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  • Writer's pictureErin Maher

Dirty Thirty

I am 30. Here is yet another hackneyed "what I've learned" listicle.

Thirty years ago today, the world was blessed with my arrival. I am actually excited about turning 30. To be honest, I don't feel 30. I feel proud of where I am, and blessed to have wonderful people in my life.

So, in celebration of my thirtieth rotation around the sun, I reflected on how I got here, and what I've learned along the way. I'm happy to present you with another hackneyed "what I've learned" listicle. Don't worry, I paired it down to 15 life lessons, not 30. I may be getting older, but at least I'm a little wiser too.

1. Show, not tell. This is applicable for both writing and in life. What I mean is, in life, let your work ethic, your values and most importantly, your actions speak for you. No one really cares if you were the prom queen, or first in your class or if you went to an Ivy league school, so you can stop talking about it. No one likes a braggart.

2. Dogs are the closest we’ll come to divinity on Earth.

3. After graduating with an English degree and no skills, I’ve honed the art of writing the cover letter. Want to learn how? Read this.

4. Looking for a serotonin boost? Watching that scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off instantly makes me feel better. Sing along if you really want to ride a natural high.

5. I’m often asked for book recommendations. Some people are like, “I want to read the classics!” when actually, they don’t. My recommendations for reading are the same as that of TV, movies and podcasts: read what interests you. What does that mean? Do you love reality shows? Then read any of the books from Bravo-lebrities. Andy Cohen has one, Margaret Josephs, etc. Do you love Greek mythology? Then stop subjecting yourself to reading 1776 if American history doesn’t get you all hot and bothered. Life is too short to slog through a book you don’t like. You are more likely to stay reading a book if you actually have interest in the subject.

“bUt iT’s nOt gOoD wRiTiNg”

Here’s a lesson: writing, like many other things, is subjective. I’m a writer, and I have zero appreciation for Shakespeare, Faulkner or even Foster Wallace. I read what I can relate to. My favorite poet is Frank O’Hara; he writes about love in both relatable and novel ways . I’ve read everything Junot Diaz wrote thrice over, feeling as if I’m sitting front row to the life and mind of his recurring character, Junior. I salivate waiting for Ceceila Ahearn to drop a new book. Her prose often plops me in a story of whimsy and wonder. My latest read was one by @GirlWithNoJob. Because reading should be fun, and a pleasure. Not a chore. Need help getting started? Setup an account on Goodreads, which has a handy dandy app. Track what you read, what you want to read, and get suggestions for what to read next!

6. Get into good skincare yesterday. If you aren’t using a retinoid, research and purchase one immediately. And, use VASELINE. Yes, that weird viscous tincture on your mother’s dresser. I slab it over my entire face every night and the next day look glowing and more hydrated than Aqua Man himself.

7. Despite what your high school and college administrators say, your grades in either don’t completely define you. I capital f FAILED my chemistry regents in high school. And at the time my failure was treated equally as bad as if I had dropped out of school and started a habit of doing whippets daily. But guess what? I failed, and am still a fully-functioning adult who has a job and contributes to society. High school or college isn’t as serious as people make it out to be. 8. If you want to get married, my first suggestion is to elope. Need a bigger wedding? Fine. Prioritize the following when budgeting for your wedding: the photographs, and the entertainment.

9. This twitter thread:

10. Write thank you cards. Seriously. This is a diminishing art and I can promise the people who receive the cards will be touched.

11. Commit to mirth. Life is too short and too bizarre to take seriously. There’s always laughter to be found somewhere. For example: the day a giant male nurse stuck a large needle in my behind at 8: 15 a.m., or the time my car got d*ck slapped.

12. Sometimes, your passion has to be your side hustle. I think this is very applicable to millennials. I remember being beaten over the head with the messaging that we had to “follow our passions” by our high school guidance counselors.

Sometimes a job is just a job. Don't feel shame about this. We all have to do what we have to do to survive. Benefits are no joke.

13. If you do something nice for someone with the motivation to post what you did after on social media...reassess your motives. Altruism is not for clout.

14. If you happen to find yourself in Edinburgh Castle, for the love of God don't say, “Hey look at that rock,” when pointing to The Stone of Destiny. Because you will undoubtedly get yelled at by a Scottish woman wielding a cane.

15. Setting personal boundaries is an essential skill that's better to learn sooner rather than later. I'm still working on it :)

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