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40 Things At 40


One month ago, I turned 40. As the day approached, I had a lot of people saying things to me like, “Don’t worry, it’s just a number” and “At least you don’t look 40!” and “Well, don’t go telling people how old you are!” and a host of other things that made it seem like I should either try to forget my age or pretend I’m younger than I am, because who wants to be 40?

My response was always the same: “Don’t take 40 away from me –  I’ve earned it!” I even took to saying I’ve reached Level 40, instead of just being 40 years old. Because Level 40 makes it sound like an accomplishment, which it is. (It’s also a ridiculous privilege, but that’s for another day.) I survived those first 39 levels. Sometimes I leaped from one level to the next. Other times, I just barely made it over the edge hanging on by my fingernails. But I did it. Level 40.

And I didn’t just do it, I learned from it. Here are 40 things I’ve learned at 40.

  1. Nobody cares about what you look like as much as you do.
  2. A warm beverage is always enjoyable.
  3. Most unsolved problems are because I haven’t done anything about them.
  4. There aren’t any problems that salt water can’t fix.
  5. Nothing is better than when somebody else makes dinner.
  6. A couple of hours with your best friend and a cup of tea can replace 10 sessions with a therapist.
  7. Therapy is great and everyone should try it.
  8. We’re all just walking each other home.
  9. Shame may result in short-term actions, but it has long-term consequences.
  10. Your parents are just people, with their own hopes and fears and ambitions and lives.
  11. Most people aren’t fun when they’re drunk.
  12. Fried dough covered in sugar should be its own food group, with a daily minimum intake requirement.
  13. All the quirky things you find adorable about your partner will annoy you one day.
  14. Sometimes, it’s better to lose the argument and win the person.
  15. Keep you girlfriends close. You’ll need them.
  16. Nature is church.
  17. The one day I don’t carry a pen and notebook with me is the one day I will need it the most.
  18. Saying something over and over doesn’t make it true.
  19. Your truth and my truth are not necessarily the same. Context and perspective matter.
  20. Depression and loneliness are two best friends who will work together to bring you down. Don’t let them feed on you.
  21. If the world only followed this one book as its Bible, we might be alright.
  22. The people to whom you are the closest, who love you the fiercest, probably won’t notice how you grow. It’s hard for them to see you in a new light, different than the one they decided long ago shines on you. That’s okay. You keep shining on. Your growth and transformation belongs to you.
  23. Love is not something you feel, nor something you say. It’s something you do.
  24. A lot of people won’t like me, and it’s okay.
  25. Having meaning in your life will keep you going when happiness wanes.
  26. You are allowed to change. Even if no one notices except you.
  27. What other people think of you has nothing to do with you.
  28. Having kids is like looking into the most honest, filterless, mirror every day. You will notice every speck of dirt, and every reflection of light.
  29. I’m the only one running my race.
  30. Meditation really works. I don’t know how. I don’t know why. I just know that it does.
  31. We are always being sold something. Usually something we don’t want. Almost always something we don’t need.
  32. Everyone looks shitty under fluorescent lights.
  33. I’d rather hang out with funny, smart people than pretty, boring people. Funny smart people are the best.
  34. Confidence and humility are not mutually exclusive.
  35. A good mood is one workout away.
  36. Gratitude is a practice that can change everything for the better.
  37. Forgive. Not for them, but for you. It doesn’t mean you forget, but it means they don’t have the power to hurt you anymore.
  38. Apologize fast, thoroughly and honestly. You may not get all the apologies you deserve, but you won’t regret giving them when you know you should have.
  39. Stand up for yourself. You’re allowed to say no. You don’t have to sacrifice yourself on the alter of employee/friend/daughter/wife/mother/woman to prove your worth in any of those realms. Take care of you.
  40. Life is short. Do what you want. Do it when you want to do it. Haters gonna hate. Don’t let them stop you.

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