Advice To My Younger Self

Good advice for everyone irregardless of age!
Print by Teo Zirinis and available at Society6


A while ago I heard about some middle-aged bloggers who were giving advice to their 20 year old self. I might not be middle-aged, but with my 30th birthday a mere one day away (!!!), I can’t help but think about everything I’ve learned over this past decade of life. Your twenties are all about growth and exploration and change and progress. You learn who you are and what you want to get out of this one life of yours.

And so I got to thinking. If given the chance, what advice would I give my 20-year-old self?

Here are just a few nuggets of wisdom I came up with:

  • That pixie cut you are considering getting? Don’t do it. It’s the worst haircut you will ever get and it will take years to grow out. Bad move.
  • Stop over-analyzing and worrying about every little thing. There are some things that are out of your control and worrying about them won’t help anything. Life has a way of working out, even if you don’t understand it at the time.
  • Be nicer to your Mom. As dysfunctional and crazy as your relationship may be, she is the only one you’ve got and she loves you more than anything in the world. (note to present self – you should heed this advice as well!)
  • The things that have scared you the most have generally ended up being the best things you’ve ever done. Trust your instincts, and don’t let fear hold you back.

But really, thinking back to what my 20-year-old self would have liked to hear the most, the advice that I would have appreciated more than all the others? Well, it would be this:

  • Stop freaking out being a virgin. IT’S OKAY. You will not die alone as a sexless virgin spinster living with your mother, and though it might feel like it, you are you are not the oldest virgin in the world. Before college is over you will fall in love with someone great, and you will have sex, and it will be great! Stop freaking out. In ten years from now, the age you lost your virginity really won’t be a big deal. Trust me.
    (ohhhh look at me, talking about sex on my blog…I feel like I just crossed a blog line…)

Do you have any little pearls of wisdom you’d like to give your younger self, if you had the chance? Please leave a comment and let me know… regardless of your age I’m really curious!

Me at 20 (possibly 19).
Yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking with those crispy curls either.
JustineDecember 11, 2012 - 8:56 am

Ha, I love all of these. Happy {almost} Birthday!

Sharon GreenthalDecember 11, 2012 - 9:29 am

I love reading this and knowing that our bloghop inspired you to look back on being 20. All of your words of advice are so wise! Thanks so much for linking back to my post.

Erin @ Empirically ErinDecember 11, 2012 - 4:08 pm

Lol I did a post like this too. The 20′s are so interesting/difficult at times. I so wish I had the advice of my older self… :)

Aspiring KennedyDecember 11, 2012 - 6:00 pm

Yes, advice against experimental hairstyles should be a must. I still have trust issues when searching for someone to cut my hair.

JessicaDecember 11, 2012 - 7:05 pm

Ok, no pixie cuts. But are bangs ok?!

Along the same lines, I’d add- Trust your gut! And don’t be a lemming.

StephanieDecember 12, 2012 - 6:09 am

Great advice! I would definitely warn my 20-yr old self against a few haircuts and some fashion choices. Crispy curls were popular 10 years ago. My college roommate had curly hair and used some kind of gel stuff to make them a little crisp. I remember being so jealous she could do that!

BBDecember 12, 2012 - 6:50 am

Happy Birthday! I like this – especially the one about fear and not letting it hold you back. You are so right! I didn’t do the advice to my younger self, but on my birthday this year I compiled a list of things that I have learned in my {short} time of life. One of the things I posted was about fear as well!

jeanDecember 12, 2012 - 11:04 am

i want to see that curly hair do make a come back in your 30′s! haha love it!

Say Yes!


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The other day I read an article titled “18 Things You Should Say Yes To,” which is, well, a list of 18 things that you should say yes instead of no to. I have mentioned before that I’m working on saying “no” less often, and while my goal isn’t necessarily to say no less often to invitations or events (I have a hard time turning down invitations, if anything), there are certainly times I find that my immediate response is NO.

Obviously, it is not realistic to say yes to everything (which is something I frequently have to remind myself, especially during the holidays), but as the article states “the sometimes overwhelming pace of modern life can make it tempting to operate in a default no mode. No to weeknight plans, no to the spontaneous drink or coffee with a friend, no situations or projects that are challenging but might ultimately help us grow. When you say yes to something — even when it can be time-consuming or intimidating or difficult — you open yourself up to a payoff that can make you question how you even thought about saying no.”

Though the list is rather juvenile it still made me smile, so I thought I’d share it here.

Say Yes to…

1. A day spent in your pajamas. Um, I have no problem saying yes to this. In fact, I probably say yes a bit too often. I can be quite a sloth. I’m very skilled in the art of doing nothing.

