31 Things I’ve Learned in My (Technically Almost) 31 Years

Basically a bunch of things I wish I had known in my 20s
Summer style inspiration, what to wear in your 30s among other things I've learned over the years!

First off, it needs to be stated that tomorrow, I am celebrating my not-30th birthday.

My birthday last year (which was meant to be my 30th birthday) fell in the midst of lockdown – I spent the day almost entirely alone. It super sucked, especially as every one of my celebrations (a big party, a trip to Orlando with my dad, a trip to Japan with my mom, and a trip to London with my dad) were canceled, one after the other. As a result, I proclaimed last year that I’m not 30 till I get to properly celebrate it.

Since we’re still in the middle of a global pandemic, I’m still not 30. Yes, tomorrow is *technically* my 31st birthday. Yes, I’m doing a little long weekend getaway this weekend with a few of my friends to Broken Bow, Oklahoma. But I still haven’t gotten to celebrate 30 the way I want to celebrate 30 so therefore I’m still 29. Or at the very least, not 30.

Don’t question the logic, guys.

PS these photos are two years old. (A) My hair is like a foot longer now and (B) I feel like my face looks completely different which is WILD and (C) basically all of these clothes are now sold out – I linked what I could in the widget below!

How to dress for memorial day or the fourth of july - red white and blue outfit inspiration

To commemorate this *ENTIRELY UNEVENTFUL* day, here are 31 things I’ve learned in what is technically almost 31 years of life. But, again, I’m not 30. Just for the official record.

1. Just because something works for somebody else doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you.

This goes for skincare… but it also goes for so much more. As one example, almost all of my friends and family love spin. People have tried to get me into spin more times than I can count. I friggin hate it. I do not find it fun. At all. I would rather go for a three-hour walk and listen to a book about the role of women in the Norman conquest than spend a single minute on a spin bike. In fact, a three-hour walk while listening to a book about powerful women during the Norman conquest sounds pretty fun to me.

So I don’t spin. Find what works for you.

2. Not everybody wants to solve their problems.

I am naturally a problem solver. My friends know not to come to me unless they want to brainstorm solutions. If you just want to complain and not take a proactive approach at all to solving the issue, I’m probably not the person to whom you want to come.

I’ve had a really hard time internalizing that not everybody wants to solve their problems. Some just want to complain, and never solve anything. Others want you to solve their problems for them. Know what to look for and learn how to protect yourself from people who will take advantage of your desire to help solve problems.

3. Learn your friends’ and family members’ love languages – they’re not just for romantic partners.

Repeat after me: love languages aren’t just for romantic partners! Every relationship in your life will benefit from you learning the love languages of your friends, family members, and – yes – your romantic partner(s). And that’s not just how they interpret love but also how they express love (they might be different).

One of my best friends loves gifts… especially ones where she knows you put a lot of time, energy, and thought into them (aka homemade gifts). She also perceives affection through quality time and acts of service. She shows she cares through quality time and words of affirmation. When she calls me just to chat, or she comes over for dinner and raves about the food, I know that’s her way of saying she cares. Similarly, when I give her a gift I made for her or drop something off for her when I know she’s had a bad day, she knows I care.

And on that note…

4. People who care about you will find ways to show you they care.

If they like you, you’ll know. If they don’t, you’ll be confused. That goes for any kind of relationship – friendships, romantic relationships, family relationships, whatever.

Pay attention to how people show up for you. It may not be in the way you want or expect (ahem love languages!), but people who care about you will find a way to show up for you.

5. You are your own best advocate.

This goes for work, personal… heck, even with doctors. If you feel like something isn’t right, speak up. If you feel like you’re being passed over for opportunities, have a conversation with your manager. Nobody else knows you, your career, your likes and interests, and what’s going on in your life better than you.

6. Surround yourself with people who think differently than you and come from other walks of life – that way, you’ll never be bored.

I believe that you should constantly be growing, consistently learning. The best way to do that is to cultivate a diverse group of friends (and acquaintances). People who come from different backgrounds from you, who have had different experiences and think differently than you. You don’t have to agree about everything. They may expand your horizons, they may affirm your beliefs.

At the very least, you’ll learn about somebody with different experiences than you (which is never a bad thing).

7. If you find yourself constantly making excuses for another person’s behavior, chances are that person is not worthy of your time.

