If you write online, there’s an
unwritten rule that upon entering your thirties you must publish a list of life lessons learned over the previous decade. These usually involve chasing your dreams, failing at them, and how shitty people are shitty and don’t matter.
About to turn 30 myself, I thought it’d be a waste of time to write another list of platitudes born from my specific life experiences, pretending they apply to everyone. In fact, if I had any advice for 20-year olds it would be to CliffNotes your way through your twenties by reading these 30-year old geezers’ lists and save yourself the trouble of figuring anything out on your own 1.
So to pay homage to my contrarian 20-something self, I thought long and kind of hard about the things I haven’t learned. This was unexpectedly difficult, as at the time of writing I’m in my twenties and therefore still know everything.
There’s no ethereal takeaway from this list (although I suppose that’s not for me to judge), but if anyone could help me learn some of the following before I turn 40 that’d be great.
1. How “Cool Runnings” didn’t win 1994 Best Picture.
2. When greeting someone, how the hell to know if it’s time for a straight handshake, hand grasp-hug, hand grasp-into-double clutch-snap-pound it, or any other variation I’m expected to know.
3. Why my EpiPen can’t actually be the size of a pen yet/can’t look like I’m sporting…something in my pants all the time.
4. How to properly put pants back on the hanger clip thing at clothing stores.
5. At what age/body size is it no longer appropriate to stage dive/go into push pits.
6. How to do that thing where you blow on grass and annoy everyone around you.
7. Where all the single socks go.
8. That Cracker Barrel game. You know the one.
9. Where that trope of a shady guy selling watches from the inside of his trench coat came from (and why one has never offered me).
10. How to shotgun a beer and ‘just relax your throat, man.’
12. Why hostels don’t ask ‘snoring or non?’ upon check-in.
13. Where I can live that has fall-esque weather 365 days a year.
14. How “Live A Life Worth Googling” hasn’t become an overkilled thing yet.
15. If staying clean-shaven is less of a pain in the ass than keeping a full beard nice is.
15b. If the former is true, how to get that one spot on my neck without bleeding everywhere, every time.
16. How to appropriately maintain friendships on the other side of the world/when to stop asking more questions in an email exchange and just let the conversation die.
17. The right balance of wanting to go out and do-experience-do-do-do! and just enjoying a good book or NetFlix binge at home.
18. Why we make 18 and 19-year olds choose what they want to do with the rest of their lives instead of giving them time to figure out what they actually enjoy via gap years, or at the very least, not allowing them to declare a major until their junior year.
19. Why the curbs next to intersections look like trashcans to so many.
20. Whether I want the flexible yet lonely and neuroticism-inducing life that comes from working at home or the social and secure yet menial tedium of an office environment.
21. How to make good money writing online without completely pulling myself away from writing online for fun.
22. The appropriate balance between accepting people as they are and identifying when they are in need of some positive encouragement and suggestions for change.
23. A way to journal that keeps up with the pace of my thoughts yet also keeps my handwriting legible.
24. When I actually like something because I truly appreciate its qualities versus liking it because of nostalgia or some other sort of personal attachment.
25. If it’s possible to actually ‘be in the moment’ beyond recognizing that, ‘Hey this is a moment I will nostalgize about one day, I should really pay attention to it and notice the little details around me like this tree, and the smell of the wind, and oh shit what did they just ask me?”
26. How to not only make other people believe that I don’t care what other people think (even those from my distant past), but actually believe it myself.
27.How to properly repent for my sins of pretension, snobbery, and being a bad host that I committed in my twenties
28. How to stop mentally berating myself for embarrassing social faux pas I committed 5-10 years ago.
29. How to do the family/house/dog thing and still find opportunities to slow travel.
30. At what age I’ll actually grow chest hair.