I have a notebook where I dump everything from my brain. Thoughts, to-do lists, goals . . . you name it, it’s all there. When it’s written, it feels like there’s more space in my mind and, most importantly, there’s less to worry about forgetting.
I was flipping through this notebook recently when I stumbled across an old list I made. I titled it “30 Lessons I Learned on the Way to 30.” I’ve been on the other side of 30 for a few years now, and these lessons and notes still resonate strongly, unwavering amidst a pandemic.
These words are personal, real, and vulnerable. But they are also encouraging, hopeful and powerful. There are a few lighthearted ones mixed in as well. I am relatively young and still have a lot to learn, but I am thankful for the lessons thus far. In the spirit of that gratitude, I want to pass them on in case they can uplift you, too.
1. Be bold.
2. No matter how great they look on the mannequin, I never feel quite right wearing polka dots, ruffles, or bows. On that note, I generally prefer solids over patterns, too.
3. Only a farm kid can truly understand life on the farm. Tell your story but accept that few will actually ‘get it.’ You wouldn’t change a thing.
4. It’s hard to make real, deep friendships as adults. Cherish the lifelong friends you made in youth.
5. Success isn’t found in having or knowing all the answers. It’s found in knowing how to get the answers. Use your resources.
6. The strongest feelings of pride and accomplishment for me come from physical labor.
7. Not sure? Pick up the phone. People will often say much more than they’re willing to type.
8. When you least feel like it is when you most need a workout.
9. Shame is real, heavy, and unnecessary. Be vulnerable, authentic, and do not worry about what others think as long as you’re doing what is right and good.
10. You are worthy. I am worthy.
11. Make plans, make memories. Just do it.
12. The innocence and purity of children is wonderful. Protect it.
13. You will never get over the awe of the miracle that is your child. Celebrate it.
14. Eat right; it makes you feel so much more alive.
15. Outer order creates inner calm. Get rid of stuff — you’ve already gotten your money’s worth, and it’s weighing on your mental clarity.
16. Give compliments not based on appearance. They’re the most meaningful and memorable.
17. Marriage is both hard and easy at the same time. It’s nothing short of wonderful to know you’ve found your person and partner for life.
18. Be positive. You are fortunate.
19. Family is important. Forgive, support, and encourage those that helped shape you and love you.
20. Tennis is indeed a gift. I hope to play as long as I can walk.
21. Running with your dog puts you both on cloud nine, even when he doesn’t pay attention to where he’s going.
22. I’m emotional. Becoming a mother intensified that. It’s okay to tear up sometimes.
23. The more confident I’ve become in who I am, the less I’ve looked for outward recognition.
24. You’re only as old as you feel. Jump on the trampoline.
25. I’ve unconsciously become more fearful of injury as I’ve gotten older. Black diamond skiing is not for adult me.
26. Audio books make long commutes productive and far more enjoyable (and keep you engaged and awake).
27. Busy is not a badge of honor. You make time for what you prioritize.
28. Comparison is the thief of joy.
29. Quality is better than quantity. This is true for things like clothes, food, and much more.
30. Thirty years came fast. I’m proud of who I’ve become, and I know the future is bright but not guaranteed. Live each day with purpose and passion.
Erin Massey is the product development manager at Prairie Farms, a farmer-owned cooperative based in Edwardsville, Illinois. She is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the development process, from concept to commercialization. Erin grew up on a Florida dairy farm and has a deep-rooted passion to invigorate the dairy industry. Erin earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of South Florida. Her personal mantra is "Be Bold."