Thought Catalog
September 1, 2015

29 Things I Learned By Age 29

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image –Raul Felix

A couple of months ago I turned 29. Another year passed where I read a ton of books, had new adventures with different women, made new friends, traveled, wrote, and kept trying to be a better man. In celebration of another year of beating the Grim Reaper, I have put together a new list of lessons that made their way into my baboon mind. While I still don’t know jack shit about life, I’m probably qualified enough to give you my subjective opinion in list format.

1. It’s OK to have separate groups of friends for different aspects of your personality. Not all of your friends or acquaintances are going to click with one another.

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2. If you’re a writer who is published online and you don’t make your entire living off your writing, keep that shit separate from your day job. Don’t ever tell anyone at your place of employment whom you don’t sincerely trust that you write. All it takes is one freedom-of-speech-hating coworker with a fragile ego to fuck you over.

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3. The moment you think you have women all figured out, you don’t.

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4. The right guy doesn’t always get the girl; sometimes it’s just the guy who happened to be at the right place at the right time.

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5. It seems that no matter where I go to in the world, people feel trapped in their hometown.

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6. Yet people always seem to have a sense of pride about where they grew up. Be mindful before you talk shit about it.

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7. A cute chick’s #selfie that is pretty much the same as every other #selfie she took will get 100X more likes than whatever deep, intellectual shit you have to say.

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8. A 19-year-old said to me upon hearing that I’ve been to New York City, “Don’t you think it’s the most amazing place ever?” I said, “No. Because I’ve actually been to other places around the world.” You can insert whatever city you wish into that statement. I’ve been to enough places to know that each city has its beauty, its unique quirks, its culture, its one-of-a-kind food, its slums, its overpriced tourist traps, and its hidden treasures. Quit trying to compare one iconic city to another. Just enjoy the city you’re in and explore as much of it as you can while you’re there.

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9. “Normal” is subjective. From ages 18-22 I didn’t consider training and going to war to be anything special because everyone I interacted with on a daily basis did it. It was just what we did. Looking back on it, I think to myself, “Holy fuck, I used to do that shit?”

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10. Everyone you meet in life has something to teach you. Listen to what they talk about and ask questions. Most people have one or two things they are passionate about, whether it’s sports, food, gambling, music, drugs, money, books, guns, cars, history, fitness, video games, motorcycles, sex, or writing. The list of possible knowledge is endless. Even the lowest, most worthless piece-of-shit human being you meet can teach you how not to act.

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11. Hard work does not always equal success, but success is not possible without hard work.

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12. Though I am not religious, I have a statue of the Virgin Mary in my room. As a Mexican-American, it’s a symbol of my culture. It gives the place where I live a true feeling of home. You must embrace whatever gives you comfort.

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13. There is no glamour in being poor. You know who glamorizes the starving-artist lifestyle? Middle-class suburban kids who can count on a check from their parents when the bohemian life gets too tough. Then there are those of us who know that if we borrow money from our parents, they may not be able to pay their bills. Or some of us don’t have that safety net at all.

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14. When you’re a writer, it creates an emotional imbalance with any person you are dating if they have read your work. They know more about you than you do about them at the beginning stages of courtship. It feeds into your ego that they know things that take the average person weeks, months, or even years to reveal, and yet they still like you. Yet you fail to realize that you’re the one who is more emotionally invested. You’ve shared your heart and soul to a person who may only have a passing curiosity in you.

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15. Don’t let politics and religion get in the way of friendships. I have conservative friends who can’t believe I am friends with tree-hugging, fetus-killing, smug-ass libtards. I have liberal friends who can’t believe I am friends with gun-toting, women-rights-oppressing, Obama-hating conservatives. I simply don’t care how another person chooses to live their life if it doesn’t affect me. Part of being an open-minded person is accepting other cultures’ ways of doing things, even if it goes against your own belief system.

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16. Treating someone with respect is the best way to start a relationship with them. Either that person will prove you right and will keep your respect or they will turn out to be a piece of shit and will lose it. Yet it’s better to respect someone who doesn’t deserve it than it is to disrespect someone who deserves your respect.

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17. Time equals love. Judge a potential mate by their actions, not their words. If they’re not giving you any of their time, they don’t really care about you.

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18. The mainstream media gives the populace outrage porn, and a majority of people are masturbating to it.

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19. One of the best compliments a soldier can get from his comrades is “He’s a good dude.”

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20. It’s human to feel jealous—of someone’s success, girlfriend, and good luck. You don’t have to let it negatively affect you. You can use the jealousy as fuel to make yourself chase after what you want.

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21. People who constantly talk about how America is losing its values or how life was simpler and easier in those golden days have no understanding of history and view it through rose-colored glasses. The 1950s was an age of the nuclear family, wholesome American fun, and economic prosperity. There was also the Korean War, the impending fear of a nuclear destruction, and the Jim Crow South.

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22. Find a place that makes you feel insignificant. One of my favorite things to do is swim at Cayuga Lake three or four times a week. Not only is it ridiculously beautiful, it also reminds me that whatever problems I have aren’t that significant or whatever I am working on isn’t that big of a deal. It humbles me. This body of water has been here way before I was and will be here way after I am gone. That’s some Zen shit right there.

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23. Lots of people are cowards—emotional, physical, or moral. If you’re able to muster up the courage and show strength in these aspects, you’re doing way better than 90% of people.

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24. Be honest with yourself about your weaknesses. Mine is women. I have an almost insatiable lust for them. Once I accepted this about myself, it made it easier for me to control my emotions and not fall and melt for whatever little cute thing who batted her big, brown eyes at me. I still fuck up on occasion, though.

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25. It’s OK to not be accepted. Find the people who accept you. Thanks to my crude sense of humor and my machismo, I find it hard to connect to most people in general. Yet I found that by being myself, I was able to attract the kinds of people—both civilian and military types—who dig how I am and what I have to say.

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26. There are two types of people in this world: those who do what they say they’re going to do and those who don’t.

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27. If you have a dream, start small in whatever way you can. When I started as a writer, I knew no one in online media. It all seemed like this big exclusive club of people. They were obviously smarter than me. How the fuck was a nobody like me going to break in? I didn’t really know how to go about it, but I knew I had to produce quality work. I’m still not a big name, but I accomplished more in a couple of years than most. Now I have a plethora of contacts and learned that not everyone is as smart as I thought they were. Also, a lot of the writers I looked up to and thousands of people know my work.

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28. Life does get better for men who spent time developing their minds and their bodies. While I haven’t found the love of my life yet, I have gone on dates and at times have hooked up with more women than I can remember—beautiful, smart, and ambitious women who three or four years ago wouldn’t even give me the time of day. The fact that’ve I read a ton of books, traveled, am self-sufficient, and have worked out consistently most of my life has put me above a lot of my peers.

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29. Having an amazing mother is one the best things a man can have. While it’s “cool” to have mommy issues and not like your mom these days, I harbor none of those feelings. My mom gave me a good example of what a strong, hardworking, courageous, and caring woman is. As my uncle once told me: “You know who has the biggest balls I’ve ever met in my life? Your mom.” TC mark