29 things i’ve learned by 29 (and 11/12ths)

Sugar Daze via Flickr
Sugar Daze via Flickr

I turn 30 in one month. So I guess I’m feelin’ a li’l wisdom-dispensy! Indulge me?

1. You shouldn’t have to convince anyone to date you. You don’t have time for that shit.

2. You really CAN’T love other people until you love yourself. I mean, it sort of works, but not for long. I can’t take care of myself AND the person I’m dating — they have to be interested in that. Conversely, I’m the best at taking care of ME, because I know what I need.

3. Taking care of yourself is an art: sleeping enough, feeding yourself well and often, getting outside, moving your body. Doing something that makes you feel GOOD. Masturbating. Buying a new shirt.

4. People are paying WAY less attention to you than you think. I mean, you know when people are checking you out and you’re getting all the head-turning. But in terms of “OMG everyone is judging me,” they probably aren’t! They’re busy checking their phone or worrying about their own shit.

5. Listen to your gut, always and forever. If it’s creeped out, RUN. (You can always come back, but it’s hard to retroactively run away, knowwhadimean?)

6. Ask for help. People like helping; it makes them feel good! You’re deepening your relationship. Expressing your needs can feel scary and vulnerable, but you can do it.

Happy 29, Dan! Whoever you are.
Happy 29, Dan! Whoever you are.

7. If YOU think something’s beautiful/magical/awesome, IT IS. You don’t need others to validate your personal taste.

8. If YOU think something’s overrated/stupid/offensive, IT IS. Even if everyone else likes it. (They might just be afraid to say it.)

9. Listening is one of the most important things you can do. I get so caught up in my own head, overanalyzing and projecting and shit. But there’s no way to know what people are thinking UNLESS THEY TELL YOU. Listening challenges your own misconceptions and broadens your world.

10. Sincere, thoughtful, specific compliments are a lost art.

11. People WILL treat you differently based on what you look like (flowy pink hair + eyeliner vs. buzzcut and no eye makeup). It’s a good way to tell who’s genuinely kind. But it’s not ALL personal. Some of it is our messed up, beauty ‘n’ youth-obsessed society.

12. Sit on things for a little while (I know this seems to contradict #5, but whatever). I can be pretty knee-jerk. When I don’t get a chance to say what I thought was a glib, witty comment, sometimes I later realize it would’ve sounded insulting.

13. When it comes down to it, you can only please yourself (with your clothes, decor, music, etc.). Trying to guess what other people will validate is a Waste. Of. Time. (See: that phase where I was embarrassed to like Avril Lavigne/Britney/Kelly Clarkson/whomever. OK, maybe I’m still a LITTLE embarrassed, but moving on.)

14. Your pain is still pain. Just because there are women getting their genitals mutilated in Africa doesn’t mean your heartbreak isn’t real and legit. (There are ways to address both.)

Happy 29, Phil! Whoever you are.
Happy 29, Phil! Whoever you are.

15. You will never regret spending time with people you love. (As opposed to those hours I mindlessly waste watching Netflix on my couch. Although that’s definitely necessary sometimes.)

16. Scrub your tongue with your toothbrush.

17. Safe. Sex. Always.

18. Little gestures go a long way. (Plus, they’re fun.)

19. If every day feels like the weekend, the weekend loses some of its luster [said the freelancer].

20. Taking a little time to meditate or talk to a higher power is worth it.

21. Laugh at yourself. I hate people who take themselves super-seriously. You don’t have to be self-deprecating, necessarily — just embrace levity.

22. If you want it, GO FOR IT.

23. Confidence makes up for almost anything: lack of knowledge, lack of makeup, etc. This is good and bad.

24. If there’s an obvious joke or compliment, sometimes it’s awesome to stop before you say it and think of a less-obvious one. This makes you seem clever and stops someone from rolling their eyes. This applies particularly with celebrities and hot people. (Still working on this, but yeah.)

25. CREATING — music, art, words, whatever — is good for the soul. We do so much consuming and critiquing — be brave and put something out there!

26. Therapy + antidepressants + taking care of yourself = awesome. FOR ME, at least. You do you.

27. Having a team of imaginary cheerleaders in your head, like Naomi Watts’ tree full of the Dixie Chicks in I Heart Huckabees, can be really helpful. (Mine includes Tank Girl, my mom, and my 10th grade English teacher.)

28. Hate-reading and snarking can be fun, but it’s ultimately way more satisfying to not give someone the pageviews and just create something better yourself.

29. As they say in 12-step groups, “Take what you like and leave the rest.” And apply that to this post!


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