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I am 23 days away from the Big 3-0. Last year, if you had asked me how I felt about turning 30, I probably would’ve been rather negative about it… But as the date approaches, I’m feeling better and better about this milestone birthday. Everyone has told me that the 30s are exponentially better than the 20s. My 20s were rockin’, so I sure hope this is true!

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(Birthday Cupcakes for Dogs!)

 

This morning, I read this incredible article: 10 Life Lessons to Excel in Your 30s. So many of the lessons struck a chord within me. I’m going to re-read this article through the next year to help myself stay focused on what REALLY matters about my third decade.

 

On that note, I thought it’d be fun to compile a list of what I learned in my 20s. Here we go!

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Do these lessons ring true for you, too? Or did you learn another lesson entirely?

 

What did you learn to be true in your 20s?

{ 63 comments }

 

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  • Farah @ Fabulously Farah April 3, 2014, 9:11 am

    I still have a few more years until I turn 30, but I think the friendships point is a great one. I think that it is important for people, in their early 20′s especially, to always value friendships and make them a priority. Be loyal to your friends and show them that you care. If you don’t do this, you probably won’t be friends with them in the next few years. Friendships are so important.

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  • Tricia April 3, 2014, 9:24 am

    I am only half way through my 20′s and I whole heartedly agree

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  • Tricia April 3, 2014, 9:25 am

    I would also add one that has been striking me hard lately. You only get one life, one moment; So live it the best you can and take care of yourself.

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  • Amanda April 3, 2014, 9:31 am

    I’m almost 32 – and I LOVE #10 and find it very true. And I definitely agree with #15, although I need to put in some serious work on it :)

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  • Sara @ LovingOnTheRun April 3, 2014, 9:32 am

    Love this! I am now 6 days away from turning 28 and while I don’t feel bad about it, I think people put a lot of pressure on you as you get older. We don’t have kids yet because my husband is still in medical school but I get asked so much “WHY don’t you have kids yet!?” That is the most frustrating part…people act like my ovaries are going to shrivel up and die between now and next year.

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  • Katie April 3, 2014, 9:41 am

    Amen! I would also add, “don’t worry, you can start over”

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  • Katie @ Talk Less, Say More April 3, 2014, 9:48 am

    That first one sings to me! Combine it with my strength – both physically and mentally, and you’ve got it right on the money!

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  • Marissa @ Barefoot Colorado April 3, 2014, 9:51 am

    Your list really struck a chord with me. These are things that I sometimes forget, and need to focus on more. I’m not very good with change, but I’m trying to accept that things WILL change and not to be afraid of it.

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  • Catherine @ foodiecology April 3, 2014, 10:14 am

    Love this list, and it echoes a lot of my own lessons I learned during my 20s. I turned 30 this past Feb, and sadly, I spent much of my 29th year feeling unaccomplished and fearful of this milestone. But you know what? 30, while *completely* different than how I’d imagined it (hello, surprise pregnancy!), is awesome and keeps getting better! The most important lesson I learned in my 20s (& what allowed me to finally embrace turning 30 in that final month as a twenty-something) is to stop comparing myself (my career, body, life, etc.) with others! That was my biggest issue last year, but thankfully I grew and transformed (though I’m still a work in progress) and learned how to be grateful for MY life and blessings.
    Enjoy the last days of 29, but trust me then I say 30 is even better! :-)

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  • Jade April 3, 2014, 10:27 am

    Yes Yes Yes. All these I agree with. I’m already 30 which wasn’t really a hard birthday for me to do, I was almost thinking that I didn’t even celebrate it, but yes I did it just wasn’t anything fancy. Year 25, for me, was the worst.

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    • Carina April 3, 2014, 11:21 am

      I had trouble with 25 too! In my mind, 25 rounded to 30, and 30 rounded to dead! Haha, I’m 38 now and have no desire to be 25 again. Life is much better now.

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    • Tricia April 3, 2014, 7:03 pm

      Thanks… I turn 25 this year. LOL. I will not only survive it, but thrive in it!

      Reply
  • Ali April 3, 2014, 10:29 am

    I turned 32 a couple weeks ago and what I really find different about my 30′s as apposed to my 20′s is that not everything is a big deal. I mean, I was moving into this mode around 28 or so, but it really hit in my 30′s. I used to think everything was such a big deal and now, it’s just life. I also think that towards the end of my 20′s that I realized that I know very little about the things that we all think we are experts about in our early 20′s (remember back to that feeling of being SO mature and SO adult in your early 20′s? I laugh at that now). I love that I can constantly keep learning about things and admit when I just don’t know, and that is totally fine! And, very much YES to #11. When I hear people complain about how someone was rude on one day or someone is rude to me, I always try to remember that A) I have my moments too, I’m not perfect and B) I have zero idea what’s going on in his or her life, the battles we fight are not always evident on the outside.

