A few days ago, I read this piece that Taylor Swift wrote for Elle, entitled 30 Things I Learned Before Turning 30. As a longtime Taylor fan (and person extremely aware of the fact that many are not Taylor fans, for reasons both valid and not), I really enjoyed reading her insights, both the funny and more profound. As someone who lives for far-off celebrity drama, I particularly like how much she subtly comments on her most highly publicized scandals — so subtly at times that readers who are not as insanely well-versed in every aspect of her life and career since 2007 may not catch it all.
Is that a ‘weird flex’ or a ‘humblebrag’? Perhaps both.
But after I was done deciphering which lessons referred to ex Calvin Harris and which to current flame Joe Alwyn, I started thinking about the lessons I’ve learned in my own 25 years. While I’ve yet to have an album go platinum* and only get the occasional hater in my instagram comments, I like to think that my life experiences have led to at least 25 worthy tidbits to pass on. Maybe five years from now, I’ll even have 30.
Without further ado, I present you with my list.
- You will save a lot of time when you stop wearing all makeup except eyeliner on a day-to-day basis. You might eternally wonder if others look at you and think, “Why does that raccoon have acne?” but just focus on that extra sleep you’re getting. This also goes for when you stop straightening your hair.
- Cats do not, in fact, have nine lives. This is just a saying people use to convey that cats are very…resilient (or something, honestly I’m still not sure). Do not casually ask your boyfriend about the truth to it one day when you’re watching The Aristocats, as he will laugh at you relentlessly and still bring it up six years later.
- Whatever the recipe says for “prep time,” at least double it. You are the world’s slowest chopper and generally not great at kitchen multitasking. What takes Bobby Flay 30 minutes is likely to take most of your evening. This is a fact of life, and thank goodness you saved all that time not doing your hair and makeup, right?
- Life is about perspective. From the time when social media started getting popular, people warned you about how future employers would refrain from hiring you if your posts had anything unprofessional in them. But when you consider that the NSA watches you through your webcam and the Russian government uses your data to influence presidential elections, what’s one glass of wine in the background of your Facebook profile pic?
- You have never and will never again receive so much male attention as you did in your year of working at a bookstore. This is the Manic Bookstore Dream Girl phenomenon (working on getting a copyright), in which many a nerdy straight man fancies himself the hero out of a romantic comedy from the moment he enters the overly-romanticized independent bookstore, and if you are a young woman with the misfortune of crossing his path and Doing Your Literal Job by asking if he needs help with anything, you are cast as the heroine.
- You cannot pick every gray hair on your head. It’s cute that you try for the first couple of years, but it is a waste of time. Unless your goal is to eventually go bald and have a really sore scalp.
- Dress codes are always unjust and/or sexist and/or regard women as hypersexualized beings whose shoulders and clavicles will put others in danger because, idk, they just will somehow. You will accept them in your school days and even enforce one in your sorority, but as a grown-ass woman, you will wear whatever you please. Incidentally, “whatever you please” has been shaped by sexism at all levels of society that shaped your development but THE POINT STANDS.
- In the post-2016 world, there will be an extremely easy litmus test involving the questions “Who did you vote for?” and “Are we related?” that will help you decide which people to continue speaking to.
- Not all of your posts will be commercial successes. Less than 50 likes doesn’t mean it was a bad picture/caption/status. It just means you have less than 50 truly loyal internet followers who want you to succeed and find happiness in life, and the rest are fake b-words. But let this knowledge make you better, not bitter.
- When you and your bestie make a YouTube video parodying a Justin Bieber performance and creatively utilizing a Snuggie, and it goes semi-viral with 90,000 views in a few days, do not delete it just because “it’s embarrassing” and “people at school are finding it.” You could have #monetized that #content.
- It’s good to follow your passions, but it’s also okay to hate yourself when your passions are more of the unpaid internship variety than the six-figure-salary one.
- On a related note, aligning core values/morals is obviously most important in a romantic partner, but if choosing between the software engineer with a heart of silver to the starving artist with a heart of gold, have I told you lately that silver goes better with your complexion? Signed, starving artist who is 99.9% kidding on this one.
- Love the books you love, no matter what they are. There is no book that you should be “embarrassed” to read. Unless it’s The Art of the Deal.
- You contain multitudes. Multitudes of contradictions, like how you wrote your freshman research seminar paper on problematic gender roles in reality shows like The Bachelor but you continue to be a diehard fan of every show in the Bachelor franchise to this day and if Colton doesn’t end up with Cassie tonight, you will throw your TV over a fence — then promptly repair it in time for Bachelorette season.
- Generic foods are often as good as the name-brand. Or if they aren’t, you should probably buy them anyway and every time you eat them and think, “These ‘Kroger So Cheesy crackers’ aren’t as tasty as Cheez-Its,” consider it the price you have to pay for majoring in sociology/anthropology and German studies.
- You will get so good at making self-deprecating jokes about things like your appearance and career that at a certain point, you aren’t sure what your actual feelings on the subjects are. #meta
- If a classmate from high school messages you with the intro, “Hey girl,” there is a 75% chance you are being recruited for a multi-level marketing scheme. You will never earn that free company Cadillac. You’re not sure how you know this, but you just do.
- “Treat Yoself” is a mantra meant to be used in moderation. Adding a bag of candy to your grocery cart once a month? Treat yoself. Stopping at McDonalds for french fries on the way home every time you do a closing shift at work and feel sorry for yourself? Deep-fried self-destructive habit.
- Fitbits are for people who actually want to improve. If you just wear it and walk as much as you normally do (not enough) and exercise the same (not at all), you’re only making pointless observations about your sedentary lifestyle — sometimes with flashing lights.
- You can hate gender roles and also kindly push your significant other toward them when it is convenient. As an example, at this very moment, I have locked myself in my room while the boo tries to assess a possible squirrel situation in our attic. I’m a strong, independent woman, but if anyone in this house is going to face down a possible intruder (of the human or woodland critter variety), it’s a no from me, dawg. Of course, only if said significant other agrees to it readily, etc etc healthy relationship jargon.
- If you hold on tightly enough to your childhood music obsessions, they will eventually attain this sort of nostalgic cool factor where other people admit to liking them unironically and finally acknowledge that the entire A Little Bit Longer album was a pillar of artistic achievement and your fave could never and actually, this might just apply to the Jonas Brothers.
- The library is among the most wonderful things in this world that is totally free which obviously means it’s only a matter of time before someone tries to take it away so you gotta use that ish while it lasts! Read like the wind.
- You do not need to take your children to Disney World until they are old enough to walk around on their own. Strollers are an invention of the devil. You may try to convince yourself otherwise when you’re further removed from working there and love your little monsters and want to show them the Happiest Place on Earth, but 23 year-old Kaitlyn hauling other people’s wheels around in front of the Haunted Mansion under the scorching sun knew better. The stroller. Is. Not. Worth. It.
- Mamma Mia and Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again are pure cinematic genius. There are those who believe this, and those who are wrong. The latter are probably not your friends.
- You are still a naive little weirdo with many, many, many lessons left to learn.
I hope you imagined me reading these from some kind of yogi pose on a high pedestal, imparting each point in a soothing voice with the reverence it deserved. If that wasn’t what you imagined, huh, that’s strange, but you do you.
Appreciate you for reading, as ever. Until I come up with more words of wisdom…
*note to future self: insert spotify and iTunes links here whenever I’ve made an album