10 Lessons You Finally Learn in Your 30's

Photo cred:  @pjsviews

Photo cred: @pjsviews

an ode to our younger selves.

Weird thought. It’s been 12+ years that we’ve officially become adults, and sometimes I still call my mom every day it feels like we’re barely there.

As the new year has just begun, it’s a reflective time for many of us.

Where do we want to go and what the fuck did we do wasting 2018 what do we want to accomplish in 2019?

Our late twenty-something resolutions sound like this:

"This will be THE year".

29: "Okay welp, this will be the year."

30: "No really, this is actually the year, it feels different this time..."

And now we're more like, "If I'm honest I knew nothing, but this is truly THE year."

It’s not a question of who we want to BE this year (I can finally say I don’t want to be someone else) but it’s a question of how do I better myself?

What have I learned as a valued and matured member of society through years of heartache and mistakes that I can put into action?

When you’re in your 30’s, hopefully, you’re getting to the realization that being yourself, is exactly who you should be. It’s like the one nice gift the universe gives us to cope with the decreasing collagen levels pressure when we’re blowing out the candles. We start loving ourselves a little bit more.

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 32. If I could go back in time to punch Taylor Swift , I’d send along this countdown that includes the 10 MOST VALUABLE lessons I’ve learned in my thirties AND keep them as reminders to have my best year yet (for real this time):


10. Scientifically, you learn faster.

I’d like to think that the rate for which we’re learning in our 30’s is growing exponentially, and maybe there’s some science to that. Our mistakes start compounding and turn into a positive regression.

Okay, I'm making this up.

But, with with each lesson fuckboy we meet, it links with the other fuckboys lessons we meet, and it's as if we finally start running from them at a faster rate.

I have no clue what the graph above means, but what I can conclude from it is this: in our youth, we listen to our parents and learn at an astronomical rate (language, potty-training, how to master legos and Oregon Trail), and then in our twenties, we fail, A LOT. We catapult into making zero responsible decisions in terms of sex, multiple-monthly domino’s orders, and vodka redbulls. In our thirties, we start to peak again. We physically don’t have a choice, our metabolisms and two-day hangovers become CEO to our decision making.

What I’ve learned is this: I’ve learned more in the past 2 years of my life than I have in the past 12. So read up!

9. Things never play out The Way You think they will.

This is a superpower that will keep your HEAD ON STRAIGHT baby-making hormones from acting up.

I’ve learned by experience, that whatever you’re imagining a life situation to be, it’ll usually play out differently than expected.

In fact, you’ll usually, or partially, be wrong. Keep this in mind when you’re dreading a scenario or feeling anxious. The important meeting you’re worried about bombing will probably go smoothly, dates are typically less painful, and that dinner you almost bailed on with that old co-worker… ended up being slightly delightful. The next time you’re playing out a scenario in your head, realize there will always be factors involved you can’t foresee.

What I’ve learned is this: Life always surprises you. Use this lesson to give more things a chance, and also use it to stop your mind from racing.

8. don’t pace yourself with others.

You win some, you lose some. I’m surrounded by very successful mid 6-figure friends, and I’M not one of them. My name isn’t usually attached to an email with the subject line saying “Congratulate Brittany on her new promotion” via LinkedIn. There are 4 out of 30 women in my sorority pledge class that aren’t married, and alas, I AM one of them. And yet, one of the most important lessons I’ve tried to master in my 30’s keep my sanity is to not pace myself against others.

This goes beyond the cliche advice of telling you to NOT get FOMO.

Over the years, I’ve learned that hitting milestones won’t equate to happiness. The people with the highest paying jobs are sometimes the most lonely. The richest, do the most soul-searching. Perfect relationships on Instagram, have ZERO sex. Everyone’s a little f*cked up, everyone has insecurities, everyone IS LOOKING for a therapist, AND many of the people you envy would switch parts of their lives with you in a heartbeat to alleviate some personal stress they deal with on a daily basis.

