I'm turning 30 years old this weekend.
It's meant to be this landmark moment that I'm supposed to make a big deal about, but I know I'll probably still feel 29, even though every romantic comedy about women in their late-20s tells me that it's a life-changing ordeal to turn 30. It's 30, after all.
It's not that I'm in denial over my age or freaking out about heading into the "middle-aged" zone. Quite the opposite. I've never been more comfortable, more content and more at peace with myself in my life. I love my job. I love my friends and family. I'm dating a really hot nerd (that's the dream!) and I have two cats. I used to think that being young was when your life was at its absolute best. I was very, very wrong.
Turns out, I was wrong about a lot of stuff up until now. And I will probably be wrong about stuff all the way up until I die peacefully in my bed surrounded by all my cats and holding the hand of my third husband, Michael Fassbender.
So, in the spirit of turning 30, I made this list of things I wish I could tell my younger self, so that maybe you people reading this who are younger than me can learn some valuable life lessons about growing up. Or maybe you'll repeat my own mistakes. Either way, it will help you get to the person you are supposed to be at age 30:
1. High school popularity truly and honestly doesn't matter.
I didn't exactly strive to be popular, but I definitely cared way too much about how people saw me. Do not waste your time on being friends with people you can't stand just because everyone likes them, too. Nobody, and I mean nobody, in the real world cares if you were popular back in the day, and the ones that do are the ones that peaked in high school.
2. You go to college to find your bridesmaids, not your husband.
Quite possibly the lamest saying ever, ripped straight from my 2005 AIM profile, but it's true. The friends you make in college are so important, not just because you are more likely to stay close to them after graduation, but because they are the ones who are with you during a time in your life where you grow up a little and change a lot.
3. Wear sunscreen.
Do not go on spring break with your friends and pack tanning lotion or heaven forbid, oil. Pack sunscreen. SPF 30 or higher. Slather it everywhere and reapply religiously. Invest in moisturizers that have SPF built it in and wear it on your face every day. You might not look tan for those group photos, but you will have the skin of a 18-year-old when you turn 30, which is a rare sight at my age.
4. Your mother is almost always right.
About everything. Love. Friendship. Health. Family. The big things. The little things. Seriously, she's been through it. Listen to her. You will not regret it. For example, my mom always forced me to wear sunscreen whenever I went on spring break in college, and I was so annoyed because I wanted to lay out and roast like my friends were! So while my friends all oiled up on our first day in South Padre, Texas, I smeared on SPF 45. I was the only person who could go outside the next day because everyone was sunburnt to within an inch of their life. So I can confidently say that number 3 is a rule you should definitely follow.
5. Boys are worthless. Wait until they are men.
My oldest sister used to say that boys are not worth messing with until they turn 27. Of course, men can mature at different ages, but the principle stands. Do not stress over a dude who hasn't grown up yet or has no idea who he is. The one you want to share your life with is the one who knows who he is and knows how to be in a stable relationship and actually wants to be in one. And that doesn't usually happen until their late 20s, in my experience.
6. Be on time. Be dependable.
You do not want to get a reputation as someone who is always late to something. Just be dependable, because later in life, a flaky person isn't just the type of person who just forgets birthdays or is late to parties. That type of person gets fired or can't manage to keep friends. Don't be that person. Start your on-time habit early on, and you'll have no problem with it in the real world when it really, really matters.
7. Take care of your teeth.
Brush. Floss. Cut back on sugar. My dental experience is expensive and painful because I have a sugar problem and I didn't take care of my teeth as well as I should have. You can prevent the $900 crown procedure from happening in your future!
8. Develop healthy eating and exercise habits early on.
I played soccer my entire life, so I was forced into two-hour workouts every day, plus games on weekends. I could eat whatever I wanted and still remain skinny and toned. But guess what? After my college career was over, that meant my required workouts were, too. I never learned how to eat healthy because I never had to eat healthy. Keeping myself healthy at 30 would be so much easier if I learned good nutrition at 16. However…
9. Feel free to eat disgusting crap every once in a while.
You have your whole life to diet and eat quinoa. You are young. Eat that deep fried Oreo covered in ice cream. As long as it's not your weekly habit, you'll be fine.
10. That boy/man who just broke your heart? The one you swear with every breath you possess you'll never get over? You will.
