Life comes at you fast, and never has that been truer for me than with the arrival of my thirtieth birthday.
I realise it’s a bit melodramatic to obsess over age1. Growing older is inevitable for everyone, and in any present moment we are both the oldest we’ve ever been and also the youngest we’ll ever be again.
Yet congruent intervals of time—whether weeks, months, years, or in this case, a decade—is a useful frame for perspective.
With this perspective, my twenties have by far been the best years of my life. I feel very privileged and fortunate for the kind and talented people I’ve met and worked with, the opportunities I’ve been given, and everything I’ve been fortunate to experience in the last ten years.
At 20 I was in my third and final year at Murdoch University, and had made good friends in my courses there.
In October, I finished my contact hours and very fortuitously received an email with an interview for a job from Mark, who would become a friend and mentor of mine after getting the position.
That first job was a very interesting experience for a sheltered university student, and I changed a lot there. When we needed some extra development help, I tapped Jacob—a friend I’d met through the web development subforum on a videogame website2.
When it was time for me to find a new role, Jacob—who was very active in local meetup circles—brought me to a pub and introduced me to Grant and Justin, who’d embarked on a new venture called Pin Payments. Over beers, I was given a rapid fire quiz by Grant on a range of topics, from guessing the colour of CSS hex codes, to questions about Fender guitars and Roland drum machines. I didn’t quite realise at the time that was the job interview.
Joining Pin Payments at 22 had one of the more profound impacts on my life. I’ve gained a lot of valuable experience from very talented, humble people. I’ve been there nearly eight years, which is a long time in our industry, but it has flown by and there is still much I hope to do.
In addition to all the great people I’ve met at meetups and conferences I’ve attended, it has been a distinct honour to help run Mixin Conference in 2016 and speak at Localhost Deployment Tour in 2017.
If the first five years of my twenties were defined by work and career, the latter were where the “life” in “work/life balance” came into focus.
My twenties were also when I first had the opportunity to travel, and it has yielded some of my most treasured memories.
At 22, some highschool friends and I decided to travel through America together. “Why not?” we thought at the time, and I’m glad we did, because coordinating six friends for a month-long holiday seems far more difficult today, and I didn’t realise how short that window of our lives would be.
Since our America trip, travel became something I prioritised, with trips for conferences, to Sydney, Singapore, and frequently Melbourne.
At 25 I moved out with a highschool mate of mine, Richard. We moved to Victoria Park, where our work commutes minimised, and the opportunities for drinks and social events with friends and colleagues maximised.
I can’t even remember my personal life before moving out. My world expanded, and within a year, I met my partner Alyssa, through a series of impossibly-slim chances that give us both a sense of anxiety in hindsight3. We’ve traveled to Japan twice4, and recently celebrated four years together.
“I wish I did this sooner”
A recurring theme in my twenties was when I finally got around to things I was putting off or hesitant about, I’d invariably wish I had done so sooner. Whether it be getting my drivers licence at 24, or properly moving out at 25.
Health and fitness
But perhaps the single most important thing I finally tackled in my twenties was my fitness.
Entering my twenties I wasn’t in great physical shape. People who’ve known me since school know I’ve never been a naturally fit or active person—I hated running in our highschool cross country, and my fitness was abysmal.
By 21 I was fed up, and got serious. I went on a diet, and joined a gym. I had false starts in the past, but was resolute.
I lost 20kg by 22, and have successfully managed my weight since. In the early days of losing the weight, I was quite obsessive about nutritional information, macronutrients, and kilojoules.
People who know me will roll their eyes and say I’m still neurotic about it, but in the last five years I’ve learned to better balance it. Learning to balance gym and cardio with beers and burgers has been highly beneficial for my sanity.
I’ve worn an Apple Watch every day since its release in April of 2015, and it has helped better quantify aspects of my fitness and keep me motivated.
Like many, Covid really disrupted my fitness routine. Towards the end of 2020 I got back into running and the gym. At first it was demoralising how much my cardio had deteriorated, but within 2 weeks I was back to a comparable pace.
As for my current routine, I focus on short, high-intensity cardio and weight training. My current running pace is around 4:30/km, and my resting heartrate today according to my Apple Watch is 53bpm.
Overall, I feel very fortunate and privileged for all I’ve experienced in my twenties. The biggest takeaways of these years of my life are...
- Invest in your health: it’s an investment and easier when you’re young. My daily life absolutely benefited from improved energy levels.
- Experience > stuff: I have a bit of an aversion to stuff, but I’ve seldom regretted money spent on experiences.
- It’s short: your twenties, and your life, is short. Savour each moment, your relationships, and make the most of it.
- Embrace novelty: I’m a creature of habit, but the most memorable moments of my life are frequently when I broke out of my routines.
- Find balance: I have anxiety with keeping up in such a rapidly-changing industry, but slowing down and switching off have helped immensely in recent years.
- Confront the things you’re putting off: never have I done something I put off and thought, “well I wish I never did that”. But I almost always wish I did it sooner.
- That hasn’t stopped me doing so since my mid–late twenties...↩
- Yes, really. Mid 2000’s internet was so great.↩
- We met at a Valentine’s Day speed dating event, which she very nearly didn’t go to, and due to the overrepresentation of males, I had a 1 in 5 chance of attending.↩
- So far—fingers crossed on those Covid vaccines!↩