Thirty Things I've Learned by Thirty
As many of us have had a little bit of extra time on our hands (and me, especially, I stress), I decided to put together a list of things that I have found to be noteworthy, profound, important, or relevant in my own life as I’m turning thirty. A list about life, if you will. Some of these are silly, and some are serious. Some you may agree with, and some you may not. I’m sure your list would be different, and that’s okay! I hope you can take at least one thing from this list and find it in some way relevant or comforting to you.
1 | Have a relationship with your parents. I love my parents, and I feel really lucky to have them. Especially now, when we’re thousands of miles apart, I am so happy to have such a solid foundation in them. I know I can come to either of them, at any time, with anything. I’ve never been afraid to tell them something. I’ve never been worried to be embarrassed, or shamed, or condescended. I celebrate my wins with them and go to them, tail-between-my-legs, with my losses. And what an incredible gift to be able to have. Also, if you have in-laws, have a relationship with them, too. They're family just as much!
2 | Bottom-mount freezers are life. Unless you are spending a questionable amount of time in your freezer every day, having a bottom-mounted freezer makes life SO much easier. After decades of digging through the vegetable drawers at ankle-height, I am now able to access my vegetables in a fully-vertical standing position. You won’t appreciate it until you are living it.
3 | Vanilla. Vanilla is NOT made for just baking, you guys! My mom taught me this, but have you ever opened your fridge and just been like, MY GOD, what is that smell? And then you clean out the fridge and throw away the culprit and think it’s all good and walk away and then come back and the stink has lingered (the audacity!). All you need to do it put a few drops of vanilla in the fridge (the previously affected area) and rub it around with a damp paper towel. Instant-fridge-smelling-better-ness.
4 | Wear sunscreen. It’s really fun to just run out in the sun in your non-aching twenty-three-year-old body and frolic in the waves and sit on the beach in Puerto Rico and not think it’s a big deal, but honey, it is a big deal. Not only are sunburns thee actual worst, but there’s this thing called skin cancer which is very real and you are very susceptible if you do not protect yourself. Always wear sunscreen. I’m not a doctor. Wear sunscreen.
5 | This too shall pass. Chances are you have been through some kind of trauma. I have. But this is always in the back of my mind, for any negative situation. I suffer from anxiety, and this is my mantra. It’s going to end, you’re going to get through it, and you’re going to be okay. This is one of my favorite quotes, from Rainier Maria Rilke: “Let everything happen to you / Beauty and terror / Just keep going / No feeling is final.” That quote was my lock screen for four months before some of my best friends went and had a super cute baby.
6 | Salt will get out red wine stains. Do you ever have one of those friends who passes out on your couch holding a completely full, newly opened, bottle of red wine? No? Only us? Salt will pull red wine stains out of clothing and out of the carpet of the apartment you’re renting (we got our full deposit back, btw). Make sure to pour a generous amount of salt on the fresh stain, let it set, dab and scrub with hot water, then vacuum up and voila! You’re welcome!
7 | Read before you go to bed. Or do a crossword or meditate, or listen to a book. The point is, get off your screen. It will make a difference in your ability to fall asleep! And it’s a great excuse to snuggle down with your cat or your partner. Patrick and I both started reading in bed together a couple years ago and sleep so much better for it!
8 | Any excuse to celebrate is an excuse to celebrate. You guys, I don’t wanna hear it. It’s my cat’s birthday! It’s Alec Baldwin’s birthday! It’s national donut day! IDGAF, grab your celebratory excuse and put on your party pants and open that bottle of wine! In our family, we celebrate the little things. The day I heard back from Screen Australia that they were reviewing my funding application, we celebrated. The day Patrick passed his P.E. testing, we celebrated. Celebrate little things (and the big!) – it’s okay!
9 | Activated charcoal is real and is a magical unicorn. Twice in the last six months I have had food poisoning, and twice in the last six months taking activated charcoal at the first sign of it has cut it off completely. Pick up a bottle next time you’re at the store; you won’t regret it.
