All The Things I Wish I Had Known
Today is my birthday. I’m 40. I know ‘Naughty and Forty’ – hilarious. As if it’s a huge joke that someone can’t be wild, fun and sexual once they’re past their 30’s (you clearly didn’t see what happened at 2am the night of my birthday after a few shots).
So what have I learned in my ripe old age? The answer is a lot, and also – nothing most of us don’t already know. They say youth is wasted on the young, and it’s true.
If you’re young and tight-skinned, no commitments, no bags under your eyes, your whole life one big yawning stretch of ‘who knows?’ ahead of you – yeah, you don’t deserve it. Why? Because you’re at your fittest and healthiest, but your mind isn’t yet.
That’s not me being mean, it’s bloody horrible being in your teens and twenties. It’s a complete head-fuck, I couldn’t wait to get out of it. The entire age thing is one of life’s perpetual paradigms. Just when you reach that stage in your life when you’ve learned all the lessons the hard way, you’re confident, courageous, strong, chilled and know with full certainty what’s important in life – you can’t be arsed to do anything about it because you’re really tired and your lower back has been twinging all day and that new episode of The Crown is on. Plus you look like crap.
So here you go, young’uns, I’m going to save you the trouble of learning the hard way so that you can enjoy your lovely sprightly bodies and shiny hair, all that free time and frivolity, and your enviable expanse of future by not tying yourselves up in knots worrying about the wrong stuff.
Here goes, my 40 lessons at 40. Feel free to ignore every single one of them, and then come back to me when you’re 40, and I’m dead, and tell me I was right…
- There are two choices in life. Get old, or don’t. I’ll take option 1 please…unless being a vampire is an option. Then I choose that.
- Don’t worry about what you look like. In ten years’ time you’ll laugh at those photos anyway.
- The only person you need to please is yourself.
- Cats are amazing. Egyptians knew their stuff.
- It’s better to regret the things you did than didn’t do…
- …unless it involves Tequila.
- Old people know nothing, until you get to their age and realise they were right.
- Drink more water.
- If it scares you, do it…
- …unless it can kill you. Don’t do that.
- Ask ‘Why?’ more often.
- Say ‘No’ more often.
- Forget about guilt, it’s a waste of energy.
- And so is worrying. Why suffer twice?
- Don’t complicate your life (my dad’s favourite saying)
- Save some, spend some. Don’t do too much of either.
- Be kind to yourself. There’s only one of you.
- See that person who has it all? They don’t.
- Ask yourself ‘is it really true?’ Emotions and your brain can be cruel, don’t let them gang up on you.
- No one and nothing will make you happy, you need to unearth it from within.
- Don’t watch things on your phone in public, use headphones. No one wants to listen to your shit.
- There is no excuse for ignorance any more. The internet is for more than just cat videos.
- Travel. I’m yet to meet a racist, small-minded knob who has travelled.
- There’s no such thing as ‘I can’t.’
- Being a parent is hard…
- …not being a parent, when you want to be, is harder.
- Be thankful for what you have, but not grateful. YOU made the good things happen.
- Have faith. Religion is a choice, but faith in yourself is a gift.
- Leave the past behind, it can’t hurt you anymore.
- And don’t try and control the future. It’s laughing at your efforts.
- But DO have goals. Achievable ones…bit by bit.
- Ask for help. You’ll be surprised how kind people can be.
- Don’t eat too much sugar or fast food, that crap WILL catch up with you.
- Sleep when you need to. There’s no medal for being superhuman.
- You’re only as good as the people around you. Choose friends wisely.
- You owe no one anything. You don’t have to justify yourself – ever.
- Try food from every country. Seriously, you’re missing out.
- Be brave. Be kind. Be humble.
- Listen to your gut and your heart. They’re normally right.
- Deep breaths. It’s all going to be just fine – because you have the power to make it so.
Now get off bloody social media and live your best life. In my day we didn’t fill our heads with all this internet nonsense!
(Note from The Editor: There is a shorter, less sweary version of this list originally Tweeted under Lady Lolita’s author account NJSimmondsTPK)