Yesterday, when I sat down at the computer, my intent was to write a new blog entry updating my outline revisions and finish last week’s “Things I learned.”
That didn’t happen. I just wasn’t feeling it. I was having one of those days when every neuron in my brain was misfiring. Ideas banged around inside my head like jumping beans, but I was powerless to capture and harness them.
Eh, it happens sometimes. So, I checked my email, trolled Facebook, hit a few entertainment sites, and wondered if Catholic school is really the best choice for Suri Cruise.
That’s when I noticed the date.
Hmmm…it appears that I have survived the month since my 40th birthday without suffering any adverse side effects. A stark contrast to a decade ago. Turning 30 nearly did me in and I spent four years recovering. However, the years that followed were a time of great personal growth for me. I discovered a lot about myself, the world around me, and my place in that world. Here are 10 things I learned in my 30s:
10. Eating junk food makes you fat. In my twenties, this was a foreign concept. I ate what I wanted, drank what I wanted, and suffered very little in the way of consequences. In my thirties, my body rebelled. All of those excess calories translated into excess pounds and my jeans size suddenly expanded – from size 4 to size 14.
9. Losing weight requires effort – and sweat. With excess weight gain comes the desire to shed those pounds. Of course, laziness and gluttony made me fat and my first instinct was to find a method to lose without exerting too much energy. A quick fix. I tried the Cookie diet, the Atkins Diet, the South Beach Diet, the starvation diet, the “screw it I’ll just stay fat” diet. I bought pills and potions and patches. Nothing worked, and why would it? The fact of the matter, and something I had to learn the hard way, is that if you want to lose weight, you have to change your lifestyle. And by change your lifestyle, I mean you must put down the potato chips, get your ass up off the couch, and sweat – a lot. Every single day for the rest of your life.
8. Love the skin you’re in. Cleanse, hydrate, and moisturize. Do it twice a day, everyday and your skin will reward you with a healthy, youthful glow. Trust me on this.
7. Change is painful; change is good. I’ve never been one to embrace change. Early on in my thirties, I shied away from it, built a nice safe bubble around my life, and stared out as the world passed me by. Then suddenly, that world shifted. In the span of just a few months, I lost my home to fire, my father to cancer, and learned my mother had breast cancer. In the blink of an eye, everything changed. It was devastating, yet empowering. I discovered through it all, that I am strong, capable, and resilient.
6. Take heart in lessons learned. Contrary to what I like to tell myself, I don’t know everything. I have found that life is more than happy to fill in the blanks. I just have to pay attention and take heed.
5. A happy life begins with happiness within. In Henry V, Shakespeare wrote, “Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin, as self-neglecting.” I’ll admit, I’ve never completely comprehended the true meaning behind Shakespeare’s words, but I like the quote just the same. To me, it embodies the struggle of self-acceptance I endured throughout my 30s. I am a personality fraught with flaws and quirks and insecurities, and I have learned to like me just as I am. After that, the rest came easy.
4. Being a joiner is not a bad thing. I am, by nature, an introvert. I prefer to stand on the periphery – watching, assessing, judging. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that – most of the time. However, to fully engage with life, I found that sometimes I have to step off of the sidelines and into the fray. It’s scary, but the rewards are endless.
3. The only way to conquer fear is to face it head on. Anyone who knows me, or reads my blog, knows that I have a laundry list of phobias. I am scared of flying, boating, drowning, camping, bears, sharks, brain-eating amoeba, and math. If there is one thing that I learned in my 30s, it is that one can’t live their life defined by fear. It stunts personal growth and makes for a boring existence. So, in the last few years, I’ve gone whale watching in an inflatable raft (yikes), taken a sunset cruise into the shark infested waters off the Keys, flown a dozen or more times, and taken four semesters of math – back to back. I’m still working up to camping with bears and swimming in a lake full of brain-eating amoeba. I don’t feel the need to rush.
2. Nurture healthy relationships, eliminate the bad. Relationships are hard. They are even harder when they don’t work. It took a long time for me to accept that sometimes it is best to cut my losses and walk away. Once I did, I was free to devote my energy to the relationships in my life that do work.
1. Youth is relative. If you perceive yourself as old, you are.