By Nellie Umutesi-Vigneron

One’s twenties are usually viewed as a time of fun: college, friends, parties, travels, first serious job and relationship. Thirties, on the other hand, are considered a good time to settle down with a solid career, relationship and maybe kids. Of course, there are exceptions to everything.

I, somehow, completely missed the memo. By my early twenties, I was already a mother, bought my first home and had solid career, all while managing to have some fun. My thirties are turning out to be what my twenties should have been (a time of self-discovery and fun), but still in a responsible way!

Here are things I didn’t do until I was in my thirties:

  1.  I experienced a heart wrenching, soul crushing, body aching breakup – boy meets girl, girl meets boy. Boy and girl fall madly in love. Girl envisions her whole life, future, kids and grandkids with boy. Boy has different plans and girl gets her heart shattered into million pieces (it feels like).  A heart that she slowly pieces back together until the day she realizes that she is stronger than she ever thought and turns her pain into gratefulness. Disclaimer: No one will escape this. It is a rite of passage of some sort. I hope you will experience this early in life instead of later: it is easier to recover when you are still young!
  2. I went to therapy – no shame in my game! -Yes, I sat on a couch, spilled my beans, felt sorry for myself, felt strong, cried, laughed, evaluated and re-evaluated my evaluation, but most of all learned to be more loving and accepting of myself. You see, there is no manual for this life, we kind of wing it as we go (I know I do). We do our best and for some of us it works out the way we want it and for others it does not. I was in that space, things were not quite working out, and I needed the tools to face my issues. I needed to dig deep into my own stuff, unlearn some behaviors and replace them with healthy ones.
  3. I took my first solo trip  As in alone. Destination: Dakar, Senegal. No one to talk to except strangers. This forced me to get out of my comfort zone, rely on others to help, trust in my instincts and take time to be alone. I recommend a solo trip at least once in your lifetime!
  4. I jumped off two cliffs – Let me disclose upfront: I am afraid of heights! I am 5 feet 5 inches and I absolutely love life on the ground where my feet are firmly planted, but it is also a dream of mine to one day skydive. As of now, the mere thought of me in a parachute and free falling for a while brings an enormous amount of anxiety. So, I have settled to jumping off of cliffs. The first and the highest jump so far has been at Rick’s Café in Ochos Rios, Jamaica and the second one was on my 35th birthday at Ik Kil Cenote in Mexico. It is only a matter of time until the big plunge.
  5. I became the Adventurous Chica   I have not done it all, but I have done a lot: caving, camping, mountain biking, snorkeling, parasailing, sailing, ziplining, a walking safari (I think that was just plain crazy and not adventurous), hiking, firing a gun… and there is much more to do: skydiving, skiing, surfing, riding a camel. So much!
  6. Traveled to a country illegally   Cannot tell you where for fear of government persecution. Who am I kidding? It is all over my social media. I went to Cuba via Mexico while the United States embargo on Cuba was still being enforced. Nothing more exciting than doing something you are not supposed to and not getting caught! I am not advocating taking silly risks, but calculated and well thought out risks, I am all for it!

What are some of the things you didn’t do until your twenties, thirties, forties and beyond? Share with us!