5 Life Lessons from 13 Going on 30

**This article contains 13 Going on 30 spoilers. If you haven’t seen it before, “x” out of this article and go watch it!


Anyone who knows me knows that one of my all-time favorite movies is the iconic 13 Going on 30. I was reminded of this wonderful film the other day when I watched Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next” video, where she recreated the last ten minutes of the movie. My roommate and I decided to re-watch the movie together in its entirety, laughing and crying at all of the right moments.

To me, 13 Going on 30 is a movie jam-packed with life lessons (as cliche as some of them might be). I thought I’d write out a few of my favorites here.


1. Fitting in is overrated.

One of the most important lessons Jenna learns is that it’s important to stay true to yourself. In order to be accepted by the “in-crowd” (in Jenna’s case, “The Six Chicks”), Jenna took on a bratty attitude, essentially pretending to be someone she wasn’t. This is what ultimately leads her down the wrong path in life, one where she abandons her friends, distances herself from her family, and only finds success by taking advantage of others.

It’s natural for teenagers (and people of any age, really) to desire peer acceptance. But long story short, we shouldn’t have to change who we are to find our crowd. Are they really our “crowd” if they can’t accept us for who we are?

As Matty says, “There can’t be a seventh Six Chick!”



2. Know (and respect) the people who truly care about you.

Something that becomes super apparent during the film is that Jenna spent her “lost” years between ages 13 and 30 being an overall terrible person to almost everyone she encountered, even her closest friends and family. It’s almost painful to watch her figure this out. For example, Jenna eventually confronts Matty about why they stopped being friends and he pins it back to her 13th birthday party where she threw the dream house at him that he spent weeks building for her. She also learns about how terrible she was in her professional life, too, when it becomes clear that she was the one sending Poise’s ideas to Sparkle in order to land a spot as their editor-in-chief.

When she gets a second chance at life at the end, Jenna makes it a point to do things the right way by treating those who truly loved her, like Matty and her parents, with mutual respect and admiration. At the end of the movie, after Jenna returns to the 1980s, it’s so refreshing to see her ditch the Six Chicks who never had her best interests in mind. This is a lesson we can all take to heart. People who want the best for us DO exist, and those people are important to keep around. Please don’t throw hand-crafted dream houses at the Matty’s in your life.



3. There is power in creativity and originality.

As Lucy says in the film, “Richard, redesign is a death sentence.”

Guess what though? Jenna proves that redesign is actually not a death sentence. By using her creativity and employing the help of her friends, she comes up with a fabulous new design for Poise, one that focuses on real people doing real things. Another lesson to be learned here is that taking professional risks can yield super positive outcomes. Who knew “Class of 2004” would be so well received? Jenna certainly didn’t, but she went through with the idea anyway and would’ve saved Poise, had Lucy not been a complete backstabber. *shakes a fist at sky*



4. Growing up is difficult.

“Thirty, flirty, and thriving” is the mantra Jenna repeats over and over to herself at the beginning of the movie. I’m sure at one point or another we all craved adulthood the same way Jenna does. It’s because being a teenager kind of sucks. We want the cute guy (Chris Grandy!) or gal, and we want to fit in with the “cool” crowd while simultaneously feeling super insecure about ourselves and going through an unimaginable number of physical, mental, and emotional changes. The realistic nature of Jenna’s problems as a young teenager is super relatable, and even though most of us are out of the teens now, we can all agree that growing up is hard.


5. Happy endings do exist.

Okay, I definitely can’t promise that if you don’t end up with your Matt equivalent the first time around, you’ll get a second chance via wishing dust, but happy endings are real if you make them real. Similarly, it’s never too late to turn your life around or start over. After realizing she had lived her entire life incorrectly, Jenna makes drastic changes within just a few weeks, repairing damaged relationships and invoking much-needed creativity into all aspects of her life.



Perhaps the best takeaway from 13 Going on 30 is that unlike Jenna, we only get one shot at life. Maybe these lessons will help us live it right the first time.


(Photos courtesy of Tumblr)