30 for 30.
I just celebrated my 30th birthday and to call a spade a spade, I had a bit of a quarter-life crisis. And yes, I can do math and I intend to live until 120…I’ve always been an overachiever. Looking back on the first 30 years of my life, I compiled a list of 30 things I wish I knew earlier (because lists are trendy and ain’t nobody got time for transitions).
1. If you don’t love it in the change room, don’t buy it. Seriously, you’ll never wear it. Yeah I’m looking at you floral possibly neoprene dress…for all those scuba galas I frequent?
2. You have a relatable voice, use that early and often to help people.
3. Stop being so hard AF. Being vulnerable is the strongest thing you can do. This is how you learn and grow. Except for during Pixar flicks…hot damn. Up? Frozen? Toy Story 3?! HOLD IT TOGETHER SAU.
4. People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Not everyone is there for the same purpose. Choose wisely which relationships to invest your time in.
5. Value-added spending, sometimes known as baller on a budget. I had a mortgage at 25. I travel as much as Carmen San Diego. I only spend money on things that add joy to my life. I spend money on experience. That means learning to say no to plans that don’t add joy.
6. There are no timelines. You are never behind.
7. Choose jobs based on skills you want to learn or bosses you want to learn from. Don’t chase titles.
8. There is no finite amount of success. It’s not mutually exclusive. If you can’t be happy for someone else, you’re just an asshole.
9. People get soft as they age. Forgive your parents. They made mistakes but so will you. Nobody tells you how to do these things. Except for Full House. Danny, Joey and Uncle Jesse have good tips: have mercy, cut it out and group hugs solve everything.
10. Stand up for people. Courage is contagious and kindness is free.
11. Sleep. You can do anything but not everything. Even Batman had Robin and Alfred. Burnout is a real thing.
12. Never hold a compliment in…or a fart.
13. Party friends are no longer a thing. At this age, you’re either an everything friend or nothing.
14. Be unapologetically selective. With relationships, with jobs, with hobbies. Time at this age is our greatest asset and the only finite resource we should be worried about.
15. Independence and loneliness are two completely different things. Don’t confuse them. Become the person you love being alone with.
16. Resilience over luck. I don’t care what’s supposed to happen, I’m going to make it happen.
17. Stick with things. Commitment is important and you can always be proud of that. What is “cool” fades. If you learned this sooner, you’d have a black belt, a respectable golf game and potentially be a competitive gymnast.
18. Your mom is your best friend. Stop trying to fight it. You’re getting a tattoo dedicated to her. Don’t worry, it’s more classy and less biker with mommy issues.
19. Wait a little longer and buy things once. Your faux leather pull-out sectional that rearranges like Tetris lasts for approximately 2.6 years.
20. Don’t dye your hair. In a decade, you’ve donated 15 ponytails, it would have been 18 if it weren’t for those terrible red streaks you got.
21. Your style ends up being trendy. Stick with it. Let me tell you about this thing called Athleisure. Also, camo. All of the camo.
22. Buridan’s Ass. A donkey is equally hungry as it is thirsty and it is standing halfway between a pile of hay and a bucket of water. It looks left at the hay and right to the water but can’t decide and dies of both hunger and thirst. Don’t be a donkey. Be decisive and have patience. You may not be able to have it all at once, but you can have it all. Get your hay then wash it down with water.
23. A’s hire A’s. B’s hire C’s. Surround yourself with greatness.
24. Fuck “should”. There is no linear path. There isn’t even a path! Life throws a bunch of dots at us. Just try to connect them the best you can.
25. I’ve learned more this year from a 9 and a 7 year old than all the business books I’ve read put together. About character, about accountability, about strength, resilience and kindness. Don’t be a smart ass. Wisdom comes from anywhere and everywhere.
26. Life experience over job experience. You can always learn skills. Character takes time to build and a lifetime to stay true to.
27. Just start. You’ll never have all of the details to be 100% confident in anything. Trust your gut. Life is basically trial and error anyways.
28. Say yes. Figure it out later. A mother after my TED talk asked me how I say yes to everything without knowing how I’m going to do it. My answer: I spent my entire childhood not coming 1st so failing doesn’t scare me. Worst case scenario: more error for my trial & error case files. Best case scenario: I nail it.
29. A teacher asks her class if a jar with ping pong balls in it is full. The class says yes. She then fills it with pebbles. Is it full then? She fills it with sand. Is it full then? She fills it with water. If you start with the water, you can’t fit it all in. Prioritization. Choose what your ping pong balls are and ALWAYS start there.
30. “Life is hard, kid. You have to be harder.” Working on it, James Frey.
Hindsight is 20/20. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure I’d give the younger version of me any advice at all. The mistakes, the learning, the growth is what makes me the badass I am today. So I would just do it all over again but this time with a lot more gusto and maybe less tequila.