This week I turned 41.
The last year has gone by so fast and been so stressful that I still barely feel as though I am in this new decade! We moved - twice. My husband started a new career in construction management and I launched my eDesign services. We live in a new town where we don’t know anyone and we are trying to make friends. Since this has been a year of new beginnings for us, I thought it would be a great idea to share 40 things I have learned over the years. I originally shared this post when I turned 40 last year. I hope you enjoy it! I’d love to know so me of the funny things or valuable lessons you have learned over the years as well. Drop a comment at the end and let me know!
40 Things I Learned on the Way to Forty
Owning who you are.
It took me 14,600 days of living to get to a point where I am comfortable in my own skin. Over 14,600 days of getting up, looking in the mirror and saying to myself, “What have you got for me today, life?”. My life has been full of decisions - both good and bad. Some really bad. But here, at the halfway mark, I am owning ALL OF IT.
We all have our different journeys but I am going to share with you what I have learned as I wake to embrace that 14,600th day that will make me… FORTY.
1. Life Does NOT Turn Out the Way You Planned
Raise your hand if you thought you’d be living in your mansion, running your company, and smiling at your adorable well-behaved children by this age. Well, I certainly thought that. Ha ha ha! Alas, I have no mansion and I have no children. But I do own my own business so that is certainly something!
2. Don’t Spend Money You Don’t Have
Credit cards are the devil. That’s all there is to it. We all use them with the good intention of paying each bill off at the end of the month. We want to get the points or the miles. The reality is, they can quickly get out of control. So we cut them up and one card gets relegated to the back of our wallet :for emergencies”. Sometimes a shoe sale is an emergency - right? It’s hard to pass up a good sale or a great trip and try not to spend the paycheck we haven’t earned yet. I am so guilty of all of these things. Credit cards - you are on my shit list!
That is all.
4. Where Did This Gray Hair Come From?
One day you will wake up and find the wrinkles and the gray hair that you swear were NOT there the night before. It’s as if there is some Methuselah Fairy that comes to dust you with these “gifts” as you sleep.
5. Don’t Look at Me
You will actually stop caring if your husband sees you with your greasy “Flock of Seagulls” bedhead. You have realized that he’s not looking at your hair anyway. Especially if you are naked!
6. Husbands are Simple. Really.
When we’re young we want to impress our husbands, go out of our way to create romantic and thoughtful experiences for them, and generally remain that kick-ass girl they fell in love with. That’s all well and good occasionally. But, for the most part, they don’t care. Give them a comfy chair, a beer, and a t.v. (or a book in my husband’s case). Throw them a little booty from time to time and they are perfectly happy.
7. But First, Coffee
You have determined that it’s not possible to make it through a day without coffee. Or in my case, tea. Remember in high school when you arose with no help at all? You went to school all day, went to practice, went home to do homework, and still had time to chat on the phone for an hour. (yes, we talked on the phone. this was before texting. way before). You had mounds of energy back then! There was no falling asleep if you sat still for more than ten minutes. How was that possible without coffee?!
8. What Others Think Does Not Matter
I used to get so upset if I thought someone didn’t like me. Because I am so shy and introverted, this happens a lot. People have to really get to know me before they realize I’m not “rude” or “bitchy”. I’m just painfully shy. I’m sure there are plenty of other reasons people don’t like me and it used to put my stomach in knots. Now I could care less. You do you! The people who matter will accept you for WHO YOU ARE.
9. Blind Faith
I get so stressed out about things that don’t work out in the timeline I’ve set forth. This is a MAJOR flaw of mine. But it has gotten better by applying my husband’s philosophy to have blind faith. God is guiding you! If you do your best. If you make responsible choices. If you lay the groundwork. Things will all work out. It might be at the very last second but things will work out. Sometimes it’s not the way you wanted them to but the world did not end. Have faith and try not to sweat the little things.
10. Chase Your Dreams
Go for your dreams no matter what other people say. Life is short! Will you look back and say, “Man, I really loved working in that cubicle for 30 years.”? Doubtful. What are your dreams? Figure out a way to make them happen for you.
11. What Are You Eating?
You will realize that you can longer eat whatever you want. Ladies, your metabolism will commit suicide when you turn 30. Alter your habits accordingly. No more pizza and beer every weekend. (And let me tell you - it is possible to get heartburn from peanut butter)! But there are some delicious ways to stay healthy!
12. Don’t Over Complicate
Lades, I’m talking to you! I am a Type A personality so I totally get it. Everything must be perfect. Everything must be analyzed. Everything must be efficient. I definitely struggle with this one and, because of that, I miss out on a lot of the fun. So relax and go with the flow. I promise it’s a lot more fun that making sure all the details were perfect.
13. Be Generous
Oprah says if your hand is open to give, it is also open to receive. This is so true. Sometimes what you will receive is just the warm feeling you get from knowing you helped someone. Whether is be holding a door for someone, taking food to a shelter, or choosing a non-profit to donate to - it will all be worth it. Every time.
14. Show Emotion
It’s okay to cry. We bottle so much every day and guess what that does? It brings on the gray hair, the wrinkles. the stroke or heart attack. We have to become comfortable with showing our emotions. We can still be honest about how we feel without coming across as jerks. It’s hard. I struggle with being “vulnerable” too. But it is OKAY.