You definitely will. In time. Everything gets better with time. By the time you are 30, you will be with someone who puts all those other "loves of your life" to shame.
11. Your siblings will be your best friends.
Again, in time. You might despise them now, but I promise, they will be your best friends later in life. You will need them and one day, you won't live in the next room. You will live across the country, you'll see them twice, maybe three times a year, and you will miss them so much. Be with them now, while you still can.
12. Your parents are humans, too.
Treat them as such. They have feelings and they are mortal. And while you think they are annoying now, you will love hanging out with them when you're older. Your parents are cool!
13. Don't get a credit card until you know how to actually use one.
Thanks for the debt and shoddy credit score, younger me! A credit card is not a debit card. Repeat that to yourself every day.
14. Being the wasted party girl stops being cool and/or fun after college.
Look, college means partying. And you will have a blast getting drunk with your friends and spending your Sundays hungover and laughing about the night before. But after you graduate and have to hold down a real job, getting drunk and being hungover is a terrible idea. Stop doing it. Because you will soon find out…
15. Your life does not have to be a party for it to be exciting.
It is perfectly fine to sit at home on the weekends and read, watch TV or simply do nothing. Do not think you need to be out at the bars dancing and making out with strangers all the damn time. It stops being fun real quick. When you are 30, reading Harry Potter in bed next to your significant other will make you happier than when "Get Low" comes on at the bar ever did.
16. You don't have to do what everyone else is doing.
Marriage, kids, certain careers…those ideas might be forced on you or you might be forcing them on yourself. This is your life. Decide what you want and don't want and stick to it, even if you are being pressured by someone else to think otherwise. You don't want kids? That's fine. You want to change careers suddenly? Do it! Because when you get older, these decisions come with severe consequences and making them will be a lot harder. Find out who you are; don't let others tell you who you are. They are wrong.
17. Take care of your car.
Regular oil changes. Good tires. And don't just put a photo of 'NSYNC over your "Check Engine" light. Go get it checked out.
18. Get out of that tanning bed this instant, young lady!
That is a skin cancer box. Stop lying in it.
19. Stop trying to plan everything out.
Nothing in life will go the way you think it's supposed to. And that's a good thing. Remember what your favorite high school teacher said, "There are only two guarantees in life: the sun will come up and you will have to pee in the morning."
20. Drop those toxic friends.
Are there any people in your life who make you wonder why you even hang out with them? Drop 'em. Weed them out and keep the ones who you can call at 2 a.m. for any reason. Those are the ones you hang onto. Friendships change, and it's OK if your BFF isn't actually a "forever" for you.
21. Don't stop being a bookworm.
You don't have many friends right now, younger me, so you read a lot. And that might seem sad now (and people might make fun of you), but reading will never stop being a glorious escape for you. But those mean girls will disappear. As your 30-year-old self, I'd like to profusely thank you for getting into reading at such a young age. It's my favorite thing to do right now. I still hate you for the debt, young me. But the reading thing was awesome. Thanks.
22. Take naps!
For the love of god, take as many naps as possible. While you still can!
23. Start that 401K immediately.
Even if you don't know what that is. Just do it as soon as you are able to. Or at the very least start your savings account.
24. Be nice to people.
You never know what someone is going through. So smile. Say hello. Help them.
25. It's not the end of the world.
Unless the actual end of the world is coming, then whatever terrible thing you are going through will pass. I promise. Tomorrow will come. As will the next day. And you will survive.
26. You do not need a relationship to feel complete.
Live your life the way you want to. Find out what makes you happy. That way, when you meet who you think is The One, it's someone who you want to share your life with and not someone who will complete your life.
27. Enjoy life before the Internet.
Younger me, the Internet will change everything. Sometimes for the worse. So before it actually becomes an integral part of your everyday routine and your job, enjoy your life without it.
28. Learn a different language.
You studied German in high school, but then you stopped. I really wish you stuck with it so I could at least speak it conversationally. That would be cool.
29. Please do not bleach/frost your hair.
Don't. Stop. It doesn't look good. And the photos will haunt you forever. You natural color is quite beautiful (with some slight coloring and subtle highlights).
30. Never be ashamed of you who you are.
Younger me, I am so proud of who I am at age 30. I am awesome. And I wish I spent more of my teenager years believing that. It would have made so many things much easier.