I’m officially in the final week of my thirties and to be honest, I’m actually struggling a bit with this one. I thought I’d be excited and sort of let time roll along, but turning forty is a pretty major milestone and it’s made me reflect on all the things (good and bad) that happened during the decade of my thirties.
I became a mother in my thirties. I bought a house in my thirties. I started a company in my thirties. I met my best friend in my thirties. I found my tribe in my thirties. I failed, succeeded, rejoiced and sobbed in my thirties. I questioned my value and own self-worth in my thirties. I lost friends, made friends, found out what persevering truly is and I cemented my love of wine and peanut butter cups in my thirties.
As I reflected on the past ten years, I created a list of thirty lessons I learned in my thirties. Some are simple and some take my breath away. They may or may not do this for you, but perhaps something will land and have you nodding and agreeing with me.
1) Hangovers. With every year, the hangovers get longer to get over and honestly they’re worse than any hangover you’ve had in your twenties. If you’ve ever wondered why your own mother doesn’t drink like she used to, you’ll learn. Oh yes, you’ll learn. For every year in your thirties multiply by three and that’s how many more hours it’ll take you to recover from one night of debauchery. Thirty-one. You’re looking at an extra three hours of hangover time. Thirty-nine? You’re looking at an extra twenty-seven hours on top of what you typically experience. I’m not kidding. The math is right.
2) PMS. It gets worse. Just quarantine yourself for a few days. Save everyone.
3) Wrinkles. You can fight ’em. But, they’re coming. Start your skincare regimen NOW.
4) You’re going to lose some of the best friends you had in your twenties. Life changes, Mamas. Paths change. Be prepared to walk away from friends who no longer add to your life. Be prepared for friends to walk away from you because you no longer add to theirs. Be okay with that.
5) Death happens. It’s awful and terrible and incredibly heart-breaking. But, you’re getting older and so are the people in your life. Death will come to those around you and won’t always happen to the elderly. Death will happen to incredible people and families close to you, to people the same age as you, to their children. Learn to grieve, breathe, accept and keep living.
6) Some days…people are just fucking stupid. It’s not on you to make them less stupid. Walk away. Drink wine.
7) It’s okay to not know what you want to be when you grow up. I’m almost forty and I still have grand ideas about my potential.
8) If you’re lucky enough to still have your parents to call or text, do it. They’re getting older. You won’t be able to ignore their texts forever. So, respond. Also…I think when you get into your sixties you receive some kind of guilt-badge that allows you to lay it on pretty thick, I’ll ask my own Mom…(hi, Mom!).
9) Save yourself the distress and accept that at some point, you’re going to own a minivan and LOVE it. You’ll also most likely GET RID OF IT before you turn forty.
10) You will grunt when you pick things up.
11) There is nothing better than having the house to yourself. Nothing.
12) You will have great satisfaction when you actually wash, dry, fold and put away the laundry in one day. It’s a magical experience. It won’t happen often, but when it does, you’ll celebrate with a glass of wine.
13) If you’re married, at some point, you’re going to fully question your relationship. Dig in or dig out…whatever leads you to your best self. But know that at some point you’re going to want to get out. Do or don’t, that’s your call, but know that it’s totally and completely normal (trust me, ALL my friends have been there).
14) Sparkling water. Drink it. It’s divine.
15) There is nothing wrong with doing a dance of joy when plans get canceled.
16) Motherhood is fucking hard. You WILL call your child a dick to his face at some point. Be okay with that. Okay…that one may just be me and it just happened yesterday, but it happened and he was being one. I did apologize though…so…call him a dick and apologize. There you go. You’re not alone if you accidentally call your child a terrible name. It’s ok. And, if anyone wants to judge you, find me. I’ll salute you and tell you to apologize and get over it.
17) Good things are hard work. Do the work.
18) There are a lot of bad things that happen in this world, but don’t forget to look at the many, many good things that also happen. When things look super dark, you need to search for the light. (She is my light. She sparkles.)
19) Remember, where you’re at right now is just a moment in time. It may be ridiculously hard, but work through what you’re going through, dig in, and do what you feel is best for you and yours. The moment you’re living in right now will not be the moment you live in 3 months from now. So breathe and get through it.
20) Life isn’t easy but it’s not always hard. Enjoy the easy moments and revel in them. Get through the hard times and find the light.
21) You’re not crazy. He really did put his coffee cup on the countertop right above the dishwasher. It happened.
22) Your body is going to change. It’s not going to look like it did at twenty-one. It is going to take longer to recover. You’re going to hurt yourself and it really sucks. Metabolic workouts will become your new best workout friend. Seriously…metabolism slows, the right workout boosts it back up.
23) Your friends and your tribe are more important than anything. Find friends who support, love and cherish you through all the up’s and down’s of your life, your personality, your joy and your sorrow. They will be the ones to pull you out of the dark and dance with you in the sun.
24) Bedtime is the best time (a close second is wine-time, swiftly followed by friend-time).
25) Who you are right now isn’t as important as who you want to be. It’s okay for your life’s plan to change and take a road you had no idea even existed a year ago. Trust your gut and follow your joy…that sounds super lame and Oprah-esque, but I swear to you, it’s true.
26) You’re not perfect. Apologize when you mess up. Be humble. Those that cannot accept your faults and mistakes don’t get to hold a place in your life. You don’t have time for drama or friendships that only work when you’re in “a good place”. You’re going to mess up. You’re going to be bitchy. It’s okay. But you do need to apologize. You do need to ask forgiveness. And then you do need to get over it.
27) If you have a question, ask it. Don’t be timid. Life’s too short to not understand something. Ask why you didn’t get the job. Ask why feelings changed. Ask why there’s tension in a room. Ask how you can be better. Ask for what you need.
28) It’s not always about you. The way people act, the way they treat you, the way they don’t treat you…sometimes (a lot of times) it’s not about you. Everyone has their own life to live and they may be dealing with something that has nothing to do with you. Give them the grace and space to lead their life. Let them know you’re there and to reach out if they should need or want you, but otherwise…live your life for you.
29) Further to #28 though…don’t put up with bullshit. Don’t allow the blame of others’ failures or insecurities to seep into your soul. Many people will blame you for many things that will go wrong in their life, don’t own it. You may have strong shoulders and blame can be carried, but it absolutely shouldn’t be absorbed into the composition of your own self-worth.
30) Acknowledge, admit and own your insecurities to yourself and everyone else. This one is borrowed from a friend, but I love it and I think a lot of us go through life being brave, stoic and hiding the fact that there are things about ourselves that we’re not proud of or happy about. It’s okay to not be perfect and it’s okay to show those imperfections. We’re all a work in progress and admitting insecurities may just be the thing we need to do to grow into the incredible person we’re destined to be.
There you have it. A decade’s worth of growth summarized in 1500 words. There are so many other lessons I could teach you and talk about, but I’ll let you figure those ones out on your own. Just know this: you’re never alone. Reach out to ask for help. Reach out to celebrate. Reach out to live your best life.
BONUS TIP: It’s okay to celebrate your achievements. It took me a very long time to learn that it’s okay to celebrate even the smallest of successes. Be sure you’re with someone who celebrates and honours your successes with you. It’s more important than you could ever, ever know.
This post originally appeared on LindsayGee.ca. It has been reprinted with permission.