33 Life Lessons I've Learned In 33 Years

by Kristen Thiele
Originally Published: 
A woman with long curly brown hair smiling while celebrating her 33rd birthday at her party
Caiaimage/Tom Merton/Getty

1. The only things you’ll regret in life are the chances you didn’t take and the experiences you missed. If I could go back in time, I’d tell my shy high school self to go to that prom, with or without a date.

2. You’re not an adult at 18 just because the government says so. In fact, at 33 years old, I’m still learning life hacks and “adulting” skills every day.

3. Parents can make better grandparents than parents. Better may not be the right word, but mine are so much more involved with my daughter (who they’ve watched while my husband and I are at work since she was an infant) than they were with my siblings and me. (Purely based on the fact that they worked then and are retired now).

4. You don’t need to please everyone. In fact, it’s impossible to, and really, I don’t give AF.

5. Mean girls don’t end in high school, nor do cliques. They’ve simply swapped their Abercrombie and passing notes for Lularoe and group text chains.

6. Toxic people gravitate toward genuine ones and have a knack for sucking them dry of all their time and energy. Choose your friends wisely, and have strong radar to fend off “frenemies.”

7. You can have bad days and still be a good mom. The mommy meltdown that ensued when I realized my stepdaughter had tied my 3-year-old’s braids into her hair rather than using a ponytail to hold the ends (insert horrified face) doesn’t mean I’m a terrible mom.

8. Your first career may not be what you retire doing. I started as a journalist and am now a teacher. Blogging on the side is a nice balance for me, because I still get to write.

9. Pipe dreams are useless. Go after what you want, and take it! That job transfer, the leap of faith into a new relationship, or whatever else it may be.

10. It’s okay to place people in zones. For me, I have a I small group of people whom I love and several others in the warm and fuzzy area, but most people outside of my circle are a blur.

11. Choose mentors wisely. It took me awhile to realize that not every superior at work is necessarily a marigold; there are a lot of walnut trees. I have one hell of a rockstar now, and she knows who she is (hope you’re reading this!).

12. Relationships change over time. People I used to think of as ride or dies aren’t even in my phone contacts anymore. Friends can simply outgrow each other.

13. Blood doesn’t mean you’re part of my family. I haven’t seen anyone on my Dad’s side since I was 9, and my world has kept on spinning without them. Even on my mom’s side, there are a handful of relatives I’d rather not acknowledge as family. Sorry, not sorry.

14. Although I know a few exceptions, most people’s paths to marriage and family aren’t forged with their high school sweethearts. There are relationships in between, maybe even marriages or other children, and that’s ok. Life is messy.

15. Choose a partner who complements you. My husband and I are complete opposites in so many ways, and I think that’s why we work.

16. Parenting will throw you curveballs no matter how many books you read pre-kids. No personal anecdotes needed here. You know I’m right.

17. To the previous point, throw away any preconceived notions on how you “won’t do that” when you have kids, as you observe other parents. My kid has more screen time than she should and is spoiled AF (to the point where her playroom looks like an episode of Hoarders: Toddler Edition).

18. Own your flaws. When someone asks me why I’m red and sweaty (I have rosacea flare ups and hypohidrosis of the face), I just tell them. Verbalizing it helps, believe it or not.

19. Your siblings might be your best friends (if you’re lucky enough to have ones as amazing as mine). It’s a bond that, if formed correctly, survives anything. They’re your forever, unconditional ride or dies.

20. Speak up for yourself and never be someone’s doormat. I used to be such a people pleaser, but now I have a “take me or leave me” mentality.

21. Don’t be afraid to be completely honest with your kids. Whether they overhear an argument between you and your spouse and you’re reassuring them it’s been worked out, or you’re pulling from past experience to help them through a problem.

22. Take your children on adventures. Instead of buying another doll that’s going to collect dust with the rest, buy her tickets to see a play. It’s a memory she’ll cherish forever.

23. Know when to keep your mouth shut. I know this goes against at least one of my previous rules, but there are grey areas; it’s not always black and white. Essentially, pick your battles.

24. If you have curly hair, never trust even the priciest salon stylist when she says your hair can be straightened despite the humidity outside. You’ll look like the offspring of Weird Al and Frankenstein’s bride. It’s not pretty.

25. Find an activity you love and stick with it. I was on a Bikram Yoga kick for years but haven’t been back since my daughter was born, and I regret it. Note to self: look into classes.

26. It’s okay to leave the house without makeup and with your hair in a messy bun. Who cares? I literally wear makeup and put effort into my hair about 5 times a year and that’s for family pictures and the occasional date night with my hubby.

27. Always carry emergency flip flops in your car during the appropriate seasons. For $2 a piece, why not stock up on those bad boys? We all know how easily they break, and I’ve been stranded more than once sans shoes.

28. Teach your children to be includers even if it’s not popular opinion. It will make them better people, trust me.

29. Read the news. I know, it can be stressful and doesn’t always make for the best conversation topics depending on individual viewpoints, but you need to be informed on what’s happening in the world around you.

30. Per the last point, you might want to avoid discussing politics at work. Boy, oh boy, does that stir the pot.

31. Take as many pictures as you can. No matter what you look like in them or what you’re doing, your children will cherish those memories forever.

32. Tuck your children in at night. It’s a scary world out there. and every day should end with that security and love.

33. It takes a village.

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