10 | The Oxford Comma is also real. Look, I’ll fight you.
11 | Airlines. This is a two-part discourse. Part one: choosing an airline is important. As someone with flight anxiety (I know, of all the types of anxieties to have, my mind chose the one that was most relevant to my life of having family around the world), I will only travel with airlines that are safe and reliable (when possible, which is 99% of the time). I will pay extra money to fly nonstop with an airline I know is reliable, has an impeccable safety rating, and shockingly, a better flight itinerary than the budget airline that is $500 cheaper but has crashes on its record and includes a 27-hour-layover. Just, why*. I mean, I get it. But, no. Part two: upgrades are worth it, every time. If you can swing premium economy (or heck, business, or WILD, first!) do it. There is truly nothing better than the space (and sometimes amenities) of upgrading. *I get the appeal of these flights if you’re backpacking around the world on a budget. Truly! That is just not my situation.
12 | Buy free range. Guys, I know. I know it’s an extra $3. I’m not a vegetarian and I’m not going to pretend that I could ever be one, but I am an animal-lover (I have to separate it in my brain!). Buying free range, or cage-free (for those chickies) or grass-fed or organic is worth it and is important.
13 | Less bullshit. I don’t have time for bad vibez right now. I don’t have time for drama (though, I’m here for it). Like, if you have something you need to say, just say it, and let’s work it out. Communication is key. I’m not a mind reader! If Patrick does something that makes me super grumpy or hurts my feelings, I tell him, instead of stomping around like a grumpy cockatiel!
14 | Quality over quantity. It took me a really long time to learn this one (too long).
15 | Curate relationships. Now more than ever, it’s all about who you know. And I know, for people who are introverted this may be easier said than done, but it’s so important to establish meaningful relationships and to support one another. I’m not saying rush out there and try to make a million friends. The opposite, even. Put time and effort into your relationships, new and old. Be someone’s rock. Be someone’s champion. You never know who might change your life.
16 | Take time to respond. If someone has sent you an e-mail or a text message that has triggered you in any way, the best possible thing you can do is walk away. Walk away and collect your thoughts before responding (if you need to respond at all). Replying in anger, or hurt, or pity, or shame, or defense might feel justified in the moment, but it usually ends in remorse. Take your time. Collect your thoughts.
17 | If you love it, buy another one. You know that pair of shoes or that dress or that shirt that you love but is on it’s way out? There’s a hole in the soul or a hem that won’t repair no matter how many times you sew it or there’s fourteen different stains on it and yeah, it might be starting to get noticeable? Buy another one. As soon as you realize it’s a favorite, buy another one. I have this jacket from H&M that is my lifeblood, I love it so much, I’ve had it for six years and there’s a huge hole in the shoulder. Every single time I put it on (because I will wear it until it disintegrates into nothing) I wish I’d bought a second one.
18 | Travel alone. If you ever have the opportunity to travel alone, embrace it. It will push you out of your comfort zone in a way that nothing else can. It will open your eyes to things you have missed. It will teach you lessons you would never have learned if you’d been traveling with a friend, a partner, or a family member. I’ve traveled alone multiple times, and each time has left me with something positive I could take from that experience. And yes, once I got stranded in a parking lot in the pouring rain in the mountains of North Carolina with no cell reception, but I AM A BETTER PERSON BECAUSE OF IT OKAY.
19 | Skincare routines are a thing, and you should have one. Unless you have the skin of a young Greek hero straight out of an epic, you need a skincare routine. The big tickets for me are exfoliating (but not too often, okay!?), moisturizing (morning + night), and always making sure I put on primer before any foundation. Also, see #4.
20 | Leggings are pants. Again, I will fight you. It’s 2020 okay, have an open mind (see #23).
21 | Have a signature dish (or two). Learn to cook something, specifically that you enjoy eating, and make it 100x so that you’re good at it. Once you have this dish, you’ll always have something super yummy that you can whip up for dinner parties or just having guests over. Whatever! We have a few signature dishes in our family (including but not limited to: roasted salmon, quesadillas, and brussels sprouts), and it makes planning meals way easier!
