30 lessons for 30

29 June 2021
7 min read

This is a compilation of different blog posts I’ve written over the years, reflecting on lessons learned. This was inspired by a spread in Elle magazine when Taylor Swift turned 30 a couple years ago.

  1. You can’t make someone care. I don’t know how scientists and psychologists study motivation.
  2. To each their own. Yes I know it’s not anything astounding, but when two siblings, growing up in the same environment and with the same parents can turn out so differently, then what does that say for our friends? We are lucky to find people in our lives that will support us and “understand” us. Forging a human connection is so hard. The fact that I’ve made so many of them makes me truly lucky.
  3. Treat yourself. At the end of the day, it’s your responsibility to take care of yourself and make sure you are happy. You are your own happiness, so why not treat yourself once in a while? Let yourself feel good.
  4. Advocate for yourself - a form of self-care. I was once told "no one cares about your career except you and your mother". Universal and accurate.
  5. You can have everything but you can’t have it all at once. An amazing quote from RBG that exemplifies a period in my life being surrounded by engagements, marriages, and babies. Everyone moves through their lives at a different pace with different expectations and goals.
  6. Get out of your own way. The more I've let go of my own unrealistic expectations for myself, the more it has organically led to. A fake sense of progress doesn't actually lead to anything.
  7. Stop being overly critical. As a designer, it’s my job to be critical of everything around me. But sometimes I think maybe my capabilities seep into my personal life and cause me to be too judgmental of those around me. Thus, I need to learn when to take a step back and let go.
  8. Find your definition for everything. Comparison is hard but create your own personal definitions of progress, success, and happiness. I’ve reframed some of those concepts for me to center around fulfillment, contentment, healing, positivity, self-care, and stability just to name a few. You also find your own definition for "success" or "productivity". Holding yourself accountable is different than working yourself to the bone to be "successful".
  9. Now or never. If you want to do something for yourself, do it now.
  10. Find clarity in actions, not words. Don't fluff around.
  11. Closure comes and goes. Just let it run through you.
  12. At the risk of being called a bitch, those toxic people aren't worth having in your life. Cut them out before they start to cut you.
  13. Don't keep aspirational "clothes". See people as they are, not as they should be. Fall in love with the reality of who someone is, not that ideas they project or the person they wish to be. Taking a page out of Marie Kondo's book, don't keep aspirational clothes.
  14. When it rains it pours. One of my closest friends told me that when bad things happen, they just all happen at once. All we can do is be patient and peaceful and wait for it to pass. When it rains, you just kinda wait inside and then eventually it will stop raining instead of lamenting.
  15. Basic beings. People come in layers. And sometimes they don’t. Overanalyzing someone is not worth the effort 99% of the time. Don’t spoil the simplicity of basic beings.
  16. Tell a story. You can never be everything. Deal with it. So from the things you do know how to do / show, tell an effective narrative. From the way you dress to the way you hold your body and articulate your thoughts, people listen and look by the way you present yourself. I wore a ring on my middle finger for over 7 years to look more “married”.
  17. It’s OK to want the things you want part 1. If you have tried various things and found what you want, why apologize for it? You’re setting yourself up for success by being upfront and honest about it with yourself and others. For example, I used to make fun of those people that used to say “I want to live near water”, and now I’ve realized I’m one of those people. If living near the water (or being able to have access to it) is going to make me X% happier, why can't I provide the conditions for living my best life?
  18. It’s OK to want the things you want part 2. I’ve really struggled with accepting privilege in my life. It’s important to understand the privilege in your life and what judgement you’re willing to live with, while still being open to the possibility of change. The question “are you trying to save the world or enjoy the world?” I ask myself regularly.
  19. It's OK to want the things you want part 3. What you want in your life changes over time, from wanting to travel to buying a home. And that is A-OK. In fact it's part of growing up.
  20. Surround yourself with your choices. Where you live, who your surround yourself with does matter. Nature vs nurture is a thing but there's quite a bit in your hands. Brush your teeth, floss, go for that run, eat gluten-free/dairy-free - your choices will affect the way you feel and make decisions.
  21. Everything is on a spectrum. From sexuality to pay scales to people’s empathy, all entities live on a spectrum. In design, we think about personas, essentially archetypes to design for. However, it’s also important to think about mindsets within personas, which just means you’re designing for people on a spectrum. When we think of intelligence, there is always someone smarter than you and someone stupider than you. And my biggest realization was that people in the Bay Area are all on the literal autistic spectrum.
  22. Nothing was, is, or will be perfect. From our parents’ marriages to their parenting styles to the “perfect job” or the way to get to that perfect job. There’s no such thing as perfect. And if something does look perfect, look at it from another person’s lens. If something is seemingly perfect, just wait for external factors and timing to change that.
  23. Kindness is itself is a form of intelligence. We see critical and skeptical people as highly intelligent. And as someone who has always tried to surround herself with intelligence, I've often surrounded myself with extremely biting and pessimistic people. But what I've realized is that kindness in itself is a form of intelligence. In an age where sarcasm and dark humor built into our natural expressions of emotions, there is more effort around being positive and moving forward than just harping on what doesn't work. There’s already a lot of darkness in modern day culture, why live in that darkness all the time? As humans our celebrations with family and friends actually center around the seasons and the amount of light out in the world, so why don’t we embrace that within ourselves as well? Refer to previous blog post.
  24. Hard work is a form of intelligence. A rockstar pilot I work with often says "the harder a person works, the luckier they get". I still remember my middle school Algebra teacher telling me just that. I value those that work hard cause they understand what it means to get results.
  25. You may be fair but the world is not. I gave this advice to a friend a long time ago and I see it replaying all around me, particularly in the corporate world.
  26. What's on paper isn't what it is in person. Even if someone comes from a healthy family, doesn’t mean they are healthy. Everyone has had struggles and attempt to level them does nothing.
  27. Invest in your people. You wouldn't be where you are without them.
  28. Balance is always a process rather than a goal. I often find myself asking what is the balance between staying in your own reality tunnel and feeling safe vs understanding the world and feeling uncomfortable? Answer: there isn't one. We're just tinkering it into existence. We are in constant allostasis.
  29. Radical acceptance. "I know I'm an adult by the fact that I've accepted we can't be together in this life." Applies to relationships of all kinds. Mourning is allowed but there is growth that comes out of grief as well.
  30. Resilience is a muscle. Walking away isn't quitting, it's knowing you haven't lifted in a while and will eventually dust off your weights.

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I acknowledge and pay respect to the Traditional Custodians on whose land I live, play, and work. I pay my deepest respects to all Indigenous Elders past, present and emerging.

© Feb 2024 Vinita Israni
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