2. “Friday Night Lights.” Or “The Wire.” Or “Breaking Bad.” The article suggests any show that you have heard great things about but that you don’t feel like you have the time to commit to watching, and to that I say HELL YES! I have yet to find a show I love more than the phenomenal Friday Night Lights, and it is worth watching every single minute of it. I still miss Coach and Tami. And Saracen. And Riggins…oh, how I miss Riggins! According to the article, you deserve it, and you absolutely shouldn’t feel guilty about spending a whole day watching back to back episodes. I’m sure others would beg to differ, but hey, I’ll take it!

3. That salted caramel ice cream sundae. Life is short, eat dessert first. That’s my motto and I’m sticking to it.

4. Some help. As the Beatles said, “I get by with a little help from my friends.”

5. A party where you won’t know many people. I despise standing around awkwardly and engaging in random small talk with strangers, desperately hoping that someone will talk to me and make me feel like less of a loner, so this is tough for me. But, the article says bring a friend at least stop by. You never know whom you might meet and where life can take you.

6. Vacation days. Yet another thing I have no problem saying yes to. The reason I work is so I can take vacation. I’m always boggled by people who have a huge build up of vacation days. That’s never happened to me. I’m consistently verging on the red.

7. A long phone call with your friend who lives far away. This is something I need to work on. New years resolution 2013.

8. New technology. I don’t think bloggers have a problem with this, but I would certainly like to be better at some things. Photoshop. Illustrator. Finally learning to use my camera. 

9. Your naturally wavy hair. My “naturally wavy hair” is straight as can be with random sections of fizz. Not my best look. I’ll be passing on that. 

10. An electronic diet. Earlier in the year Kevin and I tried to institute a “no TV Tuesday” rule in our house. But instead of watching TV we basically just sat on our computers. I think I need to step it up a notch and institute a “no technology Tuesday.” I spend way too much time attached to devices.

11. A completely unnecessary but completely awesome outfit. A few years ago I was in Miami and I saw a dress in a window and became entranced. It was like I was under a spell. I walked in, pointed at the dress, and then handed my credit card over. It was ridiculously expensive, and to this day it is still the the most money I’ve ever spent on a cocktail dress. I was unemployed and in grad school so I shouldn’t have been spending money on something so frivolous, but you know what? I felt fantastic in it, and I was going through a phase where I’d been feeling the opposite of fantastic. I wore it that night and felt amazing. It was completely unnecessary but completely worth it. 

12. Tahitian dance lessons. Or yoga. Or Zumba. Or African dance. Basically something that is out of your element. I’m quite certain it is not possible for my hips to move anything close to this, but I’m willing to try. After all, I did take African dance in college, so I can’t be that bad…anyone want to join?

13. Romance. Single or taken, a little romance is always a good thing.

 14. Britney Spears, the karaoke version. Much to the dismay of those around me, I always say yes to Karaoke (though Britney Spears not so much). 

15. Lunch away from your desk. I go crazy if I sit inside all day so I usually step out, even if it’s not long. Fresh air is vital to productivity.

16. An uncluttered inbox. Oh god. I can’t even imagine. My inbox is a disaster.

17. Dinner with an older person in your life. I don’t really have a lot of older people in my life, but this is a good reminder to prioritize those I do have.

18. The idea that things are going to work out. I really truly believe that everything happens for a reason, and I try my best to trust that things will work out. It’s a much better way of living life than being constantly worried and anxious. Easier said than done, but I try my best. 

And there you have it.  Number seven and number ten are the two that resonated most deeply with me.

What do you think? Is there anything on the list you’d like to say yes to more often?

JessicaDecember 10, 2012 - 7:13 am

I’d say #5 would be the hardest for me. I have a hard time talking to people I don’t know. I constantly doubt myself and think I look like an idiot, so I really try to avoid those situations. I’ll work on it.

I’m always down to saying yes to dessert and new tv shows- those would be easy!

LaurenDecember 10, 2012 - 7:50 am

#6 and #15… I need to stop working so much!! I need a vacay!
I loves this post Serena! So fun!

nancy @ adore to adornDecember 10, 2012 - 10:30 am

I would love to say yes to so many items on your list! Some I already say yes to far too often (uhm…#3 and variations of #3) and others I need to incorporate more (#5, 7, 16 and 18).
Plus, being positive really reflects in life. Or so it seems!

nicole marieDecember 10, 2012 - 12:07 pm

these are all so great. have you watched homeland? 2 days and on episode 5… holy moly so good!

ritaDecember 10, 2012 - 8:27 pm

i love this post! i need to learn to say yes to help and to embrace my curls, also! like you, i always say yes to vacations, dessert, and lunch! :)

StephanieDecember 12, 2012 - 6:23 am

That last one is a biggie for me. I stress so much about things (perfect example: I’ve woken up around 4:30am two of the last three days because of stress) and yet I know things will work out eventually. I just can’t seem to really accept that and let things happen naturally, though.

