30 Things I’ve Learned in (Less Than) 30 Years

Those slippers >

I realize this post would have been more poetic if I used my actual age and released it on my birthday, like the wonderful Hamza Khan did, who inspired the format. However, in the coming weeks, I’ll be taking part in a retreat lead by another wonderful fellow, Drew Dudley, who has asked us to bring our own list of 30. I’ve decided to take this as an opportunity for a blog post and share 30 of my life learnings with the world.

This is not the sum total of my life learning, just what sticks out to me right now at [you’ll have to search to find my age]. They’re in no particular order.


1. There’s no substitute for hard work.

— Thomas A. Edison

I sleep less. I go out less than my friends. I work evenings and weekends. I’m doing a lot and I’m happy doing it. Working hard, hard being the key word, has created what modest success I have now and will hopefully pay off into my future.

2. Privilege is invisible to those who have it.

I wrote a whole blog post about my learnings with this one. Check it out here.

3. Everyone can learn.

It’s your job as the educator to make it so that everyone does.

4. You can learn from everyone.

Even if it’s just another view of the world, you can learn something from everyone. This is especially true and sometimes difficult when talking about your work. I’d be silly not to take advice from 14 year old students who are the prime drivers of the social networks that keep me employed. Separate your ideas from the self and let everyone make them better. A great explanation post by Hamza Khan here.

5. Soft skills are the key to success.

Effective communication, everyday leadership, teamwork, mindfulness and more. I could go on but I wrote a good explanation piece about why I started a school for soft skills here.

6. Everyone’s got their shit.

You probably have no idea what it is. Keep an open mind and be empathetic.

7. Blue cheese is the most misunderstood food.

So. Good. On burgers, with chutney, on bagels. Yum.

8. Relationship success (romantic or otherwise) requires staying on TRAC.

Trust, Respect, Affection & Communication (TRAC). Each can be defined a little differently for each relationship.

9. If you’re not trying to hurt the world, YOU DO YOU.

It doesn’t affect you so why do you care so much? Just let people be. Stop judging. So they dress or talk a certain way? Cool. They believe something else happens to you when you die. Cool. They love different people or in a different way than you do. Cool. You do you and let everyone else do the same.

10. Find the good and roll with that.

Rolling off #9, sometimes that friend will only ever be the one you meet up with twice a year for brunch. If you enjoy that brunch, then take that good and roll with it. You’re at an event you can’t stand, but the food is good. Roll with it. You’ll be happier.

11. We have no time for hate.

Love is fun. Hate consumes. Ain’t nobody got time for that. This can be pretty hard at times.

12. Age does not equal wisdom; lived experience does.

Sometimes they go hand in hand and sometimes they do not.

13. Whiskey and wine. Bless.

What wonderful things.

14. Alone time is necessary.

I need it. I crave it. I love it. I want others to feel the same JOMO (Joy of Missing Out) and not FOMO that I do.

15. “Busy” is subjective.

It’s not a competition to see who’s doing more. It’s all relative, so relax and try to understand.

16. Let the work speak for itself.

Sometimes read as, “be so good they can’t ignore you.” Don’t beg for a pat on the head - earn it.

17. Personal value needs to come from the person.

It sounds like a bad fortune cookie, but you really do need to understand and like yourself before anyone else can. It’s hard to get there sometimes, but it will make life better.

18. My family is so awesome.

4 parents and 6 daughters. The fact that we all like to hang out and that I actually get excited to go home for an event is something I realize not everyone has. I feel lucky.

19. You’re not going to be friends with everyone.

You can choose friends. Chances are, people who stray far away from #9 in this post won’t be in my circles. That’s when I try to enact #10. I have a small close group of friends and strong family ties. Everyone else is a bonus!

20. People feed off confidence.

In my research about soft skills, a lot of it comes down to confidence. The people I gravitate towards exhibit it in their own ways and I hope I can inspire others through mine. Sometimes the wrong people have too much confidence, like certain politicians we know, but people still feed on it. Confidence can be learned and you can fake it until you become it.

21. There’s nothing like a quality TV episode or film.

What an experience. So exhilarating. Especially the debrief after.

22. Resourcefulness is key.

“Defined as the ability and creativity to cope with difficulties.”

23. What matters is equality of outcome, not circumstances (especially in education).

Some people need more help, scholarships, opportunities to reach the same outcome (graduation, meaningful employment, etc.) that you have. I was a low-income, first generation student who needed those scholarships to bring me to the same financial level as my affluent classmates. Circle back to #2 and try to understand your privilege. I’m still constantly checking myself.

24. Privilege is not a fault.

Rolling off #23, that classmate didn’t choose to be born into an affluent family. It’s not something they’re doing to you, so don’t punish people for their privilege. Be happy for them and appreciative of your own. This is especially hard when you’re very young and don’t understand why your classmates get to go around the world on family vacations and you don’t. Though if we can’t master this one, we’re in a constant state of envy, jealously and wanting. We’re preventing our own contentment.

25. Take 2 minutes to appreciate.

You’ve heard it before: “Enjoy the journey, not just the destination” or “smell the roses” or anything from DJ Khaled’s Snapchat. My Dad taught me this one young. I remember many a time where we would pull off the road just to look at a site, breathe in and appreciate life. I continue similar practices today.

26. Luck is when opportunity meets preparation.

— Oprah Winfrey

We create our own destinies. What is my dream job? Am I prepared if it were offered to me tomorrow? If not, I have work to do.

27. Honour your word.

Another one to my Dad who took a “promise” and commitment very seriously. If you tell your friend you’re going to their birthday, you show up. If you signed-up for a soccer team, you attend (or the awesome “we’re paying for it.” haha). It’s become so easy to bail with increased communication, but trust me, I remember the people who show up and I’m loyal to them.

28. Be able to take care of yourself.

But don’t push away those who want to help. Credited mostly to my once single Mom, a “strong independent woman.” I remember at 9, learning how to put up a towel rack and something along the lines of, “You girls need to be able to take care of yourself. You don’t need a man!” In our years since, my Mom and I have reinterpreted the statement to have nothing to do with men (lol), but rather an emphasis on independence. We’ve also learned that you don’t need to do everything alone just because you can. Welcome help, love, companionship, mentorship and friendship when they come.

29. Assume intellect.

“Intellect refers to the ability of the mind to come to correct conclusions about what is true or real, and about how to solve problems.”

I haven’t fully formed this learning yet, but I’ve found success assuming people are smart and capable. I talk to 12-year-olds like I talk to 20-year-olds (which is what most of them want to be). We may be talking about Snapchat filters and YouTube stars, but I take as much interest and give as must respect as I would to anyone. Bonus: they think I’m cool. I’ve also seen this with varying levels of ability and diseases like Lou Gehrig’s (ALS). I walk in assuming intellect. I’ll talk to you like anyone else until you or your caretaker tells me otherwise. I don’t want to be the cause of more microaggressions. I don’t know if this is right yet, but I’m learning, which leads me to…

30. Learning is lifelong.

If I write this exact same post when I actually do turn 30 in [a number of] years, something went wrong. I believe we all have capacity to teach, grow, innovate, invent and LEARN.

Thanks for reading.


For more blogs by me, check out my Medium or follow my journey through Twitter @BaileyParnell .