Today I am turning 40 years old and I am kind of in shock, because I have no clue where the last decade went. I have a feeling that most people feel that way.Time perception is a weird thing. I’ve always felt like I lacked a few years behind my actual age. I am just now about ready to embrace my 30’s, but here we are: poof, and they’re over. I once read that time seems to ‘speed up’ the older we get and I feel that is (mostly) true. A six- week summer break felt super-long when I was a teenager. Now, I blink and 6 weeks are gone.
I loved my 30’s for the most part. They were not without challenges, but overall, I felt more certain of my place in this world and more secure in my own body. There is some sort of peace that goes along with getting older that I really appreciate. You stop sweating the small stuff.
I’ve grown and been stretched in many different ways in the last decade and I want to share some of my wisdom *cough* with you. Here are 10 things I learned in my 30’s:
What you do with your life is nobody else’s business.
It really isn’t. A lot of people will have opinions along the way, but what you do with your life, who you love and where you life is really your own decision. Nobody has to be happy with the decisions but you.
You can’t please everyone.
This must have been the hardest lesson for me to learn. I always thought that I really didn’t care that much what other people thought of me, but alas, I do care deep down inside and always tried – consciously or subconsciously – to please every damn person. Turns out, that’s not really doable and you get into situations where inevitably you’ll hurt or let someone down. Sometimes the person you have to put first is yourself.
Don’t waste time on things you don’t enjoy.
I used to proudly say that I am not a quitter and that was just the expression of an internal truth. I always wanted to do – and keep up – everything. Well, but there comes a time where you have to start prioritizing your time and energy and that’s when you also have to make the tough decision that you shouldn’t waste time on things that you don’t really enjoy.
Live within your means.
I’ve always been more of a saver than a spender. The recent spending frenzy that came with the acquisition of our house and many related purchases made me feel uneasy at times. The good part: we had money for all of this and it makes me feel good to know that we live within our means – and always have.
Comparison is the thief of joy.
It is hard – especially in times of Instagram and Facebook – to not get sucked into the comparison game. People share their joys and accomplishments with the world, hit milestones left and right and share them instantly, which on one hand is really, really wonderful. But sometimes it makes it hard to feel like you measure up.
It’s not about not being happy for your friends (not at all! I am genuinely thrilled for them!), but having their joys – and mostly only their joys, nobody posts about struggles! – constantly in your face, can lead to a little less joy in your personal life. Sometimes it’s good to remind ourselves that not everything we see online is as picture-perfect as it seems. We are all guilty of just putting out the most joyful moments, are we not? Focusing on our own lives (and less on the social media lives of others) every once in a while is a good thing. Moderation is key here.
Experiences > possessions
Enjoy and treasure your experiences. In the end, your memories are worth more than any material possessions. Nobody can take those memories away from you.
Age is just a number.
Like I mentioned before: I don’t know what 40 is supposed to feel like, but I do NOT feel 40. I have a feeling that most people say that. If I’d ask my parents how it feels to be in their 60’s, I am sure they will stare at me with a blank face and shrug their shoulders. Is this what getting older feels like?
Let’s just focus on the here and now then.
Every year is a gift.
I try not to dwell on the fact I am getting older. Experiencing my bff’s battle with brain cancer and knowing about other people who have dealt with serious (health or personal) issues in their young lives, I try to remind myself that every year that I get to be healthy and happy (and somewhat carefree) is truly a gift that has to be appreciated.
You work to live, you don’t live to work.
I am going out on a limb here and say that 95% of people would probably happily quit their job and pursue other things if they could. I am one of those people, although I really like my job and (mostly) enjoy what I do on a daily basis. In the end though, my job is a means to an end and a work-life-balance is more important to me than money. What’s the point of earning more money when you never have the time and peace of mind to enjoy and spend it? As long as I have enough money to live comfortably and (mostly) without worry, I am good.
We’re nothing without our friends.
I’m happy to say that I have some amazing, long-lasting and strong friendships and they’re extremely important to me. I’ve known my most dearest and closest friends a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 37 years (feels unbelievable typing this out, but it’s the truth). Nothing really beats female friendship. Nothing.
Upward and onward. 40’s here I come.