8 Things You Need To Learn Before Turning 40.
I’m excited to turn thirty-nine, sort of, or at least that’s the lie I’m telling myself.
I’ve gained another year of experience under my belt in this game called life, and for that I am grateful.
Every year, I take a moment and take stock of my life. I review what I’ve learned, hard lessons that made my ass sore. Not everything is about learning from failures; I also examine the moments that made me smile, the ones I’d like to stick on repeat for the rest of my life if I could.
Learning from your life and the people you surround yourself with is one of the most important things you can do on your journey. What follows is a list of things, I’ve learned so far, pull out a notepad and take notes.
Keep A House
I know what you’re thinking, this is 2018, and all the feminists are about to start screaming at me but before you get out your pitchforks, just keep reading. My mother passed away when I was in my 20s and by the time I was married with children and a house to keep; I had no one to call for those random questions. You know the ones I’m talking about, “Mom how do I get ketchup out of my daughter’s Easter dress” or “How do I clean x” or “How the F*** am I supposed to fold this fitted sheet?” I had no one to teach me, so I picked up a book called Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook. It’s my Bible as far as it comes to anything remotely domestic. Being able to run a household and do it with the same easy grace that my grandmother accomplished is one of my goals. And even though I know how to fold a fitted sheet, I still roll that bitch up and shove it in the closet; that will never change.
One of the hardest lessons I’m still learning is how to compromise. From the time we come into our own as toddlers, we have this innate need to have our way. It usually doesn’t change as we age and for some people, it grows to epic proportions. I’m finding that life is easier when I compromise, from my spouse all the way down to my kids. Learning to pick your battles and when to stand your ground is one of the top three most important skills you learn in life. Backing down doesn’t make you a pushover, it makes you smart. Smart enough to know that not everything is life or death and having the wisdom to know the difference is half the battle. The next time we’re on vacation, and the kids want to eat mac and cheese all week; I’ll let them. Yeah, they’ll get plugged up, but that’s why they make prune juice.
Being Dependent Without Losing Your Independence
I was raised by a single mom who from day one out of the womb taught me to be independent. Fast forward, and I’ve married a man who likes it when I need to depend on him. At first, we were at odds like two bulls just banging heads for household supremacy. That went on for a while until I realized that being dependent on him didn’t mean I had to give up my independence. Yes, I can go out, make the bacon and come home to cook it, but men like to feel needed. Instead of fighting with the jar of spaghetti sauce, I give it to him. Even though I know I have a thousand and one ways to pull a McGyver and do it myself, I give it to him. Learning when to depend on people doesn’t make you weak, it makes you stronger.
Know Who You Are and What You Stand For
Anyone who tells you at the age of twenty-anything that they know who they are and what they stand for is lying. You can have a vague idea, but you don’t know. All the life that happens in those twenty years between age twenty and age forty, that’s what creates you. The person I was at twenty is not even the same person I am now, not even close. Life has changed me, not kids as some people will say but just the crap that happens to you and around you in life. I know more now than I ever have in my life, who I am and what’s important to me. Life has created the foundation for me and looking back I can tell you that I didn’t know a thing about myself in my twenties but I damn sure thought I did.
Thinking Before You Speak And Common Sense
These two go hand in hand, which is why I lumped them together. I had a hard time thinking before I spoke. It’s something I’m still working on and hopefully by forty; I’ll have it down. Sometimes the best gift you can give to yourself and others is the common sense to close your mouth or back away from the keyboard. There have been times in my life where backing away from the keyboard would have been the wiser decision, and yet I didn’t make it. I burned bridges that may have helped me down the line. Some of them I’ve regretted. Most, I’ve mended and even the ones that I still say they can go F*** themselves, it could have been handled in a more “adultier” way. I’ve learned the most important lesson in life; people don’t have to agree with me, and the best way to solve an argument is to leave it.
Trust Your Gut
We all have that inner voice that tells us, “Hey stupid, don’t do that.” Whether or not we listen to that voice, well, that’s another story. I’ve found that over the years, listening to that voice saves me a world of trouble. Looking back on all the times I didn’t, nine out of ten times it was because I just didn’t want to do what my gut was telling me I should. I think I will have reached a higher level of adulting when I can trust my gut even when I don’t want to.
Cultivating Your Friends List
If you haven’t figured out by now who your friends are, I can’t help you. It took me a long time to learn what truly makes a friend AND more importantly how to be a good one myself. Living by the mantra, “sometimes it’s just not about you” helped a lot. Cultivating a friends list means having a mix a people you hang out with and can consult when times get hard. Your list should consist of:
- People who knew you since you were a kid. They are the ones who call you out on your bullsh**.
- New friends who know when your birthday is without Facebook telling them.
- Work acquaintances that you feel comfortable asking for help and references.
- Fun people. These are people who not only can you call them to bail you out of jail when you don’t want to call home, but they’re fun to hang out with too. You may have met through your kids or the Wegmans checkout line, but it doesn’t matter because you always can count on each other for a good time.
Having a good mix of people around you not only makes life more fun but it helps you to grow as a person. Different perspectives are cool, m’kay! (I apologize for the South Park reference, but I had too)
Finally, these two biggies.
Forgiveness And Accepting The Past
Sorry, I have to go there, but this is a lesson we both need to learn by the time we’re forty. Neither one of us can change the past. We don’t have a time machine to go back and change the things that were done to us or correct the wrongs we’ve inflicted upon others. We can either choose (and that’s an important word there) to stay mired in it. We can let that regret, hate, sadness, and grief weigh us down until we drown in it. Or we can choose (there’s that word again) to let it go.
I know it’s easier said than done. Some things are catastrophic to our psyches that we just can’t let it go, it becomes a part of our skin, but I’m here to tell you it’s not a part of your skin. You can get rid of it all, but you have to make that decision. I’ve learned that once you forgive yourself and others, you can move on. Once you let go of that dead weight, your life will turn around and become more amazing than you ever thought it could. We all having something weighing on us, holding us back and if you haven’t let that sh** go by the time you turn forty, you need to.
Today is the day, grab it and CHOOSE to live it.
Now, that I’ve said my peace, enjoy your day. Thank you for reading and sharing my words. Never stop learning from and loving one another because that’s what we’re here to do.