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  • Sarah April 3, 2014, 11:09 am

    I’m only 23, but I found a lot of these already ring true–especially the drama free and boring life. The world is full of negative people, but I decide everyday that I would rather be grateful, humble and kind to the people I choose to spend my time with!

    Love this post.

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  • Nichole April 3, 2014, 11:17 am

    Just wanted to add to #9. When someone show them who they are believe them THE FIRST TIME! I believe that was a Maya Angelo quote.

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  • Lauren April 3, 2014, 11:33 am

    Thank you for this :) I’m 23, about to make a huge life change, and this was a really great thing to read this morning.

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  • Julie April 3, 2014, 11:40 am

    Love these Caitlin! You are very wise. :)

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  • Alice April 3, 2014, 11:55 am

    I still have I have couple years to learn some lessons…especially #3 :)

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  • Caitlin April 3, 2014, 11:56 am

    #4- it’s so true!! Friendships that use to be so easy, now take legit work to maintain and keep going.
    #10- I LOVE drama on TV because I keep it out of my own life- no time for that- and enjoy seeing others drama on the tube.
    #11- Always be kind. Even when it’s so difficult and you’re biting your tongue.

    Such a great list, Caitlin!

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  • Jess April 3, 2014, 11:56 am

    I agree with all but the sixth one, I think I’m good as is, hehe

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  • Aishah @ Coffee, Love, Health April 3, 2014, 12:30 pm

    All of these were so helpful to me and I can relate to each piece of advice. Things seem so hard right now :( can’t wait for this phase to pass! Thank you for the encouraging words <3

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  • Amanda April 3, 2014, 12:46 pm

    I just love this post! Fabulous! Thanks for being a constant source of inspiration! Thirties are the best!

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  • Renee @ Bendiful Blog April 3, 2014, 12:46 pm

    As a secure 32 year old, trust me 30′s are a magical time, and there is nothing to be negative about. Age is a number. In my 20′s I learned to rely on myself, how to be a wife, mom and what friendships are really important. I also learned that you need to let go and trust your gut. Your 30′s simply become the time when you can laugh at all the “young” kids, and be safe and sound in your own skin. It’s also a good time to enjoy all the things you worked hard to establish in your 20′s. I like #15 and wish I would have learned that at 22 rather than 28. Nice tips.

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  • Joy April 3, 2014, 1:01 pm

    What a great list! I love that you’re so grateful for the life you have. It’s one of the things that makes me a long-time reader and fan of yours.

    I especially agree with lesson #10, that a “boring” life is the best. So, so true.

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  • Jasmine April 3, 2014, 1:10 pm

    I am much more content and comfortable with myself in my 30s than I was in my 20s. I prefer it exponentially.

    In my 20s, I learned how to chase my dreams. I learned a lot of important lessons about the power of optimism and positivity. More than anything, I learned that you can change your whole life; it’s just a decision.

    In my 30s, I’ve learned what I’m made of in a big, big way. It’s harder, and more fulfilling. I wouldn’t change it.

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  • Stephanie @ Whole Health Dork April 3, 2014, 1:12 pm

    This is a great list, Caitlin! Adult friendships do take so much more time and effort and I’ve found I only care to put in the time and effort with those who reciprocate. Even if you were great friends with someone, if they’re not putting in the same as you, it’s time to make room for friends who do.
    I also heartedly agree with #11. I work at a Cancer Center and looking at a lot of our patients, you’d never know what they were going through if they were next to you in line. So if someone’s a little snippy, know they may be fighting a really tough battle, whether it be cancer or some other demon. You can never know.
    I turned 30 last year and it wasn’t that bad. I mean, the year itself had some huge ups and downs, but it wasn’t related to my age. I embraced 31 earlier this year much more easily and effortlessly and am at peace with my age. My favorite thing about my 30s so far? Really, truly knowing myself and caring less and less what other people think of me. I used to want everyone to like me, but now I only care about those I care about. I try to be a nice person, but if some random person doesn’t like me for some reason, that’s okay. I have nothing to prove to them.
    Enjoy the last few days in your twenties! It gets better and better.

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  • Elizabeth {Positively Healthy} April 3, 2014, 1:48 pm

    I am still in my 20′s but I have learned so much and I hope what I have learned will carry me through to my 30′s. Great post!

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  • Marnie April 3, 2014, 2:40 pm

    I love these lessons, they’re so true, especially about everything you think you know in your 20s changing by the 30s. My life has changed a lot and I love the 30s so far, even if I do still make mistakes;).

