Thought Catalog
October 3, 2013

30 Lessons Learned On Your Way To 30

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1. Say I love you. Don’t say it until you’re ready and don’t say it because you feel obligated and don’t say it because it would mean you’re instantly entitled to something. But when you’re ready and you can barely keep the words trapped behind pursed lips and you finally realize it means you would give everything you have for the one who will hear it, say it. Even if you leave or they leave or you are pulled apart by an external force greater than yourselves, the words will always be there.

2. Doing something by yourself, for yourself, at least once a week is the only way you’ll make it through your twenties still clutching your sanity.

3. Doing something for other people, regardless of the sacrifice and without an ounce of recognition, on a regular basis is the only way you’ll make it through your twenties still clutching your sanity.

4. Your friends will become as wrapped up in responsibility as you will. They’ll grow distant or forget to call or stop communicating as frequently as they once passionately promised they would. Forgive them and hope that when you do the same they’ll forgive you.

5. Unapologetically enjoy sex. Perhaps it’s with one person or maybe you’d prefer to shop around or, possibly, you’d rather lose yourself in a mass of three or four bodies. Either way, you’re finally starting to understand yourself as a sexual being and there is nothing shameful or wrong or sinful about it. So continue to research, practice and repeat. Research, practice and repeat.

6. Be smart. Condoms might be uncomfortable but so are crabs and birth control pills may be a pain but so is labor and the absence of a no does not mean a yes.

7. Social media isn’t as serious as you make it out to be.

8. Social media is also more influential than you probably understand.

9. There will always be people who will not understand you and who you will not understand. Meet in the middle with kindness, acceptance and a willingness to believe that people, yes, even you, aren’t meant to be fully comprehended. We are as vast as the universe and as controversial as its creation.

10. Enjoy criticism. Sure it might be vindictive and yes it might hurt when it hits and of course it can be far from helpful but it pushes you towards the better and keeps you humble in your abilities and stops your tough skin from growing tender.

11. From time to time turn off your phone and computer and tablet and iPad. The simple words you share with a breathing, beating, blinking person in front of you are far more important than 140 character “breaking news” being shared throughout the electronic atmosphere. The news isn’t going anywhere. That person might be.

12. It’s ok to judge people who run marathons. Especially early in the morning. That’s just not normal.

13. Try and run at least one marathon in your life. Sometimes being judged is worth it.

14. A potential employer who hires someone else or a once-loved boyfriend who sleeps with someone else or a publication that decides to publish someone else does not determine your self-worth. That job will always be yours and yours alone. Whether you like it or not.

15. Politics are just as complex, confusing and polarizing as they seem. Get involved anyway.

16. Some of the quietest nights with the comfiest clothes and the mundane of television shows are the nights you’ll remember the fondest.

17. Don’t stop going out too late and drinking too much and dancing too wildly and laughing too loudly. One day your body won’t allow it and you’ll wish you did it all too much just one more time.

18. Season premiers and/or finales are far more important than a night out of heavy drinking. There can be other bar nights. There will never be another Walter White or Jesse Pinkman.

19. Never stop kissing. Kiss quickly before rushing out the door or mindlessly when coming home from work or softly after a compliment is shared or passionately in public just because or helplessly when you know you won’t kiss that set of lips again. Just keep kissing.

20. Try something newly petrifying as often as possible. Just because you haven’t grown an inch in years doesn’t mean you should stop growing.

21. The fact that you’ve changed isn’t bad. You should be endlessly learning and tirelessly striving to become a better version of yourself. Don’t let people blanket you with guilty utterances like “you’ve changed”. Instead, turn that blanket around and tie it to your neck and be proud that you’re one step closer to a more evolved you.

22. Don’t lose the foundational parts of yourself that allow you to stand tall as a more evolved you.

23. From time to time bask in a painfully debilitating sea of nostalgia. Some pictures will hold the ones you can no longer touch and some memories will breathe life into those who no longer live and some moments will remind you that although you feel close you are so very far away from those you would live for over and over again. Revisit, relive, and remember anyway.

24. The places you’ve been and the drinks you’ve had and the things you’ve collected and the money you’ve made matter, but only because of the ones you share them with.

25. Stop mourning your youth. Your mindset, not a calculated passing of time, determines your abilities and desires and passions.

26. Stay active. Stay active by consciously running into the ones you love or exercising your right to raise your voice or fighting for beliefs you feel are most important. Just stay active.

27. Don’t fear the possibilities or people that could potentially cause you pain. When you look back and wonder what gave you your unending reserve or surprising strength or selfless compassion, it will be the people and possibilities that hurt you the most. Learn from them.

28. The idea that certain “monumental” moments should be lived by now or a certain level of success should be obtained by now is a load of erroneous bullshit. The only person that lives your life is you. The only person that decides which moments are truly monumental or defines personal success, is you.

29. There’s nothing better than slow dancing in a dimly lit room to Frank Sinatra. Try it.

30. Life is nothing but fleeting moment after fleeting moment strung together like a summer’s clothesline. You will be tempted to believe happiness doesn’t exist because it’s short-lived and people cannot be trusted because they’re temporary and love is a figment of a heart’s imagination because it’s perishable. Yet, you are just as short-lived and temporary and perishable. You are no less you because your time has an expiration date. Neither is happiness or others or, most of all, love. TC mark

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