30 things I’ve taken too long to learn in 30 years

and 3 big things I haven’t mastered yet

Me since, basically, forever: You know what I will never be caught dead writing? Those bollocks internet listicles.

Also me: You know what I should do now that I’ve turned 30? One of those internet listicles!

It’s also worth mentioning that I’m a 30-year-old white female, living in a ‘second world’ country; my experiences may or may not be useful to someone outside these circumstances, but they may inspire another fellow human to be more accepting of themselves and their own particular quirks, so here we are.

30 things I wish I hadn’t taken so long to learn

1.It’s okay to be a nerd; embrace the nerd. You don’t have to be cool.

Just be yourself, while trying to better that self. You can’t fool anyone, anyway. You’ll just make yourself miserable trying, while they’ll still immediately be able to smell the freak underneath; flaunt that freak with pride — and they’ll respect the courage.

2.Date a fellow nerd. Because, see above.

It’s perfectly alright if you’re both, technically, a liability in a ‘bad neighbourhood’; nerds learn how to fend for themselves by the time they mature into adults. We learn to be absolutely yawn-in-your-face bored with attempts at intimidation, and with asshole behaviour in general. The first truly mature and healthy relationship in your life, the person who will prove to be a genuine life partner, is going to be a hard-core nerd, just like yourself.

3.You can get through most job interviews by just pretending to be your favourite author while recounting your own resume: fake that confidence shit.

Before they realise you were bluffing, they’ll also have had the chance to notice you’re a competent writer, despite your self-confidence issues. In time, you’ll learn to even feel a little bit of the self-confidence, for real.

4.Just aim for a balanced set of eating habits, drink your water, and ignore the internet noise: enjoy the fuck out of that pizza, get over the toxic body policing and the Insta-filter-fabricated perfectionism, because life is short and way too complicated already so you don’t need that shit; but also learn, like really learn to enjoy a home-made salad, because your body loves that stuff.

5. See also: ease on the coffee/diet soda.

Because no, eight mugs of the shit isn’t too much, if your goal in life is to have a stroke by the age of 35.

6. It’s not your fault if you happen to be physically ill for no discernible reason other than genetics and, well, random chance.

In lacking any proof that it’s your fault, it isn’t. Ignore internet new-age magical thinking stuff, and just move on with your life. If it’s good enough for the scientific community, it’s good enough for you.

7.It’s okay to hate high heels.

I love the look of them; they make my flat feet and my bad spine feel horrible.

It’s fine. You can go to a friends’ wedding in fancy overalls and a fresh pair of Converse shoes, precisely zero people will give a fuck. You get to actually wear those shoes again, too. Plus, you don’t end up taking them off at 3am while tipsy-dancing to your favourite song, ankle-deep in spilled champagne and Staphylococcus aureus colonies — leave that stuff to the 20-year-olds and their young, carefree immune systems.

8.Since we’re on that page: effortless feels and looks best on you. Find what effortless means for you. Wear it without the need for fanfare.

It’s fine to wear a real winter jacket and a pair of obnoxious combat boots when it’s freezing balls outside, it’s okay if you feel best wearing Vans in your 30s whenever it’s not freezing balls outside. Burn that uncomfortable bra that pushes your barely-there boobs into your clavicle bones, nobody’s boobs are meant to be stuck to their clavicle bones; if it hurts when you take it off after wearing it for 6+ hours, don’t wear it; ditch that shoulder bag that’s killing your fucked-up spine and buy a couple of comfy backpacks for whenever you need to haul your laptop around; wear comfortable makeup for the artistry and self-expression, more so than the lies; fuck which colours and fits look best for your skin tone and body type — just wear whatever the hell makes you feel most like yourself.

9.It’s fine to be a highly empathic atheist.

Though Carl Sagan is dead and many atheists voicing their opinions today on the great online are cold, ethically ambiguous humans you cannot seem to find common ground with, and while many spiritually-inclined people expect you to be a cold, ethically ambiguous human and treat you wearily or as someone who’s lost their way — you will eventually find your people. Like Noah Harari. That guy’s the most reasonable still-breathing author I’ve ever read. If anyone can be mad at Noah Harari, they need to re-evaluate their tolerance levels.

10.Learning to really empathise with and love cats will teach anyone with a history of narcissistic personality disorder in the family how to love unconditionally.

Cats are assholes, this needs no explaining.

11.It’s okay to still be listening to (ska-)punk or grunge on your way to work.

Not everyone has to really, truly be into symphonic or experimental jazz.

12.It’s not exactly hypocrisy being a punk/grunge strong independent lady, while still resigning to the fact that anarchy and depression will not pay the rent and you need to, like, see to that shit best you can and do your best to make yourself useful to the world in some way.

It’s not a crime if you’re sleeping with the system for money. Not everyone can be a fulltime artist/philosopher. Someone has to actually do all the other stuff, literally everything else. Lose the shame. You can still enjoy the music.

13.On a similar note, it’s okay to be okay with a commercial writer/copywriter’s life and feel that it’s fine to not end up rich and famous.

Don’t give in to the dark side, not completely, maybe just have some of those cookies in the waiting room. Because, see #11 and #12.

14.It’s okay to sometimes blast your brains with a good dose of Venetian Snares, or indulge in that odd pop song, or sink into that series of trash TV you guilt-watch.

