30 Lessons You Learn In Your 20s, But Will Only Understand In Your 30s

by Sydney McBride

Thirty is a fascinating age. People who haven’t yet reached 30 talk about it with a sense of fear and wonder.

“You’re getting old!” they joke. “Gotta do something big for your last fun birthday! The BIG three-O!”

People who have passed the age of 30 look at you as if you’re transporting them back in time. Thirty is now a reflection, and a sweet memory to them. “Thirty,” they say, with a twinkle in their eyes. “What a wonderful age.”

I haven’t quite figured out if 30 is supposed to be old or young, dirty or flirty, or just the age where you're supposed to have it all figured out. But oddly, for the first time, I’m actually really glad I don’t have it all figured out.

I’m thankful to not know. I’m thankful for a sense of wonder, and I'm thankful for the excitement that the best is yet to come. Because if I have it all right now, what would the next 30 years look like?

Wisdom does come with age. Although I still have a lot to learn, here are 30 things I know for sure about turning 30:

1. Getting older is a privilege that is denied to many. Celebrate age. Don’t fear it. 2. Life is much more a process of elimination than a game of pin the tail on the donkey. 3. The truest sign of maturity is when you can be sincerely happy for someone else’s happiness. 4. We live in a society that makes a profit off our insecurities. We all have vices: diets, weight loss, makeup, hair plugs, gyms, clothes, etc. But you don’t have to buy what others are selling. Being comfortable with yourself is the greatest luxury you’ll ever have. 5. Hesitation is an answer, and "no" is a complete sentence. 6. Some days, you'll throw noodles at the wall just to try to see what sticks. Some days, you'll eat the noodles at a five-star restaurant. Everything is temporary. 7. Life is a game of give and take, and it’s not easy figuring out how to juggle it all. But spending time being worried about what everyone else thinks and trying to make everyone else happy is the fastest way to lose your balance and make yourself miserable. 8. You won’t always make the right choices. But you always have the power to try to make your choices correctly. 9. Revenge, resentment and anger are band-aid emotions that cover up deeper issues. Figure out the real issues instead of taking out your surface issues on others. 10. When you learn to live with less, you’ll actually find you have so much more. 11. Seriously, 98 percent of all things go on sale. Don’t pay full-price for items you’re going to wear once and then give away the next year. 12. Someone else’s success is not your failure. Repeat this one because it really is important. Use other’s successes to inspire you, not defeat you. 13. You’ll never work for a great leader. You’ll work with a great leader. 14. The great thing about taking the high road is it’s never crowded. Choose to rise above. 15. Playing the victim is a one-way ticket to nowhere. Life isn’t about the hand you’re dealt: It's how your play your cards. 16. There’s a reason storms are named after people. 17. Believe in something. Whatever it is, believe in it all the way, with fire in your eyes and passion in your heart. It’s better to have strong convictions and hold onto your beliefs than be indecisive and never have an opinion. 18. If you can help someone, help him or her every single time. Choose to hold the door, choose to pay it forward and choose to be kind. 19. Sometimes, nothing can make a situation OK. All you can do is repeat to yourself, “It won’t always hurt this much. It won’t always feel this way.” 20. Some people win the lottery, but instead of checking their numbers, they just keep buying new tickets. Then, they realize the winning ticket has expired, and they've lost their chance to have it all. Appreciate what you have. The grass isn’t always greener. 21. You can’t outrun your fork. 22. Value your vision. It’s yours and yours alone. Keep sight of your goals, but learn to be flexible about taking different paths to reach those goals. Setbacks create comebacks. 23. No matter how much of a fool you make of yourself on the first date, how awkward a situation becomes or how bad it gets, if it’s meant to be, it will be. You will never have to chase what wants to stay. 24. When you give the world the best you have, the best comes back to you. 25. There is no end to grief, but there is also no end to love. Grief reminds us we’re alive. Love allows us to survive. 26. It’s not about what you used to be; it’s about what you can be. Yesterday does not define you. Choose to create the tomorrow you want for yourself. 27. Earn it, even if it’s a longer road that doesn’t give you the instant gratification you so desperately desire right now. Earn it so no one can ever say he or she just gave it to you. 28. The best way out is always through. 29. You spend a lot of time in your 20s wanting people to like you. Thirty is the age where it’s more important for people to actually know you. 30. Growing older doesn’t mean figuring it all out. Growing older means growing wiser to the fact that we actually don’t know it all. Not knowing it all is what makes this life an adventure full of great stories to come.