It seems I have reached that age, as in, the one where I don’t advertise my age as often or as freely. I didn’t mind broadcasting that I was 28, or 29, but something shifted after 31—I became a 30-something year old whenever I’d talk about my age. In part, because I couldn’t always remember: was I 32? 33? 34?. Unfortunately that won’t work this year. This is the mini milestone before the next big big milestone, and calling myself a 30-something just doesn’t roll off the tongue as innocently as it did in my “youth.” 

Anyhow, in honor of turning [the age I am about to turn], I skimmed through old journals from the past few years and began making a list of 30-something things I’ve learned in my 30’s thus far. You know, my tattoos: the things I’ve learned so many times that they have become a permanent part of me. Second nature.

And since I have a knack for oversharing, I thought “Why not polish it up and publish it on the internet?” So, without further ado here’s 30-something tattoos I got in my 30-something years thus far:

(Or; guess which Friends character I am…]

1. Microwave reheat settings. Turns out they aren’t just ‘for show’. Who knew. Bonus: they usually don’t leave my microwave looking like a crime scene. 

2. Wiping down the shower while I’m in the shower. (Kinda gross? Yeah, maybe. But way less gross than scrubbing it on ‘dry land’ and having that stream of water run down the side of my arm.)

3. Graduated from just cleaning to—fully replacing—my vacuum’s filter as instructed by the user manual. It’s like a whole new vacuum every time. Absolute witchcraft.

4. Speaking of, the vacuum hose is also my secret weapon in ousting crumbs in the refrigerator, oven, reusable grocery bags, the area around the dryer lint trap, etc.

5. Egg shells remove egg shells. Occasionally when I crack an egg a piece of shell falls in and absolutely refuses to get out of the pool. Then I learned about the eggshell trick; take the main eggshell and use it to ‘cut through’ the egg white goo and scoop that elusive little troublemaker out super easily. Crunchy-free eggs. Voila.

6. Apparently the pointy end of a potato peeler is meant for gouging out the ‘eyes’ of the potato?! Never knew!


7. “How long will this take?” …Whatever it is, my standard guesstimate is 1.5 times however long I think it should.


8. Setting up my phone so that it behaves more like—an actual phone—and not an addictive, time sucking dopamine/distraction device.

9. Unfollow, unfollow, unfollow. (Mostly influencers and people I don’t know IRL, which was an accidental hack towards making IG less enticing and mindless. #winning.)


10. Cutting out refined carbs will help you lose weight.

11. But they taste good.


12. Flying Comfort plus. At 5′ tall it’s not like I need the leg room, but it’s still 1000% worth if you have the means to splurge for it on longer flights.


13. If you have an opportunity to go on vacation with your friends, take it. Every time. You will not regret it. The nitty gritty will work itself out.

14. On outgrowing friendships:
20’s me (to 15-20 of my “closest friends”): we are best friends and it will stay this way forever, it must!!!
30’s me: has a handful of close friends, and is 10000% okay with that.

15. Communicate clearly! Meaning, if you’ve got boundaries or something to say, don’t wait for an invitation, just say it.

16. The ball is our own court, always. 
Even if we reached out and they haven’t responded. Even if we reached out ‘first’ last time and the time before that and so on. Because if we want to connect with someone, then we should connect. (And be specific about time/place).


(Have been doing morning pages (journaling) semi-consistently for 3ish years now!)

17. Pie graph journaling. Some days I struggle to fill 3 pages, so I came up with pie graph journaling. Which is a made up method where the pie represents what’s on my mind. Step 1: Draw a circle. Step 2: Draw an arbitrary sized wedge within the circle. Step 3: Let your stream of conscious come up with a label for that wedge. Step 4: Repeat steps 2 and 3 until the pie is all sliced up. Hopefully this makes sense?

18. Micro-journaling. Which is, some days I struggle to fill 3 pages…so I don’t. It’s a win as long as I manage to write something.


19. Forget about 50-50. When The Overwhelm creeps in, Clay and I started asking “what’s your capacity at?” …If our combined total isn’t at least 100% then that’s our cue to step back, phone it in, and lower the bar. We cancel plans, order takeout, do whatever it takes to make up for the deficit.1

20. Sometimes I forget about grace until I’m frazzled out. So if I can remember, I like to jot out 2 or 3 permission slips in my planner/bullet journal at the start of the day. It’s like yoga, and breath, something I can come back to when I encounter resistance. “Why am I struggling so hard today? …Oh right: John Doe’s surgery is next week, we’re navigating a pandemic, and our washing machine broke last night.


(the heavy stuff)

I don’t lead with this at parties, but the word of my 30’s, so far, is….