And definitely yes to all those tv shows you mentioned! FNL was one of my all-time fave shows. We just started Breaking Bad a few weeks ago and are almost finished with season 3. It’s fantastic. Def a must-see show!

Wine + Friends = Happy Heart


So very true.

I am thankful for so many things in my life, but good wine and good friends are two things at the very top of my list. Last night I went to my friend Andrea’s art show, and I was able to indulge in both.

It was wonderful.

Happy Friday!

May your weekend involve good wine and exquisite friends!


ReneeDecember 8, 2012 - 12:33 am

And those are two of my absolute favorite things! Both at the same time equals an amazing time usually.

P.S. San Fran is in my top fives of favorite cities and the view from your house is amazing. Officially jealous! :)

JessicaDecember 8, 2012 - 11:57 am

I feel the same way! Cheers to the weekend!

nicole marieDecember 9, 2012 - 8:18 am

my favorite things! wine and friends!!

I Believe…

That the Book of Mormon musical is the best theatrical show I’ve seen in a very long time.

On Tuesday night Kevin and I saw the Tony award-winning musical Book of Mormon, and let me tell you, I don’t think I have laughed that much during a live performance ever. Seriously. It was knee-slapping, side-aching hilarious (I think I may have actually slapped my knee). (I also may have peed my pants a little bit, I was laughing that hard.)

If it’s coming to your area, you must go see it. Even if you don’t usually like musicals, you will like this. A lot of my girlfriends’ significant others have seen it, and so far, every single guy has been a fan. We had nose bleed seats and it was still fantastic.

Below is a video of the number “I Believe” from the 2012 Tony Awards:


(and you can listen to the whole soundtrack on spotify here, my favorite of which *I think* is “Baptize Me”, but “Turn it Off” is a close second)

It is completely sold out in San Francisco, but every night they hold a limited number of tickets for each show to be sold through a lottery. You just have to go to the box office 2.5 hours prior to the performance to put your name in, and then half an hour later, names will be drawn at random. If you are lucky you just scored yourself two awesome $32 tickets. This may sound rather annoying, but the show is so good that I think it is totally worth it. I might even do a lottery another night and try to see it again, it was just that good.

Have you seen the Book of Mormon? What did you think?

P.S. If you are in the San Francisco area, my friend Andrea is having an art show tonight at Elle-même.
Check it out if your near the neighborhood!
KristenDecember 6, 2012 - 12:14 pm

Awesome! I have tickets to see this in February, and now I am even more excited!

MichelleDecember 7, 2012 - 3:36 am

Oh I wanna see this so bad! I’ve heard such great things! I don’t even know what the show is about at all, but from all the awesome reviews, I need to see it!!! When we get back to San Fran, I’ll definitely have to do that lottery thing! In fact, you can show me in person :)

DJDecember 9, 2012 - 1:22 pm

I’m so excited to see this in February! I’m glad you loved it.

On Turning 30


Card available at Sad Shop Etsy Store

In exactly one week, I will be entering a new decade.

I turn 30 on 12/12/12 (pretty awesome date, am I right?), and I’m not really sure how I feel about it.

It’s not that I’m upset to be turning 30, but more so that I can’t really wrap my ahead around the fact that my twenties are over. For so long I’ve defined myself as a twenty-something, but suddenly, in less than one week, I won’t be.

So now I’m going to be a thirty-something? I certainly don’t like feel like a thirty-something. I don’t feel old enough to be a thirty-something. In my mind, a thirty-something is someone who has kids, a house (perhaps a wine cellar!), a SUV, and mom-hair, and I just don’t identify with any of those things yet. Hell, Kevin is 36 and I don’t identify him with those things yet!

When Kevin and I first started dating, I was 24, and he had just turned 31. I thought he was ooooooooooold. What could me and an “older man” possibly have in common?

 (Truth be told, I actually thought he was closer to 40 when we first met. The only bald men I knew were at that age, so his bald head threw me for a loop!).

But then I got to know him, and his friends, and I realized that being in your 30s wasn’t all that different than being in your 20s. You still enjoy the same things, you just have more responsibility (and with that, hopefully, more money), and your hangovers are just a whole lot worse.

But now that I’m a mere week away from entering this new decade of my life, it still feels rather surreal. When I was younger, I thought 30 was the epitome of being an adult. It was old. You had your shit figured out by the time you were 30. You were a Grown-Up with a a capital G. I think that’s why so many people get so depressed around birthdays, specifically around big ones, like your 30th. You have to reconcile all your preconceived notions of where you thought you would be with the reality of where you actually are.

I thought I’d have a lot of anxiety entering this new age, but surprisingly, I don’t. I think I got it all out of my system when I turned 29, because suddenly I started freaking out that I was almost 30 and hadn’t done all of the things I thought I would have done by the time I turned 30. I started panicking that I only had one year left to accomplish all of my life goals. To get it “all figured out.” I’d compare myself to other people around my age that I deemed far more successful than myself and feel like a total failure. Mark Zuckerberg. Natalie Portman. Ben Silbermann. Kate Middleton.

