one really knows what they’re doing. So it is fine for you to try, and fail, and keep going, because we are all faking it.

That you can get ‘over’ travelling quite as much as you did in your twenties, and yearn for a lovely couch, and home base to return to in the quiet parts of your soul.

That celebrating Christmas dinner with takeaway butter chicken in bed and Netflix with somebody you love is better than any faux fancy Christmas meal.

Thirty Two years old was a wild rollercoaster of highs and lows, and I’m grateful for all its lessons, but for the year ahead – I’m ready to return to my ass kicking, creative, inspired self. Full of energy and confident in my plans for the future. Thanks for sticking around for the ride!


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