29 unexpected lessons I learned by my 29th birthday

Birthdays are a great excuse to eat cake for breakfast and shamelessly wear party hats all day, but they also have a way of making us reflect on the past year and highlight what we’d like to accomplish in the future. I’m turning 29 this week, which means I don’t relate to the young 20-somethings anymore, but I’m not quite a 30-something yet either. While I certainly haven’t mastered the art of being an adult just yet, here are 29 unexpected and practical tips I picked up before my 29th birthday.

You never stop needing things at Target

You made your list. You checked it twice. You’re feeling great because you’re finally done with Target trips for at least a week. It is during this magical moment of gratitude that your hair conditioner runs out.

Health matters more than weight
And they’re both only your business. It’s not anyone else’s job to tell you how you should look, what you should eat, or what is best for you.

It’s okay to not like everybody
I spent a lot of my 20s trying to please everyone, which took a toll on my self-worth and mental health. Hang out with people you want. Don’t hang out with people who make you feel like a garbage pile.

Stop comparing yourself to other people
Don’t let your friends’ successes or social strides affect your self-esteem negatively. There is no standard time frame for landing your dream job. You’ll get there.

You don’t stop getting stains on things
I thought I would have outgrown this years ago.

Furniture isn’t disposable anymore
Be nice to your house things because you have to go home to them most nights. Throw down the $4 for real wood cleaner and OMG, use a coaster.

Seeing friends requires a lot of planning
And that’s why FaceTime was invented. You’re not constantly surrounded by all of your besties; we grow up and move to other places and it is really hard getting us all together again.

You don’t accomplish your dreams by sitting idly, talking about them
You have to do a lot of work. Sure, talking about them with like-minded friends or mentors is wonderful and I completely support it, as long as you counteract all that talking with actual doing.

Sacrificing your own heart in an effort not to break someone else’s is not worth it
You’re going to get your heart broken, and you’re going to break other people’s hearts. There is no avoiding this, and you’re being kinder in the long run if you are honest with yourself and anyone else involved. If you’re unhappy in a relationship, move on.

Try moving across the country a few times
It’s scary to uproot and have no idea what you’re doing. You should do it anyway.

Social media can be pure venom
We love scrolling through those photos and liking our friends’ posts, but social media can cause a lot of depression and anxiety for us. Adjust your feed so that you’re only seeing what you really want to see. Don’t be afraid of that “hide” button.

Letting go of jobs, people, and habits that aren’t meant to be will free up a ton of space for those that are
Seriously… make room.

Get active
You don’t need to train yourself for the Olympics, but your body needs movement. Take a quick walk when you can. Your body will thank you.

Never pass up an opportunity to eat pizza
It doesn’t come around nearly as much as we want it to, so when it’s there, exploit it.

It’s just not cool to snark other girls
Niceness should be the standard. There are so many better ways to spend your time than by Regina Georging people.

Being directionless is a huge gift
It caused me a lot of anxiety because WHAT AM I DOING, but in hindsight, not knowing what I was supposed to do enabled me to explore jobs, cities, and people that I never would have if I’d “stuck to the plan.”

You really can choose your battles
Life is getting shorter by the minute. There is no time to waste on trifling fools.

Dating the wrong people is great
Sometimes learning what you don’t like is just as valuable as finding out what you do like.

 Those dead-end jobs that you’re overqualified for aren’t so bad
I met some of my best friends while working in a suburban mall for two years with a Bachelor’s degree. I also learned a lesson in dealing with cranky people, parking lot wars, and how not to treat cashiers whenever I’m out and about.

Acknowledging mistakes in a relationship is so much easier than pretending they aren’t there
If you screwed up, let the other person know. They will forgive you.

Your parents are just awkward adults too
They’re just winging it, too. Make time for them and soak up as much advice as possible.

Take time to appreciate everything you have
Even if it’s just your last bowl of Easy Mac and your friend’s dad’s HBO GO account password.

Being yourself is so much cooler than trying to be cool
You will attract the right people if you stay true to yourself. Let your freak flag fly. Go buckwild with your bad self.

Give oatmeal raisin another shot
It’s actually not that bad anymore.

Stop lurking
You know what I mean. You don’t need to keep tabs on your exes, or their new significant others, or their parents. Trust me, they’re not doing anything interesting.

Everything changes
A lot can happen between birthdays. By this time next year, you might be living in a different city, working a different job, dating the love of your life and who knows what else. The only constant is change, so force yourself to appreciate and enjoy all this freedom while it lasts.

Get to know a car person
I just learned what GAP insurance is and it’s the most boring thing in the world. Everybody needs that person who is good with knowing why your car is making that sound, or how to negotiate with dealerships, or what kind of coverage you need. Find your car person.

Pay attention to politics
Find the issues that matter to you and really fight for them. We are living in a politically historic time and have made huge strides in social justice, but we still have a long road ahead of us. Become part of it.

You’re fine
A good thing to remember is that you have survived everything so far. No matter where you find yourself at 29… remember that you’re doing just fine.

[Image via NBC]

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