Women In Their Thirties Are Sharing Life Lessons They Wish They'd Learned Earlier, And They Are Not Holding Back
"Your job doesn't have to be your purpose. If you're one of the lucky few who can make money by doing what you love, that's awesome — but it's just not a reality for most people."
Life lessons come with experience. But sometimes, there are lessons we wish we'd learned just a little sooner — whether to have gotten ahead or spared ourselves the trouble.
So recently, we asked women of the BuzzFeed Community to share life lessons that they wish they'd learned sooner and would offer younger women, and they did not hold back.
In fact, they offered us a lot of advice. Not every piece of advice will apply to everyone, but hopefully, you'll find some gems that resonate with you.
Here are 38 of their most thoughtful and realest lessons:
1. "All of the superficial stuff we all worry about? Don't. It's not worth it, especially as a teen."
"You will move on after high school and see that following trends is just not important, and no one will care what you do. Just be you!" —jennifert68
2. "It is 100% okay to accept a job based only on its monetary value to you (as long as the job doesn't hurt you in the long run). Your job doesn't have to be your purpose. You can find your passion outside of work and do it because you want to, not because you need to. If you're one of the lucky few who can make money by doing what you love, that's awesome! It's just not a reality for most people."
"As someone who went through her twenties barely scraping by but was working in her chosen field, I wish I would've taken the job I didn't want but paid more. I love what I did, but the cost to me was digging myself into a very deep hole of debt that I will be climbing out of forever." —unabridged81
3. "It’ll be scary, and then it won’t be, and then it will be."
"This cycle is continuous; hold out for the 'won't be' parts." —dontblinktimeywimey
4. "The best dating advice I ever received was from my mom when I was going through a bad breakup: All you’re doing when you’re dating someone is learning about the other person. You are learning qualities that you want or don’t want in a partner. And you get to learn about yourself while doing it."
"Trust your gut. If you notice a red flag, there’s a reason for it. It seems so simple and obvious, but hearing it out loud really put things in perspective when I felt like my world was caving in." —daisy121
6. "No matter what you do or how much you change, there will always be someone who hates your guts. Just do what is best for you and no one else."
"The ones who matter will be there." —m4616e2cd
7. "Don't let anyone try to tell you that being married with kids isn't aspirational."
"I love my career and make great money, but my fiancé and our future kids will ALWAYS be my priority over any job. That doesn't make me any less of a powerful, intelligent, or courageous woman." —lindsayymarie003
9. "It’s not selfish to prioritize yourself. Love yourself, and make decisions that benefit you, not anyone else. You only have to answer to yourself."
"You don't have to answer to anyone else. Don’t be apologetic about it." —ameliay4c3d6da72
11. "Don’t ever for one second feel superior to other women. One day you WILL feel self-conscious, you WILL have bad skin, and you WILL date the wrong person."
"Don’t let your moronic teen brain think any less of the women who experience those things first, because you’re not better. It just hasn’t happened to you yet." —majestic27
12. "Take the time to explore careers. It shouldn't be a scary process that you put off until the last minute (aka your third year of college). Making informed decisions about what you want to do for your career to make you happy and give you the lifestyle you want to lead will only help you in the future."
"If nothing, you'll learn what you don't and won't like, which is also very helpful. There's so much information on the internet out there about career paths and so many sites to help connect you to someone to shadow even if for a few days.
Not thinking about it earlier is one of my biggest regrets, as now I find myself pigeonholed in a career I don't really like (and it was actually really obvious I wouldn't like it based on who I am as a person)." —aroc422
13. "Be open to new friendships. As you grow older, you realize you’ve outgrown the friends you grew up with. If you find yourself only talking about things that start with, 'Remember when...' you KNOW for a fact that the only thing that brings you two together is the past."
"The biggest misconception is you can’t make friends past 25, but that’s not true! It’s actually wonderful to meet new people who are on the same wavelength you are at now in your life."
14. "Being thin is not the end all, be all. Eat the piece of pizza, order dessert, and stop apologizing for taking up space in the world."
