30 Life Lessons for 30 Years of Life

Today is my 30th birthday. Good gracious. I have a lot of feelings about this. I have heard quite a few people say that their 30s is the best decade of their lives. My 20s were reasonably questionable, so here’s to hoping I’m 30, flirty, and THRIVING. Also, here’s to the life lessons I’ve learned along the way.


After 30 years, I like to think I’ve learned a lot of life lessons. I still have quite a lot to learn (I’m still working on things like taxes and health insurance), but I’ll get there. The only way through it is through it, right?

30 Life Lessons for 30 Years

  1. NEVER stick around for a boy (or a girl, you do you). This can be sticking around in a location because you don’t want to move away, or staying in a relationship longer than you should. Just never stick around. Nothing good comes from forcing it.
  2. Buy the fruit. This is a slight alteration of Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies, but still valid. You know how many times I have stood in the grocery store and said, “No, I don’t need two packages of raspberries”? TOO MANY TIMES. Buy the damn raspberries! Fresh fruit (and fresh foods in general) are good for you. Invest in yourself!
  3. Read more. We all know that I am such a strong advocate of reading more. Beyond the cognitive and vocabulary improvements you’ll see, it’s also always a good piece of conversation. When I was interviewing people for a job, a great question to ask was “What are you reading now?” I wasn’t looking for any sort of industry-specific title, just something for conversation. If you aren’t a reader now, you can become one very easily.
  4. Wear sunscreen. Yes, we can throw it back to the Baz Luhrmann speech (worth a listen). However, as someone in a family with a history of skin cancer, wear sunscreen. No tan is worth a melanoma.
  5. Stretch! No matter how long you spent as a dancer in your youth, that flexibility will not stay with you. You will end up with a cracking dancer’s hip, and terrible iliopsoas tendonitis that makes it hard to walk. Stretch more because your body will thank you.
  6. Find a way to express your gratitude every day. For me, I keep a gratitude journal and I write down three things I am grateful for every night before I go to sleep. It’s a nice way to round out the day, and go to bed in a positive headspace (regardless of what may have happened during the day). You might start your day by saying (out loud) five things for which you are grateful. Maybe you’ll keep a jar of one thing you’re grateful for every day and reflect on all of them at the end of the year.
  7. Send more mail! Y’all. I love getting mail. There’s nothing better than getting a handwritten card or note or whatever from someone. Send a thank you note if someone helped you out. Send a sympathy card if someone is going through a hard time. Send a “just because” card to a friend you haven’t seen in a while. It’s a great way to stay connected.
  8. Find something (or someone) to kick your butt when you need it. There are a wide variety of butt kickings in the world. Maybe you need it for a diet, maybe you need it to stop smoking, maybe you need your butt kicked to get out of that toxic relationship. We all have people (or things) in our lives who are there to give us that little extra nudge when we need it (or when we don’t want it). Keep that person close. Also, remember to continue to love them even after they’ve kicked your butt.
  9. Drink more water. This probably should have been my number one life lesson, but at least it’s in the first 10. No matter how much water you are drinking, chances are that you should be drinking more. The best that I’ve heard is to take your weight (the number) and divide it in half. That’s the amount of water you should be drinking. If you can’t drink that much, or know that there will be days when you won’t drink that much, find a water additive that will help you close the gap. I’d recommend something like Nuun or Liquid IV.
  10. Wash your linens. I’m embarrassed about the time between linen washes when I was first out and about on my own. Now, I have a set schedule of when I wash my linens, and it’s amazing. Just wash them. It’s always better to be clean (except for wedding hair, apparently).
  11. Always have a backup set of linens. To the point of washing your linens more than you think, have a backup set too! This is everything from sheets to towels to pajamas. Just have a backup set, because then they last even longer.
  12. Tell people how much you love and appreciate them. I read something recently that said that sharing your appreciation of others was “an American concept.” Well that is poppycock. Tell people you love them. Tell them you appreciate them. How warm does it make you feel when someone tells you those kinds of things? PASS THE KINDNESS ON!
  13. Learn something new every day. Ger yourself a “word of the day” calendar or maybe one of those Jeopardy calendars. Find a random fact website that posts a new fact every day. Choose a part of your life or your job that you want to improve, and take courses or workshops toward that improvement. No matter what you do, just learn something new.
  14. Paint your nails. Wear the makeup. YOU DO YOU. I have spent so much of my life worried about what people will think. Honestly, I am usually ready with a retort should anyone make an assumption about me or make fun of me. Has it happened in my adult life? No! Who cares if you always have your nails painted? If it makes you feel good, do it. Want to wear fake eyelashes every day because it makes you feel pretty? DO IT! Never give up on something that brings you joy just because you’re worried about others.
  15. Take more pictures, but don’t let the pictures take you. Photos are great. I am never opposed to capturing a moment. However, if you’re scheduling time to take photos on a night out with friends or something, you’ve gone too far. Just be authentic. Capture the moment and your friendship or your love or your pet or your meal, and then return to be present with those around you.
