30 Things I Learned By Age 30

IG: raulfelix275

IG: raulfelix275

This year I hit the big Three-O, which means I’m no longer an overeager twenty-something who is trying to figure it all out to prevent becoming a failure in life. I am now a thirty-something who realizes he doesn’t need to have it all figured out to get the most out of life. This year I followed my standard operating procedure: worked, wrote, read books, worked out, chased after women, traveled, partied hard, and attempted to become a better version of myself than I was last year. Consequently, a few life lessons worked their way into my twisted thought process.


Solitude is a powerful tool for gaining control of your life. It allows you to traverse down that rabbit hole that is your mind and reflect on the events that molded you. During that long process, you will slowly and painfully begin to gain insight. What you do with that insight is what will determine the course of your life.


Whenever you seek advice, be fully aware of whom you’re seeking it from. Does the person whose counsel you’re taking into account have any practical experience in the matter? Or are their opinions formed from theory and an unrealistic idea of how things should or might be, not how they are?


When a woman is truly into you, she will find out everything she can about you on social media. She’ll look through your old statuses and photo albums. She’ll check out your exes if they’re still tagged in your photos. She’ll stalk every single female who comments or likes your updates. She may never let on that she does that, but she does. You do it, too; don’t lie.


The world of art is quite daunting. The task of creating something out of nothing is so tough that many stop themselves before they truly begin. The thing is that you have your experiences, your skills, the events that created you, all the lessons that you learned, and the conversations you endlessly analyzed in your mind. You own everything that you have done and has happened to you; use and embrace them.


Most traditional artistic education that is offered at universities is overrated. Those who attend such institutions are seeking permission to pursue their artistic endeavor from an authority figure more than anything else. One question I get asked often about my craft is if I went to school for it and I respond with a disgusted, “Fuck no.” I’m still working my way upwards in this art form, but through self-education and discipline I’ve accomplished more than most creative writing majors I’ve met.


Charlatans appear in all forms in this world. Beware those with grandiose promises of riches for little hard work or those who demand an unreasonable amount of handiwork for little reward. Both are a form of exploitation—one by taking advantage of your laziness and gullibility, and the other by taking advantage of your work ethic and ideals.


Staying in shape is simple. Not easy, but simple. Don’t try to overcomplicate it. Pick an exercise routine, do it right, push yourself, don’t always eat like a pig, and keep showing up for an extended period of time and it will get you somewhere.


Women have it easier when it comes to getting laid, but not in terms of finding a quality mate. A lot of guys fail at the most basic fundamentals of being a man. If you’re able to achieve those fundamentals, then you’ll be the kind of man women want to fuck.


If you want to do something extraordinary, don’t worry too much about the opinions of the ordinary folk.


Yet remember to remain humble about your accomplishments and respectful of those who have accomplished less than you. You are, after all, just another human being among billions.


Extremists of any sort have a disproportionate amount of pull. That’s because most people are moderate by nature, so they can’t be bothered to care about a certain issue until it becomes critical. There are bills to be paid and life to be lived, after all.


One day you or those close to you will die. It could be after you finish reading this or sixty years from now. The best way keep honoring those who have fallen before you is to live your life to the best of your ability.


Haters are gonna hate. I’ve lost friends, jobs, and potential lovers because of the words I write. I’ve been told I have no talent, that I should quit, that I should kill myself, that I should shut the fuck up, and that I need to keep my ideas to myself. These comments are usually left by emotional cowards who don’t even use their real names. It takes an uncommon amount of mental toughness to endure these slings and arrows launched by the trollish hordes. Yet I’m still here writing and most of those fuckers are forgotten. No one builds monuments for critics; only those who dare greatly earn their place in history.


You can still learn from your critics. Let your ego take constructive advice and apply it where you’re able. One of the most valuable skills you can learn in life is the ability to distinguish between genuine criticism and blind hatred spilled out by malicious mouth-breathers with a skewed perspective on life.


What is more gratifying than waking up next to a beautiful woman you deeply love naked in your arms each morning? Nothing.


Just because someone is famous doesn’t mean they’re smarter, better, or even more interesting than you are. I’ll indulge in the reality-TV junk food on occasion. I often can’t believe how many punk-ass bitch excuses of human beings make it on these shows. They’ll make a significant emotional event out of something that most normal human beings will brush off with a laugh.


Writing never gets easier. If you’re writing something worth a damn, then it requires you to constantly dig deep, trudging in order to find that moment of raw humanity. When you do, you’ll forget how hard it was until you have to search for that next moment.


The person who talks the most usually has the least to say.


Running up the steep hills of Ithaca, New York gave me a lot of time to think. One of my best epiphanies came to me during a particular run. As I was running through the campus of Cornell, I analyzed the faces and movements of the students as I passed them. They lacked awareness of their environment, eyes glued to their phones, bits of gossipy chitchat in that nasally tone of voice only college kids seem to have, and slumped postures as they went about their day. I thought to myself, “You motherfuckers aren’t smarter than me.” That doesn’t imply that I know everything, because I don’t. It means that you don’t need an elite education to be educated like an elite person.


