30 things by 30: What every girl should know
We are rapidly approaching our 31st birthdays in this house… and it’s given me some seriously nostalgic feelings. I keep finding myself lost in memories of my childhood, and remembering some of life’s best lessons learned when I least expected them. Given that many of the gals I work with are seriously younger than me, I’ve had many moments lately where I realize that I am blessed to have been raised by a strong, independent, single mom. There are so many things I know that my young co-workers do not. So here’s the list: 30 things by 30 that EVERY girl should know. An internet search will pop up a bunch of articles about things to learn before you’re 30, things you should do, things you should own or buy….I think it’s important to note here that this is your life, and you get to live it. Choose wisely. Choose recklessly. Just make sure you choose.
1. How to cook at least 5 things well. You should most definitely have a recipe or two up your sleeve that you can cook without looking at the cookbook and that comes out well every time. Something stress free and yummy! The go-to recipes in our house are THIS yummy sausage and kale pasta and THIS 10-minute creamy avocado pasta.
2. …and be able to plan a healthy meal-plan for the entire week. I’m a nerd so I like to have mine mapped out in advance and in a handy place (on the fridge) where I can look at it if I’m tempted to cheat throughout the week. I use this template here to make my meal planning easy!
3. How to handle a roadside emergency. I’m not saying that you have to be able to change your own tire or reattachyour serpentine belts, but you should feel comfortable calling 9-1-1 and also be a member of a roadside assistance program. I’ve been a AAA member since I got my drivers permit (thanks mom) and also have additional road side assistance from the dealer where we bought our new car.
4. How to choose a bottle of wine. Everyone knows that white typically goes with chicken and fish while red is more often served with beef and red-sauced pastas, but do you know which wine is more palatable? Which one is more friendly toward the person who only likes sweet wine? What red wine is a good “beginners” choice? Which one is best with a decadent dessert? If not, this skill will be best learned while tasting at a winery! It’s a fun weekend adventure and also knowledge that will serve you well forever.
5. How to write a thoughtful thank-you card. I can’t tell you how many weddings I’ve been to in the last couple of years after which I received the increasingly popular photo thank you note. A cutesy photo of the bride and groom holding a big ol’ sign which reads “THANK YOU”. At the bottom of the card they’ve signed their names, sometimes along with a generic “Thanks for joining us”. This, my friends, is never appropriate. A good thank you note thanks the gift bearer for their specific gift, mentions WHY you were glad they joined you, and also includes some personal message for the person to whom you are writing. Yes, this is time-consuming. Yes, this is painfully boring. Yes, it is appreciated and expected.
6. Your credit score matters. I wish someone had told me this in high school. or college. or ever. Do not simply sign on the dotted line because someone will give you more than you need in student loans, or store credit, or airline miles…. every time you open a new account something disastrous will happen to your credit score. Research that shit. Figure it out. It takes years and years and years to figure that out later. Trust me on this one. I know.
7. Things get better with age. No really, they do. You skin gets better, your bank account gets better, your resume gets less “padded”. You become more self-confident, and less restricted. You can afford the sexy, lace bra you secretly really want. You know how to say “no” when you really don’t want to do things, and aren’t afraid to say “yes” either.
8. Things get crappier with age. Oh. Yes, that too. You’ll be tired by 8pm, you’ll start to notice fine lines around your eyes, you’ll not be able to eat McDonald’s at 2am and get away with it….but that’s ok…..invest in good moisturizer.
9. You are not stuck. You are not a tree. You can move and plan and change and grow and drop everything and start over. By God’s grace we are free-willed beings with the ability to make choices and live. If you feel like the path you are on isn’t where you want to be, change course. You are free to do that. It took me a very long time to realize this, now, at 30 I’m no longer afraid of change and welcome life’s choices. 10. How to ask for a raise. I’ve seen this advice many times in articles about what you should know by now in your life, and this is by far one of the most difficult ones. You have worth and your skills are important. If you feel you deserve more, you probably do. Figure out the best course of action… for me, I have to have a plan laid out on paper before I speak to my boss, and it’s always scary….but the answer is always No if you never ask.
11. How to make yourself happy. The younger version of me waited patiently for happiness to happen. I waited for other people to make me happy. That’s just silly. And masochistic. You need to know how to make yourself happy! Surround yourself only with the things that bring you joy. The books you like, the people who make you smile. Watch what TV you like, go out into the sunset. Get yourself a goldfish, name him Simon. Whatever it is that brings a smile to your face, figure it out and chase it. Chase it hard. Because in the end, life is short and it’s better to be happy.
13. No really. Sunscreen. How many times did my mother hold my squirming child-self to slather that crap on? I don’t care how good you look with a tan, wrinkles suck. Pour that stuff on. Get the spray kind, soak yourself in it. I’m serious.
