Evan Rachel Wood shares the greatest life lessons she learned in her twenties

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Sarah Biddlecombe
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Turning 30 can be a pretty significant milestone in a person’s life.

After all, the big 3-0 not only marks the end of your twenties, but also ushers in a new and (potentially) more grown-up era.

But however you feel about turning 30, it’s likely that you’ll have learnt plenty of life lessons along the way – and its this kind of hard-earned wisdom that will set you up for whatever you do in the future.

With this in mind, actor Evan Rachel Wood has shared a whole host of her own thoughtful, brilliant and, ultimately, empowering life lessons to mark her 30th birthday – and her advice will resonate with people of all ages.

If there’s anyone who’s qualified to give advice about making it through your twenties its Wood, who survived multiple sexual assaults and two suicide attempts during the decade, as well as coming out as bi and ending a number of engagements.

Writing in NYLON, the actor said, “I very easily could have been dead in my twenties... So every second is a gift.

“I can let my past empower me, rather than define me and my thoughts about myself. I can stand taller, but more humbled and with less to prove.”

Adding that the greatest life lesson she has learnt so far is “that there is always more to learn”, Wood proceeded to share her 21 life lessons.

Here, we have shared five of the most inspiring.

Don’t live in fear

“Don’t worry about things being too good. Don’t be anxious because you are waiting for something bad to happen because I got news for you: Eventually, bad things happen. They always do. It’s life. And sometimes we can be so scared of bad things happening, that we unconsciously move toward them. We fumble the ball, we react without thinking, we make rash decisions, we say things we don’t mean. We get in our own way because we are operating out of fear. Everything is temporary, even the good times. So it’s better to be happy and enjoy the moment until the next unexpected bad thing happens, which you will survive – you have survived every bad day so far.

And if you do your best with good intentions, then you can move on with your head held high. You will fail more than you succeed, and if you didn’t learn your lesson the first time, don’t worry, the universe will serve it right back up for round two, three, four, or as many rounds as it takes before the lesson really lands.”

Learn to say ‘no’

“Learn how to say no, without guilt. Sometimes our answers will hurt people, and it’s hard, but living a lie is harder for all parties involved. Lying to protect people hurts them more in the long run. So tell the truth at all costs. Give people a little more credit about having the ability to understand. Dr. Seuss said it the best, ‘Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.’”

Practise forgiveness

“This was one of the hardest lessons for me. I learned that you must forgive. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting. It doesn’t mean you accept just anyone back in your life, and it doesn’t absolve someone of their sins. It’s actually for you. It’s to free you from the anger you carry, which will eventually become poison. You don’t punish people by staying angry, you only punish yourself.

Forgiveness is really just understanding. Try to find yourself in people as much as you can, that’s where forgiveness starts. If you do choose to forgive someone and keep them in your life, you cannot punish them for the same crime forever. Forgiving someone and keeping them around means you move on. Let go. It’s not fair to all the imperfect people in the world – which is everyone – to hold a mistake over someone’s head indefinitely to use as ammo when you need it. You’re on a power trip. Step off.”

Have good thoughts

“Tell yourself good things about yourself. This one is actually really hard. Why do we feel so silly giving ourselves compliments but welcome the bad thoughts no problem? Your thoughts shape your world, so make ’em good. Practice this every day. Eventually, you will retrain your mind. How you feel about yourself becomes your truth – period. So steer your thoughts in a positive direction, everything else will follow.”


“Every day. Every chance you get. Dream big. Dream without limits and let go of all that fear of embarrassment. Let go! Jump in. Whatever project you are thinking about, start it. Just start. Start somewhere. Get better little by little until you are flying. Get lost in your thoughts. Learn how to manifest. Dream as much as you can. Everything starts off as a dream before it becomes reality. Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you. Make your own things. Believe in yourself. Sometimes you gotta be the one to make the move. To quote Almost Famous: ‘Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.’

All of this advice is much easier said than done, but everything is easier said than done. It’s whether or not you are willing to do the work. It’s all a balancing act. So just use your best judgment and learn from mistakes.”

You can read the full feature in NYLON here

Images: Rex Features / iStock