Advice From a Near 30 Year Old

27 February 2013

On the occasion of my 29th birthday, and start on my 30th year of life, I realize that I have learned some valuable things that I wish someone would have shared with me when I was 20 years old (if I would have even listened).

So in the spirit of giving advice that no one asked for, here are 29 things about life that I have learned (sometimes the hard way).

1. Posture is more important than they let on when they tell you to sit up straight as a kid.

2. College isn't for giggles.  Get serious early on, get a degree that pays off when you get out, and learn something while you are there. 

3. Act the way you want to become.  That doesn't mean buy a fancy-pants car before you can afford it, but it does mean that you should never go to the grocery store in sweat pants if you don't want to be the lady that goes to the grocery store in sweat pants.  Sit up straight, wear appropriate clothes, use appropriate language, and act in a way that you won't be embarrassed to look back on.

4. Moisturize your face, neck, and hands. If you don't by the time you are 29, everyone can tell, and you will spend way too much time looking in the mirror and wondering what happened.

5. Find your passions and pursue them hard.  Whether it be career, family, travel...doesn't matter.  Tomorrow is not guaranteed to us, so don't waste time thinking about being great, just start being great.

6. What other people think of you is not your business. 

7. Communicate your expectations (about events, attitudes, goals...everything), and expect the same from others.  This resolves many conflicts before they occur, and irons out disagreements before they reach the emotional stage.  Don't expect others to do what you want and then be upset when they don't follow your rules.

8. Always consider the other person's perspective.  You don't have to agree with others, but if you understand where they are coming from, you are better able to know why they are the way they are, and how to interact with them accordingly.  We all expect people to understand our life's circumstances, but rarely give others the same courtesy.  It's selfish and unattractive.

9. Read books.  Lots of them.

10. Start the conversation yourself.  Friendship is a two-way street.  Why should anyone talk to you if you are not willing to talk to them?

11. Everyone wants someone to appreciate them.  Compliment others without expecting anything in return, and you will reap far greater rewards than compliments in return.

12. Sing out home, in the car, in the shower.  Belt it out, be a rock star, feel alive.

13. Ask yourself what you 'do' for others.  I am not talking about your 'qualities,' like "I am a nice person," but what do you do for others.  If you are not actively doing good/useful/helpful things for others, don't ever expect anyone to do anything good/useful/helpful for you.  It's not personal, but no one has an interest in anyone that doesn't have a recognizable interest in them in return.  That is how humanity keeps on keeping on.

14. Recognize that emotions are not inherently good or bad and should not be stifled. Emotions are just expressions of where you are at in that moment.  Sadness has a time and place, and happiness without sadness can never really be appreciated.

15. Eat and drink whatever tastes good to you, but know that moderation is the only way to feel good about it in the morning. 

16. Exercise.  A lot.  Do it until you like it.  If you don't like it, you aren't doing it enough. 

17. Keep learning new things.  Keep challenging yourself in areas that you think you don't know anything about.  You will be surprised to find that most people don't do this, and you will realize how dumb people sound when they refuse to think beyond what they learned in school.  If you think you are an expert, you have a lot more to learn.  If you think you have a lot more to learn, you are moving in the right direction.

18. Unpleasant things come and go.  The more time you spend worrying about unpleasant things ahead, the longer you are dragging out the unpleasantness.  Cut out the worry and stress and you cut down on the amount of discomfort/unhappiness coming your way.  By the time it has all passed, you will scarcely remember it at all, because the brain is wonderful like that.  So don't lose time living in the present by worrying about future discomfort.

19. Save for retirement, starting yesterday.  No one in this world will pay you more than compound interest.  It is the difference between travelling the world and answering to no one but your awesome granny self, or deciding between food and choose.

20. Experience the opposite of where you live.  If you love the city, get out in the country and hear leaves crunch under your feet every once in a while.  If you are a country girl, go downtown, have dinner, and see a show with more people in the audience than your high school graduating class. 

21. Learn what you like.  Whatever the subject, learn what you like and dislike, regardless of what others think.  Don't be afraid to dislike something everyone else seems to love (ie: I don't like reality talent shows on TV...any of them.).  Conversely, don't be afraid to love something others scoff at (ie: I love Lyle him!).

22. Marry your best friend.  I can't say that I know any different, as I married my high school sweetheart and best friend.  However, when I hear other people tell me secrets that they wouldn't tell their husbands, or things that they are afraid to talk about with their husbands, I cringe.  I am just a friend, but your husband will be there with you for life.  If you marry your best friend, hard times are a lot easier to get through because you know that you have a partner who you can trust to be by your side and you always know where you stand with them. 

23. Live in your city. Do the things that tourists do when they come to your part of the world. Participate in all your area has to offer and you will have pride in your place and yourself for being a part of your community. 

24. Don't badmouth family members.  You may feel angry with them now, and your friend is on your side, but eventually you will forgive the person you are angry with (after all, they are family), but your friend won't, and they will hold grudges against people you love.

25. Never say never.  Life changes, people change.  New experiences will make you into a different person, and that is okay...good even.  People who say "I hate..." or "I will never..."  or "I have no desire to..." sound ignorant and they are usually boring, grumpy people.

26.  Limit the bad drama. Get rid of the 'friends' that always create issues in your life.  If you count more venting sessions than good conversations, cut them loose. 

27. Enhance the good drama.  You know when the two people on tv who you have wanted to get together for three seasons finally kiss?  Embrace those moments in your own life.  Don't downplay them because it feels silly to be too romantic, or too happy.  Every girl, at some point in her life, needs to run into some one's arms, kiss them passionately with her leg bent in the air.  It may look cheesy to everyone around you, but don't live life without embracing those moments for all that they are worth (and they are worth a lot).

28.  Smile in pictures.  You may think it is corny to take pictures all the time, or you don't like your smile, but ten years from now, you will wonder why there are no good pictures of you, and why everyone looks happy but you. 

29. If you don't like it, change it.  If something is feeling stale, or boring, or not the way you want it to be, in whatever matter of life, change it.  Don't just do things just because you are in a rut.  Stability and comfort are good, but only when juxtaposed with a little excitement every now and then.

And one to grow on...  Relax.  You only get to do this life once.  Make it good, don't make it stressful. 

Now it is your turn.  Let me know what advice I need to follow for the next ten years. I need details people!
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