30 Things I Did at 30

30 Things I Did at 30

Turning 30 is a big deal. You’re halfway to retirement (maybe), but it feels like you’re just getting started with your goals and don’t have “a life yet.” Maybe you don’t have a husband. Maybe you don’t have a house or condo. Maybe you have debt and no savings. Maybe you have a job but not a career. Maybe you don’t like your career.

I’m happy to report that at 30, I still had a lot of firsts in my life.

At 30, the things that didn’t make sense to a lot of people, made a lot of sense to me. And I felt okay with that. Because you learn to realize why certain things are important to you. And that’s how you start making decisions.

30 was a great year! I grew so much in my relationships, in my career and with my family. I learned that walks with friends would be my favorite way to spend my time, that pumpkin spiced cold brew is the best drink, and that managing anxiety and stress takes a long time but it’s worth it to seek help (or CBD gummies).

Travel and Adventure:

I didn’t take a day off this year, but my imagination ran wild. I started my 30th birthday by taking a special mother daughter trip to Boston, my mother’s favorite city.

  1. I went on a day trip wine tour to Michigan with friends.

We rented a party limo for the day and the 7 of us did a cute wine tour at Lemon Creek winery and Round Barn. We had so much fun getting out of the city for the day.

2. I had picnics in the garden with friends. Yes, there were flower crowns.

Gardens, parks and patios were the OG of 2020.

3.I went to Michigan and met my college friend’s newborn. I also went to Indiana and met the first baby in our book club group. Special mention – we also had the first two marriages of book club. One of the couples met during book club and we helped pick out her dress ❤️

4. I didn’t go to Italy (because it was closed), but I turned Chicago into Italy for the week #imagination

5. I crossed off a few Chicago bucket list items I’ve always wanted to do. I finally went to the Chicago Playpen (twice) and jumped off the boat. And I went kayaking on the Chicago River with friends.

Special mention: I went to my first hockey game!! People really do just wear hoodies and jeans to the game because it’s freezing. I was invited by one of my good friends to go and it was a blast. The St. Louis Blues won, though.

Finances

6. I got a financial advisor.

I’m pretty good at saving, but finances gives me a lot of anxiety. Adulting is hard. It feels like you have to save for everything and spend nothing. In the next couple of years, my whole life could change. I could have a house and a family. Right now, I live pretty minimalist as a single woman in the city. And I didn’t know what my next step would be.

So, rather than being paralyzed by savings and what I should do – buy a condo, save for retirement or go on vacation, my friend referred me to a financial advisor and I met her over coffee.

We sat down and looked at my financial picture and I made a 5-10 year projection of my life.

I’ve wanted to work with a financial advisor for awhile and I’m glad that this is the year that I did it.

7. I tripled my retirement savings (the sexiest investment)

You’re supposed to have your salary saved in your retirement by the time your 30. I do not.

I was overwhelmed by saving for a lot of things, but I decided that I really needed to focus on building up my retirement savings since I haven’t been able to contribute for the last couple of years.

If you read blogs about retirement and savings there’s always the question about should you buy a condo or save for retirement first. Ultimately, I decided I needed retirement savings first since I could still live in my small apartment for a bit longer.

Girl Boss:

8. I grew my partnership with Amazon Studios this year and was part of a sneak peek promo for “Chemical Hearts” with Lili Reinhart.

I love working in the film and TV industry for work. I’ve also been working with HBO for the last 3 years for my blog and went to the McMillons launch.

9. I worked on promoting a few pop-ups in Chicago. The Friends Experience was amazing. I was so impressed with the attention to detail and had so much fun reliving my favorite episodes of Friends. The pop-up is still ongoing until January 2021.

I also went to the Mad Hatter Tea Party which was such a fun night out drinking gin-based tea cocktails and getting dressed up like we were in Wonderland.

10. My blog post about what to do on FaceTime blew up and has almost 15k views. To put this in perspective, one of the first posts I wrote in 2012, republished it here, had 3K views in a year.

11. I got to invent my own cocktail through a partnership with Mariano’s grocery store and Jameson. It took about a week and 4-5 different cocktail attempts, but I actually make it and enjoy it. I’m really glad I upgraded from just Truly’s.

This was the year of whiskey for me. Not only did I work with Jameson, but I also worked with Abelour Whiskey and did a virtual tasting.

12. I sold my painting!! I love art and I went to a paint and sip class and ended up hating my painting so I painted over it and did something abstract. And my friend bought it from me. I felt like a true artist even though my #1 hobby is paint by numbers now.

13. I continued my partnership with Bottom Line Yoga, which I absolutely love because their motto is yoga for everyone. During quarantine, they had a fun class called Yoga in Bed and since I spent most of quarantine there, I appreciated using my bed for something other than sleep and moping.

14. I got to taste test pie for a new pie shop! I love meeting entrepreneurs and especially when one of my friends becomes one. My friend and fellow food blogger, opened up his own pie business this year and sold pie for Thanksgiving. He started making them during quarantine and now has a business from it! I got to be one of the taste testers for his cherry pie and was not disappointed 🙂 you can check him out at La Maison Pie.

I also met the queen of cupcakes, Ms. Intoxicakes, and she made me a bunch of cupcakes infused with alcohol for New Years. I also want to her cupcake decorating class for Valentine’s Day. I love meeting female entrepreneurs and she has shown me what it’s like to take a passion and turn it into a business. (P.S I also did a small business spotlight series featuring female entrepreneurs this summer)

Work:

15. I manage social media and marketing campaigns for work. This year, I embraced YouTube and TikTok. One of the TikTok videos reached 100K views. On YouTube, I increased the amount of monthly revenue for two accounts by 3-4x.

