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  • Writer's pictureJenna Beall Mueller

30 Things I've Learned by 30

Updated: Dec 19, 2019

A mix of tidbits, opinions, and suggestions.

1. Always carry a book with you. Whether you're waiting at the doctor's office or suddenly have time to kill before a social engagement, having a book to read makes that extra time feel like a treat rather than an inconvenience. Plus? You'll look way more interesting than everyone else who's glancing down at their phones.

2. Friday night plans are hard.

3. It's never worth getting political on social media. Don't get me wrong—I've definitely broken this rule before, the pure insanity that is the Trump presidency has driven me to it—but at the end of the day, I realize no one is going to change their mind after reading my NPR article. Talking politics on social media only causes drama. Blah.

4. Your coworkers are your second family. Who else do you spend 50 hours with each week? These are your teammates, some of your most important people. They're there to celebrate your highs, confirm no one will be able to tell you've been crying at your lows, and are there for all the mundane moments in-between. As my colleague Daniele once said, "I'm here to make friends." Amen. Treasure this tribe!

5. Find a comedian you love. For Adam and me, this comedian is John Mulaney. We have watched his Netflix comedy specials more times than I can count, and no matter our moods, he can always make us laugh until we're in tears.

6. Avoid pyramid scheme parties. I mean, I get it—sometimes it's literally impossible to RSVP "no"—but if you're really not feeling the product, try your hardest to find an excuse. Otherwise, you'll end up spending $75 on something you don't need to avoid hurt feelings (and because it was the cheapest item available).

7. People will always eat the free food at work. I don't care if it's stale zucchini bread, someone's going to eat it.

8. Surround yourself with smart people. Unless you're Hugh Jackman, you're probably not good at everything. Find experts you can trust (like a good accountant!) and life will be so much easier.

9. Some people—particularly those with dirty blonde, very fine tresses—have to wash their hair every, single day. They've tried teaching their hair to go without this daily wash. They've also tried dry shampoo. They appreciate your understanding, and you really don't have to send that Allure article along.

10. Ina Garten is a national treasure. She makes me want to exclusively wear button-ups and slacks. Oh, and give myself bangs.

11. Every person is on their own unique journey and is going to hit various milestones at different times. There is no right or wrong time to get married, have kids, buy a house, land your dream job...

12. On a similar note, not everyone wants the same things you do—and that's good! Can you imagine the competition otherwise? Yikes.

13. You'll always forget one important thing on a trip. Probably just deodorant. Hopefully not a medication.

14. Wear sunscreen! Every! Day! When I was in high school and even early into college, girls went to the tanning bed. I was certainly guilty of it before a few proms and during a particularly gray winter in Chicago. I look back now and am like WHOA WHAT? St. Tropez is my new go-to before special occasions.

15. Some of your worst days will make some of the best stories. During my college study abroad, I found myself stranded on a night train in the German countryside. We had stopped after losing our caboose (I kid you not), and I was so anxious and miserable. All of the announcements were in German (naturally) and hardly anyone onboard spoke English. I called my dad and started to cry. He replied, "Jenna. I'm in North Bend, Ohio. What is it you expect me to do for you right now?" It's still one of my favorite tales to tell.

16. GET A PET! Animals are the best!!! There are so many amazing rescue organizations, including Louie's Legacy, SAAP, and Hart if you're in the Cincinnati area.

17. Talk to your parents as often as you can. I talk to mine almost every day, and they're truly two of my favorite people in the entire world. No one offers better advice than my mom, and no one makes me laugh more than my dad.

18. Oh, and those siblings you fought with growing up? Maybe over who got to use the SEGA next or whether you would watch Sabrina the Teenage Witch or SportsCenter? They'll become some of your best friends.

19. Buy your art from actual artists. It's going to look way cooler and be way more special—plus, you're supporting a person versus a corporation!

20. Find a good primary doctor you trust. I know my doctor is a quick MyChart message away, and he is always willing to sit with me and discuss a problem versus tossing a prescription in my direction.

21. Your mom is always right. This sometimes sucks, but it's true.

22. Always write a thank you note. My mom was super strict about this growing up, and as an adult, I regret the times a sweet gesture or thoughtful gift went by without a note of gratitude.

23. Don't live inside a bubble. Talk to people who are different than you. Travel to places that make you uncomfortable. Read articles written by those who disagree with you. My friend Meg is a champion at these things, and she's helped me become better at them, too.

24. Take a bubble bath every night. Well, that's awfully specific. Basically, do something for yourself each day that feels wonderfully indulgent. For me, that's a scalding hot bath with my Real Simple magazine.

25. When someone is going through a hard time, don't say, "What can I do to help?" They are so overwhelmed in that moment, they likely won't even know how to answer the question. Just go ahead and do something instead, whether it's sending a shipment of bath bombs or volunteering to babysit their kids.

26. When someone is interested in you, there is no "game." It took me a while to realize this, but my older brother always said if a guy liked me, there wouldn't be those questions of uncertainty. And he was right. Adam asked me out on a second date before our first had even ended.

27. Find a vacation spot that makes your heart soar. Growing up, my family always vacationed in South Carolina. Now, I love South Carolina, but it never particularly made my heart come alive. It was always a little too hot and humid for my tastes. Adam took me to the Adirondacks for the first time in October 2017, and it was unlike any experience I'd ever had before. From the smell of pine and awing mountain vistas to the crystal clear lakes and chill in the air, this was my place, and I just knew it.

28. It's okay to put away your phone for an evening. Everyone on the other end will survive.

29. Recognize triggers and avoid them when possible. I get anxious whenever I feel rushed, so I arrive at the airport two hours early. I'm an introvert who gets overwhelmed easily, so I try to stay in one night of the weekend to avoid feeling exhausted or anxious.

30. As Ellen says, "Be kind to one another." From the server who keeps forgetting to check on your table to the person who cuts you off during the evening rush hour, you never know what's happening behind the scenes. Everyone is fighting their own battles. Be patient.

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Oct 04, 2020

Late to the party as usual, but I found this and can't resist commenting on a couple of the things you've learned. (Btw - congratulations on having learned all this by 30. You are sooo far ahead of where I was at that point).

#1) If you don't mind looking at your phone, put your entire Kindle on there. I did, and now I always have something to read. Lifesaving - must have something to READ!

#9) I used to have to wash my hair every day, too. But eventually age dries up all that oil, and you'll find that you won't have to do that anymore. But, like all the "Wait till you're grown up" crap, sorry - have…

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