"I wasted so much of my late teens and early twenties obsessing over my weight and caloric intake. And the thinner I got, the more I hated myself." —sylviao
15. "Don’t be afraid to talk openly about your mental health with someone, because keeping it bottled up only makes you more depressed and anxious."
16. "Books and films have lied to us, making our expectations when it comes to love off-kilter. The love we are told to expect — where your whole body reacts to them and you can't live without them and all you think about is them — is toxic. It is not healthy to depend on someone else for your entire existence."
"The worst part of it is that we as women have been indoctrinated since birth to believe that if the guy wouldn't rather die than not be with you, it isn't real love. If you can talk to him without your insides melting, it isn't real passion. And if he isn't the greatest lover and sexiest specimen, you're settling.
We are told that when you find your 'true love,' it will bring out such strong feelings in you that there is no denying them. All this amounts to the fact that when we find true love — the kind those people who have been married for 70+ years have, the kind built on mutual respect, kindness, companionship, friendship, and love — we are predisposed to reject it." —idakristinemeland
17. "Ask for help! I spent so many hard years struggling when if I had just asked for help from my family or friends, they would have helped me."
"Instead, I kept it private because I didn't want them to pity or worry about me. Ask for help if you need it!" —baebumblebees
18. "Being gay isn’t a phase. But if you work at it, internalized homophobia can be. I struggled so much as a teen to understand why I felt the way I did towards girls and feeling bad about it because I wasn’t 'normal.'"
"It took me coming out and having the support of my family to realize that I am who I am and there’s nothing wrong with that." —riptitanic
19. "My advice is just to generally stop thinking life is going to go a certain way and try to be more open-minded to how your life may unfold. I never could have dreamt up my life as it is now, but it's so much more 'me' than the path I was on."
"I grew up thinking I'd graduate, go to college, meet a husband at some point, have a career, get a big house in the suburbs, have kids, etc. Nobody ever really showed me an alternative path than this, so I didn't really think about what other options I had.
When I graduated HS, I did go off to college, but it was nothing like I imagined and I just felt it wasn't right. I spent 2.5 years drudging through, and one day it clicked that I was wasting my time. Now, I earn more than the degree would've gotten me in a career I don't LOVE to bits, but it allows me to pursue my art/creative goals that I do LOVE!" —areyoukidding
20. "Practice safe sex."
"Enjoy your youth, put all your effort into school and your hobbies, and practice safe sex." —egtassin47
21. "The biggest lesson I learned was that you have to figure out who you are before you can find someone to love who you are. I spent so much of my twenties being whatever the guy of the moment wanted that I lost myself. After a bad breakup at 31, I said, 'You know what, I'm just going to be amazingly happy single,' and set off to do just that."
"Fast forward three years later, when I am the absolute happiest I have ever been, I meet the one. And the best part is that there is no pretending, because he fell in love with the person I really am.
Figure out who you are and what you love, and then find someone to love exactly that. Compromising yourself to get married or be in a relationship within some superficial societal timeline just leads to unhappiness in the end." —lacykayy
22. "Life is too short to be worried about other people's opinions. Be true to yourself day in and day out. Find your voice young, and use it often. Too many people will try and take it away from you."
"Circling back to it being too short, the older you get, the faster you experience the year. Take it a day at a time, and enjoy the little moments. Try not to grow up too fast. Once you're an adult, you can't go back." —cadybug28
23. "Save and budget more. Being broke is the worst."
"No penis is worth ruining your life or destroying your mind." —forkliftjones
24. "Trust your gut as you have an exceptional gift. Your subconscious will be able to read people and situations long before your conscious will."
"Figure out who your 'ride or dies' are. You don't need to be carrying dead weight in your life. The older you get, the more you realize this.
In fact, I had a teacher who — in our final lesson with him before we left school for good — said, 'In five years time, the people you are friends with now and the ones you speak to every day will probably not be your friends anymore.' Most of the class thought he was talking nonsense, but in actual fact he was right." —rohzielee
25. "If your partner accuses you of cheating on them for no apparent reason, they are 100% cheating on YOU."
"The cheater mentality — they're doing it, so they assume you are too." —roonttwinsies_
27. "Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself. Respect comes with character, not age."