You know how you get people to like you at your workplace? Work hard, make their job easier, and be cool.


Some friendships aren’t made to last forever. You will drift apart from some of the people who knew you best at a certain point in life. Your priorities and interests will change; so will theirs. There is no need to be resentful about it; just be grateful you had those friendships when you did.


The ability to shut the fuck up is very underrated.


Narrow-mindedness comes in many forms. Some of the most unaccepting and condescending people I’ve met in my life have been open-minded free-thinkers who believe you must think as they do or you’re an *insert term that discredits your opinions in an educated manner*. Some of the most accepting and welcoming people I’ve met have been those with a more traditional belief set.


Not every single chick is going to be into you. I wasted so much time and energy obsessing over why X or Y girl wasn’t into me when I felt I had all the qualities she should find attractive in a man—so much that I overlooked the chicks who were into me. No matter how high a caliber of a man you become, the chick whose bikini pictures you’ve been jerking off to from Facebook may still not pay you any attention because you’re not her type. Fuck it; move on without throwing a temper tantrum. There are over 3.5 billion women in the world; I’m sure a few million will dig you.


It’s easy to overestimate what you can accomplish in a day or week but underestimate what you can accomplish in a few years. At the age of 25, I decided I wanted to be a writer. I knew it was going to be tough as fuck, but I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t quit no matter what. There have been times that I have slacked, and it showed in my professional progress, but quitting never entered my mind. I have explored different styles of writing and have had successes and failures, but with each piece I struggled through I learned and gained more insight into this art form. I’m not a big name, but you can bet your ass that nearly everyone who knows me recognizes that I am a writer and a damned good one at that.


We humans have a tendency to glamorize our past. Veterans often look back on our military days as our glory years. We were a part of something bigger than ourselves and took part in history. We forget how overworked our bodies were, our nearly nonexistent social life, the lack of autonomy we had over our lives, the petty feuds we had with some cocksucker from our platoon, and how we couldn’t wait to get the fuck out. The past was tough; if it wasn’t, we wouldn’t take any pride in it.


They say time heals all emotional wounds, but some of them will leave scars as permanent reminders.


Common sense is not common.


Whether you love them or hate them, your family gave you the base foundation of who you are. I’ve been lucky to be blessed with such an amazing family that has supported me in whatever I decided to do, whether they understood my reasons or not. You may not see them for months or years, but the best gift you can give them is to make something productive out of yourself.


The artistic path is not linear. It requires a lot of suffering, loneliness, hopelessness, stagnation, and frustration. It requires others and yourself questioning your progress. It requires the constant feeling of failure. It requires you constantly doing the work. It’s a path that gives you countless opportunities to quit and no one will blame you for doing so. It’s one whose rewards are few and far apart. It’s a path without a destination, where scattered throughout will be the remnants of your heart and soul.

~Raul Felix

Read: 28 Things I’ve Learned By Age 28
Read: 29 Things I Learned By Age 29
Read: To My Future Wife: I Will Make You Proud To Have Me As Your Man

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The Love Of My Life From Age 25

A week ago, at the grizzled age of 30,
I reconnected with you, my love from the age of 25.
I wish you knew me as the man I am today,
Instead of the vulgar, drunken fool who was easily pissed
The one who chased away love at the age of 26.

I blame myself each and everyday,
For letting my ego chase away such an understanding lover,
One who understood my temperament and quirks,
Like no other.

I write this to you,
The former love of my life,
The one I met at 25.
Tears flowing down my cheek,
I apologize that my ego was so weak.

Two days with you was a tease of the life I could’ve had,
One I keep dreaming and longing for really bad,
But reality has kicked my ass,
And let me know the time of our romance has passed.

The realist in me says let go of all hope,
The romantic in me is willing to look like a dope,
But neither of those matter anymore,
Because I have lost the love my life,
The one I met at 25.

~Raul Felix

Read: Watching You Get Dressed Again
Read: She Had The Body Of A Greek Goddess
Read: The Lights of Los Angeles Loom

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Two Army Rangers Discuss Going Nomadic

IG: leo_jenkins

IG: leo_jenkins

In the formative years of his life, Leo Jenkins was an Army combat medic in 3rd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. Having completed deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan, in 2007 Leo ended his enlistment after four years of service, exchanging the high-octane world of Army special operations for the uncertainty of civilian life.

He has published three memoirs. In the first, Lest We Forget, he details his war experiences and drunken shenanigans as a Ranger medic. In his second, On Assimilation, he tackles the emotional rollercoaster of adapting to civilian life. His journey takes him from the kick-in-the-gut realization that his intensive training as a special operations medic wouldn’t qualify him to be a basic EMT…to battling alcoholism and feeling of isolation caused by those moments spent in a wartorn land…to opening and operating a successful CrossFit gym.

In his latest book, First Train Out Of Denver, Leo decides to leave the hustle and bustle that had become his life to go nomadic instead. With the utmost sense of purpose and intensity that is a definitive characteristic of an Army Ranger, he seeks to find adventure, enlightenment, and to make sense of those formative years of his life.

