30 Cardinal Life Rules…As Defined by Someone Who Is Still Figuring It Out

I’ve decided my childhood was a bit of a lie. (insert dramatics here)

Growing up, I’d look at my older and wiser cousins, siblings, grandparents, teachers, parents and think, “Wow. They know everything about life.”

That it legitimately did get easier as you got older and all life’s answers perfectly unfolded themselves before your eyes.

You see, the thing is, they never did anything that lead me to believe anything to the contrary.

(So maybe they’re the liars here. It’s hard to say. It’s a chicken or the egg situation, you know?)

As I approach the age of 30 in just a few short weeks (gasp) I’ve been freaking out.  Just a bit.  I mean, it’s cool. It’s just another number. Whatever.


I can no longer use excuses like, “oh I’ll figure it out when I’m 30” or “I don’t have to know that yet, I’m still in my 20’s.”

Insert wise friend who gave me a new perspective. (Her name might be Julie Allen. She is in her 30s – so maybe there is hope for figuring out this life thing after all. In fact, maybe it happens AT 30!) Anyway, Julie pointed out that now I can use the excuse “oh, well that’s something I would have done in my 20s but I don’t because I’m too wise and mature now.”

And so, as I approach the BIG 3-0 I’ve thought about all the lessons I’ve learned in my 20’s and the mistakes I hope not to make (again) in my 30s.

For what it’s worth, here are my personal 30 cardinal rules I’ve learned (in my almost 30 years of life) to navigate this crazy, beautiful world of ours:

  1. Don’t say “sorry” unless you’ve legitimately hurt someone else or wronged them. Otherwise, be unapologetic for who you are right now. (For those of you who know me well, you know I overuse the word. Not anymore! or at least…not as much. Shaking off years of Catholic guilt doesn’t happen overnight, people.)
  2. Talk less, listen more. (Adapted from talk less, smile more.  You Hamiltones know what I’m talking about!)
  3. Don’t act out of insecurity. If you’re acting out of fear or anxiousness that usually comes from insecurity. Instead, refocus and act out of confidence and love.
  4. If you’re uncomfortable…Leave. You’re an adult now. You don’t have to stick around and please everyone.  If you don’t want to be somewhere…Leave.
  5. Develop a good poker face.  (And I’m not referring to playing poker here. I’m talking about when your boss does something insane or someone says something stupid. It happens. Trust me.)
  6. Own your decisions. It doesn’t matter if they were good or bad, but own them. Own up to them, learn from them.
  7. Stop trying to fit in. You will LITERALLY never be anyone else, but yourself. Own it.
  8. Do something that terrifies you. (I mean, within reason. You will never find me scuba diving 50 ft. in the ocean bc that’s something only crazy people dying to get eaten alive by a shark do).  When you do something that terrifies you, you see just how bold and brave you are. More often than not, things are alright and (some) fears are unfounded.
  9. Tell people how you feel about them.  Tell your family you love them (assuming you do). Tell your friends how important they are to you (assuming they are or I can’t imagine they’d be your friend).  You get the point.
  10. Embrace your awkward.  Because basically, everyone is awkward in their own way. Literally EVERYONE. (Yes, even Leo and especially Taylor).
  11. Anticipating what will happen is USUALLY worse than what will actually happen.  Stop worrying about what MAY happen, just do it and see what actually happens. And then, once again, own your decisions.
  12. Exercise for mental health and clarity. It’s amazing what a quick run or long walk outside does for the soul.
  13. In life, it usually won’t be the best case scenario or the worst case scenario. It will usually be somewhere in the middle. So stop fretting. (Thanks, Mom)
  14. Be grateful for life TODAY – no matter what it looks like. It won’t always look like this. Tomorrow will undoubtedly be different.
  15. Ask questions before assuming. Miscommunication is too common.
  16. Always be kind to others. (If you treat everyone with kindness, those haters won’t have anything bad to say about you.)
  17. Never define yourself by another person. Relationships are wonderful, but only if you don’t lose yourself in it. You’re still you.
  18. Wherever you go, walk in with reckless abandon.
  19. “I’m fine. You have to stay positive.” (Thank you to my lovely friend who passed away recently. Even until the very end you set an example of positive thinking for those around you. When asked how she was doing she would respond “I’m fine. You have to stay positive.” What a gift of perspective.) STAY POSITIVE. (as much as humanly possible)
  20. You can literally do anything you want. ANYTHING.  It may take time and creativity, but if you want it, it’s yours. I really believe that.
  21. Love yourself at a 10. Every. Single. Day. (Rachel – thanks for imparting your wisdom)
  22. Choose not to be slaves to gravity. (interpret as you wish. I know what it means to me)
  23. We teach people how they are allowed to treat us. Know how you want to be treated.
  24. You can’t get anywhere with your head down. Look up.
  25. If you ask a question and someone says “that’s a good question” 9 times out of 10 they are buying time to make up an answer. (Trust me. I used to be a teacher)
  26. Sometimes there is no saving face in relationships and that’s ok. This life isn’t about who can look like they care less.  Sometimes things happen. Allow those vulnerable moments.
  27. There is power in just letting things go. (I used to battle with my dad constantly when he’d tell me to “not sweat the small stuff.” The annoying thing…he’s right.  Most of it is small stuff).
  28. Care about someone without knowing whether or not they will care back. (You’re a beautiful human with feelings.)
  29. Don’t play the victim. You get to be the hero in your life story.
  30. If you believe in something – religion, philosophy, etc. Believe it and don’t be ashamed about it.

Ok, 30, we’ve got this! (Fingers crossed)


One thought on “30 Cardinal Life Rules…As Defined by Someone Who Is Still Figuring It Out”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *