Tomorrow, I turn 33. I plan to celebrate this fact by poking around the museums of Stockholm, eating a lot of carbs and cheese, giggling over drinks with a few Swedish friends, and then calling my favorite people in America very, very late at night.
I also thought I might resurrect (and revise) the most popular blog post I’ve ever written. Because we all love lists and advice don’t we? I’ve added two more things that I’ve learned in the last two years – and I can’t wait to hear all your wisdom in the comments!
So, here are 33 things that I’ve learned over the past 33 years.
1. Trust your gut. Really.
you think he likes you, you’re probably right. If you think he’s
cheating, you’re probably right. If you think she’s going to be your new
BFF, (this time with feeling!) you’re probably right.
2. Sunscreen. Always.
SPF 15 indoors, SPF 30 outdoors. I’ve
been wearing sunscreen everyday since I was 19 and I still get carded. I
think this actually has more to do with the bouncers hitting on me, but
I’d like to share the credit with my good friend Oil of Olay daily
moisturizing lotion with SPF.
3. If you’re lying in bed worrying about it, get up and write it down
I don’t do this, my night will quickly devolve into cyclical thoughts
of doom and anxiety. Just get out of bed, write down the thing that
you’re worried about, write down a few ideas to deal with it and then go
the eff back to sleep.
4. Processed carbohydrates and sugars are yucky.
not hard to switch to wholewheat bread and noodles or substitute
honey/maple syrup/raw sugar for the white stuff. It’s yummy and you’ll
feel heaps better!
5. Maintaining friendships (and making new friends) is an active process.
Stop waiting for them to call you!
Think of something fun to do, call your friends and go do it. Also,
stop sitting in your apartment, devotedly wishing that you knew more
cool people. Surprisingly, this will not get you any closer to making
new friends. Go places where like-minded people hang out, talk to new
people at parties, initiate.
6. Uncomfortable underwear can ruin your day.
At least they can ruin mine. So don’t wear your sexy-times underwear on the day you have to walk ten blocks to work.
7. It really doesn’t matter what you major in
does matter? The internships you get, your work ethic, your
interpersonal skills, who you know. So go ahead and get a BA in Studio
Art! As long as you complement that with work experience at a graphic
design studio, a museum and an ad agency.
8. Create an active lifestyle
don’t go to the gym every day. Or, um, ever in the summer. But I walk
to work and to the market and just about everywhere within a 3 mile
radius. If you make daily activity a habit, you won’t have nearly as
many moments of “how did I inadvertently gain 30 pounds?!” or “why can’t
I walk up a flight of stairs?!”
9. Learn to enjoy your own company
will be times in your life when you really want to see that movie,
check out that new boutique, go to Thailand and no one wants to go with
you. Bummer! But that doesn’t mean that you can’t go by yourself and
have a good time. Take baby steps and work up to doing the big stuff on
10. Don’t allow outside sources to determine your self-esteem
still working on this one. But I think it’s important to realize that
just about everything in life is relative – depending on your
surroundings, you could be the hottest/smartest/highest paid girl in the
room. But if you walk next door? Maybe it’s different story. It’s
important to have faith in your abilities and strong suits – regardless
of how they compare to others.
11. Find out what colors and styles work (and don’t work) on you. Style accordingly.
look good in gold and browns and corals. I look good with long, wavy
hair. I look good in boat-neck, three quarter length tops. It took many,
many unflattering photos to figure this out.
12. When in doubt, make the effort
will never regret wearing that nice outfit, buying the thoughtful gift
for the friend you haven’t heard from in a while, over-tipping. If it
doesn’t work out, at least you’ll know you did your best.
13. Cook at home.
Seriously. You will save one million dollars. You will maintain a healthy weight. You will impress your friends.
14. There are 300 million people in America. And 6,000,000,000 in the world.
promise you, you’ll love someone else. You’ll meet new friends. You’ll
find co-workers and neighbors that are awesome. If it’s too hard (or if
someone is making you feel bad) walk away. There are a million other
people out there who won’t make you feel bad!
15. It’s easier to make money than memories
you throwing up in your mouth right now? I am, a little bit. But it’s
true. Don’t take the extra shift at work and miss your friend’s awesome
end-of-the summer barbecue. If all your friends are springing for a
weekend at a cabin near the Canadian border, save up for a few weeks and
make it happen. You won’t remember the two weeks of eating in and
watching library dvds, but you’ll remember 3 days of fun with your
16. You can find common ground with just about anyone, any where
of a person’s gender, age, race or religion there are common
denominators to the human experience – falling in love, being homesick,
laughing at baby animals. You don’t even need to speak the same language
to share an appreciation for these things. You’d be amazed how far you
can get with most people just by smiling and asking them questions.