21. Grief. Specifically of the earth shattering variety with its intense upheaval and wreckage. In fact, I’m still piecing myself together from some brutal trauma drama that broke me last year. (I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine.) 

So here are some of the tattoos I got on my journey back up from the bottom: 

22. Everything happens for a reason. Everything can be redeemed. 

23. We can (and should) trust our intuition, always. Even if it’s asking us to do wild and unconventional things. So far, in my 30’s, mine has asked me to take a sabbatical in Portugal, move far away from home, hike 100 miles around a mountain, get into open water swimming and take ice cold showers for months and months. Oddly enough each time it has been the exact medicine and dosage I needed. 

24. How to decide when to be vulnerable: “If my healing is dependent on your response, I’m not ready to share it.” –Brene Brown

25. Ask for help. Ask for help. Ask for help.

26. But also…people are people. (Beautifully) flawed. Which means they will let you down, even when (especially when) we feel you need them most. They will say the wrong thing, or nothing at all. They will not reach out, forget to check in, or flake out on being there for us “no matter what” like they said they would. We love them. But they are people. 

27. My mantra last year was “No one is coming to save me. There is no cavalry.” At the end of the day no one else is responsible for my happiness/well-being/healing/etc. Because even if we have incredible people in our tribe, we need to do most of the heavy lifting ourselves. Which seems like a really shitty tattoo but after the sting wears off it’s actually quite empowering.


28. It’s super obnoxious but I am constantly referring to myself as Past Katie, and Future Katie. It’s how I trick my brain into being incredibly kind and gracious to myself. I.e. “I’m going to clean so Future Katie can enjoy relaxing in a tidy apartment this weekend.” 

29. Set a timer for 5 minutes and do the impossible hard scary thing (you know, like doing dishes, exercising, or getting outside, etc.) until it goes off. Do more, but not less. We gotta parent ourselves. 

30. Get quiet. Slow down. Cancel plans. We can’t hear what our intuition is trying to tell us if we never sit still long enough to listen. 

31. Cold exposure. Months and months of cold showers, exclusively. It’s a pretty bad ass way to start the day but I mostly did it to ease the Depression. Because there’s no time to dwell on All The Sad Things when ice cold water is running down my back. And it also shifted my perspective. Because if I can endure the fresh hell of a cold shower, then surely I can handle All The Sad Things. 

But also…

32. Zoloft. I managed most of the year without it which is absolutely not a brag. I ran myself ragged trying to keep my head above water on my own, and “digging deep” until my physician said “let’s talk about this mental health survey you just filled out.” So I accepted the help I should’ve accepted months ago. I calked it my kickstand, my training wheels; something to keep me upright when I could no longer do that for myself, consistently, reliably. (currently off it, but am v grateful for the reinforcements.) 

33. Therapy. Ditto to Zoloft. I mistook being freakishly introspective for not needing a therapist and managed most of my life without one which is absolutely not a brag. I ran myself ragged trying to maintain my own mental health until my heart and soul said “can we please get a second opinion…from a professional?” So I listened this year, and found a great one on my first try, and I gotta say, there is no substitute. In this metaphor I am sinking and treading water, relying on buoys to keep me afloat and therapy is like a life preserver, and/or a lighthouse.


34. Life is not short. Life is long. So relax a little. Loosen up. Don’t worry so much. However…this moment *is* short.

So enjoy it. Honor it.

35. Be present for it. As often as you can remember. 
—How? Lately, my trick is to do everything in slow motion, which automatically activates my senses, which automatically draws me into the moment. This is especially luxurious when washing my hands, or dishes, or eating/drinking good things. Slows the heart rate right down. It’s a prayer.


It’s not a comprehensive list, and I’m sure there are all kinds of contradictions within it, but I think Future Katie is really going to appreciate looking back on this in the years to come. And I’m hoping that by making this list, I’ve done enough to trick my brain so that present Katie doesn’t spiral into an existential crisis on her birthday. :)

And shout out to my fellow elders. May we continue to have truly riveting and animated conversations about our favorite bed linens, the distinction between an okay guacamole and a great one, and GOD BLESS our nighttime routines and early bedtimes.

P.S. A lot of us are turning 30-something this year, so perhaps you have your own list of things? If so, I would love love love to see it. Send it over to katiejoycreates at gmail dot com!

1 I heard this on a podcast with Brene Brown but I don’t know which podcast or which episode. Also, I realize that Brene Brown has made several appearances on this list. That is all.

One thought on “30-something tattoos

  1. On your P.S. Still looking for that elusive mid 60’s Corvette coupe, must have side pipes. Stinger hood and of course mandatory 4 speed. Nor asking much. Lol. Cheers, Katie. Kate.

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