10 Lessons Of Life And Love From ’13 Going On 30′ That Still Hold Up

Some lessons are timeless.

There’s something so timelessly awesome about 13 Going on 30. Despite it coming out over 20 years ago, even new fans are loving Jennifer Garner’s Big-esque storyline. Maybe it’s the so-bad-it’s-good 80’s fashion sprinkled throughout. Perhaps it’s the idea of swapping bodies with your future self. Or it’s everyone’s Marvel crush Mark Ruffalo, pre-Hulk. Either way, when you re-watch this rom-com masterpiece, there are some life lessons you’ll want to keep long after the end credits roll.

Don’t forget who your real friends are.

Mistake number one for Jenna Rink is her almost pathological insistence on spending time with the popular girls at her school, the self-named “Six Chicks.” These are not her friends, yet she invites them to her 13th birthday party. It doesn’t hurt that the Six Chicks are promising to bring Jenna’s crush. And she just pushes her real friend Matt away. How fun can a birthday party really be if it’s filled with people who don’t like you?

If someone does something big for you, they’re more than just a friend.

Speaking of Matt, he really goes all out for Jenna’s birthday. He brings her this decked-out dollhouse and a packet of Wishing Dust to “make all her dreams come true.” Girl, no regular friend will do that. He’s at least a ride-or-die bestie, but more likely has a gigantic crush. This is the kind of clue you might be missing from the people around you right now.

Be careful what you wish for.

I think we’ve all seen or read enough wishing stories to know that you essentially need an iron-clad contract if you’re going to be making any wishes. With Jenna’s “30, flirty, and thriving” wish, of course it didn’t turn out the way she wanted. Better to just make the life you want for yourself than relying on spooky wish magic.

When in doubt, do the “Thriller” dance.

Sony Pictures

Everyone loves Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Learn the dance so you can liven up a party like Jenna. It sounds silly, but it’ll probably work even if you’re not the main character of a rom-com.

A youthful attitude is welcome no matter the age.

When Jenna’s 13-year-old self is transported into her 30-year-old body, everything in her new adult life gets shaken up. Everyone at work is loving her new youthful attitude. She’s making friends everywhere she goes. Sometimes we get caught up in “acting our age,” but who decides what that means? If you find yourself avoiding fun things like dancing in the rain or wearing colorful clothes just because this is what you do when you’re 30, take a page from Jenna Rink’s book. Smile, have fun, and be your youthful self no matter what year is printed on your driver’s license.

Once a mean girl, always a mean girl.

Jenna is thrilled to find that she not only works with Lucy–head of the Six Chicks–but they’re also best friends. It seems like Lucy has changed and is no longer a mean girl. We learn in the end that’s not the case and she sabotages Jenna’s career. While people do change and grow as they get older, maybe you shouldn’t be putting your trust in the school bully.

It’s never too late to do the right thing.

Unfortunately, Lucy’s mean girl attitude rubbed off on pre-wish adult Jenna. 13-year-old Jenna realizes that she’d stolen ideas from the magazine she works for and gave them to another mag. Luckily, Jenna comes clean and does what’s right. You can, too. It may seem like it’s too late, but it really isn’t.

If you missed your chance, accept it.

It takes until nearly the end of the movie for Jenna to realize she loves childhood best friend-turned-hottie Matt. By then he’s moved on from her and is in a happy and committed relationship. Here’s where Jenna eventually does the right thing: She lets him go. No breaking up a couple, no trying to get him to cheat. She accepts that she missed her chance. You can, too.

If you get a second chance, make it right this time.

But of course, Jenna was sent to the future with wish magic, so she’s given a second chance. As you can see by the ending, she goes for it with 1987 Matt and they end up together in the future. If you have a second chance, don’t waste it. This goes for love, work, family, anything. Savor those second chances.

Always choose Mark Ruffalo.

Sony Pictures

I mean, really.

About the author

Trisha Bartle

Trisha’s your resident tarot reader, rom-com lover, and horror connoisseur. In addition to using her vast knowledge of all things cinema for Thought Catalog’s TV + Movies entertainment section, she also offers her astrological and tarot expertise to Collective World. Trisha splits her time between making art and being awesome.