30 Things I’ve Learned in 30 Years

“The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.”
― Robert Frost

Be kind.

But…be your own first line of defense. If something is bad for you–a person, a habit, a situation, too much sugar–learn to say “no…”

Because “no” is a complete sentence.

It’s fine not to have a five year plan.

It’s okay to ask for help.

Mistakes do not a failed project, career, or life make. Messing up is inevitable and a lot less soul-destroying than anxiety often makes it appear.

It’s really nice to be liked, but not everyone is going to like you. That’s okay. Find the ones who do like you that you like back and hang out regularly.

Likewise, figure out whose good opinion truly matters to you and whose doesn’t. Prioritize accordingly.

Style matters and it’s occasionally okay to focus on the superficial. Make up is fun!

I am allowed to change my mind about desires and goals. So are other people for that matter.

Working hard is not the same thing as working smart and the former is a straight, fast shot to burnout if sustained too long…

Meaning that vacations are important. Take them. Don’t be such an puritanically-descended American. 

Ambition is not unattractive in people in general and women in particular. People who think it is have their own issues to work through.

No one is required to justify their emotions to me, nor I to anyone else. Emotions are real and true to the person experiencing them and just because I cannot see what someone else is going through, that doesn’t unmake its reality to that person.

Fear, intimidation, or lack of experience are inadequate reasons to avoid trying new things.

Being appreciated is not the same thing as being valued.

Stereotypes are useless; I like Louboutins and medieval history. Everyone else is just as fractal.

There is no “one right way” to do anything and people who claim there is generally have a lot of secondary agendas. The job, expectations, family set up, priorities, or working style of another person will not work for me and mine. If I want to demand respect and space for how I choose to live, I must in turn give the exact same courtesy to absolutely everyone else. Like unto stereotypes, judgement of how other people choose to make it work is pretty useless.

Intentions matter vitally. Where harm is not intended but caused, be generous whenever possible (again remembering rule 2).

I am not required to suck up unpleasant circumstances or experiences, particularly where there is no eventual benefit to be had.

Some circumstances require speaking up, others shutting up.

Anger is a tool to power you to and through an action, it should not be a permanent state. If it is, it’s time to change something big in your life.

In most situations, the worst thing that can happen is that someone will tell me, “No.” This, while not usually welcome, is far from the end of the world, and is also insufficient reason to give up.

Never, ever cede your will, or conscience to another person or group. Ever.

Self care is not selfish.

Relationships, whether personal or professional, are the most important things at the end of the day. Ensure the ones that matter and bring you the most value and joy are cultivated.

It’s easy to want, it’s harder but more important to establish needs.

Opportunities are not a blink-and-you’ve-missed-it phenomenon, they show up constantly. It’s learning to identify them and which ones to take that’s the challenge.

Anyone or anything that asks you to make yourself smaller, quieter, or more convenient to them does not have your best interest at heart.

And finally, my motto, life is not an either/or kind of situation. One path now does not preclude other paths later.




8 thoughts on “30 Things I’ve Learned in 30 Years”

  1. Bloody brilliant. 🙂

    As someone with (hack cough wheeze, expires quietly in corner) almost (hackhack) twice as many years (yet, oddly, hardly twice the wisdom?!!!), I love your list and wish I’d been as (self) aware at 30.

    I would add that finding/nurturing a great partner (as you have) is also a HUGE gift/advantage and one never to be overlooked or taken for granted. So many people in their 20s are burning through “starter marriages” (terrible idea and phrase), as though marriage is simple a dress rehearsal for the next/better one.

    I love your point about opportunities presenting themselves all the time — so true. No one stands there ringing a bell and shouting “NOW!” 🙂

    1. Honestly, it’s the biggest piece of advice that I constantly give other people that I have to remember to give myself. Opportunities are everywhere! I was recently hanging out with a “creative type” freelancer friend of mine who mentioned that she had recently met a member of a company that she loved, and the employee mentioned off-handedly that they were looking to assign work in the future. My friend was somewhat taken aback when I almost physically shook her and said, “Hello! That is the universe sending you a gift, follow up!”

      Of course, I often need wise friends to point out equally obvious chances to me…

      1. It’s also cultural — as you know. Americans can have much sharper/quicker elbows than those of us from less aggressive cultures. It’s a problem!

  2. What a great list of advice! I especially appreciated the reminder that “opportunities are not a blink-and-you’ve-missed-it phenomenon” — something that happened in my personal life last week got me thinking about this. I had a rare perfect opportunity to ask out the guy I like. Sounds simple, but I didn’t and now I’m berating myself.

    Taking opportunities when they arise is something I need to remind myself to do more often!

    1. It is not too late, call the boy! 😉

      But more seriously, I’m glad I spent a couple years freelancing because I think it helped me tune into useful thoughts, ideas, or situations as they presented themselves, but nowadays I constantly have to step back and remember to take my own advice. Opportunity identification is a skill that must be honed and it’s very easy to get out of practice. Doesn’t mean the opps stop coming, luckily! 🙂

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