Well, it’s happening again.
My birthday is tomorrow.
And while 31 doesn’t seem quite as epic as 30 did, it’s certainly been meaningful in its own way. So now that I’ve been living, breathing and making oodles of mistakes for the last 30 years, I thought it might be worthwhile to jot down the things I’ve learned in my one-day-shy-of-31 years old.
- I’m always going to be a work in progress — and that’s completely OK, acceptable and actually a wonderful thing.
- Fall in love — as many times as you can. It doesn’t matter if it’s puppy love, friend love, love for a parent, just fall in, headfirst. You might get some scrapes and bruises along the way, but I promise you, nothing is ever, ever lost by loving.
- It’s OK to not know what you want to be when you «grow up.» I have always had a passion for words, for the way you can construe them and twist them to imply and mean things, so I’m completely enthralled in my current profession. Will I be a managing editor forever? Who knows?
- Friends doesn’t always mean forever. This one has taken me a while to really embrace, but it’s true. It seems sad in a way, to think the people important to you may not always be, but that’s the way life seems to go, and it’s OK. Shedding people you used to be close to (whether it’s due to distance, life changes or simply parting ways), makes room for new people in your life you might need right now.
- Some people, however, do mean forever. I have had the same best friend for over 10 years now, she’s not going anywhere, I’m not going anywhere, and if she or I tried to, we’d probably hunt the other down. Because I love her, she loves me, and somedays, she’s the only person in this whole world I want to talk to. Not to mention my husband. The crazy guy who decided to settle down and raise a family with me. I wouldn’t let him go anywhere if he tried.
- Becoming a mother has changed me forever. Every day I learn something new, my children blow my mind with their love, wit and enthusiasm for the small things. When you become a mother, you see everything through your children’s eyes.
- The small things really do matter. Sure, the old adage is true, «don’t sweat the small things,» but more importantly, enjoy the small things. Savor your tiny bowl of ice cream you treat yourself to, smell your kids hair when they can’t seem to stop clinging to you, save that text from someone that makes you feel happy. The small things in life add up to the bigger picture, so don’t be afraid to soak them in.
- Do things for yourself. Whether your working out at the gym, treating yourself to coffee or trying on a killer pair of heels, don’t be afraid to give a little to yourself. Even if you’re single, live with a cat and have no other responsibilities in life, make sure treat yourself to something special every now and then.
- Own a killer pair of heels. OK, so maybe this one is for the ladies, but it’s true. Whatever your definition of «killer» is, own it. They can be four-inch stilettos, one-inch wedges or simply a kitten heel, either way, own a pair. When you’re having an «ugly» day, a killer pair of heels can take you right out of that mood.
- Learn how to cook one super awesome meal. Even if somewhere down the road you don’t get the itch to host a dinner party, you’ll feel like the super-est adult in the world after making an awesome meal all on your own.
- Find a cause and care about it deeply. It doesn’t matter if it’s ending worldwide hunger or world peace, find something to care about, something you can contribute to and I guarantee it’ll make you a better person. Cause that’s what thinking about a bigger cause does for you, yo.
- Make someone a mixed tape. OK, by now it’s probably a mixed playlist for their iPod or maybe a CD if you’re still old school, whatever it is, make one. Anytime someone sees it they’ll have fond memories, and it’s meaningful. special and wonderful to impact someone that way.
- Get to know your parents. Sure, they may seem annoying in your teenage years, but one day it’s really going to hit you that they won’t be around forever, and it’s going to scare the crap out of you. So once you’re able to, get to know them. Find out what they loved before they became your parents. Hell, play Nintendo games and visit them on Sundays if you want. Either way, enjoy them.
- Every girl should have a spare pair of shoes (ones that are easy to walk in), panty hose and a jacket in her car. Seriously, it’s sounds silly now, but when you’re on your way to the airport and you rip your only pair of hose getting on the shuttle, you’ll be ecstatic to have another pair.
- Eat real, 100 percent, unadulterated maple syrup. Screw the calories, it’s amazing. And you’re worth it.
- Find your favorite book and read it every couple of years. You’ll be shocked at the different things you can take away from the same 500 pages after a few years have passed. Chances are, you’ll fall in love with it all over again.
- Make goals for yourself. They don’t have to be big ones, they can be something as simple as waking up every day and having breakfast … or walking four times a week. Make goals so you can achieve them, which will give you something to be proud of.
- If a boy likes you, he’ll call or text, because he won’t be able to stand not doing it.
- Write real letters (the kind with a pen and paper), send birthday cards (not just texts) and remember thank you notes. These are the little things that make people smile.
- I promise you, you do not need that extra shot of tequila. Sure, it sounds like a great idea at the time, but you will NOT miss it the next morning. I repeat, you will NOT miss it the next day.
- Lend a hand whenever you can. Something as simple as baking muffins for your best friend after she has a baby to getting dairy-free ice cream for your mom at the store, be as helpful as you can when you can. You never know when you’re going to need someone.
- Hate less. Trust me, this one is a hard one for me, as I can be queen of the grudges if you really, really upset me. But the older I get, the more I realize how dumb it is to stay mad. When you hate something, you chain yourself to it. When you accept it, forgive it and move on (or away from someone if they’re detrimental to your well-being), you’re free. And I’m serious about that. Not giving a damn about something is about as free as you can get when it comes to negativity.
- Speaking of negativity, be more positive. I know, this one is so hard for me too. I have a tendency to see that darn ole glass not only half empty, but also full of like curdled almond milk or something. Trying to find the good in everything isn’t naive or unrealistic, it’s a healthier, simpler way of living. So seriously, start looking for the good in every situation, even if sometimes you have to look a little harder.
- Spend more time with people you admire. Maybe it’s a family member, a friend or an old college professor, regardless who it is, make time to be around them. Spending time with people we admire gives us a boost in the way we feel about ourselves. Because seriously, you’re probably a pretty awesome person, which means the people YOU admire are probably just as amazeballs.
- Don’t be afraid to start over. Sometimes, starting fresh is exactly what we need in life. Maybe it’s your career; maybe it’s your house. Whatever it is, decide you don’t like things the way they are anymore and MAKE a change. Starting over isn’t giving up, it’s simply opening your life to new and better things. For realz though.
- Learn the lyrics to your favorite song. You know that song you always jam to with the windows down and on full blast? Instead of just «hmmm shh muh huh-ing» your way through the parts you don’t know, learn the lyrics to your favorite song. They just might bring a little cheer your way when you need it.
- Try new food. I’m SO serious about this one. Do you know how many people I know that have never had Indian Food? Heck, even Mediterranean food is considered oddball by some people in my life. Try a new cuisine, try a new vegetable, just try something new. Maybe you’ll hate it, but maybe, it might just become you’re new favorite.
- Try to understand more and judge less. It can be super duper hard, but more often than not, we don’t know what battle someone is going through.
- Wear red lipstick. I know, again, this one is more for the ladies, but don’t ever doubt what an awesome tube of red lipstick can do for your outfit. You can feel fancy and it’s a great way to break your old routine!
- Learn from others …
No seriously, learn from others. People have amazing things to say, which is why I’m leaving that last one open, because I want to know what YOU’VE learned in your XX amount of years you’ve been alive!