30 Lessons from 30



This past Tuesday was my 30th birthday.

It's not a big deal, but I like round numbers, so today I'm going to share 30 lessons I've learned in my 30 years of life.

On Life, Love, and Relationships:

1. You will fail. This has been a hard lesson to learn as a lifelong (and now recovering) perfectionist, but it's a really important reality to accept. Failure is inevitable, especially if you set your sights high. Therefore it's important to not let the possibility of failure curb your dreams and aspirations; in fact, use the difficulty of an endeavor as fuel to motivate you to work harder.

2. Work harder, even if you already think you are working hard. Growing up, things always came easy to me; if they did not, I made the critical error of quitting. This is why I was good at school (which came easy) and why I was bad at music (which was hard). Looking back now, I see that becoming a better musician was possible, if I had chosen to work harder at it. And as an addendum to this lesson, when things start to feel really hard, don't quit.

3. You will change your mind. People will tell you that you will change your college major at least once. Well, you might change your career once or twice too. I did, and it's not the end of the world, and it's never really too late to “start over”. However, once you make a change, be ready with a plan to make that change work well for you.

4. You will never regret being kind. I'm a firm believer in the power of kindness, so I stand by this one. Regardless of how others treat you, you will never regret responding with love, compassion, and kindness.

5. You will never regret loving. I had three serious relationships before I got married, and all of them ended in tears. But I regret none of it. Even when the love didn't last, I was able to take memories and valuable lessons with me long after the relationships ended. And each of those former lovers taught me something important about Love and the person I am.

6. If you have nothing nice to say, pause and reevaluate. This is an extension of a policy taught to me by mother since I was a child. “If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything.” As an adult, I find it really easy to say petty, critical, and mean things about myself and other people. And the consequences of sharing such things is never very rewarding, so it's good to hold your tongue and think -- what is my intention, is it worth pursuing, and what am I feeling? This approach takes a lot of self awareness and additional work, but it's worth it.

7. Sometimes you really are wrong and you must accept it in order to learn from it. I'm a proud person; I don't like being wrong and I don't like hearing my shortcomings pointed out to me. But in order to change for the better, you must learn to acknowledge mistakes rather than explaining or excusing them. I'm actively working on this.

8. Listening is more important than speaking. I've heard that often people are more invested in what they want to say in a conversation than what the other person is saying. I have had the bleak realization that I'm often guilty of this, and it's a big problem. Communication is paramount to good human relationships, and listening is the key to proper communication.

9. Very few things are what they seem. For example, people won't always directly express how they feel or what they mean. It takes an extra effort to perceive the true feelings and motives of those around us, and everyone is different. Therefore, you can't take everything at face value or use the same methods of observation for everyone you meet. This is a nuanced and convoluted lesson, but important to understand.

10. Be patient with others; even more patient than you are with yourself. I have the tendency to be hard on others because I'm hard on myself. But we need to be patient with others; you are not me and vice versa. And we are all on our own path of self improvement and self actualization.


On Marriage:

11. Don't lose sight of the big picture. When you do, then all is forfeit. Example: Fighting over who is right completely misses the point that someone is not having their needs met. The big picture (or goal) for a marriage is a relationship that is mutually rewarding and enriching to both parties, and a fight is an indicator that this is not being satisfied.

12. Don't let emotions dictate your words and actions. Don't say things you don't mean just because you're sad or angry. That is how regret and unhealable wounds form.

13. Remember your vows. You said them in front of the most important people in your lives. Honor your vows and each other.

14. Practice empathy for each other. If you actively try to understand the feelings of your spouse, you will be better prepared to ensure the best conditions for their happiness.

15. Never stop trying. Complacency is what happens before everything goes to hell.


On Health and Lifestyle:

16. Drink more water. You'll just feel better, I promise.

17. Keep running after mile two. This is a metaphor for pushing your limits. Running one mile might be doable, two might be pushing it, but push beyond anyway. Progress only happens when we reach beyond the limits of what we know we can do. When things get hard and uncomfortable, that's how you know that you are growing and changing.

18. Learn to cook efficiently and competently. One important lesson I learned as an adult was the ability to prepare a handful of different meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner -- with enough variety so that I never have to eat out without getting bored. Each meal requires ingredients that I mostly always have on hand (like spices and produce I use frequently, onions, garlic, etc) so that shopping for ingredients is not an ordeal each time I need to cook. Also, each meal only takes about thirty minutes to prepare. Cooking is not hard; being an EFFICIENT cook is. And it is a very important thing to learn to do.

19. Run, do yoga, climb -- even if you don't feel like it. I never regret exercising, yet sometimes it's hard to make myself go. The lesson is to go anyway. That's my goal for 2018.

20. Give yourself a break -- mentally and physically. Don't be lazy, but don't overwork yourself either. Understand your body and mind to understand when you need a break.

On Sewing and Creativity:

21. Learn the fundamentals and then experiment. You've heard the saying “Rules are made to be broken,” but that only applies successfully when you know the rules to begin with.

22. It will never be perfect. I am a recovering perfectionist, so this is a hard lesson to accept but it is very important. An insistence on perfection will impair your progress. Sometimes we have to accept that something is good enough, learn from our mistakes, and move on.

23. Sometimes it will be hard; that's how you know it's worthwhile. One of the hardest things for me when I was learning to sew was installing sleeves and zippers. The fear and hangup was strong enough that I avoided sleeves and zippers for months! As a more experienced sewist, I urge you to tackle what seems scary or difficult. This way you learn by pushing your limits, and often the lessons are highly worth learning.

24. Learn to love your seam ripper. The seam ripper is your eraser when mistakes inevitably happen. You need to learn to love it.

25. Grainline matters. Straight of grain and cross grain on fabric will have different features. This is critical to understand when cutting out fabric for garments.

26. Find a mentor. I grew up with a handful of people in my life who sewed - my paternal grandmother and my godmother. I never asked them for sewing advice, and as an adult, I am remiss about the missed opportunity. However, I did find a friend and mentor in my sewing teacher in Fashion School, Marcia Roberts. Marcia taught me how to sew a pair of jeans, tailor a jacket, and sew tricky fabrics like lace and chiffon among other things. Her friendship has taught me many things besides, but in general, knowing Marcia and continuing our friendship even four years after I graduated has greatly enhanced my experience as a sewist and a human being.

27. Take risks. Use sewing notions, fabrics, and methods in unexpected ways - the results may surprise you!

28. Give back. It's instinct to want to sew for yourself, but it's also important to apply your talents for the benefit of others as well. It gives me great joy to make things for other people, which is one reason I'm so fortunate to teach Crafting for Purpose workshops at Mint Studio in 2018.

29. You will never be the best. And that's okay. Keep sewing and creating anyway.

30. Learn and pass it on.  This is why I've started Dear Daydream Sewing School. I have the benefit of years of experience (of success and failure) in sewing and even in the fashion industry, and I feel very privileged when I am able to share this knowledge and experience with others. So if you want to learn to sew, email me at janelle@deardaydream.com!

Phew, that was quite a list; that's what happens when you become this old! But in seriousness, I've learned a lot and still have a lot left to learn.

It's all a process, and it's not always easy, but such is life, right?

So here is to 30, the lessons I've learned, and the lessons to learn still.


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For more reading....

To learn about my DIY Wedding Dress, please click here.

To read more about Janelle of Dear Daydream Sewing & Design, please click here.

If you are new to sewing, consider a sewing class with Janelle, or read blog posts related to learning to sew.

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