On my thirtieth birthday I shared some lessons I’ve learned that I wish I could tell my younger self.
I’m turning thirty-four on Saturday! I’m so much wiser now. Read on to soak up my hard-earned life lessons on cavities, being a friend, pioneer camp, Pooh Bear and everything in between.
I’m no smarter than anybody else, of course, but thought it might be fun to share a handful of my wiser moments, the ones that caught me by surprise at one time or another. These are the nuggets I want to take back in my time machine and tell my younger self.
34 lessons I’ve learned in 34 years
- Your mom was not being unreasonable when she insisted it needed to be at least 70 degrees before you could wear shorts to school. It’s called Dressing For the Weather, and it will take you until your late twenties to fully understand the brilliance of it.
- You are never too old to make gingerbread houses. (Also, icing is not the same as frosting, and it will not keep the house together.)
- Babies and cats are more likely to fall asleep if you pretend to fall asleep, too.
- You don’t have to listen to everything your brain tells you. (Especially when it tells you you suck, which it will tell you a lot in many different ways. You don’t suck.)
- One day, you’ll realize that your parents didn’t know how to be parents before they had you. The thought will blow your mind.
- Friendships are supposed to go two ways. If a friendship starts to be one-sided, it’s okay to let it go.
- “Re-examine all you have been told…Dismiss what insults your Soul.” Spoken by Walt Whitman. Maybe the wisest words you’ve ever heard. You can trust your soul to tell you what feels right and what does not, and you have the authority to act accordingly.
- The best thing you can do for the world is to be the happiest, most nourished and well-taken-care-of version of yourself. Then, when you are overflowing with happiness and contentment and love, the stuff that spills over will nourish the people around you better than anything else you could do.
- One evening in your late twenties, you will be reading The Tao of Pooh in the bathtub, and will realize that maybe, instead of stressing out all the time to solve your life’s problems, you can just relax and trust that everything is going to be okay. Remember that. Pooh knows best. (You will forget that lesson a lot, but just keep trying.)
- Your mom was cooking for six. You are cooking for one (then later, two.) You don’t need to buy so much damn food.
- There will be nights when you lie awake, head spinning, unable to sleep. Don’t fight it. Get up and start writing, because something inside wants out. (That’s where some of your best ideas come from anyway.)
- One day you will catch a glimpse of yourself in a mirror out of the corner of your eye, and you will think, What? When did I start looking like a capable adult? It will shock the hell out of you, but it will be true. (For part of the time, anyway.)
- You will never regret saying thank you, out loud.
- You will want to change yourself and reinvent your life frequently. Which is great. But also remember, always, that you are wonderful right now, without changing a thing. It makes growing and changing a much happier endeavor.
- You will get more friends by being a better friend.
- You will have a better marriage by being a better spouse.
- Flavored coffee syrups are a TERRIBLE IDEA. You will drink your morning latte with a shot of caramel syrup every day for six months, then you will get five cavities. And they will be expensive, because your dental insurance is terrible. Then you will stop adding the syrup and stop getting cavities. (Also, don’t forget to floss every once in a while.)
- Making all your decisions on auto-pilot and always going along with what you’re “supposed to do” will make you crazy. You have to figure out what you want and where you’re going first, then start making decisions that fit that vision. (But also remember, you can break your own rules, too, if that’s what feels good.)
- Sometimes you just have to try things, in order to figure out if they’ll work. It takes faith (and sometimes, some lady balls).
- You learn something every time you fail. (Like the time you tried to deep fry samosas, filled the apartment with smoke and melted a plastic spoon. The oil should not be that hot.)
- Every time you spend money, you are voting for something by investing in it.
- You can get a black cat and call him Ninja Bob, but that won’t make him ninja-like. He will be chubby and clumsy, but he will still be awesome. (Your husband will want to change his name to Bobba the Hut. Just a heads-up.)
- Six-year-old self, you would swoon at the sewing studio I have now. Get pumped, little girl, because it’s way better than you ever imagined.
- Sometime in your twenties, some wires will cross in your brain and you will start calling meatloaf lasagna, and vice versa. You will be unable to fix the glitch, and it will vex your poor husband.
- In addition to being The Thing That Keeps You Alive, food can be one of your favorite hobbies. Growing it, cooking it, baking it, consuming it and talking about it are worthy and pleasurable pursuits.
- More often than not, you will get further faster by focusing on what’s right and making it grow, rather than lamenting what’s wrong.
- Don’t be ashamed of having gone to pioneer camp. It was awesome, and you know it.
- When it comes to clocks, bigger is usually better.
- If you want something from someone (boss/spouse/parents/friends), you will have little chance of getting it until you ASK.
- Trust your intuition. Your body knows more than you give her credit for.
- Without Voldemort, Harry Potter would have been just a boy. You don’t ask for the challenges life throws at you, and you’ll never cease to be surprised how much pain you can, in fact, endure. But you are stronger in the places where you’ve broken, and you will become greater because of them.
- You can never take too many hot baths. Even when you’re not dirty. Reading in the tub is a legit hobby. Hot water soothes the soul, and also sometimes the cats fall in and that’s amazing.
- The biggest, most impactful changes happen slowly. So slowly you sometimes can’t see any movement at all. But never stop taking steps toward where you want to go, even when you can’t see the finish line or how in hell you’ll get there. Faith, grasshopper.
- There is absolutely nothing in the world like the taste of peanut butter and chocolate. Also, if you’re running low on sweets in the house, you can microwave semi-sweet chocolate chips with a scoop of peanut butter and eat that shit with a spoon, and it will make you happy, every damn time.
Here’s to another year of being alive!