1. 30 is a fantastic age.
I feel privileged to be saying that. In your 20s things don’t make a lot of sense because you don’t make a lot of sense to yourself.
But if you take the time to learn about yourself (and with the help of proper medication if you need it), by the time you reach 30 it starts to feel like your brain and your life are at the perfect place to be fully engaged and intentional.
2. Get a m-fing therapist.
I don’t care what you have to do to figure out how to do this, but make sure you do. I am on Oregon’s medicaid and my therapist is low cost right now. There are therapists that are on Zoom or by phone where if you have a kid you can try to time it when they’re sleeping.
I attribute most of my success (so far) to being able to process who I am and how I want to be towards myself and others (or how I want to learn how to be).
I’ve made good decisions because of a rock solid foundation of intuition and discipline. My secret weapon is my discipline. To those younger than me — invest in honing that skill as it will serve you well and get you places that intelligence and talent cannot.
You cannot put a price tag on knowing who you are, who you want to be, and how you want show up in this world. It makes things far less dramatic, but not less hard. Knowing yourself and how to take care of yourself gives you laser like focus of finding the other people who are doing the same thing, and also gives you a laser focus and intuition of who to stay clear away from. In my seven years of being in consistent therapy I have only been wrong about one person’s character, and I think he was a sociopath so I don’t really blame myself.
3. People, young or old, will try to give you advice that does not fit you or your life and might make you confused.
I’ve found the best guides in life will just listen — then offer help based on who you are. Those people are solid gold and they come in all shapes and sizes regardless of age.
4. Mostly what is happening to you is developmentally normal.
Often, parents will tell us (as kids) that we should be doing things differently — or we should have “known better” than to act a certain way.
When we grow up and we’re off in the world and have to parent ourselves we think we should be different than how we are or what we’re doing. The most gracious thing someone has ever told me: “This is developmentally appropriate to be feeling this way. You are fine”. What a relief.
5. You cannot control your thoughts.
But — if you don’t learn to work with your thoughts skillfully and with a whole lot of dignity, your thoughts can make a real mess out of your life and steer you in really scary places both in your mind and in your world.
I will also say, learning to work with your emotions is another thing you cannot put a price tag on. Most of our world’s shitty behavior comes from an unwillingness to feel our own pain and discomfort — sitting in pain and choosing not to inflict it on others is a skill that could end wars.
6. Returning to the subject of listening.
Develop that skill — but do so skillfully. I believe “listening” is the greatest drug in the world because very few people listen. So when you do, people will open themselves up to you because it feels really good. Some people take advantage of that, and especially if you do it for your job you have to know when to cut it off to preserve yourself or else you’ll get sort of resentful.
I’ve gotten into a lot of trouble in class or amongst people I thought were my friends because of my sense of humor. You have to be careful because some things to you are not so funny to other people. I’m still learning that sometimes the best thing to do with a joke is just smile to yourself and chuckle in the grocery store. But other times, man people need to laugh! We need to take the edge off of life. Especially as a movement teacher, if you can help people laugh it is a solid gold strategy for living a zesty life.
9. As you age you have to choose what is important to you.
It will sort of happen whether you want it to or not because there are literally not enough hours in the day to do even half of things that are important! Your world will get smaller in a way, but bigger at the same time if you do it right.
And that is just fine.
11. The things I am bringing into my 30s are mental health and physical health.
I work with a lot of people who did not know how to use their bodies at my age and are in a lot of pain now that they’re in their “Third Act” (their words not mine). This includes people who thought they were taking care of their bodies by doing copious amount of exercise — that also in a weird way backfires when they reach about 60 years of age. The mind is mostly sharp, the heart is open, but it’s the body that holds them back. As good old Joe Pilates says, “If your spine is flexible at 60, you are young.”
12. Keep tuning in to what makes you feel good.
No one — and I mean no one — will be able to tell you whether or not the way to relieve your anxiety is by going to Whole Foods and eating the free samples and trying on a facial moisturizer that you can’t afford. Or, that buying a piece of clothing you love will or will not help you feel less alone in the world, or that this particular kind of latte is not exactly what you need to keep you centered in between clients so that you can continue to do your job.
You have to be able to know yourself to soothe yourself.
13. I’ve spent some time “dimming my light” in ways that are only now becoming clearer as I reach 30.
And it’s not even my fault because at puberty culture has this way of telling and showing girls that fitting in is key to social survival.
There are good ways of fitting in, but mostly bad ways if it means you can’t be full and zesty and can’t advocate for yourself. I feel like turning 30 feels like I am 10 again and bouncing off the walls excited for my first day of school. It’s taken me 20 years to learn that it is not cool to look and feel disengaged from my life.
As it relates to our culture, I think we have to get good at giving enthusiastic “yes’s” to ourselves and to our authentic lives, but also really good at emphatic “no’s” to people, places, and things that are no damn good for us no matter which way we slice it.
But, I do dream of a culture where we’ll all be sensitive enough to our own pain, limits, and boundaries to develop a sixth sense to understand when other people are uncomfortable.
If money hasn’t mattered to you that much, it will matter — shockingly — all of sudden when you get into your late 20s. How to make it and how to align yourself with people who know how to make it. You can do more good in the world making money. That’s what’s true for me anyway.
The most important investment that no one looks at as an investment is a life partner. That if you choose one without a good sense of self — they can make a mess of your life and the lives of those around you.
Choose your partner wisely, and treat it as an investment.
16. Dogs make life worth living.
17. You don’t always have to save your money.
People talk about money as if it’s a non-renewable resource. Money comes in and comes out, comes in, comes out. The only non-renewable resource is time. And that might mean more to you in some times of life than others. So- there are two choices when it comes to making a purchase:
Spend time to save money, or spend money to save time.
Don’t let anyone tell you that sticking to a budget is great 100% of the time. As long as you are consciously making the choice to spend your time on activities that are a higher priority and could be making you more successful in the long run, there is nothing wrong with spending money to save you time.
18. Society and advertising want to sell us stuff to make us feel bad about getting older.
No one wants to die — and people make money off of that shit.
I believe getting older is a privilege, it is delicious, it is sacred, and very necessary to plunge head first into. The body goes first though, so to all my young friends and people my age — please do your Pilates and please start doing functional movement. It’s a lot more fun and less expensive in the long run, far less pain than knee surgery, back surgery, hip replacements. And it’ll save the people around you the grief of not having to listen to you suffer and talk about your pain all of the time.
19. Krista Tippett is a national treasure.
We should all be required to listen to her very carefully before we graduate high school.
Basically, society needs us to work on ourselves and our stuff. The young need age, maturity — and most importantly, people who love them, who can listen to them, who can take care of them as they age.
The generation below you will always need your guidance, your selflessness, your wisdom, your money — as much as the generation above you needs to understand that you need those things from them too.
I’m learning that being alive, investigating myself — it’s not just for me. It’s so that I am awake in my community, present and participatory, so that I can lovingly shepherd society to be more just, participatory, and loving.
Turning thirty means my decade of self-preservation is over. I belong to others now, and I am needed. I’m entering into a place where it’s my turn to pay it forward.