Your life will move at the speed it’s supposed to. Maybe you don’t have your dream partner or job just yet, but you’ve started your passion project 10 years before them, won’t settle because it’s safe, or have enough self-awareness and courage to book a 10-day solo-meditation retreat because you have zero obligations, but yourself.

What I’ve learned is this: While you’re pacing yourself with others, they’re actually pacing their lives with yours.

7. working out is fun.

Physically, my 30’s have surprisingly been my most confident years, and I owe it to one principal: stepping up my game.

I mastered my beauty routines (here are my must-read hair and beauty posts). Pssst: if you haven’t made this a priority, you actually can’t afford to wait a minute longer. Crows feet and weird smile wrinkles grow like the graph above AND botox costs a plane ticket.

But working out? In my 20’s, I was skinny fat and 100% okay with it. I’d go through phases where it was integrated into my schedule (mostly related to some type of goal or vacation), but I absolutely hated it. For years, I’d occasionally force myself to do cardio at the gym and cry with each mile. I also never felt toned because I half-assed everything.

Then this past June, I finally figured out the trick that made me (GASP!), enjoy working out. I joined Classpass and was able to find the perfect cocktail of workouts for my individual body. And aren’t cocktails always fun?

When I finally found workouts I enjoyed, I started going more often. THAT WAS THE SIMPLE KEY. Stop doing workouts you hate! I’ll never be a runner or Barry’s Bootcamp enthusiast, but I love barre and high-intensity reformer pilates and have never had a flatter stomach.

What I’ve learned is this: Taking care of your body should be enjoyable, if it’s not, you’re doing it wrong. Find your own groove.

6. unique Travel has the highest ROI when draining your bank account.

Unlike $18 spicy margaritas in New York City, traveling off-the-beaten path is the best way to deplete your paycheck…I’m talking Bangladesh over Barcelona.

Travel has always yielded lots of life lessons, but it hasn’t been until I’ve hit my 30’s that I’ve realized the less popular trips are sometimes your best investment.

From meeting a Shaman in Guatemala to listening to love stories straight out of a movie from Angel, my tour guide in Cuba, I’ve gained a toolset that allows me to find a connection or topic to discuss with almost all beautiful walks of life. I’ve been to over 35 countries, mostly choosing the unique and unusual (from eating Borek in Bosnia to wine tasting in the deserts of Peru). I still haven’t been to Mykonos.

It’s the number one reason I’m successful at bonding with various cultures and personalities, which is another favorite of my superpowers.

What I’ve learned is this: Buying a plane ticket to a unique destination is money well spent vs. getting drunk at a speakeasy in East Village. Unless, you’re buying an $18 spicy margarita somewhere in Oman, and then you’ve found the secret to life, my friend.

5. Learn one new topic a week (from a book, podcast, documentary).

Britannica is actually my real name. I’m kidding. In my thirties I’ve tried much harder to stay informed for one important reason, to be more interesting. I do it for myself (being informed gives you an inherent sense of confidence), and to heighten my social interactions.

Think of it as a sales trick. Learning at least one new topic a week (from a book, podcast, or documentary) opens up your world to more conversation. It never hurts to have an arsenal of soundbites to discuss on dates or impress your boss.

What I’ve learned is this: There are three simple ways to do this.

  1. Sign up for the Skimm and wake up to a daily email summary of the most important and current news topics.

  2. While you’re getting ready for work, listen to the The Daily podcast by The New York Times. In 20 minutes, you’ll be updated on the top current events for the week from The Russia Investigation to the El Chapo Court Case.

  3. In the uber, check out Blinkist - a startup that shortens novels into 15-minute reads. They have almost every book you’re curious about (from top sellers like Shoe Dog to any mindfulness or leadership publication). Try out a free book here. #lifehacks

4. everyone gets nervous or anxious at parties.