I went through this recently with somebody (romantic interest). I found myself justifying his behavior to friends in conversation, being embarrassed by how many excuses I was creating for him. It wasn’t until one of my closest friends said to me “you wouldn’t put up with this behavior from a friend, why are you putting up with it from a romantic interest?” when I realized that he wasn’t worthy of my time.

8. You only *need* 3 friends.

That way, if one is busy with work and another is out of town, you still have somebody to go to lunch with you.

That’s a Wendi-ism for you guys. And I definitely took it to heart during lockdown.

9. “Best friend” is a tier.

I have 3 best friends (refer to the Wendi-ism above). My relationship with each one is wildly different from the others. I refer to each one independently as “my best friend”. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

10. If you don’t feel supported by your circle, find a new circle.

The only permanence is your family… and you can even create distance there if you feel the need. My friendships are the family I’ve chosen – and continue to choose. But the moment I stop feeling supported by a friend, I no longer consider them a friend or part of my circle.

You don’t need to have a Real Housewives-style blowup, but you do need to take whatever steps necessary to feel like you’re supported by those closest to you. Yes, that might mean RSVP’ing “no” to that event you’ve been dreading.

11. Sometimes, it’s not personal.

This goes for work, this goes for dating, this goes for how strangers treat you while you’re out and about. Sure, sometimes it’s personal. Super personal. But most of the time, it’s really not. You never truly know what is going on behind the scenes in somebody else’s life. That person being rude to you while you stand in line, the neighbor who randomly yells at you, the guy who doesn’t return your call… It’s not about you. It’s about them. And only them.

12. Nobody has to live your life in your body but you. Make the choices you feel are right for you and ignore the noise.

This one’s partly “don’t give in to peer pressure” and partly “live the life you want to live.” Whatever makes you happy (within legal limits, of course!).

13. Go through your social media and unfollow or hide the people or accounts that don’t give you joy.

I did this in 2020 and it was the healthiest thing I did for myself during lockdown. I was getting so agitated looking at content created by certain people (largely people with whom I used to be friends, but also some influencers). With some, I removed them from my feed (but kept following). With others (including one account that was purposefully spreading misinformation about the pandemic), I straight up unfollowed. Not once did I send a “UNFOLLOWING!” DM or comment – it’s not necessary.

And my Instagram feed gives me so much joy now.

14. Not every relationship – including friendships – are meant to last forever. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

My mother always says “when somebody shows you their true colors, thank them and move on.”

I’ve had so many friendships come and go over the past decade. That’s normal. As you change and grow over time, not everybody changes and grows with you. Sometimes, people change and grow in different directions, or at different speeds. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

In my 20s, two of my closest friendships fell apart. For a time, we became very different people, and we weren’t making each other happy. Honestly, we weren’t even supporting each other as friends (ahem see #10!). The friendships fully fell apart. And then, after a time, we found our ways back to each other and these ladies are now back to being two of my closest friends. That’s just the natural progression of friendships.

PS if you want to read more about how I mended those friendships, click here.

What to wear summer 2021; things I've learned over the past 31 years!

15. Learn when to admit when you’re wrong and how to apologize – it’s never too late.

This applies to the one above but also just… in general. I’m not saying bend over backwards and start apologizing to everybody in your life. Instead, let’s normalize taking some time, reflecting, and then turning to the person you wronged and apologizing, even if it’s years down the line. That’s not weakness – that’s being a good human being and a solid friend.

16. If you are unhappy in your job, city, relationships, body, whatever, do what you can to change that.

In the past, I’ve had friends who complain about everythingforever. They hate their job, their home, their boyfriend, their body, their friends, etc. My response is always “okay, what can we do to change that if you hate it?”

It’s never too late to change something you hate. Yes, it will suck for a while. The weightloss process sucks. Breakups suck. Job searching sucks. Moving sucks. But there’s an end to the suckiness, whereas, currently, the suckiness lasts forever.

17. Slow down. Pauses can be your friends.

This is especially true when it comes to public speaking! But also just with life. I’m really guilty of going 1000 mph and only stopping when I get burnt out or sick (or, most likely, both). This past year taught me to embrace the pauses.

Instead of filling every weekend with back-to-back events, have a day blocked off to just chill. Not run errands. No social events. Just chilling (with or without your family).

