dispatch 69: 30 years, 30 lessons


Guten Tag, y’all!

Sorry this post is so late. I’ve been recovering from the most awesome birthday weekend ever: I got my hair done (more on that next week!), The Man made me a surprise chocolate cake, and the Babycakes serenaded me and gave me flowers.  So forgive my tardiness. :)

Anywho, y’all know I turned 30 yesterday, and I must say that it feels way better than 21 ever did. I was gonna write a recap of my 30 Before 30 failures and achievements, but after reading Olivia Wilde’s article on turning 30 (hat tip to Leslie!), I decided to write this instead. Thirty lessons I’ve learned after being on the planet for thirty years. Here we go!





1. When shoes are cheap, they hurt your feet. And I don’t mean inexpensive or bargain priced, I mean poorly made.
2. The right clothes (clothes that fit well, match your lifestyle and personality, and are in good condition) can make you feel like superwoman.
3. The wrong clothes, on the other hand, can make you feel incompetent/weak/like an imposter.
4. High quality is better than low quality; expensive does not always equal good, and inexpensive is not always inferior.
5. Whatever you wear, wear it because you like it, not because someone told you that you should.




6.  The BEST description of love I have ever seen is in the Christian Bible: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
7. If you are experiencing something other than that in your relationship, it is NOT love.
8. It’s ok if you and your lover are not attached at the hip. Y’all are two separate people.
9. Having a child will make you feel invincible and 100 percent vulnerable at the same time.
10. When it comes to love, it’s ok (even necessary!) to take calculated risks.



11. My metaphor for friendship is two pitchers of water that pour into each other. If only one person is doing the pouring, she will end up empty and the other will end up full of herself. If you both pour into each other equally, you’ll be balanced and happy.
12. Forgetfulness and disorganization are forms of thoughtlessness. I am guilty of both, far too often.
13. The best friends are the ones who know your story–and in spite/because of it, they love you.
14. “No new friends” makes for a great song but is an impractical philosophy. F that. Never stop making new friends.
15. When a friendship has run its course, it can be even more painful than a romantic breakup. Still–the love will always be there, and you should be grateful for what you had even as you mourn what you lost.





16. Happiness is a choice. Plain and simple, though maybe joy is a better word. My Sunday school once described the difference between happiness and joy thusly: Happiness is fleeting. Chocolate cake can make you happy; new shoes can make you happy. Joy, on the other hand, is a constant feeling of gratitude for and celebration of life. The world is what it is. React with despair, or react with joy.
17. Once, I was broke, depressed, in a new city, unsure of where I would live (aka quasi-homeless) and sitting in a park crying on a hot, Alabama August day. A homeless man walked over and offered me a cold soda that he’d just gotten from some volunteers. Then he told me to leave before it got dark, because this particular park was danger. All that to say: you can be broke, alone, lost and still find a reason to be grateful and happy.
18. Happiness is contagious. So is misery, so be mindful of the company you keep.
19. Selfishness and joy can’t really coexist.
20. Having a playlist of happy music on standby is good for the soul.




21. Plans will get you way farther than wishes will. “I plan to save $300 so I can spend a weekend in Panama City with my friends” is greater than “I wish I was at the beach.”
22. Don’t be scurred, but don’t be stupid. Watching Taken shouldn’t deter you from flying to Paris. Likewise, unless you’re a foreign correspondent, you shouldn’t be trying to kick it in a war zone.
23. The way America views black people is not the same way the rest of the world views us. Travel, and see what it’s like to see yourself through other eyes.
24. Learning a foreign language will make your travels and your life richer.
25. Don’t feel bad if you can’t afford to go to the other side of the planet. Taking a 30 minute trip to the next town over? That totally counts. It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.




26. Not having a goal is like getting into behind the wheel of a car with no destination in mind. You waste a lot of time and energy, and you’ll likely end up right back where you started.
27. One of my favorite books is Time’s People of the Century. It profiles one hundred people who shaped the 20th century. I noticed a common trend: the people who were led by their egos generally came to a bad end or ended up on the wrong side of history. Vice versa for those led by a desire to serve.
28. Becoming a parent will completely change your priorities, in the best way imaginable.
29. Don’t be discouraged if other people don’t understand or support your choices. It’s your life, and you only get one.
30. Don’t speak about it, be about it.


YOUR turn! I don’t care if you’re 15 or 52–I know you’ve got some wisdom to share.

What’s the biggest life lesson you’ve learned so far?

21 thoughts on “dispatch 69: 30 years, 30 lessons

  1. Great post Tati! I too have learned many of the things that you have shared with us. The most important lesson I have learned is to find happiness and joy within myself! I have also learned that I have to live my life in accordance with myself and the man upstairs. I can not live my life for everyone else, or based off of how everyone else feels that I should be living my life. There are no set rules or standards on where anyone should be by a certain age. If that person is living their life to the fullest, and pursuing the dreams and goals that they have set for themselves and they are happy and content, then that at the end of the day is all that matters. I am embracing life making new friends letting go of some old ones, and getting to know me for the first time ever! Again great post!

    • Thank you SwissMiss! IThis right here: “There are no set rules or standards on where anyone should be by a certain age.” This is SO true! And something I had to learn for myself, too! Once you decide not to follow anyone else’s template for your life…woo child! And I can tell that you have changed, and you definitely seem…just more free. :) Love u chica!

  2. I’m only 25 (5 more years to go!) but I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned so far is honesty. Not compulsive honesty, but being forthcoming about what you want or need. There have been situations in my life that probably could’ve been avoided had I been more honest with myself (or took the time to be honest) or honest with others.