16. I became a boss! I got to expand my marketing team. I learned a lot about the hiring process, and how to teach social media and growing brands.

17. I got my own office and decorated it. This was a big goal of mine – to work downtown and have an office with art that inspired me and a place where people could sit and we could collaborate. I love going to work every day and I’m so proud that the two plants in my office are still alive.

18. I got a professional headshot. Since I hadn’t updated my LinkedIn profile picture in almost 10 years, it was time. My coworker took our headshots and she’s so talented. She’s also a freelance photographer.

19. I started doing monthly financial projections at work and joined the sales team. I love being part of the business side.

Body + Mind + Community:

20. I tried going vegan for the first time and made it almost 2 weeks. I kindof loved it. I really enjoyed beyond burgers, trying nachos a different way and the salads are also phenomenal. I try to only eat meat at dinner time for most times per week, but I won’t ever become 100% vegan/vegetarian. I broke my vegan steak when my friend made me eggs and bacon. Whoops.

22. I walked to work almost every day (5 miles total). This happened this summer after quarantine. I didn’t want to take public transit, so I walked. I love walking and I’m so glad that I live close enough to my office where I could walk to work. I felt so much better when I started doing this.

21. I ran my fastest mile! I attribute this to running a 5k everyday for almost 2 months. When we were in lockdown, I decided that I would run everyday as my adventure. On the first day, I went out and ran a 5K, and somehow I was able to do that on my lunch break or at night for 2 months. I had a pretty strong running season this year.

23. I went to my first protest and I went to a couple more. I re-activated my Twitter account and started reporting on where protests were happening and I’m glad I got to experience this. It was scary at times, but I learned a lot by going and having conversations with others and going to these protests.

24. I started playing tennis again! This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time and I’m so glad I finally bought rackets and played. It was also my first time really exploring Humboldt Park.

I also took up paint by numbers and had a few at-home brunches and painting sessions. It inspired a few of my friends to also do paint by numbers. #influncer jk

25. I subscribed to The New York Times. My grandmother read the paper everyday. She loved The Times. She recently passed away this fall. She was a true New Yorker and I got a subscription in her honor. I wish I could have had coffee and a bagel with her one last time in New York, but now I think about her everyday when I read articles.

26. I think I only finished one book this year – “Husband Material” by Chicago author, Emily Belden. I went to her book launch in February for Galentine’s Day and always love hearing about her writing process. Overall, TV and Shows really impressed me this year. Little Fires Everywhere, Queen and Slim, Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich, and The Queen’s Gambit were my favorite new shows and series to watch. I think we all also had CNN and panic happening in between Netflix and chill this year. Oh, and I finally saw The Godfather over a nice dinner of pasta bolognese.

Relationships/Situationships

27. I had my first boyfriend. We met at a protest and he made sure I got home by curfew. Then one day over avocado toast on a Chicago rooftop, he asked me to be his girlfriend. We went shopping and got matching Converse. I knew he liked me when I invited him over for ravioli and we went on a Target run to mount my TV. It was really nice to have a boyfriend during quarantine. We tried almost all of the restaurants in my neighborhood and I’m still surprised I haven’t been to all of them. He also bought me a grill and taught me how to grill on the 4th of July. It was great until my friend showed me that he was on Bumble using a different name.

28. I had a romantic date with a guy at an Italian restaurant with live music on Valentine’s Day. I’ve never had reservations or a Valentine so it was cute. It was our second and last date. A week later, I went out with a college professor and we ended up spending all afternoon at a book store and then watching Marriage Story, which you should never watch on a date. Dating is still as fun as it was in my 20s, but I’m kindof like – where is he already.

But you can’t force love, so you mine as well enjoy finding it or creating it. COVID has helped my dating life in a lot of ways. You can read more about my experiences dating during COVID here.

Friends:

29. My neighbor became one of my best friends this year. She used to live a neighborhood away but she bought a condo a few blocks from me. We went to one of our best friend’s weddings together and I met her parents. I had never been to an Indian wedding and it was beautiful. Having a friend close by who you can go on a walk with after work is so nice. I really grew as a person this year because of our walks and talks, and also cause we built a day bed together and during COVID, it’s always patio season.

30. My older sister is awesome and we just continued to build a great relationship – with her and all my sisters. I just can’t say enough good things about her. She helped me get through quarantine. She taught me how to make banana bread. We learned the Savage Tik Tok dance together. And now, we’re both blonde. Having her as an older sister, a mentor, and someone who sends me the perfect song that I’ve never heard of – is priceless. Plus, I get to see my nephews when I FaceTime her.

As a whole, I have had so many Hangout video calls, FaceTimes, game nights with book clubs, political watch parties. This year was about friendships and I’m so thankful that I have a great work wife, siblings and a mom who care about me, and friends who have helped me stay sane and somehow we’ve grown as we talk about our fears and the future.

This was the year friends started buying condos and one bedroom apartments. It was the year that you had a zoom birthday where everyone would grab a candle and sing and then blow it out, or your first date was literally a walk in the park and where game night was the most exciting part of your week. And I have to say we definitely made the most of this year.

Oh, and pre-COVID, we had this fabulous dinner party at Katana.

Conclusion:

I hope my 30’s have good health, fun nights, more challenges, and real love. I’m starting off 31 as a blonde, with collagen powder instead of protein powder, with a subscription to The New York Times and a LinkedIn learning account. And hopefully this year, I’ll actually finish more than a book, feel more confident in the kitchen (I’ve messed up a couple of batches of chocolate chip cookies), and continue to build my mind, body, soul, and community. So, the future possibilities are endless.

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Amanda Elliott
Amanda Elliott

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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