June 5, 2018

30 is the New 30

I’m Stephanie, a wedding + lifestyle photographer based in Destin, Florida and Warrenton, Virginia. Whether I’m by the mountains in Virginia or the ocean on the Florida Gulf Coast, my soul feels at home, surrounded by rural living and the raw beauty of nature. I genuinely love what I do, and feel so passionate to share the enthusiasm and joy of these celebrations with you!

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30 is the New 30

There’s NO WAY I’m turning 3-0. No way. This was my mindset all last week. You see, turning 30 has been a big deal since I turned 20. I’m not kidding, for an entire DECADE I’ve been dreading this number. I remember making an original joke back then saying, “Oh my gosh, ten more years until the big three-OH!!!!!” It has been an ongoing laughing matter on every Birthday with my family. At least back then it was a joke… The past couple of years, though, it hasn’t been because the haunted number kept creeping faster and faster. The reality is that it was inevitably going to happen. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a few melt-downs last week  (sorry, Alex!!!). Of course, though, there are other contributing factors to the melt-down occurrences. Alex moving 1,000 miles away might have been one of them. 😉 But after settling Alex into his new home and leaving Florida last Friday, I have accepted and come to new terms with these current changes. Writing this blog post really helped me reset my view on 30.

I laugh seeing the title of this blog post because I’ve been in denial about this age for sooooo long. Initially, I had titled this blog post with “30 is the new 20,” but then I realized I was still in denial by thinking I should reclaim my 20s again!!! Right?! I’m slowly but surely convincing myself to EMBRACE this new age, which is why I purposefully titled my blog post with, “30 is the new 30” because I’m going to OWN IT. I’m going to leave the pessimistic definition of the age behind and replace it with a new definition of 30, filled with optimism! It really is going to be the BEST year of my life. 🙂

30 is the New 30

So, this past weekend while I was writing today’s post, I reflected why I have been dreading thirty. Why is it different from 29? It’s just another day, right? The more I put thought into this, I realized there was something so fun, playful, and innocent about the 20s. Considering it was the “college years,” it was a time to transition into the “real world” and “play adult” while not taking adulting toooooo seriously. Thirty though. Thirty seemed “SO adult!” And God forbid, let’s not even think about what number happens in another decade … HA! So back to the question, why have I hyped up this number for so long? After reflecting, I realized that society instilled in me since high school a perception that I’m supposed to have it all together by now. Really, though, what is the definition of “having it all together” mean anyway? Just the same as success, there isn’t just one meaning. It’s unique and personal! No two people are exactly alike, and my story is very different from another person’s storyline. Life would be so boring and predictable if we all had the same life timelines anyways. 😉 I’m confidently going into this year knowing that I am REALLY an adult (as if I haven’t been one since turning 18! HAHA!), and can still have fun! I may not be exactly where I thought I would be at this time, but that is okay because I can rest my trust in God’s timing for everything. I’m excited that I didn’t cover everything in my twenties, so I have so much more to look forward to in my thirties!!! 🙂

Now that today is my declaration to celebrate and not despair, I’m going to celebrate what I have accomplished the past ten years while getting excited what the next ten more years will bring, and many more to come! Over the past long and prosperous decade, I have graduated honors from JMU (GO DUKES), built a successful six-figure business (thanks to your support), trusted Gods’ plans in good and bad times, travelled the world, bought a house, met the man of my dreams (hey there, Alex!), raised a puppy and a kitten, built and sustained forever lasting friendships, learned all sorts of skill sets, pushed my limits physically and mentally, and learned to not take life for granted!

When I was writing this post, I thought about what I experienced in my life that shaped me to be the person I am today. So I compiled a list of thirty things to experience before you turn thirty, in the hopes that it will inspire someone younger than me! 🙂 There’s still so much I want to experience, but that’s why I have a lot to look forward to in the future!!

Thirty (Thirty-One) Things to Experience Before You’re Thirty

1) Don’t take life too seriously! Do something weird. Be awkward. Do it all with a light-hearted mindset and have fun doing it! Laugh at yourself and with others! Laughing will add years to your life, after all. 😉

2) TRAVEL!!! Experience different cultures, food, environments, etc. Whether it’s solo, with a best friend, significant other, family and/or friends, every traveling adventure is unique!

3) Complete higher education. Push yourself, learn and be inspired!

30 is the New 30

4) Save for the future! Start a ROTH IRA account. Learn how to be responsible with finances. Avoid debt as much as possible, and if you do, have a strategy to pay it off ASAP! And if the situation is right, BUY a house instead of rent!

5) Grow spiritually in your faith!! There is always room to grow!

6) Learn how to love and be loved. Know what you deserve!

30 is the New 30

7) Build trustworthy, forever lasting friendships. Keep in touch with them because it takes two to make a relationship work. 🙂

8) Expand your skills by being willing to learn — Different language, cooking, construction, etc.

9) Know how to take care of your precious body. Exercise and nourish it with wholesome food.

10) Learn to forgive others and yourself. Life is too short to hold grudges!

11) Take time for yourself! Take a bubble bath and don’t feel bad taking time to reset.

12) Challenge your body. Sign up for an obstacle course mud run, marathon, triathlon, etc.

13) Get involved in a sport. Whether that means be the athlete and/or be a fan, it’s fun getting involved and building community!

14) Dream big!!! Start a business and execute!

30 is the New 30

15) Host a party! There’s something so fun and satisfying when serving others and making them feel special. 🙂

16) Be self-satisfied. Know that you’re beautiful inside and out! Walk with confidence and stop comparing yourself to others.

17) Attend a concert, opera, ballet, Broadway, etc. If you attend a high energy concert, you better be up there jumping around and singing at the top of your lungs!

18) Let go of fear!!! Fear only holds you back from the greatest potential! I rest my life in God’s hands, and with that, I have no reason to fear anything in my future!

19) Get a pet. It will teach you how to be selfless and become responsible for something besides yourself.

30 is the New 30

20) Invest time to get to know your family history and embrace your roots! 

21) Road trip and stop at scenic viewpoints. Be sure to take at least one photo with you in the picture to show space, perspective, and the fact that it wasn’t a photo taken from Google. 😉

22) Give back to the community. Organize, host and/or volunteer for a local event that helps a cause. This will keep you grounded!

23) Create a bucket list of places and things you want to experience in your life!

30 is the New 30

24) Write thank you notes. Let the snail mail remain as the form of genuine interaction and not a quick text, email, or FB post!

25) Eat something outside of your comfort zone. Beef tongue and all!

26) Move away from home and meet new friends.

27) Learn how to play an instrument.

28) Do something that scares you. Live your life to the fullest! Do something crazy! Go skydiving or something you said you “never would do!”

30 is the New 30

29) Don’t let a cell phone run your life.

30) Learn how to say “sorry!” and accept faults.

31) (Sorry, this one is important!!) Count your blessings because life is too short to not be grateful for the big and small things in your life. <3

CHEERS!!! Now time to embrace this new age and these recent changes, with many more to come in the future. <3 Thanks for your Birthday wishes and optimism!!! Love you all!



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