When I was young, up to and even in my early 30s, 40 seemed far, far away. I could never have imagined, not in a million years, what my life would look like as I reach my 40th birthday. In my estimation, by 40 I'd be a big shot, changing the world in grand, ambitious ways. I didn't really have a plan for myself, other than being very important in some highly recognizable way that made the world better for my having been in it.
So here I am, reflecting on my mistakes and lessons learned as I reach this milepost which, now that I'm here, doesn't seem so momentous anymore. It almost feels like hanging too much importance on a single step in the process, like the new phenomenon of celebrating 8th grade "graduation" or worse, kindergarten graduation...i mean, really? And yet, it seems as good a time as any to debrief with myself (and evidently anyone who reads my blog) on what 40 really signifies.
If you've ever heard the Pirate vs Ninja personality assessment, or the iteration Pirate - Ninja - Cowboy, I am clearly a pirate: throwing it all out there, wearing my heart on my sleeve, too honest to be a sneaky ninja, too ambitious to relax and enjoy the ride like a cowboy. It's ultimately being a pirate girl that has shaped my life so far and landed me here, ironically near the ocean, with a list of miserable failures and joyous accomplishments
Here's what this pirate girl has learned at 40. I wonder what I'll have learned in another 40 years?
- Everybody has big ideas. The coolest people are the ones that do something about them.
- Even your best ideas are terribly flawed. You should let other people help you improve them.
- My mom is (almost) always right.
- Happiness is not tied to how much you weigh.
- Fitting into my skinny jeans still makes me happy.
- Nothing makes me happier than hearing my kids laughing.
- 80s pop culture was the best.
- Power corrupts absolutely. Think about that when you get a little power.
- There are bullies and mean girls at every age. Ignore them. Their desire to hurt isn't about you.
- If you can't ignore them, talk about them. It's easier to ignore them with friends to distract you.
- We undervalue water. We shouldn't be taking it for granted.
- At the end of the day, the most limited resource we have is time.
- Always tell the truth. Especially when it's hard.
- If someone asks you to lie, still tell the truth. And get away from that person.
- Some people want to believe the lies. Distance yourself from those people, too.
- There are a lot of really smart, kind, loving people in the world, but they aren't well-organized, so they're sometimes hard to find.
- Find work that is fulfilling. You don't have to love it; even the best jobs have bad days and downsides. Find something that when you wake up on Monday morning, doesn't make you dread heading into work.
- There will always be Mondays when you dread going into work.
- Don't settle.
- The most important decision you make in life is who you choose to spend it with.
- Be gentle with others. They have volumes of stories you know nothing about.
- Don't assume.
- Actions speak louder than words.
- People change all of the time, but you can't change them.
- Dance as often as you can. You can't be sad if you're dancing.
- Be silly.
- Take risks. The worst that can happen is usually not all that bad, actually.
- Approach every situation with love.
- You don't get a second chance at everything.
- Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone.
- By the time you're old enough to eat anything you want whenever you want, you're wise enough to know that you shouldn't.
- There's nothing like having a long talk with my sister.
- There's nothing like having a long talk with my daughter.
- Even though I don't want them to know it, sometimes my kids are smarter than me.
- Go outside more.
- Play more games.
My sister and I are born on the same day, a year apart...my first, best birthday present. Enjoy your last year in your 30s, sissy...I'll see you on the other side of the hill ;)