Yesterday was my 30th birthday. My original plan was to go to Southern Spain. Or Portugal. Or Ireland. But here I am, writing to you from my apartment, still in lockdown. I’m a big “LET ME REFLECT ON MY PAST YEAR” kind of birthday girl so I thought it could be fun to share what I’ve learned so far (because we all know this whole life thing is just a series of lessons) during my 30 years on this earth. Let’s get right to it. This one’s less about Italy and more about life. (P.S. This post is sprinkled with pictures of some of the many people who mean a lot to me).
I learned that you’re allowed to love doing things you’re bad at. I’m not the best or the fastest runner. I suck at snowboarding. I just got AN ACTUAL TRUMPET FOR MY 30TH BIRTHDAY, and I am SO TERRIBLE AT IT, but doing things you love is more important than doing things you’re good at. It took me a really long time to connect the dots on this one. We can all do things we’re not great at and still love — and keep — doing them.
And that brings me right to the next thing: Never stop trying new things. I hiked my first real mountain (SHOUT OUT TO THE STAWAMUS CHIEF in Squamish, British Columbia) on my rainy 25th birthday (thought I would slip right off the mountain into the void below but that’s an anxiety story for ANOTHER TIME). I tried snowboarding for the first time at 27. I started running at 28. I am now 30 and LEARNING HOW TO PLAY POST MALONE SONGS ON THE TRUMPET. Finding new hobbies makes your life a lot better, even if you suck at them.
I learned being a woman means always being angry. And if you’re a woman and you’re not angry, you’re probably not aware of what’s going on in the world. Because no matter what we do, we can’t win. Because we get paid less in so many fields of work. Because we’d rather avoid conflict instead of being called mean. And we avoid conflict because that’s what we were taught. We’re programmed to BE NICE and it needs to stop — all of it. I’ll stop here, but the angry women with the most insane rage are the ones who change the world.
I learned that a steamer can change your life. Why are you ironing when you can STEAM. I literally steam my clothes while they’re on my body. Life-changing. I recommend them to EVERYONE. I’ve made 3 friends buy one so far. Steamers will change you. They will make you a better person.
Being an introvert is not a bad thing. This has been a challenge my entire life because the world has sort of made us believe that extroverts are the only kinds of people who can be successful and I hate it. Remember high school? “Participation” was always like 20% of the final grade and I would NEVER raise my hand in class and my grades would suffer because I was terrified to talk out loud. My cheeks would BURN. My leg would start to shake. I could not for the LIFE OF ME talk in front of the class. But I love one-on-one conversations. I just need to get to know people individually. Put me at a table with 14 people I don’t know and I will become the WEIRDEST PERSON you have ever met. We’re not all the same. Embrace whatever you are. And if you still don’t get it, read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That can’t stop Talking by Susan Cain so you can understand your fellow introverts.
Unfortunately, I learned that intense exercise really does help with anxiety. I know, I know, it’s very upsetting to me as well.
Have an apartment cleaning plan and MASTER IT. As the bathroom is soaking in your favorite germ-killing product (because at 30 DON’T PRETEND LIKE YOU DON’T HAVE A FAVOURITE BATHROOM CLEANER HONEY), attack the beds and throw all the sheets in the wash. As you wait for the sheets to finish washing, vacuum the baseboards. But more importantly, TURN YOUR WEEKLY CLEAN INTO A WORKOUT. When you wash the floors, turn it into an ab workout and maybe plank a little. Do 20 squats in front of the washing machine, you know?
This is something my queen, Oprah, taught me 15 years ago: When people show you who they really are, believe them. If someone is only there for you when you’re happy or when you’re successful, there’s a reason for it. If you’re with someone who has always been there for you and has never given you a reason to not trust them, then they deserve your trust.
I learned that life gets a lot easier if you just love your body. I’m not BETTER THAN ANYONE OKAY. I’m the first person who looks in the mirror in the morning and thinks, “WELL, THIS ISN’T THE FACE I WOULD’VE PICKED, I WAS THINKING SOMETHING MORE ALONG THE LINES OF MEGHAN MARKLE BUT OKAY.” But just try to be kinder to your body, it’s THE OUTER VESSEL CARRYING YOU THROUGH THIS ONE LIFE. IS THAT TOO DEEP?! Feed it good food, take it out for walks and show it some love. Easier said than done, I know. All I can say is I’m really thankful for Beyoncé teaching me that #THICKTHIGHSSAVELIVES.
I learned that the person you have your SID AND NANCY INSEPARABLE and toxic relationship with is PROBABLY not the person you’re meant to be with. But it’ll be one for the books. And don’t throw away all the cute photo booth pictures! You’ll regret it.
Don’t be mean to servers and bartenders. I think EVERYONE needs to experience being a server/bartender in their life to truly understand what it means to work in the hospitality industry. JUST BE NICE TO SERVERS, IT’S NOT THAT HARD. (Extra points if you ask them how their day is going).