Seriously, it’s fine, nobody cares about your actual playlist/watchlist. Be curious. Experiment: listen to music Spotify wouldn’t normally ever think about suggesting to you; try out new foods; watch a movie you think will be corny and don’t judge yourself for enjoying it. It’s safe to get out of the bubble.

15.Let go of ‘clubbing’. It’s okay to grow out of stuff like that.

It’s fine if you prefer bars where you can hear yourself think over the music, because not being able to hear yourself think over the music is what headphones are for, and other people needn’t be involved in that, where introverts are concerned.

It’s no problem if you feel way too old for music festivals. Just. Let. It. Go.

You were faking it all along.

16.It’s not your fault that you’re living with severe anxiety and depression, with an added spice of borderline tendencies. Alas, how you deal with this fact, is your responsibility; the better you manage all that, the higher quality of life you’ll enjoy.

Do the work. Go through the difficult process, war through the thing, fight. You are a Klingon warrior. You’ve got this.

17.The more you complain or worry, the less you do shit to fix it or move on.

Just do what you can to better the situation. The rest, what is out of your control completely, is what that is — don’t spend too much time being anxious about it.

18.It’s okay to forever be a work in progress.

You know what, actually, it’s better than feeling complacent.

19.You will spend too much time seeking self-acceptance, in general. It’s made way more complicated than it has to be.

Just take small, sustainable, measurable steps towards bettering what you can, while accepting the rest, because nobody is fucking perfect anyway, so just chill.

20.Let yourself love what you love.

Lots of Star Trek, a little makeup community drama, a fair number of tattoos that are more like messages to your own self than anything else, or whichever other oddity. Seriously, nobody really gives a fuck.

21.But only so long as it’s not killing you.

At the same time, do your best to stand up to the immediate gratification rat within you and put it in its place. Mind your tendency towards vice; get off the couch every now and again; work on the thing instead of binging Netflix.

22.Always be kind.

To the absolute, honest best of your abilities, no* exceptions.

23.*Unless they pull out their weapon first, in which case, be fierce.

To the best of your ability, without beating yourself up for your (current) limitations. Just don’t make yourself feel like you have to put up with bullshit — while also not being a self-centred asshole, because see above.

24.Change is change.

Even if your brain is telling you it’s bad. It’s inherent in people, and to the act of living in general. If it’s reasonably benign, let it happen — that new job writing for a completely new industry, that new hobby, that new level of commitment with a thing/person that you love. Just pause panic. Decide how you feel about it once you get a taste of it.

25.Your crooked teeth are pretty fucking punk, the finger to society’s beauty standards. It’s okay to love them so long as you keep them healthy.

Or to love any other harmless feature society tells you that you should hate when you look in the mirror.

26.It’s fine if you’re not into travelling as an extreme sport.

If you just want to lounge by the sea in the same secluded place as many off days in a row a year as you can without ever feeling the need to be extremely creative with it above your choice in seaside reading material, that’s entirely fine. Millennial internet police aren’t going to come for you.

27.You are not a failure just because you’re not perfect.

Let that shit go.

28.You are enough.

Regardless of whether you make your father proud by being an engineer or not. As in, definitely not, you’d make a terrible engineer. And that’s fine.

29.Dance, regardless of how you look doing it.

Just go for it. Look stupid doing it: be a n00b at the thing you’ve always wanted to try. Face your fear of ridicule and go attempt the thing. As the famous tagline would have it, just fucking do it. Okay, maybe I added in the profanity just there.

30.Because, it’s okay to be a little blunt around the edges, so long as you always do your best to be kind.

Being kind was in the rules above to begin with, but this one is worth saying twice.

3 things I plan to do my best to learn within the next 3 years

1.Master them vices, for good.

You’re not an addict, not in regard to anything in particular, not unless you count makeup.

However, you do dab in a few things we wish you wouldn’t, sometimes: drinking a good few glasses of the alcohol sometimes, smoking the tobacco some days, binging the unhealthy food that later makes you feel like crap, wasting time that you should’ve spent doing something that’s good for you — you don’t do any of it on the daily, nor does any of it interfere with the 8 hours of work you pun in every weekday — which is why you’re not an addict in any particular sense. But you do kind of pick and choose between the aforementioned bad habits, at your worst, in a seemingly endless cycle of a functional, occasional case of borderline behaviour.

It needs to stop, full stop, as in entirely not just be managed as it is now, because your early 30s seem as good a time as any to really kick them bad habits for good. A depressed, anxious brain doesn’t need any of that shit. So, while we’re on that train

2.Get into a gym routine and get reasonably fit — not in order to look a certain way, but in order to keep your spine and your depressed brain as healthy as you possibly can.

The only exercise you ever do is walking insanely fast. Which is the result of never having had your shit together and being seemingly constantly a bit late to something.

3.Get your fucking shit together.

Laundry on time; not being late to shit, ever, unless someone’s dying; no dishes in a state that depresses you even further; your finances in order; everything that pisses the reason out of you when brought up by your father: get that shit together.

And as bonus: try to be kinder to yourself, if only just by a little bit.

Well, this essay is a little different for me. Considerably outside my comfort zone. But it somehow felt appropriate.

What have you already managed to achieve or discover that you think is worth celebrating? What do you wish to better about yourself still? I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories, should you happen to have read your way up to this prompt.

Until next time, stay safe, nerds.

Secular thinker with an empathy compulsion. Anxiety-nerd. Certified Crazy Cat Lady.