The Top 30 Things I Learned on my Way to 30- Part One

by - Thursday, March 17, 2016

at 20
at 29

In two weeks, I am turning 30, so I have really been reflecting on my youth. Or the days where I still got carded (it still happens, but I do think it is slowing down a lot). I actually feel pretty pumped to turn 30; my mom really hit her stride in her 30's, so I am fully expecting to finally look like Jessica Rabbit one of these days. Soon. Anyway, I feel I have learned quite a bit since I turned 20 (it really makes you realize ten years is a long time), so I thought I would share.

1. For goodness sakes, Stop Complaining and Love Yourself Already- For good chunks of my 20's, I wished I would just lose some weight. Then, I watched (and continue to watch) my beautiful Aunt Ann fight cancer, her weight hitting a measly 92 pounds at one point. Watching someone you love so much battle to put weight on really changes your perspective on the endless drama of self-criticism and vanity weight. This might seem like a trite example, but I feel like I have learned this lesson multiple times and on multiple occasions. Self-criticism is only so useful, and I think it leads you to be much more critical of others and way too willing to bend where you shouldn't.

Quicker question- How often does someone magically pass the finish line into the weight/ body shape/ whatever they want and actually feel happy? When do we actually notice?

Short answer- Yeah, caring about your health is important. Your weight is not the same thing, and we waste a hell of a lot of time and brainspace worrying about it.

When I have put the effort in to see what I like about myself first, some of the other stuff either fades away or works itself out. I spent so much time frustrated that I wasn't more articulate or sophisticated while in grad school, and you know how many of those people I still talk to? Two, at best. In the last two to three years, I have focused my energy on other things, and I generally try to be pretty nice to myself, and I think I am a hell of a lot more productive and effective person this way. I see it again now with other moms- you can do the job a lot better if you just focus on your strengths and enjoy it, versus constantly obsessing about what you are doing wrong or looking for validation.

2. Fail. Fail a bunch. Look like an idiot. Take a risk and have it blow up in your face. Fail- At 20, I had a pretty solid plan. Get into a fancy grad school (check), get a PhD (ehhh, half check), become an art history professor (nope, not even sort of). The path was straight and clear, mostly because I had such a poor understanding of what those goals really costed. Having grad school fall apart was probably one of the best things that ever happened to me, because honestly, what do I have to be afraid of? I took a huge leap, and it didn't work out, except that I learned a ton about myself and my real goals, met Yoko Ono, got a free masters degree from Stanford, and absorbed more knowledge than any other time in my life. I highly recommend taking the risk, because failing isn't so bad, and you never have to wonder what if.

3. Be Bored or Be Scared- These are the only approaches available to adulthood. You can stay in safe spaces or you can challenge yourself. This doesn't have to mean jumping out of planes or moving to Mumbai. It's the difference between approaching life by taking on new challenges, even though they may scare you, make you look like an idiot, or call into question what you already know. Or you can stay where you are already comfortable, and be comfortable in what you know, but you aren't growing. And in the end, I am 100% convinced it is more scary. Because than everything that contradicts your seeming expertise is a threat, so people who are different from you or experiences you don't understand threaten to topple your guiding principle (that you know everything you need to).

I really like feeling like I know what I am doing. I love that feeling. But I basically never feel that way anymore, and now I think that might be better. I may look like an idiot often, and I am certainly out in uncomfortable scary situations more than I thought I would be. But now I like that about my life, and I hope I don't lose it.

4. Buy Less, Travel More (or at least experience more)- In my first year of grad school, I bought dried pasta, alfredo sauce, one red pepper, and two chicken breasts every week, and I used those supplies all week long. I ate the same thing every day. I saved money so I could fly home. I am not going to try to say we are struggling like that now, we aren't, but lots of people have asked me how I travel so much, and this honestly is the key. Looking back on my 20's, I don't remember one outfit I decided not to buy or meal (or drink- want to travel? No booze or coffee, that business adds up) I skipped.We stayed in a very small apartment for a long time to save money and travel. We still drive The Boy's 16th birthday gift (which his mother tearfully asks him to get rid of). I carried the same purse and wore the same clothes for the vast majority of the decade to save money so I could still go on adventures or buy a bus ticket to see my boyfriend. Totally worth it. Just take pictures.

5.You can finish this or that, but you cannot finish this AND that. Ok, I am still learning this lesson! Time management is really hard for me, but this is the major flaw in my thinking. I like to think I can get my whole to do list done in an hour, but not so much! And then I am frustrated by lack of productivity DAILY. For realsies, call me at 11 any night, I guarantee you I am annoyed with myself. Having the Bub is teaching me to set more realistic goals, or I will just go insane.

6. Recycled Paper Products- I am kind of mind boggled that I spent so many years of my life using paper towels and toilet paper that trees were chopped down for. Ten years from now, I may not keep this blog, and I may not be a bourgeois environmentalist, but you can count on me still using recycled paper towels, napkins, and toliet paper, because I can't think of any excuse not to. Trees are awesome.

7. People just want to feel heard. Kids, adults, random person on the bus. They just want heard.You want people to like you? Listen to them and ask questions. That simple. Care less about what people think. Care more about how you make them feel.

8. Learn to Change a Tire- You never know when you will need it.

9. Have goals. Every Day, week, and Year needs a goal- Some people hate this kind of thing, but you get a lot more done if you have some sort of vision for how you want things to go if you actually want them to happen. Goals are just wishes that come with a plan and will actually happen. Otherwise, you can spend your life just putting out fires (or changing diapers). and you never really go on that trip or finish that project or clean out the basement. Set goals, set deadlines, and then be flexible about it. You are setting priorities, and they are bound to change, but you can't get things done if you don't know what you want to do.

10. Oysters are Delicious- They should be gross, but they taste like the ocean at it's most delicious. Skip steamed clams. Mussels are always better. Sushi is also good, and when in doubt, go with yellowtail or spicy tuna. Brussel sprouts are still gross. When in doubt at a restaurant, either go with someone who knows or just ask the server. So what if they think you are an idiot?

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