30 Things I Learned by Age 30

Photo by  Ana Gambuto

Photo by Ana Gambuto

Yesterday, I turned 30. It was something I had been anticipating for about a year and a half; it felt imperative that I make the time to reflect on my 20s in preparation for a new decade. In a way I was scared; I feared that I wouldn't be where I was "supposed" to be by 30, both in my career and personal life. Many people told me that fear was silly, but it was real to me. And then my birthday finally came, and my friends and family surprised me with a community yoga class, spontaneous musical performances, and a sleepover. As I sat in the middle of a chorus of "happy birthday" over the backdrop of babies fussing, I looked around me to see the open faces of my friends and family, and I realized I actually had more than I could have ever hoped for by age 30 — more love, more beautiful relationships, more joy than I ever imagined. As a kid, I really longed to be woven into the fabric of community, and here I am, relishing that sense of belonging.

I decided to try something new and share some of my reflections with you. As I started writing out lessons I've learned, I realized I could easily write 30 more and then 30 more after that. But these are the first 30 things that came to mind, and I abandoned perfection when I started pursuing my own creativity. These are not meant to be self righteous platitudes, just notes to myself, as surely I will need to learn and re-learn many of these lessons again. Thanks for being here with me.

1. Health is an investment. Ignoring pain is not a solution.

2. Pain is the human condition. Healing is an individual journey and the work we are all called to do.

3. Everyone is insecure. A lot of awkward human interactions are due to this fact.

4. There is no "making it." There's just waking up every day and doing your best.

5. Creative expression is not reserved for some. Everyone is creative and entitled to discover this.

6. The quicker you learn to embrace change, the easier your life becomes.

7. If you have the opportunity to move, do it. You have been afforded a great adventure.

8. Don't be ashamed to go home, either.

9. You don't need to have an answer immediately. Your subconscious needs time to process.

10. "White space" is necessary for creativity. You are not a machine.

11. Your heart has an infinite capacity to love.

12. Forgiveness cannot be commanded, but it IS possible. It feels like transformation.

13. You are in the right place if you can laugh easily, freely, and without much prompting.

14. Observe yourself. You are the keeper of many secrets from you.

15. Guilt is useless. Don't over-apologize; just do better.

16. People can be cruel, but you have power over your reactions.

17. Kindness is the rarest and most powerful currency.

18. If aging scares you, you're out of tune with your blessings.

19. The deepest love isn't always romantic.

20. Self love is the most powerful healer of all broken things.

21. Justice is the world's spiritual calling.

22. Acknowledging the ways you are complicit in injustice is transformative.

23. If you want to make something, make it.

24. Never underestimate how quickly things can change.

25. Nature knows you. If you feel lost or overwhelmed, get out of the city.

26. Self knowledge is freedom, and freedom is alignment with the unknowable.

27. When in doubt, go toward the light.

28. The less you judge yourself, the less you judge other people.

29. Not everyone thinks like you.

30. If you have love in your life, nurture it, honor it, and give thanks for it, for you are the luckiest person in the world.

Liz Susong


Liz Susong is the editor of Catalyst Wed Co. and a contributing editor to Brides.