30 Things I’ve Learned at 30

 

30 at 30

The author at 24 (photo: Kat Johns)

In many ways, turning 30 is less of an existential crisis than was turning 25. I turned 25 crying on the floor of a fraternity house bathroom. I turn 30 with health insurance, a budding writing career, and a guy who makes me smile every day. Things are good. Sure, there are a lot of regrets. My 20s were a series of bad choices and unfortunate events. But I’ve learned a few things along the way.

Before I fell down in a puddle of tears and urine on that Formica floor, I composed a list of 25 things I had learned at 25 and posted it to Facebook. Now, the night before I turn 30, I’m publishing it publicly for the first time, along with 30 more things I’ve learned in the past five years. Do with this information what you will: take it, scoff at it, ignore it. But I have to say, I wish I’d known all of this ten years ago.

25 things I’d learned at 25

  1. Despite what you think at the time, it is possible to laugh through tears. And it feels amazing.
  2. You are lucky if you have 5 true friends in this life. Not at once; at all.
  3. Everybody has their own problems, and if you could see theirs, you’d be glad to keep your own.
  4. The world is kinder and gentler than we make it out to be.
  5. There’s a reason why it’s cliché to eat ice cream when upset: it works. It really will make you feel better.
  6. The best friends are the ones you sit in silence with and it isn’t awkward.
  7. Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. You never know who you have the power to destroy.
  8. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does
  9. Keep all your receipts and balance your cheque book. It’ll save you a world of hassle.
  10. If you have to justify a purchase to your friends, you probably don’t need to buy it.
  11. Even if you can’t excuse someone’s behaviour, you should look for an explanation. You may just find some compassion that way.
  12. University is really very easy—if you make school your first priority.
  13. Beer really is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.
  14. We all have our vices. The trick is not to let them control us.
  15. Sometimes it is okay to change who you are for somebody, so long as you’re changing for the better.
  16. Nothing is scarier than the day you realize that your parents are human, too.
  17. If you’re in a relationship that must remain secret, you probably shouldn’t be in it.
  18. Honesty is NOT always the best policy. If a lie is harmless and can make somebody happy, lie.
  19. If your friends can’t or won’t put their differences aside for you, they’re not true friends.
  20. Blood is not always thicker than water. Blood is blood. We ought to say that LOVE is thicker than water. (Only that doesn’t really make sense.)
  21. There is no shame in asking for help, and almost always someone willing to give it.
  22. Anything worth having is worth risking it all.
  23. Anybody who says they have no regrets is lying or an emotionally-stunted Neanderthal. Plain and simple.
  24. Something can be both right and wrong, good and bad. Most things exist in a grey area.
  25. We are the masters of our destinies. In life, there are no answers–there are choices.

And here are 30 more things I’ve learned in the past five years.

  1. Comparing yourself to others is the most counterproductive thing you can do. We all have our own journeys, and we all start in different places. You also don’t know what hurdles they’ve jumped to get to where they are.
  2. Unless you are a Kardashian or married to one, it’s a safe bet that no one hates you as much as you hate yourself.
  3. Don’t hate yourself. Forgive yourself. Every day.
  4. The people who remain in your life will sometimes surprise you. People you think are fleeting friends will prove to have remarkable staying power. People you think are your besties will disappear forever
  5. Losing touch with old friends is an active choice. You’re tired, and all you want to do is pour a glass of wine and watch Scandal. I get it. Pick up that damn phone and call your college roommate. She misses you.
  6. If a straight man tells you he’s straight, believe him. Even if he holds your hand as you walk down the street. Even if he drunkenly lets you run his hands up his shirt as you dance to Charlie Puth’s “Marvin Gaye.” Even if he kisses you cos he’s always wanted to know what a beard feels like.
  7. You’re probably not in love with your old friend. You probably just think you are because you’re having a quarterlife or midlife crisis and reaching for the most familiar man.
  8. Love is a goddamn scary thing, and it doesn’t get any easier as you get older. Sex and the City had it right. Does he think about me like I think about him? I don’t know. But that’s the exciting part.
  9. Find one artist who speaks to you and stan hard for them. Seriously. There’s something remarkably comforting about listening to someone’s music grow and evolve along with your own life. (For me, this is Adele.)
  10. Sometimes, it’s better to address bigotry through verbs rather than nouns. He isn’t homophobic, what he said is homophobic. You have no idea how much more receptive people are to being called out when you’re calling out their actions instead of their personalities.
  11. Tribalism is what makes politics so goddamn ineffective. Talk to people who oppose you. Befriend them. And if you’re in Congress or Parliament, for God’s sake, work with them. Effective governance is bred in compromise.
  12. Social justice warriors are often just as closed-minded and obnoxiously vile as the bigots they oppose.
  13. People fuck up, but that doesn’t mean they should be destroyed for it.
  14. Clean your damn apartment because you really never know when someone is going to stop by. Or you’re going to get laid. Also, always have Febreeze on hand. (Preferably in seasonal scents.)
  15. If you can avoid it, never live anywhere without a dishwasher. I mean it.
  16. In the immortal words of Jen Lindley, “anything you look forward to for too long is invariably a disappointment.”
  17. Being content doesn’t mean you’re happy, and you should never confuse the two.
  18. It really is okay to say “no” to your manager, to friends, to family, to Donald Trump. The world won’t end.
  19. Work to live, don’t live to work.
  20. For the most part, your colleagues are just that—your colleagues. They are not your friends. There are rare exceptions, but keep things as casual and professional as possible. And whatever you do, don’t sleep with a co-worker.
  21. Everything you do online can come back to haunt you. For a solid year a comment I drunkenly left on a YouTube video pulled up if you Googled me. I befriended a writer who, two years later, found a comment I’d left on an article about her. Think twice before you tweet.
  22. Pizza is as addictive as crack. Something to do with the combination of the fat and grease. But seriously, this is science. Limit your intake.
  23. They all got just as fat as you have.
  24. Never be the drunkest person in the room. Always find the drunkest person in the room, gauge how intoxicated they are, and be at least two drinks behind them.
    24.5 Unless it’s an open bar on a corporate dime. Then bombs away.
  25. If you’re drinking alone, ask yourself why. Then find a very good therapist to help you work it all out.
  26. It’s worth dropping the extra money on a good bottle of wine.
  27. Stop buying expensive clothes. No one looks at what you’re wearing after you graduate college.
  28. Just because you don’t “get” something doesn’t mean it’s invalid. Your opinion is but one of billions. And if your marginalised friends tell you something is important, listen. They may actually know better than you.
  29. The world doesn’t exist as we think it should; it exists as it is. Work to fix the things you can, but be prepared to work with what you’ve got.
  30. Your grandmother was right about everything.
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