Lessons I Learned in My 30s, but Wish I Knew in My 20s
For most of our lives, we look forward to our birthdays but dread getting older, and anytime I think about aging, I always flash to Billy Collins’ poem, “On Turning Ten.” He concludes the poem about turning ten years old with the realization that “if I fall upon the sidewalks of life, I skin my knees. I bleed.” For Collins’ poem, it’s a sadness the nine year old feels about aging, and for most of my twenties, I felt the same dreadful feeling as Collins’ narrator. But something changed when I hit thirty.
I was on the phone today with one of my closest friends and we were sharing whines and complaints about life obligations. My friend, who is a number of years younger than I am, is feeling dismayed because she feels forced to attend an event in the circumstance of pretense. I encouraged her not to attend if she didn’t want to be there, but the fear of the judgement of others was too great, and I realized – I was just like her, once.
This is the wisdom my thirties have given me, and I look forward to learning more and gaining perspective as I continue to age. For now, I hope someone in her twenties will read this and maybe take it to heart a little earlier to improve her life a little sooner.
- Time is our most precious commodity. It is the one item we cannot create, be sure to use it wisely.
- If it does not bring you joy, don’t do it. In reference to #1, life is far too short to spend your time doing something you don’t love. Don’t lie about wanting to do something by saying you’ll “try.” Yoda warns us: “Do or do not. There is no try.” And if you don’t want to do it, then be honest and forthcoming.
- If it means something to you, you will make the time to accomplish it. Nothing and no one worth anything comes easily. If you have a will, you will find a way, if you don’t, you will find an excuse.
- Take care of your body and your skin now. It all gets a little harder and a little slower as the years pass, take the extra care now while it’s easier.
- Spend money on things that will improve your life. Skip the new clothes and the night out at the bar, but go to Italy, buy quality shoes, get the moisturizer.
- There is no point in trying to waste your energy on trying to change the mind of someone who is chewing you down. Don’t get angry, don’t argue, don’t even try to sway them, just step away from that negativity and keep propelling yourself forward.
- Jealousy is a malignant tumor that will only destroy you. As Iago warned Othello, jealousy “mocks the meat it feeds on.” Empower others and you will find grace.
- Your life’s plans and goals will not always pan out. It’s not the end if they don’t work out; working towards it was part of your plan to something different. No education or experience is wasted, just have the wisdom to see how it can translate and be fluid.
- Money is important and a necessity, but it does not equate to a happy life. You have to genuinely be happy about what you’re doing everyday to earn the paycheck. If you’re not, start gathering ways to make it change. There’s still plenty of time to learn new things and begin new careers. The root of “career” is the Latin “carrus,” meaning “wheeled vehicle” – forever moving forward.
- You only have one chance to make a good first impression, and only a limited window to apologize. Do not allow arrogance to deter you from either.
- Friends will come and go, and only a precious few shall remain. The people who are really your friends are not only the people who are there for you when you’re down, but who are genuinely happy for your accomplishments.
- Finding a person who will hug and love you through your ugliest, worst moments is true love. It’s not necessarily the person you feel the most passion for, and it’s certainly not the one who brings you tears – ever. It’s the person who will tell you that you stink and need a shower while still showering you with kisses.
- Shaving is overrated. Get laser.
What are some wisdoms you’re happy you know now and would impart to the millennial generation?
Leave a comment