30 Lessons Learned On Life & Love in 30 Years post image

30 Lessons Learned On Life & Love in 30 Years

I’ll admit I’ve been afraid of turning 30 pretty much since I turned 22. With every passing year, I’ve felt a tug of fear over being that much closer. Now that I’ve arrived at what I long considered a dreaded destination, I must say….it’s actually pretty amazing. Like most people, my 20’s were replete with bad choices, too many shots, too little sleep, too much worry, valuable life lessons, ignoring of said lessons, repeating the same mistakes, self-doubt interspersed with feeling on top of the world, financial sloppiness, emotional sloppiness, waiting for it all to fall perfectly into place, and grappling with the painful realization that the real world isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But now that my days as a 20-something are up, I can’t help but feel grateful, and—dare I say—empowered over how far I’ve come.

Every year on my birthday I like to reflect on lessons learned, defining moments, and whether I’m moving forward or standing still. Since so much of what I write is informed by my experiences, I could think of no better way to say goodbye to my tumultuous 20’s and usher in my (hopefully!) thriving 30’s than with the 30 best lessons I’ve learned on life and love.

Here they are (in no particular order):

1. Stop looking for love; make yourself a vessel to receive it. You will never be able to experience true love until you conquer the barriers that are preventing you from receiving it. This applies if you’re single as well as if you’re in a relationship.

2. Heartbreak is a blessing or a curse; it’s up to you. A devastating breakup can either destroy you or make you stronger, you get to choose. It doesn’t matter how badly he wronged you, you are the only one who gets to decide if you will be cast as victim or heroine in the story of your life.

3. Stop worrying… it will all be fine.  No one looks back and says, “I wish I had spent more time worrying.” Save your mental energy for things that will actually move you in a positive direction.

4. Don’t wait to be inspired, seek out inspiration. Yes, sometimes you will feel a surge of inspiration, sit down and create something great…but those moments are rare gifts and are not the norm.

5. You can’t win them all.  One day I was lamenting to a friend about this guy who just wouldn’t commit to me. I couldn’t understand why or what the issue was. Instead of dishing out sympathy and the typical “You’re too good for him anyway” pep talk, she looked me dead in the eye and said: “You can’t win them all. Let it go.” Whether it’s in dating or life in general, these are words to live by.

6. Happiness doesn’t just happen. We create our own happiness. It doesn’t come from having the perfect body, the perfect job, the perfect boyfriend, or the hottest new designer handbag. Happiness doesn’t just show up at your door as a consolation prize for years of suffering. You have to plant the seeds of happiness and tend to them daily.

MORE: 11 Ways to Find True Happiness

7. Exercise. Seriously, just suck it up and do it. No matter how much you don’t want to, you will never regret it. And the more you do, the more it becomes an ingrained part of your routine.

8. Fairytale love doesn’t exist. The mad, passionate, can’t-eat, can’t-sleep type of love does exist…it’s called infatuation, and it has a very short shelf life. True love isn’t something that just takes you over, it’s something you work for and toward, and it isn’t always pretty or easy.

9. Live in the moment. I’ve spent the majority of my life either ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. When I learned to be right here, right now, I realized the present is actually kind of nice.

10. Don’t wait for things to fall into place. They won’t. You have to put them where you want them to be.

11. You won’t be happy “as soon as…” As soon as I lose ten pounds…. as soon as I get a new job…as soon as I get out of debt…as soon as I have a boyfriend. Whatever you’re waiting on in order to be happy, remember that happiness is not a result of “as soon as.”

12. Men do not determine your worth. Maybe this one cheated and that one didn’t text back and the last one ghosted on you… so what? None of them are the arbiters of your worth, only you are.

13. You can’t please everyone. Just stop trying. Sometimes you’ll disappoint people, but they’ll get over it. I promise.

14. What feels like the worst thing that could ever happen can lead you to the path of the best things you have in life (that’s certainly the story of my life). Try not to panic in the middle of a sentence…you don’t always know what comes next.