The prettiest and most successful woman in the room is still nervous when she walks into parties, even for a brief second.

This is one realization that took me quite some time to learn, and to be honest, I’m still trying to remember it. I’ve always struggled with social anxiety (more posts on this to come), but it wasn’t until my late twenties or early thirties that I realized I wasn’t so special. Everyone feels these pains from time to time. Or at least, 9/10 of us.

What I’ve learned is this: If you’re kind and make sure to ask questions, you’re usually set.

3. Take dating less seriously.

Simply put, I wish I didn’t put as much pressure in my 20s on finding “the one” with every guy I went on a date with.

I’d search for the almost perfect match, and when I found someone close to that, I’d keep them around longer than I should have as if it was my last fighting chance for happiness.

In my thirties, and more so just recently, I’ve treated dates as fun interactions with new people who I didn’t know before. Period. I look forward to new conversation, and hopefully getting to see a new bar or have a new experience. That’s it. If we connect that’s great, and if not, I appreciate the time they took out of their schedule. NEXT.

What I’ve learned is this: A date is just a date, or rather, ONE in-person meeting you’ve set up; not a contract. Texting style doesn’t equivalate to IRL personalities. Dating someone for a few months doesn’t secure a path for marriage. And we should always (in the beginning) date multiple people until things have progressed to put less pressure on all aspects of romance and to be more objective when deciding who’s our best match.

2. It’s not too late to start over.

There should be an entire psychology class in college that teaches people how to live life AGAINST society’s timelines. Who ever is able to master that subject will be the most successful student in life that I’ve come across.

At 24 years old, I knew I wanted to go to Grad School. My passion had always been Psychology, but that wasn’t the “smart” choice for an undergrad major according to my parents and society, so I’d have to start from scratch. Upon researching programs, I found that most required prerequisite classes that would take 6 months or a year to complete. Approaching my mid-twenties, I worried that it was too late to start an entire career over. Wouldn’t I be married and have kids in a few years? So, I chose a Public Policy program that I could start right away. It was fascinating, but didn’t quite capture my heart.

Looking back, maybe I’d already have a flourishing clinic and an accredited book deal on relationships under my belt if I hadn’t been so worried to start over.

What I’ve learned is this: Be patient and let your ego aside. It’s never too late to start something new, and your future self will thank you for STARTING NOW.

1.The key to happiness is to lower your expectations.

Alas, the numero uno. This is actually the most profound thing I learned in 2018, and I promise you, it’s not depressing:

The lesson here isn’t about lowering your expectations for what you want out of life, but lowering expectations FOR OUTCOMES with events in your life.

The less expectations you have for a situation, the less of a gap there will be when measuring it against reality.
— smart brittany in 2018

For example, take New Year’s Eve. I lowered my expectation for having a magical Cinderella meet-cute (preferably with some gorgeous man with an accent) at midnight. Instead, I went into the night as if it was just any other Saturday in New York with friends. I’d dress up, have plenty of drinks, and be home (hopefully) by 2am with some kind of bodega sandwich in hand. And in fact, it was exactly that…but a better than average dinner and hang out with friends. Oddly enough I flirted with a blonde British man wearing a mask at midnight?! I can finally say that NYE was a success because I didn’t set any unrealistic expectations for it being anything more than a night on the town.

Also, with dating (especially), the fewer expectations you have for every date, the less disappointed you will be if it doesn't work out. With every vacation, the fewer expectations you have to see every hotspot on your list or getting the perfect tan, the more relaxed you'll be. You get the gist.


If I had a word that summed up this past year, it would be transformation. And transformation only comes by learning, messing up, making bad decisions, learning the right ones, being more self-aware, and maybe after 10 times, you’ll stay away from emotionally unavailable men grasp the concept.

These are all lessons I will be using in my arsenal to accomplish my 2019 goals. Who cares if I just learned some of them last week.

What are your thoughts? Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments below!