Lesson #9: The World Will Teach You What You Need to Know

Dear readers,

You may have noticed that I promised to deliver “30 before 30” — or the 30 lessons I learned in these first three decades — only to fall short and disappear. Well, here you go. Lesson number 9: the world is vast and mysterious and teaches you exactly what you need to know, when you need to know it.

You’re thinking, “Jenn, what the hell does that mean?!”

I set up this huge, reflective goal about how I’ve grown only to have a train wreck of a holiday season. The past few weeks have simply been hard. Without too much detail: in a variety of ways, I’ve been told just how much I’ve fallen short as a person this past year; my closest, best, favorite work colleague and friend retired; I’m looking at stepping into a promotion that is scary and big; my whole body is rallying against my happiness by reacting to aforementioned with stress-sleep and knots in places I didn’t think could knot. Every single ounce of me was tired and sad and disappointed. (You know, the things you don’t put on the internets.)

But, also, this. A woman pulled me aside at the theatre today and said that I was “one of the most beautiful young ladies she’s seen in a long time,” that it was both my features and my “warm affect.”

Essentially: when life has you crying on your couch at midnight in fleece-lined tights from disappointment in yourself and pain, it also hands you gems that make you start to make you whole again too.

It ebbs and it flows.




Lesson #8: “Adulting” is Hard Sometimes, But…

Adulting: (slang; verb) to be responsible for all the obligations that a typical “grown-up” would have in life (ie, a typical 9-to-5 job, mortgage payments, car finances, etc.)

I’ll admit it: I cry quite a bit when I’m overwhelmed. I’ve cried at every one of my full-time jobs since I’ve graduated college. I’ve cried about getting into blow-out fights with my family as I’ve asserted my independence. I’ve cried about money. I’ve cried about buying a house and all the crazy responsibility that meant. Being a “grown-up” isn’t always fun.



I wouldn’t want to go back to any other time in my life. I love walking into my house and knowing it belongs to B and me. I love driving around in the early spring, music blaring and windows down for the first time that season. I love finishing a huge project at work and knowing I’ve accomplished something major. I love touring little kids through the museum and they think I know everything.

Life is tough. There’s no working around that fact. But the way to offset it is to find other facets that you can appreciate on a daily basis. Simple as that. Achieve a balance between the overwhelming and the pleasurable and you’ll pull through.

(Also, lesson #8.5: “real adults” have no idea what they’re doing. We all fumble through this existence. Cut yourself some slack.)

Lesson #7: Don’t Keep Anyone in Your Life Who Makes You Feel Worthless

This is pretty clear-cut, but it needs saying: you are a good person. You may make mistakes, you may fail, but those are never reasons to let anyone feel like you are less than human. You have value in humanity — we all do. If someone doesn’t honor that fact, lose them. It’ll hurt, regardless of your relationship to them, but you’ll be better for it in the long run.

Trust me.

Lesson #5: Splurge on Quality Products If You’ll Use Them

You’re getting two lessons in one day, folks! (I missed yesterday because I pulled a double at the theatre and passed out on the couch before writing up a post.)

Lesson #4 was finding a qualified dermatologist and putting your skin in their hands. This lesson ties in very closely to that, I think: if you find a beauty product you love and know you’ll use it repeatedly indefinitely, then it’s ok to splurge a bit. Am I saying I spend $500 on an eye cream? No. (Oh hell no!) But I will spend $27 on a foundation that’s in my shade exactly and helps treat acne that I’ll use every singe day for at least six months. Or $34 on the only conditioner I’ve ever used that was moisturizing without making my head look like a greasy mop (and I knew would last me, literally, a year and a half). Or $22 on the most enduring eye liner I’ve sampled.

While these prices aren’t outrageous to some of you, my lovely readers, they would have been to me ten years ago. But my more adult logic is this: when I was in my early twenties, I would go to the local drug store and buy a handful of products for $5-$10 each. None of them would work as well as I would hope for (the lipstick would bleed, the foundation would be blotchy, the shampoo would build up after one wash, etc.), so I would go back the next month and buy similar products in the same price range and repeat the whole scenario ad nauseam, wasting so. much. cash.

When I discovered both Birchbox and Sephora, my beauty buying habits changed immensely. Getting monthly samples for only $10 from Birchbox allowed me to try so many different things without investing in a product until I knew it worked. And Sephora… Well, their sampling and return policy is to die for wonderful, so I’m never afraid to buy merchandise knowing I can bring it back, no questions asked (like the Clarisonic brush that I despised!). The fear of spending $20-$30 on one thing dissipated as soon as I knew that the price met the legitimate quality. While I spend too much money on beauty stuff (true fact), it’s all stuff that I use regularly and can rely on to work, as opposed to those products that would linger on the shelf and get tossed after six months.