Most days, I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. I assume that by reaching this stage of my life without becoming homeless, bankrupt or a supporter of the Conservative party, I’ve done some things right but, beyond that, I really have no idea what I’m doing at all. I feel as though I’m bringing the phrase “Fake it ‘til you make it” to a new level.

I don’t know when the right time to have a kid is; I have no idea if I’m on the right career path; and I really can’t tell you how many pet cats is too many pet cats.

I don’t think I’ll ever stop feeling like a teenager wearing adult-sized clothes but, that being said, I’m turning 30 this month and it got me thinking about some of the things I have managed to figure out over the years. I’ve compiled a (heavily subjective) list of 30 things to learn by age 30. Consider this advice from someone who’s made mistakes and lived to tell the tale:

  1. Bleaching your own hair or cutting your own bangs is never (ever) a good money-saving idea. Leave your hair to the professionals. Just. Trust. Me.
  1. Send thank you cards, handwritten and sent by snail mail. Everyone loves getting mail!
  1. Make your presence in this world a contribution.
  1. Never sleep with someone who is rude to waiters, unkind to animals or uninterested in learning. If you’re one of these people, consider relocating to another planet.
  1. Wear sunscreen every day, no matter the weather (especially if you’re a pink person like me). Sunspots are expensive to remove and skin cancer devastates families.
  1. Build others up, don’t tear them down.
  1. When you enter a room full of people, know that every person there is a maven in at least one field. Glean that information from them; you never know when it could come in useful.
  1. Never be afraid to admit you acted like an asshole. Accept blame, face the consequences, and learn from this (try not to be an asshole next time).
  1. You’re neither as despicable nor as wonderful as you think you are.
  1. Recognize the privilege of food on table and roof overhead.
  1. Be generous with what you’ve learned and nurture those coming up behind you.
  1. It’s only true love if it flows both ways; otherwise, it’s just an intense lust. (Read: Unrequited love does not exist.)
  1. Your boundaries will be other people’s triggers. That’s not your problem.
  1. Know the difference between extroverts and introverts and respect them.
  1. What hurts today will make great art tomorrow.
  1. Don’t let the status of something—a lover, a job—weigh in on your decision-making process. Choose the jobs and the lovers that you’d want even if nobody else did.
  1. The term “work-life balance” is dangerous. What you do for work is a major part of your life. If you have the privilege to do so, make sure it counts.
  1. Some people in your life do not need you. You cannot and should not try to change them. You may not understand it, but you must learn to accept it. They may be your child, an old friend or a new lover. I repeat: You cannot make someone need you.
  1. You cannot change other people. YOU CANNOT CHANGE OTHER PEOPLE. For easy reference, tattoo on your face.
  1. Foster a DIY attitude towards your career. Accept that, amongst the other seven billion people on earth, you are insignificant and that anything you achieve in this life will be as a result of nothing but hard work, tenacity, true grit and a realistic sense of self-belief.
  1. Avoid cynics and those who can only spot the negative in things. Negativity is bad for your health and bears dull art.
  1. Make sure you’re not chasing the wrong dream.
  1. Avoid colleagues who don’t do their job properly and friends who don’t cheer when you succeed.
  1. If you hate your job, you still have to do it to the best of your ability.
  1. Celebrate your peers’ success, even if you’re jealous. Especially if you’re jealous. They must have worked hard. If you work hard too, your time will come.
  1. Quit smoking. Just quit it, quit it, quit it. You know it’s time.
  1. Your boyfriend, girlfriend, somewhere-in-between-friend ain’t a keeper if they don’t tell you every single day how lucky they are to have you, if they wouldn’t go out in the snow to buy you tampons, if they don’t support you like a mother supports her child.
  1. If you promise, deliver.
  1. Try to remember that one day you’ll be dead and none of this really matters in the grand scheme of things and instead of that being a depressing thought, this is actually incredibly freeing. And if you feel down about climate change, wars, genocide—the breath-taking stupidity of the human race—the mind-boggling ways in which we have messed up our planet, our species and every other living thing on it—remember that Earth is much stronger than us and, in the broad scheme—the very, very broad scheme—we will be wiped out and the planet—with all of its beautifully complex systems—will correct itself.
  1. If all else fails, there is always pizza / kittens.