Schedule getaways – either solo or with friends. Enjoy nature. Spend a slow day at home with the family, making pancakes and binge-watching movies together. Even if you don’t have an entire day or weekend to do it – grab your coffee (or a cocktail at the end of the day) and enjoy it in silence. Just take a pause to mentally (and physically) reset.

18. Have a few stories in your back pocket for emergencies. Nothing saves a bad party like a great story.

Okay this is my favorite tip. If you’re at an event (it can be a party, a dinner, whatever), and the conversation is… flailing? Uninspiring? People are looking at the door wanting to leave ASAP? Well, learn how to take control of the conversation, steer it in another direction, and have a few stories at the ready that will liven up the conversation and bring people out of their shells a bit.

As an example, I was once at a work dinner during which the conversation was – at best – floundering. The conversation was about their kids (kids logistics specifically), but 75% of the table was childless (and was thus keeping quiet). When I saw an opening, I chimed in, asking if they’ve started convincing their kids of anything entertaining yet. I gave the example of when my parents convinced my sister and me that one of the garage buttons in the car was actually an ejector seat button and we 100% believed them… for 15+ years. That way, everybody was able to join into the conversation, giving their own examples, and 75% of the table wasn’t stuck sitting silent at a dinner party.

19. Always remember that you are somebody’s inspiration.

This may apply to your job, to a relationship in your life, to how you are as a friend or parent or child, or even your body. We all know that we shouldn’t play the comparison game. But just like how you’re looking at somebody on Instagram, thinking “gosh I wish my body looked like hers” or “I would love to have her job”, somebody’s thinking the same about you.

20. Do one thing that makes you happy each and every day.

Y’all know I love baking/cooking… especially for other people. At least once a week, I’ll have a friend over for dinner, drinks, or an afternoon snack. 9 times out of 10, it’s Jasmine (and typically she’s showing up entirely unannounced!). Whether it’s my fail cupcakes (which made me laugh every time I looked at them) or a 6-course Passover dinner for my friends, I love hosting people and being in the kitchen.

On days I’m not cooking, I typically do a longer skincare routine. I always double cleanse and every other night I exfoliate… but once or twice a week I’ll use my facial steamer or do one of my favorite sheet masks. Sometimes, I’ll draw a bubble bath and do my sheet mask while in the bath… while watching Netflix. Nothing calms me and makes me happier than a skincare + bubble bath night.

21. Learn to be single.

I’ve been single for a while, and I truly think knowing how to be single is key to being your best self in a relationship. Too often, relationships turn co-dependent or, possibly worse, one part of the relationship is dependent on the other. I’ve seen friends give up their friendships outside of the relationship, becoming completely reliant upon their significant other for all of their happiness, socialization, and more. That’s not healthy. You don’t want to be that person.

Learn to be single. Learn to chill solo and fend for yourself. Cook, change lightbulbs, be a friend, hold a job, know your finances, have responsibilities. It will make you a better partner when the time comes.

Happy in red skirt and Jack Rogers sandals

22. Nobody will look out for your career except for you.

At the end of the day, no matter how great your relationship is, your boss is not your friend – they are your boss. If it becomes a favorable or necessary business/financial decision to terminate your employment, chances are the company will. It’s not a reflection of you and it’s not personal (though it may certainly feel that way) – it’s just a business decision.

So make the decisions that are best for you and for your career. If you are not happy, change that. If you feel like your growth is stunted, go somewhere where it’s not. Your manager has a responsibility to the company to encourage great employees to stick around. You have a responsibility to yourself to do what is best for you. Those two goals may not always align and that’s totally fine.

23. Mornings are easier when you have a routine.

I am not a morning person. If I had my way, my workday would be from 10:00AM-8:00PM. Obviously, that’s not always possible so I’ve spent years training myself to wake up in time for work. Sometimes that means 5AM, sometimes 8AM – depends on the job. One key takeaway: mornings are so much easier when you have a routine. Routines take the thinking out of mornings, giving me even more time to mentally wake up and be alert.

My current morning routine for a 9AM start of my workday is:

  • Wakeup to my alarm and then peruse my emails / messages to ensure there’s nothing vital that needs my attention first thing. I also respond to DMs on social media during this time.
  • Go to the bathroom, wash my face with water, apply my moisturizer and sunscreen, take my vitamins, and brush my teeth. The same products, in the same order, every day.
  • Get dressed, typically in the clothes I laid out the night prior.
  • Go downstairs to start my coffee. As that’s brewing, I apply my Dieux eye masks, which I keep in the fridge.
  • Pour my coffee, open my laptop, and start my day.

