1. When to say no. Don’t do things that go against your beliefs, don’t buy things you don’t need, and don’t spend time with people who make you a worse person.
2. When to say yes. If you’re invited to do something new and exciting that scares you a little bit, and your first instinct is, “I wish I could, but I can’t because…,” you probably can, and should.
3. How to fake it. Sometime in your twenties, you probably thought to yourself, “Oh my god, all of these people are treating me like an adult. I hope they don’t find out that I’m just pretending and really feel the same inside as I did when I was 14 watching Sailor Moon in my basement." By 30, hopefully you’ve realized EVERYONE feels this way. There are no adults. Just children who’ve grown up.
4. How to ask yourself the Big Questions. What’s the meaning of life? Why are we here? Is there divinity? No one knows the answers to these questions, of course, but people generally tend to lead more meaningful lives if they start to think about them while their deathbed is still (hopefully) decades away.
5. How to order and drink straight whiskey. If you’re going to drink, learn how to appreciate subtlety. Pounding three PBRs in a night is sooo mid-20s. One neat 12-year-old scotch is the same price, won’t make you sloppy, and is, quite frankly, badass.
6. How to love your own smell. You have your own biology that’s not supposed to smell like a gardenia, summer rain, or an abstract concept like Obsession. Bodies are sexy. Bodies smell sexy.
7. How to discuss sex frankly with your partner(s). What you want/don't want, what you're willing to try/not willing to try, without circuitous language or giggles to hide what you actually mean.
8. How to make a tampon out of a paper napkin. Real talk.
9. When not to apologize. Female-socialization has taught us to say “I’m sorry” for existing in space. Notice how often you want to say “Sorry,” when someone asks to reach past you in a supermarket or move past to you in line. See how often you can replace it with “Sure,” “No problem,” or nothing at all.
10. How to live with other people. It’s hard to live with people, be they roommates, partners, or family. They never do anything around the house or they’re neat freaks. They’re always in the bathroom when you need to go, and they can’t freaking remember that the pots go in the cupboard under the coffee maker, but the pans get hung over the sink. These are daily opportunities to train yourself in patience and compassion. Remember, you love (or at least like) these people, and they’re thinking the same things about you.
11. How to be uncomfortable. Discomfort is part of the human experience. The people who wind up getting the most done don’t freak out every time something is unexpected or unknown. Read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Don’t panic.
12. What food makes you feel good. Gluten-free? Raw food? Caveman diet? Find what nourishes you physically, morally, and emotionally, and figure out how to sustain it.
13. How to celebrate. When you’ve done good, take the time to revel. Reveling-level should be directly proportional to degree of awesome attained.
14. How to rest. (See No. 1)
15. Which parts of youth you don’t want to leave behind. You’re probably happy to move on from keggers and unrequited love, but you might not be ready to abandon your dream of being a trapeze artist or your caffeine-addled coding all-nighters. Remember that naïve romance burning in your chest when you were 18? Lose the naïveté, keep the romance. Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you have to be boring.
16. How to find clothes that fit. Buy them and get them tailored, make them, or have them made. It’s your clothes’ job to fit you, not your job to fit a mass-produced pattern.
17. That you are not fat. Even if you are fat, you are not fat in the way the media tells you you’re fat.
18. That most of the media is trying to make you hate yourself. Advertisements, Hollywood, and heterosexist mainstream articles masquerading as empowered wisdom have one, two-part mission: to make you hate yourself so much that you will give them money hoping to make it stop. (See No. 1)
19. How to love women. Friends, mothers, sisters, girlfriends, in-laws, wives, classmates, daughters, coworkers, baristas, the reality show stars with their cellulite circled in the tabloids—notice if, enlightened as you are, you still compare yourself to them, still hate them a little bit when they’re beautiful and smart, and still feel a little twinge of schadenfreude when they fuck up. Forgive yourself, and love them even harder.
20. How to pee outside. Spread. Lift. Tilt. It’s relatively simple with practice.
21. That you can travel/go to a show/dine out alone. Go solo to a restaurant and order a full meal. Don’t bring a book or a Kindle and don’t look at your phone once. Sometime between the main course and dessert, you might run into yourself.
22. How to fix your own shit. Busted tires. Flooding toilets. That hem on your dress. Duct tape does wonders.
23. How to sell yourself. Have an updated resume easily available and know how to write an effective cover letter. Have a good, honest idea of your strengths and weaknesses. Be articulate. You’ll go far, kid.
24. That you have a choice in how you present your gender. Dress in drag. Get bikini waxes. Try on different costumes: femme daddy, butch dyke, just to see how they feel. Wear a fake mustache and high heels. Play with pronouns. Make up new ones.
25. How to turn last night’s smeared eye makeup into a charming day look. Sometimes, even as a stable adult working a job and making steady student loan payments, the night gets away from you. Whatever. You still made it to work on time. (See No. 9)
26. How to throw a proper punch. Bar brawls, creepers, and general unsavoriness happens. Own your space, and know you can defend yourself, even if you never have to.
27. How to give yourself an awesome orgasm. I recommend the scientific method. Experimentation. Trial and error. Lab coats never hurt anyone, either.
28. That it’s okay to fuck up. Every great discovery has been made through trial and error. To find what works, we need to figure out what doesn’t work. In the end, it’s all data.
29. What you like and don’t like. This can and will change. The most you can hope for is to start to figure out how to know what you like and don’t like. Here’s a hint: it probably has very little to do with what other people think.
30. How to say fuck you to anyone who tells you how you “should” be. Reject everything on this list. These are ideas a random 29-year-old came up with in her kitchen looking at Facebook and eating strawberry crepes. Make up your own list. Or don’t. You’re a fucking grownup.