Today is my 30th birthday. That’s a sentence that is weird to write. Thirty isn’t old, but it is a new decade and a departure from the idealized twenties. I normally don’t write personal posts for this blog, but hey, what the hell. My 20s were not bad. I lived in three cities, traveled a lot, fell in love, got hired (and fired) from my first post-college job, completed my BS and MPH degrees, experienced crushing heartbreak (for which I am oddly grateful; time heals all), said goodbye to our sweetheart (Casey) and hello to two of the greatest (Gus & Gracie), lost my beloved Omi, and started law school (which I will finish in my new decade). In sum, I grew up.
I have no idea what my 30s will bring, though I hope they bring a blossoming career, a cute house in Oshkosh, healthy parents, a puppy of my own, a visit to Europe, and if I’m really, really lucky, a husband.
I love reading nuggets of wisdom and humor from people. I’ve seen many people write about the 30 things they learned by 30 — or the 40 things they learned by 40, etc. I realize that at 30 years old, I am still young. Trust me, I get that. But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t learned a few things. Here are 30 things I’ve learned by 30. In no particular order.
1. Wear clothes that fit. So many women screw this up — and just because it buttons doesn’t mean that it fits.
2. Go to the funeral; send a card; hand-write a note. If a friend is struggling, show up for them. The smallest of gestures matter.
3. Be mindful of who you complain to about what.
4. When in doubt, overdress and err on the side of modesty. What you wear and how you present yourself sends a powerful message. Just sayin’.
5. Figure out what color(s) look good on you and werrrrrk them.
6. Learn how to be alone (or single, if you prefer that term). This is so important for young girls. Be able to stand on your own — with hobbies, interests, desires, and a career that have nothing to do with any man.
7. Friendships can be seasonal. This is okay.
8. No one keeps secrets.
9. Be cautious about men who are too charming — and about women who can’t get along with other women.
10. You do not want to peak in high school. Get through it, get out, and get ready to marvel at how great your life will be afterward.
11. For the love of god, READ. Read books. Read non-fiction. Read newspapers. Read opinions that are not your own. READ. There is no better way to be a smarter, well-rounded person.
12. Stop justifying everything you love by saying “it’s a guilty pleasure!” Own it. Even if others will laugh.
13. Your weight will fluctuate. It’s not the end of the world if you gain a little. Just get back on track and learn how your body maintains weight — because it becomes 10x harder once you leave your teens and early twenties. (seriously… what the hell, metabolism?)
14. Become friends with your parents. Chances are they are awesome people.
15. Everybody has a vice. Everybody.
16. Nobody has it all. Nobody.
17. Don’t make big decisions or write important e-mails when tired and/or hungry.
18. In the words of Mindy Kaling: sometimes you just have to put on lip gloss and pretend to be psyched.
19. Overprepare. Then go with the flow.
20. Never, ever dumb yourself down to cushion the egos of others (ahem, men).
21. Not everyone is going to like you. Make peace with this.
22. Every single person knows something that you do not. Isn’t that awesome?
23. Life becomes easier when you can laugh about it. Humor can be found in nearly every situation — even the tragic.
24. Don’t be THAT person. It’s great to be passionate about the finer things in life, but don’t be that person who refuses to drink a cup of cheap coffee.
25. Happy celebrations and surprises are what make life great. Eat the cake and be present in those moments.
26. No one cares how busy you are or how drunk you got last night.
27. Don’t be a bully and don’t make others feel insignificant.
28. Good things happen to those who hustle.
29. No really, shit could always be worse.
30. You always have a choice.
Plus a bonus… because to be technical, I’m in my thirty-first year of life:
31. We all sit on the bell curve of life. For those not statistically-minded, this means that there is always someone who will be richer/poorer/smarter/dumber/prettier/uglier/etc than you. You’ll sleep better at night if you make peace with this fact.