30 Life Lessons It Has Taken Me 30 Years To Learn To Live

Leo Hidalgo
Leo Hidalgo

1. Be unapologetic about your passions.

I freaking love One Direction. And Harry Potter. And Criminal Minds. And playing video games (even though I am awful at them). Do you know how much I care if you know that? Obviously not a lot.

Love what you love and if people judge you for it, blast ‘What Makes You Beautiful‘ and moonwalk outta there.

2. If you have to be ushered in a backroom to do a drug, it’s probably not one you should do.

Or, I guess you could not do drugs. Either or.

3. It’s not a bad thing that you’re becoming your parents.

My mum is a boss bitch. My dad is a raving lunatic. I’ve slowly started to take on parts of their personalities in my evil plan to turn into a boss lunatic. I’m okay with that.

4. If a car is driving stupidly, they’re probably from Florida.

Trust me, I’ve done extensive* research.

*I drive a lot and have a fair amount of road rage.

5. Never let your fear decide your fate.

I have made some very strange life choices. I’ve leapt feet first into graduate school in London, I moved to DC within 2 weeks notice, and volunteered to go overseas for months at a time. I regret absolutely none of these choices.

6. But you will absolutely have regrets.

It’s a fact of life. We all mess up and yes, maybe you’ll learn a lesson from your mistake or maybe you won’t, either way it’s not a bad thing to regret somethings in your life as long as you learned something from the experience. If you have multiple regrets of the same mistake, you should probably do something about that.

7. It’s okay to let people go.

With Facebook and Instagram and Twitter where we’re so reluctant to unfollow or unfriend people, they had to create a mute or unsubscribe option so the appearance remains that you still follow that person when in fact you cannot stand their stinkin’ guts and they are scummmm between your toes.

Here’s a tip – if people are toxic, clip them from the fabric of your life. Like – unfriend, unfollow, block – do what you have to and don’t worry about their feelings. Because you know who’s feelings are important? Yours.

8. Eat some spinach every now and then.

Rumor has it, green is good for you.

9. Don’t torture yourself but restricting yourself.

Food, I’m still talking about food. Eat that bread if you’re into gluten, just don’t eat the whole loaf at once.

10. If you can, travel.

It’s astounding how much more of a tolerant and well rounded person you are after you’ve experienced different cultures, been lost in a strange city, or have been stuck in an airport for 12 hours.

11. Enjoy the ride.

This is both literal and figurative advice: some of my favorite parts of traveling is the actual journey – the train, the plane, the long car-ride where you can pause for a second to stare out the window like you’re in a Hollywood montage. But also, figuratively enjoy the ride of your life because it’s going to toss you around, beat you to hell but it’s also going to make you laugh and smile.

12. Read.

Pick up a book. Read the news. Read an opinion piece. Just read, at least one thing a day. Books have this amazing ability to take you to places you may never get to travel whilst experiencing things you may never get to do (or want to do – big Hunger Games fan, wouldn’t be super into watching 11-17 year olds battle to the death).

13. Call that friend.

I wish I did. 2015 saw an old friend from high school pass away after battling Cystic Fibrosis for his entire life. He was one of those people that everyone loved and my four years of high school are filled with memories of him. For years I’d followed his life through my own BFF who remained in the same state as him and continued to have a close friendship with him. I always just figured I’d see him again at some reunion or when I was visiting CT some time. Instead, the reunion was at his wake and let me tell you if there’s one thing I regret in the last 30 years, it’s not checking in more with him.

So learn from that, if you think ‘oh, I wonder how so-and-so is doing’. Call them. Text them. Hell, Facebook message them. At the very least, tell them you’re thinking about them and hope they’re doing well. People like that.

14. Go the fuck to sleep.

Seriously – Netflix will still be showing all 248 episodes of Criminal Minds. You don’t need to watch ‘just one more’ at 2 AM on a Tuesday when you have an 8 AM meeting.

15. Run to something, not away.

My amazing ex-coworker gave me this advice and it’s become my new life mantra. When making a potentially life-altering decision, it’s best to ask yourself the question: am I running away from something, or am I running to something? There is a massive difference.

I don’t advocate running away from anything unless it’s a bear but that’s just me.

16. There are no bad relationships.

Immediately after I graduated college, I got into my first (and henceforth only) serious relationship. I was in it for nearly three years. It was, by all accounts, not a good one. I won’t get into the specifics because that isn’t important, but early in the post-breakup stage I caught myself saying how I had wasted my ‘prime’ years (21-24…YIKES if those are actually my prime years) when in actuality I learned a lot about who I am as a person, what I want in a partner as well as what I 100% do not want in a partner.

