Before our first vet school exam, the teachers gave us some example questions to help direct our studies. One of the questions was, “Write short notes on the tongue.” I remember this exact question because I remember thinking, “Short notes? What the heck do they want from me?!” Unfortunately, that What the heck do they want from me… feeling has resurfaced during every exam this past year.
I expected turning 30 would be similar; as if the marking of a new decade would change the world’s expectations of me and my expectations of myself. I’m only a few days into my thirties, but from what I can tell, the only thing that’s changed is, I officially feel as if my opinion should matter more than it did when I was in my *scoff* twenties.
And so, I share with you my very opinionated (and illustrated!) short notes on some of those lessons I learned over the past ten years…maybe take notes. I’m old and wise now, remember? Some of these are pure gold.
My Short Notes:
1. Not caring what other people think gives you a rare and true freedom many will never understand. This freedom is be best kept relatively quiet, however, as most people don’t appreciate being told just how little their opinion matters…especially if they are your boss.
2. Just because someone loves you, doesn’t mean they know what’s best for you. Your friends and family can give good advice from a place of deep love for you, but they can sometimes give really crap advice. Friends are great for telling you if a certain ruffled taffeta skirt isn’t flattering your derriere or if there’s a bit of salad left in your teeth. But if you’re really struggling and looking for guidance, it may be best to check with a professional.
3. Anything worth doing is worth doing right (and with panache!) If you’re going to wake up early and make pancakes at the soup kitchen, best make really fantastic Frisbee-sized pancakes. If you’re not ready to be amazing, hit the snooze button again and roll over. The world deserves your best, and so do you. (NB: I am heartbroken that I no longer have that amazing Rainbow Brite hoodie!)
4. Pack light. Wear layers. Travel Far.
5. If you’re trying really, really hard to forge a romance with a potential partner, but things just are not happening, it is time to step away and redirect your energy to finding the right person, instead of trying to force a connection with the wrong person. This is difficult advice to follow because the world is full of so many charming, good looking wrong people.
6. Try not to yell at your mom. She loves you so much, she can’t help driving you a little bit crazy. Besides, she was patient enough to teach you how to use a spoon and a toilet. You can be patient when she still feels it necessary to remind you to file your taxes on time and brush your teeth before you go to bed….even when you’re 30….
7. Sleep when you can. Even if you are angry! That “never go to bed angry” advice is horse shit! I can’t tell you how many times I wish I had just gone to bed angry and woken up the next day a little less cranky with a little more perspective instead of spouting off a hot-headed remark in the heat of the moment.
8. Fads don’t last. Thank goodness! So don’t take them too seriously. A small front braid with beads on the end?! Someone call 2005 and tell it just to stop.
9. Wear sunscreen. Always wear sunscreen. UV rays break down the elastic fibers in your skin, giving you wrinkles. Plus, you should never get burned enough to appear lobster red under water. That’s just idiotic.
10. Siblings are annoying. Undoubtedly. They’ll try to ruin your life. They steal your stuff, eat your candy (no matter how well you hide it), invade your privacy, and humiliate you in front of your friends. They tease, hit, and bite. Still, there is absolutely no substitute for siblings. Plus, you’ll never be rid of them, so best to strike a truce. Or, if you have more than one, form alliances against the others. And Emily, you still owe me a basket of Easter candy. I remember the Chocolate Egg Scandal of 94!
11. Just because you’re smart, doesn’t mean you’re always right. You’re bound to make an ass out of yourself now and then. It’s inevitable. Learn to apologize with grace. Practice kindness and humility. And most importantly, keep a sense of humor about it. No one’s perfect.
12. There are few moments in life when expectation matches reality. Have the camera ready.
13. Take advantage of awesome opportunities. You don’t know how many times in life you’ll get to fly around in a helicopter. Relish unique experiences! And always wear a helmet.
14. Read. Constantly. Books make you smarter. But don’t believe everything you read makes you any smarter than everyone else. That’s just tacky.
15. Enjoy your hair. Cut it. Dye it. Express yourself. It will grow back and you can always change the colour. Even so, always think twice before getting bangs.
17. Technology changes fast (I’m still not exactly sure what a “tablet” is). Don’t let it scare you away though, especially if you are thinking of going back to school. You can teach an old dog new tricks. It just takes patience.
18.Don’t be afraid to strike out on your own. You’d be surprised at how resilient your spirit is and how resourceful you can be if there isn’t anyone around to lean on.
19. There is so much world to see and so little time we are given to see it. Walkabout.
20. The concept of family extends far and wide It’s a quick hop-skip-jump from strangers to friends to finding an adopted family. It’s a special and a beautiful thing when people with whom you share no blood ties welcome you into their homes. Be grateful. But most importantly, be a considerate house guest. Mind your P’s and Q’s; make your bed, clear your plate, and don’t leave wet towels on the bathroom floor.
I had a fantastic time in my twenties. I quit school, moved to Mexico and worked with orphans. Then, I returned to school, graduated and was commissioned as an Ensign in the Coast Guard. I fell in love and fell out of love. I got a beagle puppy. I authored a dating column. I went to Japan and climbed (most of) Mt. Fuji. I went to Thailand to support an Asian elephant rescue. I shared an apartment with my best friend of 16 years, settling back into my life at home in Colorado. Then, I suddenly uprooted that life to move to Scotland, seizing the opportunity to make my dream of becoming a veterinarian come true. I made incredible friends, found valuable mentors and did a lot of yoga. I leave my twenties feeling very satisfied, but truly ready for the adventure of my thirties.
I still have a lot to learn. I’m still taking notes. But I think I’m on the right path.
Thanks for checking in.