"Whoever it might be — that annoying aunt, a random man trying to mansplain, some old lady questioning why you're not married or don’t have kids yet — ain’t nobody got time for that energy." —herefortea
28. "Think before you leave a negative comment on social media. You don’t know the story behind that post or picture."
"More importantly, you don’t know the damage your comment could do to that person." —momwithaboysname
29. "Educate yourself on all financial aspects of your life — taxes, 401(k), investments, CDs. It'll set you up for a wonderful future. I put $25/week away in an account. After three years, I had more than $3K stocked away that I haven't even missed. Can you imagine if I had started in my early twenties?"
"Yes, I've had to pause contributions when things have gotten hard, but for the most part, it's been manageable. Contribute to company-matched 401(k)s, as well. Who knows what the future holds? But if you can do it now, then a little bit goes a long way later." —mbarrios56
30. "I need to emphasize the 'please don't date a 20-year-old in your teens' because so many girls get manipulated into believing that they are 'so mature' and 'special' and 'not like the other girls.'"
"That man is a creep. You ARE like the other girls, but you are STILL special, and you don't need some washed-up, useless 25-year-old to tell you that.
In fact, being chased by somebody like that is the perfect opportunity to show how mature you really are by saying no. If he's in his twenties and chasing a teenager, he is a bum, a creep, and you should run." —asdfghj2
31. "Sometimes, way too much focus is put on loving what you do for a living. If you love what you do, that's great. But if your day job only pays for the things you actually like to do, that's okay too."
"A practical job that pays well and allows you to live the lifestyle you want is not a bad thing at all." —lizb0980
32. "I wish I knew earlier that relationships aren't everything. I spent so much time chasing guys that I lost a bit of myself in each relationship. Focus on yourself and your goals. If you're meant to meet someone, you will, and they'll love you for being you."
"Oh, and it's ok to say no." —bbgirl35
33. "Do things in life for yourself and not others. Don’t drink so much in college! Have refresher days. Be more active in college."
"Join a club! A team! Go to a political meeting! Go to an environmental meeting! I look back and wish I was more connected." —geebyt
34. "We’re all different, and some of us know exactly what we want to do after high school. For the rest of us, don’t be afraid to head to a community college for your first year or two to figure things out. It’s a much cheaper way to figure out who you are, and it doesn’t get the credit it deserves."
"I will always be a little regretful over my choice to go straight to a four-year liberal arts college that I left after a year and a half. I promise it doesn’t make you 'less' than anyone else." —abbyd9
35. "Don’t be so afraid, and take more risks. Get out of your comfort zone more. Travel more while you are single. The sooner you learn to say 'no' without feeling bad about it, the better. Stop trying to constantly please everyone more than pleasing yourself."
"Be pickier about the people (especially significant others) you invite into your life. The right shade of red lipstick is a game-changer. And chill the f*** out; things get better, and each decade will be better than the last." —mdbx
36. "Keep being your authentic selves and keep being annoying feminists. Don't give in trying to fit what men want us to be. Don’t waste your life that way."
"Side advice: Learn about finances (parents, internet, whatever — no one’s going to help you unless you look for it), wear sunscreen, and be guarded about your online presence." —nicolem4dc590154
37. "In a relationship, don’t forget about yourself. When you love someone so much, it’s easy to lose who you are. You may find that you are putting your own well-being on a back burner far too often while doing all you can to support them."
"Don’t. Especially if they aren’t doing the same for you." —stefanied4e1871157
38. "Stop giving one single fuck about what people think about your body. Be healthy, exercise in a way that brings you joy, eat enough veggies — but do it because you LIKE it. Clothes are meant to fit us, not the other way around."
"Do not do it to achieve an impossible body standard — especially those standards only available to folks with infinite time to make fitness their job.
Wear the fucking shorts. Wear the goddamn dress. Wear the flippin' crop top. Wear it because YOU like it. And buy it in YOUR ACTUAL SIZE." —turnipcakeafficionado
Did any of these really speak to you? Or is there something you'd add to help others? Let us know in the comments!
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.