14. There really are more fish in the sea. No matter how badly you want to punch the person who says this to you in the face and make them bleed, they aren’t wrong. After my very first heart-break, when I found myself crying pretty much every three minutes, my mom said something trite to me like: “It will feel better in time.” …and I wanted to ninja kick her in the throat. Turns out though, mom was right, and time does make it better…. also there are 7 billion people in this world. Get a grip.
15. How to find a good doctor. Call around. Ask your co-workers. Look at online reviews. But for heaven’s sake, don’t just walk into any office and hope for the best. On that note, you have to go see your GYN every year, even though it sucks. Find one who doesn’t give you the creeps and get yourself in there because it’s important and mom said so.
16. How to get through a shitty day. Some days are going to be crappy. That’s the bottom line. Make yourself some hot cocoa and breathe in and out until it’s over. Sometimes you just need to go through the motions until it gets better and if all else fails: bubble bath and rubber ducks. Don’t skip the rubber duck.
17. How to live alone. I’m still trying to master this one but I recommend making sure you know a good pizza delivery place, have your own tool kit & first aid kit, and a self-defense weapon of choice….I do have a hammer under my bed. FYI bad guys.
18. How to make new friends. Last year, at a gathering at church, I started a conversation about poop. This is not the way to make new friends. Let me know if you figure this one out, I’m still working on it.
19. How to keep old friends. I read somewhere recently that you should spend an hour a week fostering friendships and tending to them like a garden. I am a terrible gardener, but I do make an effort to call at least one of my good girlfriends every week. This is especially important because we now live on opposite sides of the country from one another. Be a good friend. Send birthday cards. Fly thousands of miles because someone’s dog died. It’s ok. Life is short.
20. How to throw a birthday celebration for yourself. It’s a sad realization but at some point people stop throwing you birthday parties, it happens somewhere after 21….and it’s a bit depressing. There comes a time when you have to take control of your own birthday, and still be happy about it. Figure out what you want to do to celebrate, invite some people, or not, and get your own happy on.
21. How to dress professionally. You need to be able to justify to yourself what you are wearing: I always ask myself a few key questions before I walk out the door: A) are my panty lines showing? B) can I breathe? C) How much boob is too much boob? D) If I was on the news today would I be embarrassed by how I look? **also** leggings are never ever pants, especially at work.**
22. How to get rid of a hangover…. hangovers happen much more when you are 30. I don’t know why. I’m not a scientist, but suddenly 4 drinks are too many. I’m embarrassed for myself. I think there’s some advice about bananas and Tylenol, but let me tell you the secret: pedialyte.
23. How to clean the ring out of your bathtub. Just kidding. Let’s be honest, you’re the only person who sets their butt in there so who cares what it looks like? Well, grandma, grandma cares, but just close the curtain before you invite her over.
24. How to define “you”. You’re job doesn’t define you. Neither does your past, your spouse, your kids, your church. You get to decide what defines you. You get to decide who you are. What you do defines you. Do good stuff.
25. How to exercise. I don’t mean you’ve got to be the queen of the gym, but you should know the basics of how to take care of yourself, of what needs to be done to drop those pesky five pounds, and be able to drum up the motivation to take charge of your health. Some days, this looks like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and other days this looks like an intense Zumba class. It’s not the same for everyone of course, but move. Just move.
26. How to apologize and also forgive. Is that two things? Oh well…. We all make mistakes. We all put our foot in our mouth sometimes. We all have regrets… and maybe some things we know we should regret but maybe are secretly a little proud of…. it’s important to learn how to say “I’m sorry” sincerely, how to forgive and forget things that have wronged us, and what things are worth holding on to.
27. How to tell the difference between baggage and a sweet memory. We all need that memory of a kiss that sent the world spinning, of a moment that taught you more about love than you have ever known, of a heart-break that will always be the tale of what might have been…. but we also need to be able to file those things away as memories and love without holding back in our “right-now” lives. There is a difference between baggage and experiences. Know the difference.
28. How to give back. By thirty I think it’s safe to say that we have all probably used our fair share of the world’s resources, of people’s kindnesses, of our parent’s money…. it is so important to start giving back. I don’t know what this looks like for you, for me it was giving a year of my life to AmeriCorps… it might be planting a tree, walking a neighbors dog, donating to a worthy cause, taking mom out to dinner: whatever it is, do it. Do it now.
29. How to relax. Enjoy a starry night, a cup of tea, conversation…figure out what makes you tick. Figure out how to breathe. Hug someone. Pet a dog. Pop open a beer. Appreciate the sunset out the window that is so perfect it looks like it was painted by God himself….because it was. Learn how to let go of your stresses and appreciate life’s little wonders. Appreciate the sunset out the window that is so perfect it looks like it was painted by God Click To Tweet
30. Know that life is pretty wonderful. I’ve heard life begins at 30. I’d have to agree. The last year of my life has been a whirlwind of joy. Learn how to accept what life brings, and take charge of what is to come.
31. Ok, I know I said 30, but most importantly is Know how to Pray. Like, really pray. Be able to talk directly to God. He already knows what’s in your heart, so share it with him. Share to be able to connect, to listen, to let go.