15. Surround yourself with positive people. You are the company you keep; choose wisely.

16. Love isn’t what you get; it’s what you give. So many of us fall into the trap of focusing on what we’re not getting in our relationship. He doesn’t call enough, he isn’t affectionate enough, he doesn’t take me out enough. Instead of dwelling on what you aren’t getting, shift your focus to what you could be giving. Focus on how you’re showing up in the relationship, on what you’re putting into it, on how you can love better.

MORE: 5 Common Misconceptions About Love 

17. Wear sunscreen. Seriously. I may be 30 but I still have the skin of an early 20-something as a result of wearing sunscreen daily (and year-round) and hanging out under an umbrella instead of roasting in the sun. It wasn’t always easy for me to forsake a sun-kissed glow, but it was so worth it.

18. Declutter. It never ceases to amaze me how much crap can just accumulate. There is something very invigorating about taking stock of the things in your life every so often and getting rid of what’s unnecessary. (This applies to physical belongings as well as negative people and emotions!)

19. Feel the fear and do it anyway. It never gets less scary, so just suck it up and power through.

 20. Stop wanting the one who doesn’t want you. Seriously, move on.

21. If you think all men are jerks…maybe you just have bad taste in men. All the men in my life were “emotionally unavailable” until I stopped only dating emotionally unavailable men. Funny how that happens…

22. Be grateful. Try to think of two things in your life that you’re grateful for every day. It may sound silly, but it can be transformative.

23. Make wise financial choices. Yes, going out and splurging on nice things is fun, but that can never give you the same feeling of ease as having money set aside as savings.

24. Sometimes you’re the problem. It isn’t always easy to recognize and admit this, but it is a sign of maturity and true self-awareness.

25. Let it go. Holding grudges hurts you more than the other person.

26. Nobody really knows what they’re doing. You’re not alone.

 27. Being vulnerable doesn’t make you weak…and denying your emotions and putting on a front doesn’t make you strong. It actually makes you pretty lonely.

28. Eat healthy. It just makes you feel and look so much better.

29. Start your day strong. I’ve noticed those days where I’ve accomplished a lot before 10:00 am are usually the best days.

30. Ditch the regrets. There are many paths we could have taken, choices we could have made instead, things we wish we had done differently. There is no point to stewing in regret. Look back long enough to find a lesson that will help you grow and prevent you from repeating the same mistake, and not a minute more.

MORE: Relationship Lessons I Wish I Knew Sooner 


Written by Sabrina Alexis

I’m Sabrina Alexis, the co-founder, and co-editor of A New Mode. I love writing relatable, insightful articles that help people understand relationship dynamics and how to get the love they want. I have a degree in psychology and have spent the last 10 years interviewing countless men and reading and studying as much as I can to better understand human psychology and how men operate. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Instagram.

32 comments… add one

Leave Your Comment Now...


Agreeing with every single one apart from sunscreen its just not true for me.

Reply September 22, 2020, 6:15 pm


I used to like getting emails from a new Mode, now I just get sales ads every morning trying to get me to pay to watch videos that will teach me “this one magic word that will make him change his mind”…or whatever. Lame/boring/sleazy

Reply June 9, 2016, 12:40 pm


I have this article bookmarked and re-read it often. Thanks for yet another great post.

Reply March 24, 2015, 2:51 pm


I agree with you, thank you so much for sharing this wise thoughts on life.

Reply February 12, 2015, 2:09 pm

Lina Manrique

Words can’t explain how much this blog means to ME , thank you so much.

Reply February 4, 2015, 10:11 am


I can’t express how much of an impact you have had in my life!!! I wake up ready to read a new mode in my email. I’m so thankful for all the positive changes in my life thanks to you.