    It’s not so much that honesty is the best policy, or that the truth will set you free – but you’d be surprised at how things can work out when people know what your situation is. So trying to solve something on your own, for example, that you’re struggling with isn’t efficient. But if you tell someone, they may be able to help you or find someone who can.

  3. Great life lessons especially on happiness. Love your birthday look…happy belated! I have learned a few things over the years and I’m still learning everyday. Perhaps, I will share a few lessons so I will come back to post.

  4. Tati….. that was awesome! I am so proud of you and where you are in life. Just sitting here, after reading your blog, thinking about us. Girl we have been through some HELLIFIED times, but by the graces of God we made it. (screaming) GIRL WE MADE!!! We may not be where we want to actually be in life, and our lives didn’t go as we planned, but we are not where we used to be and God has placed us where we need to be. For that I am totally grateful. OK, so one of the many things I have learned in over 28 years is the power of JOY. Joy is something that only the good Lord can give to you, because can’t no one, I mean NOBODY or NOTHING can take away. People get happiness and joy twisted. See cake, ice cream, and fatty foods make me happy, and without that I’m sad and depressed (lol). But, if you take the food away, I still have that JOY, I’m still smiling on the inside . LMBO!!!! But seriously, I’ve learned how to stop just being happy and I’ve been blessed to find joy! So my advice to the world is to pray and ask Jesus to bless you with joy, because that’s something that the world can’t take from you. The world can take your money, food, time, energy, spouse, etc…… But the world can never take that Joy!

    I love your girl, happy bday, and keep up the good work!

    • Girl–you had me laughing, crying and saying Amen all at once! We all have soooo many plans for our lives, and it takes a while to realize that when they don’t work out, it’s usually because there is something WAY better for you (’cause we have dodged some serious bullets, have we not?). This absolutely makes my day, and I love this comment almost as much as I love you. :)

  5. Happy Birthday Tat! You have some very inspiring lessons here! Wow! I love all of them–especially on happiness. As we grow older, we should define our purpose. The biggest life lesson I’ve learned thusfar is to not change yourself for anyone else, and if something doesn’t make you happy LET IT GO. It took me a LONG time to learn both of these.

    • Thank you, lady! And thank you for sharing these lessons. I was JUST talking to my cousin about letting go. In fact not changing for someone else and letting go very often go hand in hand, don’t they? Thank you for sharing this. I’m always happy to hear from a Belle. :)

  6. Great post–and happy birthday! You look fabulous. And, for those things you may not have fully accomplished from your 30 before 30 list, you can always just move them to the 40 before 40 list :)

  7. Happy Belated Birthday!

    This is a very great read! My 30 lessons would read very similar to yours, coupled with my most valuable lesson thus far: happiness, peace and joy all come from within, when you learn/grow to completely accept yourself for who you are everything else falls into perspective.

  8. My list would be the 40 by 40 list, though I too, wouldn’t beat myself up too much if I don’t reach every goal. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that there is no set way to live your life. I thought I’ll be married with a family by now. I’m 38, no husband or kids, and it’s only been in the past 2 yrs I’ve begun to say I’m OK with how my life turned out. Some days are hard, especially when those milestones are reached by my family and friends everyday. God’s plans for me was to work in the education field where I affect hundreds of school-aged kids and adults in college lives. And I’m OK with that. Life after 30…new horizons and adventures are in store, and so, so much more!! Happy Birthday Tatiana (that’s the name I would of chosen for a girl if I had one)!! Blessings!!

  9. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Feliz cumpleaños! 生日快乐!

    This is an awesome list. I especially love #17 about the homeless man with the soda in the park. Goodness and love can come from unexpected places. And your hair looks fabulous! Very sophisticated. I have just a few more months to write a similar list. I think a big part of it will be about learning to trust myself rather than deferring to other people’s opinions. There are a bunch of things I want to do between now and then, but the perspective is way more important than the achievements, right? I’m happy that the internets have connected us, and I hope that some day we’ll get to meet in person!

    Abrazos desde Chile!

  10. What an amazing list!!! Love it! My fave bullet point, which was hard to make: “Having a playlist of happy music on standby is good for the soul” I agree completely. I also really love the one that is the anti thesis to this no new friends movement. I’ve said this a million times to people!

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom! Happy belated birthday!!

    -Chymere Anais

  11. That’s some list you’ve got! I will be 31 this week and I think I’m still learning a few of these. Loved #24. I’m finding that out now. There is no reason for anyone to only speak one language in this day and time. Becoming at least bilingual is possible.

  12. This advice is awesome!! The advice on joy and on choosing happiness particularly warms my heart and resonates with my soul. I am grateful for the internet for stumbling me across this list and for the birthday girl for putting this positivity and wisdom into the world. :) Happy birthday!

  13. I love what you say about joy – you articulate your point about happiness v. joy so well.

    Life lessons at 34 – I guess my biggest one is on change: don’t be afraid to make a change; if you don’t like it, you can also change it back.

    Happy belated birthday! I linked to your blog through Yes and Yes and wanted to say hi – I’m also from Alabama and I live in South America – I moved for love, and what an adventure it has been.

    • YAY for Southern girls!

      That is SO true about change. I used to be very fearful about changes, but once I started embracing it as a part of life, I learned to be okay with it. (That’s part of the reason for the “in flux”!). How do you like Chile? And have you read Leslie’s blog? LeslieForman.com

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