In 2021, I will turn 42.
That number is baffling to me. I don’t feel 42, except in my wisdom and perspective and some hard knocks that I have somehow survived.
What I have learned is that turning 40 is definitely a turning point. Forty years on the earth, when just yesterday, I was moving into my college dorm—I swear.
As I now step deeper into this decade, I reflect on some things I have learned and realized along the way.
Here are the 41 things I’ve learned by age 41:
1. You have to love yourself because it truly is no one else’s job.
2. Most folks are doing their best with what they have—this does not mean it is the best for you.
3. Some dreams and goals won’t get realized because of two things: you are being protected from something that you find out about later, or you change your mind or lose interest.
4. No one knows what they are doing.
5. Anyone who says they have never lied is a liar (include those times you’ve lied to yourself as well).
6. Stop comparing—everyone is on their own timeline and has their own set of challenges.
7. Keep breathing.
8. Everyone has had tragedy and everyone has had joy—it’s not a contest.
9. It’s okay not to know all the answers (because no one does).
10. At some point, you realize all the ways you have been conditioned, socialized, and even brainwashed—this will make you angry at first, and then it will lead you toward liberation.
11. Life can be a sad experience and that is okay! Not everything is there for us to fix, some things are there for us to feel.
12. Every bully has a terrified inner child—this doesn’t mean you have to take their sh*t.
13. Pet dogs whenever possible.
14. Keep some things to yourself—not everyone is happy for you.
15. Know-it-alls are terrified of one thing—not being in control. How stressful for them.
16. People who need a lot of attention usually never give any to themselves.
17. As you age, what is important to you will change. Allow this to happen.
18. No one outside of you can ever “make” you happy. That is your job.
19. The only constant in life is change. This really is true.
20. Stop assuming and start communicating—assumption can be a slippery and dangerous slope.
21. Car noises and body aches will always cease as soon as you get to the mechanic or the doctor. This is normal.
22. Forgive yourself for all the stuff you didn’t know before you knew it. I know it’s hard, but you kind of have to if you want any peace.
23. Leaf blowers, crappy vending machines, and car alarms will annoy you at any age. There is no escape.
24. Know your boundaries and be unapologetic about them.
25. Buy the extra insurance on rental cars. Peace of mind is everything.
26. Experiences and relationships from our 20s start to make more sense as the perspective gets longer and wider.
27. Meditation and deep breathing will always bring you closer to the answers or peace you seek.
28. Use your turn signal. It’s there for a reason. It could save a life.
29. Our body lets us know when something is wrong or off. Start listening to it.
30. Busyness is not cool, sexy, or something to strive for. It is a conditioned belief about our worth.
31. Most people are not thinking about you at all—they are thinking about their own responsibilities. This is liberating.
32. Sex is okay. Making love is better (and requires more intimacy).
33. Self-care is not selfish. Inauthenticity is.
34. Practice radical self-compassion. Life can be challenging and we need to be on our own side.
35. No one is completely altruistic. No one.
36. It’s okay to quit something that is no longer resonating with who you are right now.
37. No one escapes pain in this life. No matter how it looks on the outside, the inside story is often very different.
38. Most people have a secret they pray no one finds out about.
39. Being in love and being compatible are two completely different things. It’s sad, but true.
40. Follow your gut. It is never wrong, even if it doesn’t make logical sense.
41. Don’t be afraid of birthdays—some people wish they had more of them.