40 Gray (sic) Hairs

I turned forty last month. FORTY. I have very mixed feelings about the idea but I won’t go on about them; I think I am mostly ok with this whole aging thing. Except for the odd moment when I look in the bathroom mirror and see more grey hair than I remember seeing the last time…and then full-out panic hits.

But oh well. I have mixed feelings about the grey hair, too: on one hand I kind of like it; it shows that I’ve been around the block a few times and I would like to think I have gained some wisdom from the experience. On the other hand, JESUS FUCK GREY HAIR! COLOUR THAT SHIT QUICK! Which is clearly just a byproduct of growing up in a youth-worshipping society. The smarter part of me is refusing to play that game…for now.

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Anyway. In honor of reaching forty, I have compiled a list of forty things that I am pretty sure I know, that I kinda wish I had maybe figured out sooner. What’s funny about this list is that I set about making it, thinking that it would be pretty easy – I mean, for sure life has taught me forty lessons that are worth passing on. Right?

Not so much. I got to, like, number eleven before I had to stop and mull things over for a few days. Turns out that mining the deepest recesses of my brain for forty pieces of wisdom that I am relatively sure about was really difficult – so you’re welcome! Here they are, in no particular order.

  1. Meal planning and prepping for five days at a time is bullshit. By the third day those meals will smell weird and you won’t want to even look at them. Plan and prep for 2, maybe three days at a time.
  2. It’s okay if you’re scared. Everybody is. Some people hide it better than others and sources of fear differ, but everyone lives with it. No exceptions.
  3. Meaningful connections between people are worth nurturing. It takes a little extra time and effort but the payoff is gold.
  4. There is no such thing as unconditional love – love is ALWAYS conditional. That may seem cynical of me, but I don’t really mean for it to be. Love is amazing BECAUSE it’s conditional: without conditions it’s just attachment.
  5. Sleep is necessary. You can run from it all you want but it WILL catch up with you – might as well just embrace it. Better yet, make it a priority. If you don’t, it will make itself a priority at the most inopportune time.elephant
  6. Having stuff is overrated. It ends up owning you. Think about the last time you gave something away – the relief is tangible, right? Hang onto and take care of the things you need and get rid of everything else.
  7. Institutionalized education is mostly bullshit and academic credentials are borderline meaningless.
  8. Learning, on the other hand, is awesome. Never stop finding stuff to learn about – keep your mind open and stay curious.
  9. Eating more vegetables is always a good idea.
  10. People will always judge. ALWAYS. We can’t help judging and comparing and competing. Embrace it; it’s what makes us better.
  11. Take care of the people around you and be kind. Kindness is never wasted.
  12. We are all more dorky and ridiculous than we’d care to admit. Might as well laugh at it.urkel
  13. Caffeine will only get you so far.
  14. Taking care of yourself first is the best thing you can do for other people. You can try and be a martyr and put everyone else’s needs before your own, but like caffeine, its benefits are finite. You can’t be at your best unless you look after yourself.
  15. Chocolate, ice cream, and wine are just about the best things in the world…and they are ALWAYS available. They are more awesome when they’re special treats you can look forward to.
  16. Letting the hurt show a little bit is a great way to draw the people around you a little closer.
  17. There will always be people who are better than you. At everything.
  18. If you want to get better, find those people and hang out with them.
  19. Never believe what you read the first time. Question everything, play the devil’s advocate, and find more sources before forming an opinion on something.
  20. Never trust people who are 100% sure.
  21. We all need each other. Even the world’s most introverted trolls still need other people.
  22. Learning to take good care of your body is a skill that is worth practicing. It takes some mental muscle at first but it will pay off once you have some momentum.
  23. Everybody needs an outlet where they can take their mind off the day-to-day grind. It could be meditating or knitting or playing a sport. For me it’s lifting: you can’t be thinking about all the other stuff you need to do today, or making a shopping list, or wondering if you’re good enough, when there’s a loaded bar waiting to crush you if you lose focus on it.
  24. Nobody can do it for you.
  25. Making sure that the people around you feel loved and appreciated and understood  is worth a little bit of extra effort.
  26. Getting angry is almost never worth the energy.
  27. Make room for what’s important. If you can’t, for whatever reason, it’s not that important – and that is totally ok. Other people’s priorities don’t have to be yours.
  28. People are just people. The ones who stick out (virtuosi, celebrities, etc.) have quirks, fears, and bad body smells just like the rest of us. Nobody needs to be up on a pedestal.
  29. Showing enthusiasm is almost always a good thing.
  30. If your gut tells you you’ve taken a wrong turn, listen.
  31. Find something to do every day that you’re enthusiastic about. If it’s not your job, join a community of like-minded peeps that you can visit on a daily basis.
  32. Be willing to put yourself out there. It’s easy to find support when you take the first step on your own.
  33. Mornings are the very best time of day. Seriously.notamorningperson
  34. Being physically strong feels awesome and it is worth putting time and effort into.
  35. What you do to make yourself physically strong will give you mental strength too.
  36. The space inside your head is yours. Anything you want can happen in there. No one can take that away from you.
  37. Healing sometimes just takes time. Not effort, not treatment, not anything else. Time.
  38. Bad days happen. When they do, it can be hard to roll with the punches…but taking it personally makes things worse. Minimize the damage by accepting it and knowing that tomorrow will be better.
  39. There’s going to be physical pain – most of the time we have a choice between the pain of degeneration…or the pain of development. I’d rather push through some pain of development.
  40. Time will keep marching on whether you make what you want happen or not. Might as well get it done.
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