  16. Invest in reusable grocery bags. Surprise, they’re not just for groceries! They make for great laundry bags when you travel, or just perfect totes if you need to carry something somewhere. Do something good for the environment. Check out some of my Down the Book Jar merch for a few tote options!
  17. Some friends are forever, some are not. Either way, it’s okay. This one has been a hard one for me to realize. I don’t have a high volume of friends, but those that I do have are the greatest quality people in the entire world. Don’t force a friendship if it has run its course. Everyone has something to teach you, and sometimes that lesson is how to say goodbye.
  18. Everyone’s journey is different. As I sit here on my 30th birthday, I feel a little bit lost. I thought I would be somewhere different in my life because that’s what I saw from my friends and family. However, my journey is my own. Your journey is yours too. There are no rules for how you have to live your life (besides living it kindly)!
  19. Always hold the door. This is such a small thing. Hold the door for others. It doesn’t take anything from your life to take an extra 10 seconds to hold the door for someone else. Chances are, it will make their day.
  20. Be kind to everyone. You are no better than anyone else. Well, you’re probably better than the serial killers and mass shooters of the world. However, you are no better than the person who is serving you food at a restaurant. You are no better than a retail worker at Target. Just be kind. You’ll get a lot farther in life with just a little bit of patience and a whole lot of kindness.
  21. Adapting isn’t a sign of defeat. This is a very new lesson for me. I will sometimes feel that adapting to a situation is a sign of giving up. Only using 1lb weights for my sculpt workout is a sign that I’m weak. Giving up on a book that I’m not loving is disrespectful. No, it is just adjusting your course to your path! Change is not a bad thing. Be flexible in your life, and learn to go with the flow a bit more.
  22. Everyone in the world is smarter than you are (about something). My dad and I were talking about this the other day. I might know more about Ben Platt than you do (or digital marketing if we want some sort of life-applicable skill), whereas you might be super knowledgeable about how to play the guitar. Unless you’ve given a TED Talk on something, chances are that you are not an expert. There’s always room to learn.
  23. Don’t take things personally. STORY OF MY LIFE. It’s a life lesson I’m still working on implementing. Sometimes, things just happen. People don’t agree with you, or a project you were excited about gets rejected from a plan. It is unlikely that any of this was any sort of attack on you.
  24. No one cares. I alluded to this in life lesson #14. People on the street (or in the grocery store or at the library or wherever) don’t care about you. You may think or feel that everyone is judging you for not putting on your makeup. Spoiler alert: They’re not. They’re probably worried that you are judging them for forgetting to put on deodorant before running out of the house.
  25. Only commit to caffeine if you’re truly prepared to commit. When I was in college, I started drinking Diet Coke. Not a ton, but it was something available in the dining halls, and I had some most days. One summer, when I was working at camp, I got a headache every day. My doctor told me that I had developed a caffeine dependency. A cup of coffee every day would help alleviate those headaches. Thus, I have to have a cup of coffee every day in order to avoid the inevitable headache. If I knew in college that I would be chained to a cup of coffee every day, would I have done it? Who knows?
  26. Your pillow makes a huge difference. I feel like a lot of my life lessons have come from headaches… Again, I was waking up with headaches every day. One of my coworkers mentioned switching pillows. I thought she was crazy. LO AND BEHOLD, the pillow made a massive difference. Now, I try to always travel with my pillow. It’s tough though because my pillow is a brick (super heavy).
  27. Be respectful. This is a variation of being kind. However, there is a difference in respect and kindness. They go hand in hand, but are very different things. Kindness is helping someone pick something up when their hands are full. Respect is not taking a call on speakerphone in the middle of the supermarket. It’s putting a cart in a corral or bringing it back to the store. It’s letting the person who held the door open for you put their name in first at the restaurant. We are all human.
  28. INVEST. There is a variety of investment. I 100% don’t know everything about money. Heck, I barely know anything about investing. I do have a $10,000 savings plan and $5,000 savings plan on the blog if you need a little lift though. HOWEVER, do yourself a favor and put aside some money for your future. I personally put money into a 401k and IRA through my employer. I have money that comes out of my bank account every week and goes into savings. I have bought my house. I know that the concept of investing isn’t feasible for everyone, but every little bit counts. Your future will thank you.
  29. Make your bed every day. There isn’t some philosophical lesson in this one. Just make your bed when you get out of it. It sets your day up for success, and allows you to return somewhere neat at the end of the day.
  30. The best is yet to come. We have all had some wonderful memories in life. You know what is so special? Chances are that we haven’t yet had the greatest day of our life. There is so much more ahead than those memories that we’ve moved past.

Phew! That was a lot. I don’t have it all figured out. No one does. Self-proclaimed life coaches don’t have it all figured out! All you can do is live your life to the best of your ability. Work to make a positive impact wherever you go. Put a smile on someone’s face, and it will be a good day.

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