Reply February 4, 2015, 6:28 am


It is very helpful :) ….thank you for this sabrina

Reply February 4, 2015, 5:08 am


Happy Birthday Sabrina and ANM!! I’m well on my way to 30 this year and this list of yours just hit home so well!
I’m a divorced mom (almost 2 years now) with 2 amazing children, I found happiness within myself and I know you like to collect quotes and sayings, I do that too. My favorite one is “Don’t be a woman who needs a man. Be a woman who a man needs!” Not for the sake of getting a man, but the one who is able to reach up to my standards and share my core values, love life and be happy! I turn to my collection whenever I need a pick-me-up. Empower, encourage and remind me to love myself, be happy with who I am and also to grow as a person. With this said, it was an amazing per chance moment when I met the man I’m in a very young, long distance relationship with right now. Young meaning I met him a little less than 2 months ago while on holiday. Never thought it would happen, but that didn’t bother me one bit! So we’re taking things slow and steady, getting to know one another on an intellectual and emotional level (which is kind of a perk with long distance!) He’s got 3 kids, also divorced, and such a gentleman. Not used to men being so considerate, which makes this so refreshing and different! So you’re right when you say you find the “good men” in this world when you stop going for the emotionally unavailable “bad boys” and to try find happiness somewhere other than within yourself. I am so grateful that I came across ANM and you and Eric’s emails are really something worth reading and treasuring. So thank you for taking the time and effort to share your thoughts, advice and experiences with the women (and men of course!!) of the world!
And to every lady reading this, may I share this thought: Follow your own yellow brick road LIKE A BOSS!!! Have a fantastic day!

Reply February 4, 2015, 3:22 am


I really loved ur comment. Am on d same road of saying goodbye to my 20’S. Am so loving ur positivity. Thanks for the encouragement. Happy birthday Sabrina nd ANM.

Reply February 4, 2015, 1:54 pm


This article is filled with knowledge and wisdom; exactly what I needed right now. Thank You! ????

Reply February 3, 2015, 10:39 pm


Love! Thanks

Reply February 3, 2015, 9:49 pm


I will say i started learning these things right around your age. Over the last 15 years a lot of them have been tested again and again. Some of them I’m finally getting now.
This is a great list. One I wish people would learn at a much younger age… save themselves a lot of wasted time and energy.
Thanks for the reminder that these are universal truths not just for a few!

Reply February 3, 2015, 8:48 pm


Happy birthday Sabrina and New Mode !!! Wise words for such a young woman, I wish I knew that when I was your age. I can not complain but life could have been much easier if I knew what you know now. It feels good to learn how to have a better love life. For me commintement is a big word regardless and I am stubborn enough to make things work when the ocean is rocky in my twenty plus years marriage with children and a wonderful husband. If I need help when the boat is sinking I go for it and your book and words are always helping me. Thank you very much for all you and New Mode give. us.

Reply February 3, 2015, 5:27 pm


Happy birthday Sabrina. Cool stuff. Thanks for all the hard work, time and effort you put in creating and sharing quality content (alongside Eric!). I’m currently working on nr. 27 :). I’ll be sure to remember it and keep growing. Ciao!