17. Don’t buy the cheapest version. Buy the second cheapest.
trick has saved me a lot of money. And many hang overs. Usually the
cheapest version of something (vodka, eye shadow, shoes) is noticeably
dicey. But the second-cheapest? Not so bad!
18. Make an extra copy
Of your keys, your lease, your birth certificate, your social security card. Then give said copy to someone trust worthy.
For realz. It’s pretty gratifying in a slightly disgusting way.
20. Consider second hand, for just about everything
of everything I own is second hand. My blow dryer, my picture frames,
my sheets (not as gross as you’re imagining). They cost a fraction of
what I’d pay for them new, and no one’s the wiser. At least until I tell
the internet that I sleep on used sheets.
21. Excuses are embarrassing
the exception of excuses like “my grandma died” most excuses are
embarrassing for everyone involved – the person giving them and the
person listening to them. ‘I just don’t know where to start,’ ‘I’m
tired,’ ‘it’s too expensive’ really just translate to ‘I’m not making it
a priority’. See? Embarrassing, right?
22. Don’t ask a question if you’re not prepared to hear the answer
you ask your friend “Do I look fat in this?” you best be prepared to
hear that it’s not a super flattering look on you. If you ask that guy
you’ve been seeing for five months “Where do you see this going?” you
need to know he might respond in stutters, back-pedaling and comments
about “keeping it light.” Don’t ask if you don’t really, really want to
23. Engage in calculated risk taking
on the table, taking a spontaneous road trip by yourself to a
neighboring state, trying a new type of ethnic food – it is unlikely
that any of these things will kill you. But they will probably make you
24. Learn how to live well within your means
Make a budget and stick to it. Pay off your credit cards every
month. Learn to cook for yourself. Get a bike and use it (then you won’t
need a gym membership or all that gas for you car!) Cancel the cable.
Split internet with a neighbor. Consider second hand. You’d be amazed
how painless saving money can be!
25. Learn some basic photo editing skills
26. If you don’t know what you say, silence is always an option
learned this from my friend Ellie, who used this approach to deal with
unruly patients during her years as a nurse in NYC. If someone says
something you don’t like (and don’t know how to respond to) just stare
at them and don’t say anything. Totally. terrifying. And totally
27. If you don’t know, ask
After a week in the cubicle farm, I
know it’s tempting to spend your weekend watching DVDs, running errands,
going to house parties and nursing hangovers. But doing the same thing
every weekend gets old. And you won’t return to work reinvigorated or
inspired. You don’t have to do anything earth shattering – have a sleep
over with old friends, go camping in a State Park, rent bikes and ride
through your city, try a new ethnic restaurant, look up the top tourist
sights in your city and check them out. Milk those two days off for all
29. Stay in touch
the age of skype/facebook/texting there’s absolutely no reason that you
can’t maintain regular contact with your childhood bestie or that cool
girl from your freshman comp class. Maintaining and fostering
friendships is super important. Also, you’ll have more couches to crash
on when you go traveling!
of us aren’t 100% creatively fulfilled by our day jobs. Even those of
us who work in creative fields! Engaging different parts of your brain
(and different parts of your personality) is hugely, hugely gratifying.
Seriously, you cannot overestimate how having a good hobby can change
your life. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that after I started
blogging, I needed less sleep and was a much happier person. Truth.
can pretty much conquer the world with a confident walk, a
well-thought-out outfit and confident demeanor. We teach people how to
treat us and when you show people that you’re a force to be reckoned
with, they’ll believe you.
32. When you ask friends or family to do things for free, you end up paying in stress and time
Of course, we can’t all afford to hire movers/painters/accountants/etc. But when you ask your cousin to photograph your wedding or your college roommate to design your website or your little sister to help you move – what you don’t spend in money you just might spend in missed deadlines and ruined carpet. Our friends and family love us and want to help. But it’s not the same. And you know it. If you can, pay a stranger to do things for you. Then you won’t feel bad complaining.
33. Most things in life will cost twice as much and/or take twice as long as you thought
What about you? What have you learned so far? What do you wish someone would have told you?
original photo (without the text on top) by ooh pretty shiny, for sale here