22 | Always save your work*. An oldie but a goodie, and I cannot stress this one enough. And yes, I did think to add this one to this list AS I WAS TYPING this blog post when I almost deleted it. *Additionally, if files are not backed up in three different places, are they even really backed up at all? All files for my small business are backed up on my desktop, my laptop, and two different hard drives.
23 | Keep an open mind. Not everything I say you will agree with. Not everything you say I will agree with. It’s okay that we don’t poach eggs the same way; mine still could taste just as good as yours! Maybe we fold our towels differently; they will still dry us both just as well in the end. You might not like that kimchi that you’ve never tried before. You might love it. Be bold, but be open and accepting and gracious; you’ll be surprised by the amount of opportunities that can fall into your lap.
24 | Love languages are real. If you don’t know yours, look it up. If you don’t know those closest to you, look them up. Love languages are the way we give and the way we receive love. There are five different ways to do so, and they’re all very different and all equally important. When you find out yours, they will be ranked in order of relevancy, 1-5. My #1 is Patrick’s #5, and his #1 is my #5. It made us both conscious and aware, and because of that, we are able to love each other better.
25 | Celebrate your body. I have spent well over a decade of my life trying new diets or restricting my eating or experiencing shame or guilt surrounding eating or exercising. And you know what it’s done for me? Nothing. If I eat poorly, my body doesn’t feel good. End of story. There have been too many wasted years of crying over a number on a scale or saying no to something because it’s “unhealthy” or saying mean things to myself in the mirror. I have too many little girls in my life who listen to the things I say and I will be damned if they ever hear me put myself down in front of them. My body is incredible. It has healed broken bones and torn ligaments and still allows me to jog and lift weights and continually change and grow. Celebrate yourself.
26 | Things worth investing in, a TED talk about wine, shoes, mattresses and sheets. Without really diving deep, there are MANY things in your life that are worth spending additional money on. For me, if I drink shitty, cheap wine, I get really bad headaches or migraines. If I don’t pay for quality shoes, my feet ache and hurt for days. Investing in your mattress is investing in your well-being. God knows it’s hard enough to sleep when you have a million thoughts racing through your brain; your mattress quality should not be one of them! Sheets. There is a difference between sliding into a pair of quality sheets versus sleeping on threads that feel like they’re from medieval times. Basically: treat yo self.
27 | It’s okay to say no. MY. GOD. Say it louder for the people in the back. YOU do not have to do anything that you don’t want to. It is OKAY to say no. It is cathartic to say no. You can still be a people pleaser, a great friend, a devoted partner, and a supportive family member AND SAY NO.
28 | Don’t be afraid to do something huge. So maybe moving 7,744 miles away isn’t for you. That’s okay. But do NOT be afraid to do something huge, monumental, or life-changing. Listen to yourself. Follow your heart! I wanted to own my own small business and try to make it in the world as a filmmaker. So, I’m doing it (well, you know, trying)! You want to move? Do it! You want to have a baby? Do it! You want to cut a toxic person out of your life? Do it! You want to quit your soul-sucking job but don’t have a backup plan? Do it! Be the change! Do something big!
29 | Celebrate everyone’s wins. You might not have seen their losses. How many times in my life have I seen someone post something or say something where I am like, oh, I am SO jealous of that person! Countless times. Someone got this amazing job. Someone got in amazing shape. Someone is having a baby. Someone won an incredible trip. Someone’s small business made it big. Celebrate those successes with those friends or family members. You do not know the losses they might have suffered to achieve those things.
30 | Everything happens for a reason. Even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time, I so deeply believe this. Things may not go how you planned. Things may change. Things may blow up in your face. Things fall apart. Things get put back together. Exciting things happen. We lose people we love. We grow and we learn and we give and we take and at the end of the day, we’re all experiencing life, and everything it encompasses.