30 things I learned in my 20s

30 things I learned in my 20s
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People keep asking me if I’m worried about turning 30, which I think is an odd thing to ask. Like, “Are you worried about continuing to exist?” Not really, no. I’m actually really excited to hit my thirties. I certainly don’t think I’ve peaked, but I do feel happier and healthier and more capable than ever before.

Plus, I didn’t exactly enjoy my twenties. I found it to be a restless decade full of insecurity and self doubt, but I definitely learned a whole lot about who I am and what I want. Here are 30 of those things…

Katie Levans 20

(1) Family is your constant.
Always. No matter what. My dad and I could not possibly disagree on more social, political, environmental or culinary topics. But Levans blood runs a whole lot thicker than watered down political debates. We are who we are first and what we think second and that is forever.

(2) There’s never enough money or time so spend both wisely.
When you get your paycheck, consider whether or not you’re financing a life you actually want to live. If you spend all your time giving your talents to achieve someone else’s dream while sacrificing the precious hours that are your life, it might be time to reevaluate. Time is the new currency.

(3) Stop making excuses for the wrong partner because being with them sucks slightly less than being alone.
Dear god, just be alone.

(4) The worst gets worse but the best keeps getting better.
Buckle up, it’s a wild ride.

(5) Moisturizer is so important.
This cannot be stressed enough. Collagen is a natural resource in limited supply. Buy the eye cream. Trust me.

collagen mask

(6) No one has it figured out.
Our online lives are an illusion and no matter how perfect they may look, we all know the messy behind-the-scenes reality of our own lives. For some reason, we think everyone else is immune to this mess. They’re not. We’re all human.

(7) Cucumbers are good.
I refused to eat cucumbers for a solid 28 years until they appeared on a plate of fried cheese at Kebab Grill. Sometimes we only think we hate something because we avoided it for a lifetime. Also sometimes we just need some fried cheese to ease us into new territory.


(8) Saying no is ok and, in fact, encouraged.
You know when someone invites you to something and you don’t really want to go but you feel guilty so you say yes assuming no one will notice if you don’t show and then you stress about how to get out of it and then you bail at the last second? Well, people do notice and it’s not nice. Just say no from the beginning. Half-assing social interactions is a lose-lose situation. Go all in or don’t go.

(9) Being alone is healthy.
No matter where you go or who you’re with, you’re going to be there so you’ve got to learn to deal with and love and appreciate and forgive you first. Alone time is good for that. Figure you out.

(10) Quality over quantity when it comes to friends, alcohol and cats.
I’ve learned to max out my apartment at 3 cats, my nights at 3 drinks and my life to about 10 true, til-death-do-us-part friends.


(11) It’s ok to change your mind.
I love being wrong. Being wrong is awesome because it means you learned something and also that you were big enough and brave enough to say, “Whoops. You know what? I was wrong and I completely messed up so I’m changing my mind now.” I’ve done this with jobs and relationships and foods and everything. It’s ok.

(12) Vegas is so overrated.
I can sweat, waste money and eat expensive food anywhere else on earth, thanks.

(13) You only get this one body so take care of it.
My poor body. I used to feed it as little as possible and beat it up with exercise as punishment. It took getting into my twenties to learn to approach food as fuel and exercise as a joy and a privilege. I traded gross processed chemical-laden diet foods for a fresh whole clean plant-based diet. It changed everything.


(14) Beyonce is the way and the truth and the light.
Bow down.

(15) You are not the center of the universe.
I used to think everyone was watching me just waiting for me to fail. This level of self-centeredness is rooted in insecurity that I’ve abandoned for the reality that I am just not that important. Get over yourself and go mess stuff up. It’s fun and a good way to learn.

(16) Travel is always worth it.
Buy the ticket. Take the trip. Invest in experiences, not things.

Tanzania 2014

(17) Yoga pants are definitely pants and can be worn anywhere.
Don’t care what anybody says.

(18) Understand your money.
When it comes to cash, knowing what you’ve got, what you need and what you want is empowering as hell. Set up a recurring automatic transfer from checking to savings each month and pay yourself first, bills second, everything else last. Max out your IRA contributions every year. Don’t spend money you don’t have.

(19) There’s no universal definition of success.
Marriage, home ownership, parenthood, paychecks with lots of zeroes… They’re important to some people but not to others. They happen in your twenties for some but not for others.


(20) What you say about other people says more about you than it does about them.
So perhaps say good things.

(21) The higher the pants, the harder the party.
The older I get, the higher my waist of my pants climbs. When my belt is somewhere up around my sternum I mean business and we’re about to rage. And by “rage” I mean have three drinks and get home lucid and early enough to wash my face and get in bed at a decent hour.

higher waist, harder party

(22) There is no greater joy than staying in on a Saturday night on purpose.
Bravo!, sweatpants, snacks.

sweatpants on saturday

(23) Cheering other people on is way more fun than competing.
Life isn’t like a sporting event where one person winning means another has to lose. So there’s no reason to take sides or race to the top. There’s plenty of success to go around especially if we foster a community of support and collaboration.

(24) Being busy doesn’t mean being productive.
Learn how, where and when you work best and then max out at those intervals so you can go live your life.

(25) Mom is always right.
You know it’s true.

Katie and Mom

(26) You are too old to shop at Forever 21.
Accept it. Embrace it.

(27) Drop your baggage and move on.
Letting go–of people, things and thoughts–frees up space in your life for new, bigger, better things.

(28) Everybody poops.
Sometimes when I’m intimidated by someone I think is better or smarter or more worthy than I am, I just mentally acknowledge them as a participant in this universally vulnerable biological act and then suddenly everybody’s on the same playing field.

(29) Quaint old apartments are cute until they’re full of roaches.
New construction for life.

apartment view

(30) These are not the best years of your life.
How depressing would that be if they were? Like, “Oh sorry, you just peaked ¼ of the way through your life. It’s all downhill from here, old lady.” No. Life is awesome and if you live it assuming every day gets a little bit better than the last, then these are actually the worst years of your life. These, your fun, fearless, carefree twenties can and will get even better. And that, I think, makes aging all the more exciting.

kid wisdom

So hello, 30. I’m ready to learn some more things.

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