Realistic, right? Hey, I never said I wasn’t a tad bit dramatic.

Fortunately, I quickly realized what I’m sure you already know: that is bullshit. Alas, I am not a Harvard engineer, nor am I a royal, and some of the most interesting people in the world didn’t have any idea what they wanted to do with their life at 30. Julia Child didn’t even start cooking until she was 37!

And when I really think about it, I’m not all that far off from where I hoped I would be at this age. I’m married to my favorite person in the world. I live in a city I adore. I have phenomenal friends and family. I travel often. I walk to work in the morning (when I’m not too lazy) and I frequently meet friends for happy hour downtown. My social calender is consistently full of events and activities that make me happy. It’s not a bad place to be.

So as I fast approach the big 3-0, I can’t help but reflect on this past decade of life. My twenties were such a huge and monumental time in my life, full of change and growth and awesomeness. I packed a lot into them, and I’m glad I did. I had a blast.

10 years ago I was in college in Colorado.
9 years ago I was studying abroad in Italy.
8 years ago I was working in a bar in Edinburgh, Scotland.
7 years ago I was backpacking around Southeast Asia.
6 years ago I moved to San Francisco.
5 years ago I met Kevin.
2 years ago I got my Master’s degree.
1 year ago I got married.

I loved my 20s. Of course there were times that were less than fabulous, times where I was completely confused and miserable and heartbroken, certain that life as I knew it was over (again, I can be a bit dramatic). But overall? They were pretty great. They’ve been the best years of my life thus far, so while I can’t say I’m happy to see them go, I can say that I’m more excited to see what this new decade of life has in store for me. Just because I loved my 20s doesn’t mean I can’t love my 30s too. It doesn’t mean that 30 won’t be just as awesome. It’s a new phase. A new chapter.

So to my 30′s, I say: Bring it on. Let’s rock the shit out of this decade.

(But, I beg of you, please don’t slow my metabolism down too much. Please. My 30s will be far less enjoyable if wine and chocolate are no longer a part of it.)

In the meantime, any suggestions as to how I should spend my last week of my twenties are welcome and encouraged. I’ve got one week left and have every intention of leaving this decade with a bang!

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LaurenDecember 5, 2012 - 9:25 am

30 is going to be AMAZING!! I can’t believe all the different places you have traveled to in your 20′s! You are one lucky lady! Happy almost Birthday!

StephanieDecember 5, 2012 - 10:30 am

I will be 31 next month and I still haven’t fully adjusted to being in my 30s. I definitely thought I’d be financially stable by now and make some real headway in my career, but my decision to leave my law firm job and start a photography business just two weeks before turning 30 kinda threw a big wrench in those plans. I’m trying to shake all my preconceived ideas about what it means to be in your 30s and just appreciate each day for what it is. It’s a lot easier said than done, though. I love your attitude towards the whole thing and I hope you have a wonderful final week as a 20-something!!

Stephanie (Big Mario Life)

also a SF blogger :)

Nicole MarieDecember 5, 2012 - 10:43 am

it’s so funny how when we’re younger we think a certain age means being a certain way. or that by a certain age we’ll have done certain things. sheesh. so not true at all.
I definitely freak out about it sometimes. especially when i think about where i thought i would be when i was 26 almost 27 but gosh i’m so glad i’m not where my “plans” were because this is way better!

JessicaDecember 6, 2012 - 4:39 pm

Your 30th birthday is going to be your GOLDEN birthday! You known 12/12. That’s amazing!

I think we always think we are going to have everything figured out by the next year. But wow, look at how much you’ve accomplished in the past decade.

And gosh, I love your flair for the dramatic!

rebeccaDecember 7, 2012 - 3:06 pm

I loved this entry! I had a bit of a meltdown when I turned 25 this past August because I felt like I should have accomplished more by now. But then I started to look at all the wonderful things I have in my life and realized things are good, and could definitely always be a lot worse.

Totally jealous of your travelling adventures by the way. I seriously need to get my passport and see what this world has to offer!

ReneeDecember 8, 2012 - 12:37 am

And rock the shit out of it, I’m sure you will!! And again… incredible jealousy of all your travels.

Aspiring KennedyDecember 11, 2012 - 7:11 pm

Congratulations on the big 3-0! After seeing all of the amazing things you were able to do in your 20s I can see why it may be bittersweet to say goodbye to those years. But it’s crazy to think about what this next decade will have in store for you.

Happy Birthday To Me! | SpillerenaDecember 12, 2013 - 9:29 am

[…] past year has just flown by. It honestly feels like yesterday that I wrote these posts on turning 30, and yet here it is already a full year later. It’s crazy to […]