I turned 43 on Tuesday, not “29 again”, because hey – I’ve made it to 43! Lots of people in the world don’t, so I feel I should celebrate the milestone. It’s a lot of years and over the years, I’ve learned a number of things. Here are some that stand out.
I talk about my health and what ails me just as much as my parents did/do. I used to laugh and get exasperated by all the talk about what body part was falling apart when my parents played cards with friends or at family get-togethers. Now, I get it. Misery loves company, and with a bunch of friends in the same age category, we all want to know if anyone else is having the same issues.
I usually don’t feel older than age 25, at least not in my head. One of the most memorable conversations I had with a person about aging was at a previous job. A client who was in her mid-70’s said that most days she surprised herself when she looked in the mirror and thought, “Who is that old lady! Oh yeah…” She still felt as if she were in her mid-20’s, and because she felt that way, seeing that she was older was incongruous with what she felt. I get it. At 43, I’ve been noticing things. Joints are achier. I’ve always had grey and silver hairs, but now they are sprouting out on my widow’s peak a bit more and being joined by white eyebrow hairs. My laugh lines are getting a little deeper, and crow’s feet are beginning to show. Errant, black hairs appear in random locations on my face. My mind, though, feels as sharp as ever.
I think everyone should learn personal finance. I really wish that I had learned personal finance before I graduated high school. I got into credit card debt early. Free money – WOO HOO! It took years for me to get out of it and while I didn’t need to survive on ramen or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches if I’d been taught how to manage my money well, I may not have gotten into fiduciary trouble to begin with. But, a bit older now, hopefully, wiser, I’m much better about how I spend my money than I used to be.
It’s okay not to know what you want to do when you grow up. I still don’t know, and I’m frustrated by all of the “follow your passion” articles. That works for SOME people, but for a lot of other people, it doesn’t. Until or unless you find something that you are hands-down over-the-moon for and can make sufficient income at to live, find something that doesn’t crush your soul, leave you sobbing or raging into the bottom of a bottle of booze, and for which you have an aptitude and some curiosity. I’ve worked a vast variety of jobs and learned a lot of all of them. I discovered that I have a talent for bookkeeping and collections and am following that path in school. It’s a portable job, too, in case we decide at some point to pull up stakes and take our adventure elsewhere.
Etiquette, manners, appearances, and kindness matter. We may think that in today’s society, in the USA at any rate, none of those things matter anymore, but they do. If you want to be taken seriously and genuinely respected, you need to prove that you are worthy of being taken seriously and respected. People remember if you are unclean and dressed as a slob. People remember what you said and how you said it. People remember how you made them feel. They also remember if you forget important events in their lives.
Emotions are a fact of life – but we have control over how we let them influence our actions. I realize that I’m more reserved than the average person, but those with whom I’m truly comfortable get to see that exuberance when I’m happy and anger when my ire is raised (though, that’s something I seldom share any more). But when we’re feeling extremes, we are the ones who can control what we do and say.
Errors in judgment, mistakes, and outright, royal fuck-ups are part of being human. I’m not immune to that fact of life. Learn, apologize if needed, and then move forward.
Stuff, objects, things… they don’t matter. People and experiences do – they are also what you’ll remember most. Some years ago, we began going out for dinner for friends’ birthdays. These events were fun, filled with laughter, and enjoyed by all. Then I decided to have Birthday Adventures – for my 40th we all went indoor rock climbing. Other friends have done escape rooms and game nights. This year, with the addition of wee babes to the mix, I’m having dinner at the house with the fancy china and good silver. I’m baking a “not chocolate” cake. There will be friends, who are all like family, and there will be fun. Memories will be made.
Learn. Learn as much as you can. Learn another language (or two). Read about topics that anger you, topics that delight you, or frighten you, or just entertain you. Try new things. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Know what your personal inclinations are and then do the opposite once in a while, or frequently.
Be yourself, but be aware that who you are at 15 will probably not be the exact same person at 25 and will be very unlikely to be the same person at 35. I’m not 100% the same as I was when I was 15, and while my similarities are more numerous than the changes, I HAVE changed. Mr. Muse has changed, too. Twenty years ago we discussed the changes we knew would happen, and that we needed to be sure to talk about them when they came up. My personal beliefs about many of the things in life, love, and happiness have ventured away from what society tells us we should all believe into the fringes and “what ifs.” I’m very liberally minded when it comes to people’s relationships with each other. I’m more open-minded to ideas which are not my own. I also admit that how my life is now is not what I thought it would be and yet, I’m still happy. Sure, my fifteen-year-old self wanted to live in the mountains with some rugged cowboy, and while I still sometimes think about the mountains and living there, I’m happier near the water – namely, the ocean. I love the desert, too. So, while we may think we really want to end up in one place, Life has a way of leading us to other areas.
And, those are the big things I’ve learned over the last 43 years.
What is something that you’ve learned as you’ve gotten older?