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  • Katie April 3, 2014, 3:14 pm

    LOVE THIS! <3

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  • Lauren @ Sassy Molassy April 3, 2014, 3:44 pm

    I especially like #4, 5, 11 and 14. I’m now struggling to get past a lot of the fear based decisions I’ve made (like being afraid of going for my dreams career wise, savings wise, city wise, etc). And yes yes yes to caring just a little bit more and giving people the benefit of the doubt that there is probably a legit reason they are cranky or rude one day. Everyone is going through something. Thanks for the reminders!

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  • Lindsay April 3, 2014, 3:45 pm

    I’m 31, but I still remember my 20s. ;) I think what I learned is that friendships do take work, and the people who you truly love and care about are the ones you will make an effort to keep around. I think it’s also important to realize that not everyone is meant to be in your life forever, and it’s ok to let someone go if they don’t have a positive place in your life. I had a few friendships like that in my 20s and when I finally told myself that it was ok to drift away, it was like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I think all people are in our lives for a reason, but some aren’t meant to stay. And that’s ok. :)

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    • Mary April 4, 2014, 10:40 am

      I’m 32, and I second this! And for me, drifting away from some friendships reduced drama and negativity in my life!

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  • Liza April 3, 2014, 3:45 pm

    I wish I could say my 30s have rocked…but they haven’t. My 20s were way better. I think getting older is hard no matter what. You’re positive outlook is great though…and you know what they always say…”fake it till you believe it.” I need to try that more often.

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  • Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs April 3, 2014, 3:48 pm

    So many great thoughts in here! I particularly like #11 — I am making a conscious effort to not only choose to be kind, but to also choose to be happy. It’s often easier to let anger or rudeness be our go to response, so I’m trying to change that!

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  • Elyse April 3, 2014, 3:56 pm

    Love this post! I am about a month away from my 30th birthday and have been reflecting a lot as it approaches. Your list is great and I would add:

    Don’t sweat the small stuff. In the long run of life, it really doesn’t matter.

    I remember at my first job my cubicle-mate was in her early 30s and I was a mere 22. She always told me that being in your 30s was the best thing ever (you’re secure: in yourself, often financially, etc.) and I always laughed. Now that I’m so close myself, I have to say she was so right!

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  • Kelly @ Finding a Skinnier Me April 3, 2014, 4:40 pm

    I am turning the big 3-0 in 6 months. Eeck! I love these lessons though and agree with them 100%. Especially the friend one. I am friends with a women in her early 20′s because she is dating one of my friends who is in his 30′s, and it is hard to explain to her that she can’t just treat our friendship however she wants if she expects me to stick around. Adult friendships take work but it is worth it.

    I would add, be careful with debt, you never get something for nothing and you will eventually need to pay back all those loans or credit cards or whatever. Don’t blow things out of proportion. Sometimes people are rude not intentionally but because they don’t know any better or didn’t realize it would upset you, people are oblivious and that’s okay. And chase a career you love while you have the time and energy. It is worth it.

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  • Mel April 3, 2014, 4:50 pm

    I’m only 24 (so I have a while to go in my 20s :) ), but I’ve learned two important things in the past year alone:

    1. I can CHOOSE to be strong, as well as choose to be happy. It’s okay for me to break down and lose emotional control every once in a while, but in the end, it’s up to me to quell doubts and to meet situations with grace and gratitude.

    2. A positive attitude and a smile go a LONG way in so many aspects of life.

    Also, I echo your commitment to exercise. It is a healthy outlet for stress. If I’ve had a bad day, I call going for a run my “attitude adjustment.”

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  • Sharon@DiscoverExploreLearn April 3, 2014, 5:13 pm

    Great list! I especially love #10 and #11.

    I’m 34 now (and the mother of 4). Looking back at the lessons I’ve learned throughout the years, I’d have to say the biggest one has been to simply trust my own instincts. Regarding parentings, career, relationships, and much more. So many issues that I’ve dealt with, where if I had just listened to my own internal “voice”, things would’ve worked out so much better.

    You’ll rock your 30′s! I’ve gained a newfound confidence, and just a general feeling of “You know what? This is me. Take it or leave it.” It’s been very freeing! :-)

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  • Steph @ A Life without Ice Cream April 3, 2014, 5:28 pm

    So many great lessons in there!

    I struggled when approaching the big 3-0 myself (two years ago now) but I have to admit, my 30s are amazing so far! And I had great 20s too.

    I’ve found my 30s are really about absorbing and knowing the lessons of my 20s. Thinks I knew in my 20s but maybe didn’t fully believe. It’s peaceful, with a confidence that continues to develop.