When you’re at a supermarket, watch the 65 and over gang. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve purchased a tomato paste/soup/yogurt/pasta just because I saw a determined older woman throw it into her basket without even thinking twice about it. LOVE THAT GROCERY CONFIDENCE. They’ve been doing groceries for like, 50 years. WATCH AND LEARN.
I learned that life is incredibly fragile. Seeing my mom and my brother fight cancer and lose made me realize that illness can happen to anybody, even the strongest people in the world. We’re not invincible.
Don’t cut your own bangs. I say this all the time, but it’s a lesson I’ve had to learn more than once. It takes a very long time to grow out bangs. Don’t do it, it’s not worth it.
Leave people better than how you found them. This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to learn. If you’re building relationships with people just to set them and everything else on fire and watch it slowly burn, you probably need to work on yourself a little. The same goes for things. If you rent a home, give it some lovin’ and leave it better than you found it for the next person. This applies to everything in life. I’m still working on it.
STOP COMPARING YOUR JOB/CAR/RELATIONSHIPS/DOG/FRIENDS to everyone else. Look at where you were 1 or 2 or 5 years ago. Notice the progress you’ve made and give yourself a pat on the back for it. My grandmother always says to me “LISA, WHO CARES WHAT EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING!! YOU DO WHAT YOU WANNA DO. THAT’S ALL. YOU’RE HAPPY? OK, WELL THEN THAT’S OKAY. WANT SOME PASTA? I MADE SAUCE.” Wise words from a wise Nonna.
Always keep your medicine cabinet stocked. Acetaminophen, allergy medication, bandages, a thermometer, some sort of cough medication, something for nausea (code word for hangover) AND some sort of antibacterial cream type thing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a situation where I didn’t have one of the things mentioned above and it was incredibly stressful. Having the important stuff on hand makes life easier. ALSO, if you live in Italy, you need to add BIOCHETASI to the list. It’s incredible. It’s like a magical combination of vitamins and Pepto Bismol. Hangover? Biochetasi. Ate something weird? Biochetasi. Not sure what’s going on but your stomach feels weird? Biochetasi.
Sunsets are meant to be watched. Never miss out on an opportunity to share a cute candy-coloured sunset with someone you like.
Don’t take shit from anybody. My Dad has been saying this to me my entire life. “Lisa, don’t take shit from anybody. Never let people walk all over you.” There are have been so many moments in my life where someone has been terrible to me and I can just hear my Dad’s voice. And then I do what I have to do so I don’t have to take their shit. This is the same man who told me I could be anything I wanted to be in life and I could be the first female prime minister of Canada if I wanted to before going to bed every night so like, don’t believe EVERYTHING he says. But he was right about the not taking shit from everybody part.
Sometimes, you’ll have to do things that you really do not want to. I learned that instead of complaining, you need to suck it up and do hard things just to get them over with. Examples of this include going to the dentist, finishing a work project you hate, breaking up with somebody, learning how to drive, taking off your make up at night, etc.
Moisturize your FACE.
Your job doesn’t and shouldn’t define who you are as a person. A job is sometimes is just a means to an end and that’s more than okay. Don’t put all this pressure on yourself to have a MEANINGFUL JOB. We need money to live and a job helps us do that and pay for things we want.
If you want something, work for it instead of waiting for it.
In really terrible situations, asking yourself “WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME? WHAT IS THIS SUPPOSE TO TEACH ME” is key. This is something else Oprah has taught me. What can I say, the woman is so wise and we should all be reading her list of 30 things in 30 years, not mine.
Bananas are the ULTIMATE SNACK. I have nothing else to add here.
Think about a tattoo for at least a month before you get it. You’re talking to the girl who got ACTION IS ELOQUENCE tattooed in gothic font on the back of her neck at 17 at a weird studio in Montreal by an older gentleman who pressed so hard that the tattoo now feels like BRAILLE. It’s not the best look, wait a month.
That being said, if your best friend visits you in a foreign city and you have pitchers of sangria and large quantities of nachos, just get the tattoo. You won’t regret it.
Everybody has a story. You’re not the only one who’s had it rough, so don’t act like your life has been harder than everyone else’s. We’re all just trying to avoid shit hitting the fan as much as we can.
I learned that yelling FUCKKKKKKKK into a pillow is a great way to manage disappointment. Feelings are for feeling.
And IF YOU’RE STILL HERE (THANK YOU, I PROMISE I DON’T TALK THIS MUCH IN PERSON, QUITE THE OPPOSITE), the 30TH THING I LEARNED IN 30 YEARS IS:
IF YOU WANT TO START A BLOG, JUST START A BLOG! IS THIS A TACKY ENDING? IT IS, ISN’T IT. I was so scared to this thing because I didn’t think anybody cared. But people have been reading and writing me beautiful emails from all over the world!! This messy blog make me so happy. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR READING, YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH I APPRECIATE YOU.
If you think I’m dumb and gave terrible advice, would love to know!! DID I FORGET ANYTHING?