24. Wear sunscreen. Every day.

Stop caring about how pale you are. Care about warding off skin cancer.

Every morning, I apply SPF50 to my face, ears, neck, and chest. Yes, even if I’m planning on staying inside all day. If I’m going for a walk, I reapply to my face, ears, neck, and chest and apply SPF50 to the rest of my body and I wear a hat.

My dad had skin cancer – trust me when I say it sucks. So do what you can to avoid getting it (aka wear sunscreen!).

25. Wait to buy – it’s the best way to ensure you’ll be truly happy with your purchase.

My friends make so much fun of me for how long I’ll wait to pull the trigger on a purchase. For clothes / skincare, I’ll often wait a week or more. For home goods, I’ll typically wait a month (or two) to purchase. I weigh my options and plan everything out to ensure I’m happy with my decision.

Case in point: I put paint swatches on the wall of my office in July 2018… and only painted the room in March 2020. I waited 3 months to purchase my denim couch in the living room. I digitally mapped out my entire dining room and looked at it for a month before I purchased a single item. And I love how those rooms turned out.

26. It doesn’t have to be extravagant to be fun!

Last year, I was supposed to celebrate my 30th birthday by renting out a jazz club for a night. My plan was to ring in my 30th with all of my nearest and dearest… and then leave two days later for a two-week trip to Japan with my mom to celebrate.

Obviously that did not happen. I didn’t even leave my house last year on my birthday. Not even entirely sure I changed out of my pajamas.

This year, I’m celebrating my not 30th by renting a cabin in Broken Bow, Oklahoma with a few of my closest friends for the weekend. And I cannot wait.

Dancing girl in red skirt for 31 things I've learned in 31 years

27. You learn the most about yourself when you get out of your comfort zone.

My most memorable times in my life have been when I did something entirely new. My trip to Israel, before which I knew nobody on my trip of roughly 40 people. Even though I now consider London to be basically a home away from home, my solo trip to London for a few weeks in the summer of 2018. That time I quit my job to go to grad school and way back when I first decided to move to Dallas. Each of those were a massive learning experience for me.

Every year, I strive to do [at least] one thing that makes me massively uncomfortable. It’s the best way to ensure I’m always growing and learning!

28. Find a moment of peace every day.

Now that I’m a plant mom (very recent development), tending to my plants is my moment of happiness each day. As a mid-morning break, I like to take my coffee outside with me as I mist, water, or prune my little herb, citrus, and flower garden. Sometimes, I’ll even sit on the swing as I finish my coffee, listening to the birds. It’s my moment of peace.

On days the garden doesn’t need tending, you can typically find me either out for a walk around Highland Park, listening to one of my favorite Podcasts or an Audiobook, doing a Peloton Barre class, or just laying horizontally on the couch, watching Netflix. Nothing is more mind-numbing (slash peaceful?) for me than a Netflix binge.

29. Invest in things that will last.

I used to spend thousands of dollars every year on clothes. And then I realized that I was spending money on things I threw out after a couple years (or earlier!)… and they didn’t even give me that much joy in the first place.

Now, I spend my money on my home, my skin, and my travels. Things that I will have for years (or decades) to come, something I’ll literally have my entire life (aka my face), and memories I’ll cherish forever. Owning a pale pink Chanel handbag is no longer a goal for me (though I wouldn’t turn down receiving one as a gift!) – instead, I’d like to spend that money on a trip to Egypt, Scotland, Italy, Thailand, England, India, or Argentina.

30. Prioritize your health.

Drink at least 8 cups of water each day, sleep 8 hours, stand up and move your body frequently, and try to get in 30 minutes of exercise each and every day. I use apps like Streaks (see my review here), Welltory, and SleepWatch alongside my Apple Watch to help hold me accountable.

31. Hold your people close and remind them that they matter to you. Frequently.

Years ago, I was on the phone with one of my best friends from high school. As we were hanging up, he said “okay bye I love you!” We both paused, then he said “whatever I stand by it” and hung up. After that, I realized how dumb it was that people don’t tell those they love – specifically friends – that they love them… and remind them of that fact frequently.

My friends all know where they stand with me. Because I show them through my love languages and I tell them. Frequently. You never know when somebody needs that reminder.