    Hope you have a great birthday!!

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  • Tess @ Tips on Healthy Living April 3, 2014, 5:34 pm

    As I turn 24 next week, I found your advice incredibly helpful. I feel like so much of our 20s are spent worrying about making mistakes despite the fact that this is the time we should be making them.

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  • Traci April 3, 2014, 6:15 pm

    I just always love reading lists like this! Thanks for sharing. #13 is my favorite, and I try to remember it.

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  • Kelly April 3, 2014, 6:21 pm

    I *hated* turning 30 – it was SO hard and painful for me. I am now 32 and happier than I’ve ever been. A lot of life happened in the past 2 years and I couldn’t have imagined that life could be THIS good. It just keeps getting better!!

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  • Jamie April 3, 2014, 6:26 pm

    Haha! Funny that you posted this today. I have a friend who turned 29 yesterday and she said she is terrified of turning 30. I will be 30 in August and I am feeling okay about it. Actually looking forward to it in some ways!

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  • Maria April 3, 2014, 8:57 pm

    I love this! Thank you for sharing!

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  • Janelle April 3, 2014, 11:11 pm

    Thanks for sharing these. I’m really feeling #3 right now!

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  • Angela April 3, 2014, 11:42 pm

    Hi Caitlin
    I love your blog and have been a regular reader for a while. I am surprised by the advertisers in the side bar for Asian dating services. It doesn’t seem like a company you would choose to sponsor you. My concern is that it was put up without your consent.

    Reply
    • Caitlin April 4, 2014, 7:39 am

      EW! I blocked those kind of ads on my site – I will go back through my Google Ads and see what slipped through the cracks. Gross. Thanks for alerting me.

      Reply
  • Luna April 4, 2014, 4:41 am

    LOVE this!!agree 100%!! :D

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  • Andie April 4, 2014, 6:15 am

    Love that list…but wouldn’t your 30s be your fourth decade?

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    • Caitlin April 4, 2014, 7:38 am

      Wait – LOL. I’m so confused. 0 – 10: 1st. 11 – 20: 2nd. 20 – 30: 3rd….. So I guess you’re right. It’s my fourth. Man, I suck at math.

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  • Laura@SneakersandSpatulas April 4, 2014, 8:43 am

    I finally learned to be comfortable in my own skin. From wearing what I’m comfortable in to how I act. I’m not afraid of what people will think or how I’ll be perceived. I don’t care if I’m “cool” anymore. I think getting married a few years ago has really helped with that.

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  • Tricia April 4, 2014, 8:51 am

    I especially agree with the drama free and boring life. I love my little life with my little family and my house! I have never been happier or more comfortable with myself. By the way, I am in love with the font you used in that list. What is it?! Looks like handwriting. I love it!

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  • Amanda April 4, 2014, 11:02 am

    ahhhhh this is SO GOOD!!! I’ll be sharing :)

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  • Shannon April 4, 2014, 12:54 pm

    I’ll be 35 this year and the one lesson that I have learned HUGE in my 30s that I wish everyone knew is that “everything always works out”. It may not look like you thought it would but if you can just trust yourself and calm down, everything always works out.

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  • Jayna April 4, 2014, 1:11 pm

    Is your birthday, the 26th too? Mine is, and I will also be turning 30! I’ve met a couple of people born on the same day, but not also in the same year. That’s cool. Anyway, I still struggle with #3, but #8 is probably why I’m not all that freaked out about turning 30. For me exercise is linked to other self-care habits: eating well, hydrating, sleeping…
    I’d also have to say something about family (and friends that are like family), but that probably ties into #13.
    Great post! I’ll have to check out the life lessons for 30s.

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    • Caitlin April 4, 2014, 2:30 pm

      Yes! Happy almost birthday :) :)

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  • Carolina John April 4, 2014, 2:30 pm

    Your 30′s are soooooooo much better than your 20′s are. You are heading into the sweet spot, where maturity meets money and ability. Enjoy it!

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  • Kathy April 5, 2014, 10:31 pm

    Happy 30-to-be! It’s actually your 4th decade!
    I think you’re lessons ring true for me too…I would add, time flies so make the most of it and take comfort in knowing the things you thought were “big deals” actually weren’t and you will get through any new “big deals”

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  • Marielle April 11, 2014, 1:47 pm

    I love this list. Such good reminders, thanks for sharing!

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  • The Healthy Apple April 11, 2014, 5:38 pm

    Sending you the biggest hug from NYC darling. Love you! xooxxo Loved this post. MUAHHHHH
    My 30′s have been the best years so far!!!

    Reply