Reply February 3, 2015, 5:17 pm


Hey guys,
I ve been following a new mode for a while now , but I never respond on any article.
But after reading this one , I felt the urge to share my experience about turning 30.
I always made a plan for my life , I knew exactly what I wanted by the time I turned 30. I wanted to be married and have at least 1 kid, a great job and a nice house in a peaceful neighborhood.
I was married , lived ( still) in a peaceful neighborhood …
But that ‘s about it. I didn’t really feel alive and happy.
Ever since I turned 29 I felt a big fear and panic about turning 30 and the goals I set for my life.
I m 30 since the 29 off July .
It was a dreadfull year. I screwed up the life I had with my husband .
I was so freaked out about turning 30 that I did very stupid things .
We were not able to have children what caused me a lot off heartache and I had a big depression .
Once I got over it , I felt the urge to change my life for good.
I don’t know why , but I had the idea , it’s now our never to make changes.
As I said I screwed things up pretty bad , I ended up cheating on my husband.
I felt trapped and suffocated by him, it’s a lame excuus ,I know . But it’s really how I felt at that time. I needed my freedom to still do my own things. We changed both in the 7 years we were together and somewhere on the road we lost each other and wanted different things in life .
Of course he was heartbroken when I told him I had an affaire with a man who was 10 years older than I was. After I told my husband I broke off the affair.
We tried to start over , but somehow I was not sure that I wanted to rebuild something with him. Because , you see I believe that everything happens with a reason. I had this voice in my head telling me this was not the right way to go.
I was very confused and needed time to make some room and peace in my head. I asked my husband for time and to live apart for a while . He didn’t understand that wich pushed me even further away from him.
In the meanwhile I got in contact with an other guy, I could really talk to him and we had the same ideas about life and the society in general. We had the same crazy since off humor and I felt like he was the first that really understood me . I was not ashamed to share my crazy ideas about life with him.
I wanted to spend time with him, just as friends , nothing more and nothing less at that time. We met each other and it was surreal! We talked about our life’s and the struggles we both had . It just felt right. After that we talked to each other everyday, we had very long long taks , mostly till deep in the night. We met a second time and there was just an ease with us , silence didn’t felt awkward at all . It was really strange and rare .
My husband didn’t know about my contact with this man .
But eventually I told him .
I told him I wanted to join this “new” man to a trip at sea.
That’s when it all ended with my husband . He gave me an ultimatum, if I joined him it’s was over between us. Now I can tell you that I don’t deal very well with ultimatums, so I went to sea for all the wrong reasons and that was the end .
My husband wanted a divorce … All this happend about a year ago now . I learned a lot this past year, especially about myself . After a few months I regret thronging my marriage away just like that. But I had to deal with it and now the regrets are gone. I learned that love is something that doesn’t demand things from each other . Love in his purest form is unconditional. It’s wrong to expect from someone to love you back just because you love them. I learned to never have expectations, cause , Shakespeare was right, they are the root of all heartache. You don’t owne anyone , just because you are in a relationship doesn’t mean you can claim that person.the “new” guy is now my boyfriend since a couple off months and it goes really good. We give each other time and space to do our own kind off things and that really payed off. I never thought we would still be in each other life’s , but look , we grow closer and closer everytime we see each other . Ever since I let go off the idea that I have to analyze every little detail off our contact he really opened up to me. We live now day by day and it’s a good way off thinking , we talk about the future and stuff but don’t make any big plans , we love to improvise . It makes the time togheter much more intense . I think I really love this man and I m sure he loves me too. It doesn’t need to be said , we feel and see it in eachother and in the thing we do for one another .
It’s been a big journey for me , I rediscovered myself and I start dreaming again. Turning 30 was a big deal and I lost a lot because I was so freaked out about it, but now that I look back at that year , everything that happend was just what I needed to reinvent myself.