This one is a big challenge. It’s so hard to watch other people get things you want. The nicer house, the newer car, the more exotic trip. Whatever it is that someone else has that we don’t. I have realized coveting is not only toxic, it is such a waste of time. It gets us nothing but resentment. Work hard for what you want and worry about what you’re doing to get it. You might be surprised to find out what you have that someone else covets. Not matter what, stay focused on you. And good things will come.
16. Let It Go
I am the oldest child. Therefore my childhood personality was bossy. I was also the one who got to do everything first. Because I was first, I was also the one who made some of the biggest mistakes. Sometimes, your siblings can’t see the person you’ve become as an adult because of all the mistakes you made growing up. It can be hurtful but it’s for them to decide to let go of the past or not. If you are a younger sibling, throw your big bro or sis a bone. Everything they ever said or did was out of love for you.
Staying up until 11:00 p.m. is not staying up “late”. If you achieve this, you must have had a lot of coffee!
18. On the Radio
You will now enjoy listening to the “oldies” station on the radio. After all, they are playing the music you listened to in high school.
19. Where Have I Heard That Before?
You will find yourself saying things you have only heard your parents say before.
“Turn that down!”
“If you don’t stop, I will turn this car right around!”
“Because I said so!”
To you, these will all be perfectly legitimate things to say. I don’t know if my seven nieces and nephews would agree though.
A “vacation” will now consist of any time you have to yourself to sit somewhere in peace and quiet. No kids. No phones. No dryer buzzer. You will relish this time to yourself like you relish the times you get to use the bathroom in private.
21. Commercials Will Make You Cry
If it has anything to do with aging parents, kids, or pets you are going to tear up. If it has to do with any sort of homecoming, go ahead and break out the box of tissues. Soldiers coming home get me every time.
22. Back Talk
People will talk about you behind your back. Now matter how nice you are to them, they will still talk about you. This is their problem, not yours.
You will find out that a teenager (and sometimes a toddler) knows more about electronics and technology that you ever will.
24. Roll With the Punches
You will get screamed at while at work. You will get into car accidents. You will lose your favorite earrings. You will accidentally hurt someone’s feelings. And you will agonize about all of these things. A friend of mine once told me, “If it won’t matter a year from now, it shouldn’t bother you today.” Words of wisdom, my friend. Words of wisdom.
25. The Never Ending Story
You will do more dishes and laundry than you ever thought possible/
That is all.
27. Role Reversal
If you still have your parents, you will constantly worry about them. You will become increasingly concerned about their ability to drive, traverse stairs, and eat right. My dad would eat nothing but donuts and a block of Colby cheese with crackers if he were left on his own. When my parents drive to Florida, I want them to call me to let me know they arrived safely. When did this reversal happen? My parents are still able-bodied, competent people. But yet, I worry.
28. Fashion Show
You will begin to dress for comfort rather that style. You will not care if your handbag matches your shoes because you don’t have time to swap out handbags all the time. You will also wear those ugly yet comfortable shoes you wouldn’t have been caught dead in 15 years ago.
29. Childhood Idols
The people you grew up watching on t.v. and listening to on albums will start dying off one by one. This will alarm you as you feel you are not that far behind them. Rest in peace Prince, David Bowie, and Chris Cornell.
30. Where Empathy Lies
When watching shows or movies where there is a teen vs. parent dynamic, you will now empathize with the parent’s point of view. Wasn’t is only a few years ago when you were thinking from the perspective of the child?
31. Twentieth Century
Your kids (or nieces and nephews in my case) will all think you are ancient for being born in the 1900’s. Get used to it. You’ve got to scroll way down to find your year every time you fill out a digital form as well. You have also realized that people born the year of the millennium are legally adults now.
32. Laugh It Off
You must have an excellent sense of humor. We can’t control a lot of the experiences we have but we can certainly control how we react. I’m constantly having to remind myself to just laugh it off. It’s true what they say - laughter really is the best medicine.
33. Stand Off
You will now groan anytime you go from sitting to standing.
You will now groan anytime you go from standing to sitting.
You will lose some of your friends along the way. People grow and change and they don’t always do it at the same pace. I’ve had to make some tough decisions in my life and say goodbye to some people who were no longer right for how I wanted to live my life. Do what is best for YOU. Toxic people are always going to hold you back. Surround yourself with positive and encouraging people.
36. Happy Hour
Sometimes a glass (or 2 or 3) of wine at the end of the day is necessary. Cheers!
37. No Comparison
You are a unique soul. What makes you special is that there is no one else like you. Don’t try to be like anyone else. You are fabulous. Own it!
38. With a Little Help From My Friends
You can be a strong person and still need help sometimes. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to give you a hand or even just to listen. It’s okay to admit you can’t do it all. We can’t all be Wonder Woman, right?
39. Eat the Dang Cake!
Without overindulging, you can still enjoy some of life’s sweetest rewards. So grab that slice of cake and a big cold glass of milk too.
Acceptance of other people. especially your family and friends, is critical. But acceptance of yourself is absolutely necessary. Own who you are and never apologize for it.
I hope you have enjoyed my list. Happy any age birthday to all of you! Now get out there and celebrate life!