I’m going to be 49 this year. Forty-nine. I can’t decide how I feel about that. I’m happy I’ve survived this long and that I’m living a relatively happy, healthy and productive life, yadda yadda yadda, but that nagging little inner voice keeps whispering “you’re old.” Make that screaming…my inner voice is a loudmouth.
My forties are almost behind me. I remember other milestone birthdays. I remember turning 21 and the excitement of being able to get into the bars legally. Fun fact: I once had a fake ID that said I was a short girl named Kim. I’m actually 5’11 but Kim’s picture looked reasonably like me and I was able to convince the one bouncer dude that questioned me that the DMV had left off a “1” in the height block. I'm not sure if he really believed me, but he let me and my big hair into the club where I probably did the Electric Slide and the Macarena while rocking my high-waist Guess jeans. I was so fly. Ah…memories.
I remember turning 30 and being depressed because I was old and dried up…yes, I really thought that and yes, it didn’t take me long to realize that was BS. My thirties were great and I wish I'd have appreciated them more at the time. I remember my rather “meh” attitude about turning 40. I was busy living life and getting things done and I didn’t have time to wallow about…well, anything. Besides, there was some kind of catch phrase going around about 40 being the new 30 and of course, I jumped on that bandwagon.
Although I still haven’t decided how I feel about this next milestone birthday, the big 5-0 that is looming has caused me to get a little nostalgic. Here are 11 things I would have told my twenty-something year old self:
It’s okay to not have your shit together
There will be a few times in your life when you think you do…but you really won’t. You will have your moments when you feel like an adult…but most of the time you won’t…and that’s okay.
Today, I might give the illusion that I have this whole grownup thing down. Totally faking it.
You don’t want to be with someone that doesn’t want to be with you
I wallowed over more so-called broken hearts in my twenties than I care to admit. Okay, maybe I'd admit it if I could remember…but it was a lot, people. I wish I could tell younger me not to waste time and mascara wallowing over someone who didn't 110% want to be with me. I went through my “I like bad boys” phase and until I stopped chasing after emotionally unavailable assholes or guys that just couldn't let go of the ex, I was usually moping over somebody who just wasn't that into me.
Hangovers will hurt like hell when you get older
Go ahead and get those purple hooter shooter things, beer bongs and body shots out of your system now. If you attempt that sort of foolery after a certain age, you'll wake up feeling like the Macy's Day Thanksgiving Parade is marching through your head. Or, so I've heard.
Your brunette friends with the savage tans are going to have wrinkles and sunspots before they're 30
Keep using that sunscreen and rock your pasty white legs, girl. Laugh lines are not funny…I don't care what anyone says…and you'll have less of them if you remember that SPF is your friend. Your really good friend. See also floppy hats and Jackie O sunglasses.
Learn to say what you think in times of confrontation
Passive-aggressive or whiny might come second nature but that’s not going to do much for you. For example: “I need you to do the dishes once in a while” versus flinging pans and silverware around the kitchen in that “look at meeee, I’m cleaning up your crap” kind of way.
Wait, that’s actually a bad example because I’m still working on that one, but you catch my drift.
Always have a plan B
I’m not saying spend your life what-iffing but stop to think about what you might do if things don’t work out. This has nothing to do with a lack of optimism but having some sort of idea of which direction to go when life throws you a wrench will come in handy.
Choose your friends wisely and don’t neglect them
Life is too precious to hang with jealous bitches or users. If you find yourself yoked to a toxic friend, cut ties. It might be painful but some friendships aren't meant to – and shouldn't – last forever. But when you make those good as gold friends, treat them like the treasure they are. You know the ones. They'll hold your hair while you puke and hold your hand when you cry…and anything else that needs holding along the way. As we roll through life, our needs and priorities change…jobs, relationships and kids can all cause us to put our friendships on the back burner. Most of the time, that really good friend will understand, but make that relationship a priority, too.
Don’t waste your time looking for Mr. Right
Things have a way of sneaking up on you when you least expect them to. Besides, Mr. Right Now can be a hell of a lot of fun, too.
Learn to be good with money
Living within your means, balancing your checkbook and basic investing are not rocket science. It's not cute to be the girl with the $300 bag that scrounges for gas money in the sofa cushions.
Choose your words wisely
Ask yourself if something is necessary, true or kind before you let it fly out of your mouth. It’s easy to apologize but the phrase “time heals all” isn’t always true. And ditch the phrase “brutally honest” because that's just an excuse to be a douchebag under the guise of bluntness and it's usually not productive.
Be spontaneous, but…
Some things are fun to do on a whim, like taking a vacation or changing your hairstyle but there are certain things you shouldn’t do on a whim, like get married, get a tattoo of a semi-automatic weapon on your back, or get a dog. It’s up to you to figure out what you might need to sleep on.
Sometimes, happiness is a choice and sometimes you find what you’re looking for. Look for the good. There’s enough bad stuff that worms it’s way into our lives, right? Bring it, 49. I'm ready for you. I'll worry about 50 next year…
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