Reply February 3, 2015, 2:52 pm


Everyone has expectations. Its just how we expect things will go, whether good or bad. That is what you based your actions on: your expectations. You expected your life with your husband was going to continue bad. You expected your life with your new boyfriend is going to continue good or you would not have gone on that path. Everyone has expectations. When you work or invest time in something, you expect some sort of payoff. There are not many people who do not. That is survival. It is not good to waste energy digging for potatoes for dinner and then there are no potatoes in the ground. Its good to enjoy things in the moment, but expectations are also needed if you want to reach a certain goal. If a woman is going to have a child, she is bringing someone else into this world and that child will need support and to be protected by as many people as possible. So it is important to be married if you want to have a child. If a man won’t/ can’t commit to a woman, then how is he going to commit to his child? The mother is a big part of the child’s well being and if the man cannot commit to the mother’s well being, he is not committing to the child’s wellbeing. Do not have a child until you have a commitment from a man. It’s not just your life anymore, but someone else’s life on the line. Men who cannot commit will not commit to their child (environmental/nurture influence). Also, men who cannot commit have anxiety disorders(etc)( internal/nature influence) or they would feel more calm and secure about making a commitment. This indicates genetically based mental problems, and, as such, the man would not have the best genes to breed with and you could end up with a child with genetically inherited emotional and mental problems, combined with no man to help out and support you in that difficult journey. A man who can commit is an indication of a solid secure person who has no anxiety disorder (eg unrest). I think that if you do have a child, you would “expect”, without even considering it, that the child be healthy. Well, the best way to do that would be to breed with a man who is stable and has good expectations regarding your future together; and thus can commit. You also need to be stable yourself and not go sleeping around when you get bored. End your relationships in an honorable fashion. Readers here wouldn’t like it if this was a guy writing and he got bored and slept around on his wife; and it is no different for a woman doing it to a man. I am sorry that maybe you and your husband were not the correct match, but he sounds like he was a patient, stand up guy; and a guy who will screw another man’s wife, does not sound like such a stand up guy. Maybe its good that you do not have any expectations in this relationship.

Reply February 3, 2015, 4:20 pm


I admit that I made a huge mistake by cheating on my husband . I ll be the last to deny that , I m not the kind of person who will hide my mistakes .
And I did not just sleep around , i fell in love with the man I had an affaire with . Still no excuse , I know . But many things happend between my ex husband and me that are not open to discussion … I m not the person who just cheat on someone just like that.
And for your formation , my boyfriend now , is not the same as the one I had an affaire with , he is responsible and stable and did make a commitment . I didt say he didt , we just take it slow and don’t push things . And I m not planning to have a child for the next few years .and I do realize what a child need… I don’t need it explained like this . I also did not expected things with my boyfriend were going to go good. We started seeing each other with the idea , lets see were this goes , to be honest I actually never thought it would end up like it is now. And I believe that the best things happen when you don’t expect them to happen. I know cheating is a taboo , but I prefer to be honest about it than to pretend like it’s not exciting …
I am a stable person , I m not a crazy mental woman who has a lot off issues. I went true a lot and had to find myself again and that’s it . I m not ashamed to talk about that , people make mistakes , many if you ask me , but pretend like your a saint will not help you to grow .

Reply February 3, 2015, 4:46 pm


how can you say that you do not just cheat when you cheated on your husband more than once. even more amazing is that you told him anything its really amazing for him that he divorced youbecause both of you clearly weren’t happy and I hope that both you and him found somebody that makes you truly happy.

sorry for the grammar and punctuation im talking into my tablet.

Reply February 3, 2015, 10:55 pm


I did not sleep with my new boyfriend until my ex husband and I were separated . We made the agreement that we both go our own way without standing in each others way for new happiness. I did tell him everything , he knew about my affair and he new that I was in getting to know someone else too. Anyway , we are still on good terms with each other. We both find new happiness . He s getting re-married n April and I am very happy for him . We are still friends and we are doing much better now than we ever did as husband and wife . I wish him all the happiness that he deserve and he wishes that for me too. :)

