I turned 34 yesterday.
In the past 34 years I have done and learned quite a bit. I’ve been rejected, accepted, inside popular circles and outside the clique. I’ve lived on 3 continents, felt stupid in 3 languages, and had 4 babies. I’ve taught soldiers how to speak English, called myself a genital in Italian when I meant to say genius, and worn a threadbare rental swimsuit in a Turkish bath.
I’ve had Saturday nightly traditions with the grandparents, epic vacations with my mom, and lazy Sunday naps. I’ve suffered a dodgy massage in Budapest, seen the pope on his last Easter service, and nearly been arrested for prostitution in Mexico. It goes without saying that was Federali corruption.
I’ve made good choices, stupid choices, and learned that sometimes the only explanation for your actions is”it seemed like a good idea at the time.” I’ve worked for football stars, philanthropers, and Senators. I’ve humiliated myself at a piano recital, been mediocre at sports, and said too many hurtful things before saying, “well, it’s the truth isn’t it?”
These past 34 years I’ve learned a few things. Firsthand. From my own experience.
- The most important things in life cannot be bought.
- But money makes life a lot easier.
- Working hard doesn’t guarantee success.
- Yet working hard is really the only option.
- Everything does happen for a reason. Sometimes that reason is that I (or someone whose choices affect me) act stupid and make bad decisions.
- Trying to make people like you is impossible. Being a good friend to those who already like you is a better use of time.
- Waiting a long time for something, then receiving it, is a great life lesson. It’s never as satisfying as you hope. Unless it’s babies.
- The best of friends don’t make you explain yourself because they already get it.
- Sometimes all that’s left to do is bounce back.
- It is the biggest smiles and most enthusiastic “I’m fine’s” that hide great pain.
- Not everyone is fighting a hard battle. Some people actually do have it easy. But they miss out on the refiner’s fire.
- Training for a 5k is easier than training for a marathon. Both literally and metaphorically.
- If you’re gonna be stupid then you gotta be tough.
- Life really is not about you.
- The quickest way to end a pity party is to think about others who have it worse.
- There is always someone prettier, smarter, more successful, and more popular. Those are not eternal qualities.
- You cannot please everyone and trying makes you miserable. Please God and then you don’t care what others think.
- An honest compliment or word of encouragement will be remembered for years.
- People like to remind you of how you used to be. Instead of offense, feel proud of how far you’ve come.
- Loyalty says, though you mess up and I mess up, I am one of your people. Be loyal.
- If it’s a grey area, don’t try to make it black and white.
- Running away from good is bad. Running away from bad is good.
- You can say no to good things. It will be okay.
- But when you know something is once in a lifetime, do it. Some things never come around again.
- Go with your gut 100% of the time. Even if you’re wrong you’ll be comforted you did your best.
- Learn to be handle rejection and embarrassment. Life is much easier this way.
- You can be funny without being crude or viciously sarcastic.
- It’s better to hear (and tell) the ugly truth than believe a glittery lie.
- Pray for wisdom and use it well once you’ve got it.
- Laugh about your past mistakes, but don’t repeat them.
- Some mischief makes for good storytelling.
- It’s a blessing everyone’s different. Don’t try to make them be like you. (Plus, it doesn’t work)
- God puts the lonely in families so be nice, don’t make your own family lonely.
- No matter what 24-hour stores, drive through customer service lines, or high speed internet tell you, life is neither convenient nor easy. And it’s not because you’re doing it wrong.
I hope in another 34 years I will have learned more. More about myself, about others, and about the eternal things that really matter. As of today, I feel good I’m not who I once was. I feel good my priorities have shifted. I’ve got more wrinkles, dimples, and health issues, but I’m okay with me.
Are you okay with you?