Raul Felix: Leo, your life as an unemployed vagabond started when you got up to go to work one morning and thought to yourself, “I don’t want to go to work today.” You then sold your possessions, business, said goodbye to your friends, and got yourself a one-way ticket to Costa Rica. What was the toughest part emotionally for you of that process?

Leo Jenkins: That is a phenomenal question that no one has ever asked me. I was in a dark place when I purged my possessions and took to the world. I was seeking some sort of solace in the comforts of solitude. By disconnecting myself from the only people who share my mutual experiences, I was forced into intense introspection. It’s a perilous endeavor if one is not prepared. Seven years of stuffing down the tumultuous cognitive dissonance created by multiple combat deployments violently surfaced, and there wasn’t another veteran, let alone Ranger, for thousands of miles. I was forced to sit in my own stewing antipathy alone. I was forced to truly come to terms with my youthful decisions and transgressions against my fellow man. It nearly killed me, but I’m a better man for it.

Raul Felix: What do you mean by it almost killed you?

Leo Jenkins: With no set schedule and no real responsibilities, I began drinking heavily. I began writing the book On Assimilation during this time. I was pulling up all the tribulations of my return to society and writing them down. I was alone, reliving my worst moments in vivid detailed prose.

Raul Felix: Just like being in the Army, traveling has a learning curve that can only be learned by actually doing it. What are some stupid cherry traveler mistakes and assumptions you made in the early phases of your trip, and what solutions did you come up with?

Leo Jenkins: Not everyone values what we value as a society. Traveling to any foreign country is an opportunity to shut up and listen, not to impose your belief set. Be a sponge and retain as much as you can. Release as much of your preconceived ethnocentric tendencies before getting on the plane, and almost everything else will come with ease.

The world is not a dark and scary place. Sure, there are assholes abroad, just like there are assholes in your hometown. Chances are, they’re just having a bad day and do not represent the ideology of their entire country. However, when entering their nation you become an ambassador for ours. So if you act like an asshole, the assumption will be that everyone from your country is [also an asshole], due to their potentially limited exposure to your nationality.

On a more specific note, don’t ever exchange currency at the airport; they will rip you off worse than the new Ghostbusters movie. Research the exchange rate ahead of time then hit the ATM. A lot of countries will take US dollars, but every shop will pound you on the exchange rate.

Raul Felix: When Marty Skovlund and yourself began doing your trip Eastbound to raise money for the Gallant Few, you tapped into your social media network of veterans. This dramatically increased the pace of your trip and raised awareness for your cause. Who was the coolest or most unique veteran you met in this manner?

Leo Jenkins: I’ve had the distinct honor of interviewing veterans all across the world regarding their experiences in war and assimilation. While Marty and my fundraiser across the world to raise awareness and funds for the Gallant Few provided me the opportunity to get to know many amazing war fighters, I’d have to say our conversation with a particular Korean War veteran and former UDT diver (predecessor to the Navy SEALs) was a standout. His narrative of war was equal parts adolescent inquisitiveness for the world, tragedy, and the dark profane humor of a salty special-operations soldier. Shrouded by a leathered face, his eyes told the story with the razor-blade poignancy of a young warrior. And his words regarding the separation, the isolation, following combat rang like a church bell through the ardor of my being.

Raul Felix: Aren’t you pissed off you got assigned to 3rd Batt instead of 2nd Batt?

Leo Jenkins: 3rd Batt was actually my fourth choice. At the end of the special operations medical course, each of the six Ranger medics graduating with my class were asked to list, in order, where they wanted to go. My list went, 1st (cause the beach), then 2nd (because the mountains), Regiment (because I already had a bunch of medic friends working there) and finally 3rd. To be honest, I was pissed at first, but the journey connected me with some of the most inspiring and amazing men of our generation. I wouldn’t trade those relationships for anything.

Raul Felix: In the past, you made your name known for your military articles and books. What made you make the shift from military writer to travel adventure writer?

Leo Jenkins: I believe vehemently in the necessity of evolution throughout the course of life, to expand and contract and flow with the natural fluidity of a river. It’s taken a decade since leaving 3rd Ranger Battalion, and in many ways my experiences there will always influence my writings, but being who we are, not who we once were, is the acme of a free and jubilant soul.

Raul Felix: I agree with that. Human beings are human beings everywhere you go. It’s easy to think X or Y people are bad because the narrative the media portrays of them. If you weren’t an American, what nationality that you encountered could you see yourself growing up and fitting in with?

Leo Jenkins: I’m often asked if I’m a Canadian when traveling through foreign countries for various reasons. My fiancée is Canadian and I do associate with their culture in many ways. I’ve even been told to tell people I am so as to not provoke the negative connotations associated with being an American abroad. I don’t do that; I will never do that. I am proud of where I come from because I know firsthand how many truly amazing people come from the US. I’m as welcome to external cultural experience as any human on Earth, but I’m simultaneously unapologetically American.

~Raul Felix

Read: 3 Signs A Woman Is A Dependopotamus
Read: Army Rangers Talk About The Times Their Words Have Shocked Civilians
Read: Jumping Out of Airplanes: How It’s Really Like

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