February 4, 2015, 1:23 am


There is no question that cheating is not exciting. of course it is (duh!) (Exciting things make the brain release more dopamine (brain chemical that gives joy and motivation) and these actions suggest you are possibly genetically deficient in dopamine which would cause you to do actions that cause a high release of dopamine in order to help out the brain( google MTHFR mutation MTHFRSUPPORT.net etc) MTHFR mutation prevents absorption/metabolization of folate B9 (an important B complex vitamin) and that can cause dopamine and serotonin deficiencies and then people will do behaviors that will cause more dopamine production and release like risk taking behaviors like having affairs, or alcoholism or drug abuse. This is the brain’s attempt to get more dopamine in the synapse (the space between the neurons in the brain). You should get your genes tested by going to 23andme.com to see if you have an MTHFR mutation. Then after you get the raw data upload it to MTHFRSUPPORT.COM to get a processed report and then, call Dr. Andrew Rostenberg in Boise, ID to get the data analyzed. If you do have this mutation, it could cause spinal bifida, autism, Down syndrome and other birth defects in your child, and also an increased risk of miscarriage. The chance of this happening can be greatly reduced if know what your gene mutations are and then you take the right vitamins for a while before you get pregnant, as well as taking them during and after the pregnancy. So planning for a pregnancy is very important. This includes genetic planning as well as environmental planning (eg having a good stable home, job and marriage, or at the very least a committed friend or relative who can co-parent)

At any rate, aside from the neuroscience etc, you made a commitment when you got married. An affair is cheating. If you made a mistake and married the wrong person, end your relationships honorably. Would you like someone to do that to you? I think not.

In any event, what’s done is done and I’m sure you would act differently now. I wish you well and hope things work out for you :)

PS: there should be no stigma to someone being a “crazy mental woman” as you say, since science now knows that it is caused by a genetic inability to properly absorb B complex vitamins like Folate (B9)
We don’t make fun of people with physical disabilities, so we should not make fun of or disparage anyone who has mental issues; and this mutation is very common. Some people have it slightly and can just have anxiety/depression, others have a more severe mutation and suffer from alcoholism or drug addiction or schizophrenia or autism. But the good thing is, if people know what genetic issues they have, then they can seek proper treatment and feel better.

Reply February 6, 2015, 4:33 pm


Thank you, Sabrina! I live by most of these and can say with authority, that the number one on your list is soooooo true!! And to give love is the greatest gift we can give anyone. I have learned to still be kind, even when others are not being kind to me. It doesn’t do any good for you to go to the negative side so easily, just keep plugging away at you and leave them to sort it out for themselves!

But, I did see some things that took me a lot longer than 30 to figure out….lol. But, all is learned in due time. We are not all the same, so go at your pace, but your advice is solid and attainable!

Have a great day!! Love the advice!!

Reply February 3, 2015, 2:50 pm


Sorry………Happy Birthday to you and new mode!!

Reply February 3, 2015, 2:51 pm


thanks for the list, i see myself agreeing to all the points you’ve made…and i am turning 30 this year too. i guess these are really what we get to learn in 30 years of living. :)

Reply February 3, 2015, 1:11 pm


Great list and extremely insightful especially for someone only 30 years old. Feel proud that you’re able to self reflect and grow from your experiences. Soooooo many people cannot get past their own muck to get to a point of growth. I appreciate both you and Eric’s points of view. Keep of the good work and have a great birthday!!!

Reply February 3, 2015, 1:03 pm


i appreciate this a lot. Thank you Sabrina

Reply February 3, 2015, 12:35 pm


Happy Birthdya & welcome to the 30 club!!! Your insights are right on, as usual.

Reply February 3, 2015, 12:29 pm


That was awesome. And happy birthday.

Reply February 3, 2015, 12:13 pm


Great advice — you message is truly inspirational — thank you for sharing & encouraging others!
And Happy Birthday!

Reply February 3, 2015, 12:04 pm

karen mulhern

Bravo! Took me 10yrs longer than it did you to figure all this out! You rock!

Reply February 3, 2015, 11:57 am


LOV LOVE THIS!! Thank you

Reply February 3, 2015, 11:50 am


Very good thoughts, and many that I share with you. Gotta say though, you are still young and your list may change a bit as you continue to grow and experience life. I think you will find that being grateful will work its way to the top of your list. I know it has for me.

Reply February 3, 2015, 11:37 am


I needed this today. Thank you.

Reply February 3, 2015, 11:28 am

Leave a Comment

Recent Relationship Forum Activity


Sign up for our
free newsletter
and get a free chapter
of our book,"He's Not
That Complicated"