Today is my birthday.
I’m not geriatric yet, but I’m older than I ever thought I’d be. I used to be aprehensive about turning a “certain age”… but not so much anymore. Even though most of my hair has a silver tinge, I have to get out of bed slowly so nothing “snaps”, I can’t read anything without glasses, and I have to pee at 4 am every morning. Overall, I feel the same as I did when I was 25.
Although, I have been happier for the last few years than I can ever remember. I’ve struggled with depression most of my life. Been in therapy a few times and even tried a handful of anti depressants. (probably even more depressants) But lately, everything has just come together. I’m in a great relationship, I’m a published writer, have a comfortable home and a Jeep I’ve paid off, and I have the career I’ve always dreamed of.
Does that mean that I’ve made a few good choices?
I think it does,
It’s the wisdom that comes from life experience that shapes who we are.
I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve learned the past 50 (Good God) years and the things I wish someone would have told me about 30 years ago because it might have saved quite a bit of time and frustration.
So here goes:
Advice to my younger self.
Let things go. So much wasted energy. We’re not even going to dwell on this one.
Step outside your comfort level. Eat at a new restaurant once in a while. Don’t be afraid to go to parties alone. Introduce yourself to strangers. Some of my best vacations have been from exploring cities on my own. “Buy the ticket and take the ride”
Some people are just assholes. They’re self-centered or slaves to their addictions. They’ll screw over friends, lovers and anyone else around them. These people make decisions for selfish reasons. Just be ready for it.
You can’t take it with you. It’s hard to believe that I just wrote that; someone who is currently sitting in a living scrap-book of a house containing every Martha Stewart Living magazine ever published, enough Christmas ornaments for 10+ households and all his childhood toys (with the boxes). But I really do believe it. When I lost a bag containing all my fraternity shirts a few years ago I was just devastated. Even though I know I was never going to wear any of them ever again. I may not have the t-shirts anymore, but I still have the memories……and those will always be with me.
Some services are worth paying for. Find a good tailor to hem those pants. Get your shoes shined. Go to the dentist regularly. Get a pedicure. Things that seem like luxuries can make a world of difference in how you feel about yourself.
Charm will take you much further than a tantrum. It took all my inner strength to keep calm and suggest that maybe Jo Ann’s Notions and Crafts should find a few more people to staff the fabric cutting table, rather than throwing a fit. There were 30 women waiting in line in front of me…..all waiting for one old lady to cut 3/4 a yard for them. A smile and a “thank you” worked. It usually does.
Shit happens. So expect it to, and just roll with it.
There are good people in the world. I lost my wallet once at an amusement park. Not only did it contain my entire cashed paycheck, but my brother’s half of our shared rent as well. I know, pretty stupid to have that much cash on me….. at an amusement park.… but I was young. Someone turned it in to the lost & found, with ALL the cash still in it. Simply unbelievable. I have no idea who it was, and I’ll never know, but I knew immediately that I wanted to be that person.
Character is earned. For years I was without a car. I did my best mooching rides off of people, taking cabs, and mostly riding the bus. This is a major confession in a city where people are judged almost entirely by the car. But I was self-sufficient. I was also able to save enough money to buy a decent car …… it took a while, years actually. But no one gave me any money. No one co-signed. I didn’t even bum a ride to the dealership. (I took the bus) I did it myself. That’s one of the things I’m most proud of in my life. People who have everything given to them rarely know the true value of anything.
Relationships will change. I have a few relationships under my belt by now, and I know – people change. It’s not your fault. It’s not their fault. You can’t always change with them. You won’t always be what they think they’re looking for. And that’s OK. No one enters a relationship with the intent of hurting the other person a few years later. And most people don’t leave one with that intent either. It’s just an unfortunate side effect.
You can’t make someone love/appreciate/value you. My type has always been the guy who just wasn’t that into me … but still wanted me close by – starting with the first one. I’ve spent way to much time trying to figure out what I didn’t do enough of. But you know what? If they really wanted to, they’d find the time for you. A text message only takes about 15 seconds. Don’t waste your energy on people who don’t return it. Instead, focus more on the ones who are glad to have you in their lives.
Always do your best work. I think this is also one of the four agreements and it’s so true. Being the perfectionist that I am, it’s usually difficult for me to walk away from any project – I still edit blog posts from 5 years ago. If someone can see it……I want it to be the absolute best that it can be. No one is impressed with someone who only does the bare minimum.
One last piece of advice;
Travel more. It’s cliche, I know, but nothing opens your eyes and mind more that new experiences. I love to travel – maybe not quite so much for work – and I’m finally at an age where I can afford to do things I couldn’t just a few years ago. Last week, Jamie and I made a bucket list. It was as varied as taking a day trip to Waco to experience Chip & Joanna Land to snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
I want to see Machu Pichu and the Vatican.
Monument Valley, Alcatraz and Santorini.
Mercer House, Graceland and Casa Azul.
And I will too.
All this advice aside, I’ll still probably make a few bad decisions, I can be a little self-centered and I know that my sense of humor has occasionally been known to hurt people’s feelings.
But overall, I’m happy with the guy I grew up to be.
And 50 isn’t the end of anything,
It’s just the begining.