As long as you learn from a relationship, it isn’t a bad one…unless you marry it. Don’t do that.

17. Ask for hard options.

My family was not on board with the aforementioned guy. Once we broke, I asked ‘why in the HELL didn’t anyone tell me?!’. The completely expected answer was ‘we didn’t want to upset you’.



Upset me! Tell me when I’m being stupid! At least that way you get to have the smug satisfaction of saying ‘I told you so’ when I ignore your advice and continue doing whatever I want.

18. Go to class.

You may be thinking, ‘well, duh’ but sometimes it’s such common sense we forget to share it. I wasn’t exactly what you’d call a ‘model student’. There were times I had a friend drive me to class and when we got to the building all they had to say was, ‘you don’t have to go – we should hang out instead!’ and boom, no class for jojo that day! And God help me if I skipped the first class of the day because then I wasn’t going to ANY class that day.

I remember it being a struggle to go to a three hour, once a week night class when I was in college. Now I am quite certain I would murder someone to only have a three hour commitment for a day. I’d exchange my 10-12 hour work days for that opportunity at any given moment.

19. Get a savings account.

Seriously. Tires pop. Hot water heaters explode. Cars light on fire. You’re going to have to pay for it somehow.

20. Tip your server.

And your doorman. And your cab driver. Occasionally the barista. Also smile, say hello, please and thank you. Don’t be an elitist prick.

21. Notice how people treat servers.

It is ASTOUNDING how rude people can be.

Pro tip: if you get rich, be one of the rumored nice ones. Do it for me.

22. When driving on the NJ Turnpike, always take the local/truck lanes.

Trust me, for some reason they are ALWAYS faster than the ‘express’ lanes. If you’ve never had to drive up the Eastern seaboard through the behemoth that is New Jersey, count your blessings.

23. If something will only take five minutes, do it now.

Honestly, think about how often you catch yourself saying, ‘oh that’ll take five minutes, I’ll do it later’. If you’re at all like me (for your sake, I hope you aren’t), you tend to put it off. Instead I’ve started this new thing of just doing it now. It takes FIVE minutes and then it’s done and you’re happy.

24. Make your bed.

Another little thing that provides the illusion that you are a productive and contributing member of society all by 6 AM!

25. Wear red lipstick.

Or heels that might hurt. Or that shirt that your mum thinks is hideous. Because do you know who you aesthetically need to please? You.

26. Go see your favorite band.

I’m obsessed with music. I have no idea about tone or pitch nor do I have any musical acumen. But I do love standing in a crowd of people, belting out the same lyrics with thousands of other people while I stand on tip-toe in an attempt to catch sight of my favorite singer (who I do not know the name of unless it’s Marcus Mumford because he helpfully threw his last name into the band name).

27. Be careful going up or down stairs.

I’m being practical here. I fall a lot. I once face planted down the steps of the London underground. It was so bad that even a typically restrained British person came rushing over to make sure I was okay rather than averted their eyes. So just, be careful. Don’t check your phone or try to hold a conversation, no one wants to have their obituary read: Dumbass Fell Down Steps, Broke Neck.

28. Do you.

I’m an extrovert. I’m also an introvert. Sometimes, I really need to be around people. Other times, I really need to sit at home alone for two days straight without speaking to anyone. I listen to those feelings and plan accordingly, peer pressure (or FOMO) be damned.

29. Put your phone away.

Seriously. We all fall victim to this. We sit at dinner with a friend and our phone is on the table. We go to a concert and we start to film. We hang out at a bar with a group of people and spend the night on our phones.

I always catch myself using my phone when I’m meant to be socializing and I am making a concerted effort to not be that person. It’s amazing how much more you enjoy your life and social interactions if you actually remember what you talked about with a person rather than ‘oh yeah, great dinner – I texted with some jerk for half of it’.

30. Embrace your mediocrity.

The harsh truth is most of us won’t be rich, we won’t be famous, we won’t ever have people yelling our names or watching our every move (thank God for small miracles there – I’d end up punching someone).

That’s not to say you need to live a boring life. You can laugh and go on adventures with friends. You can build a blanket fort on a Saturday and get drunk in it. You can read every book on Time’s 100 Best Books list. You can have a job you’re proud of, or just one that pays your bills. You can get married and have kids, and then guess what – you do get to be someone’s hero. You can have a life that may not be star-worthy, but is still pretty damn great. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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