The Wisdom of 33

And so, another year of my life has come and gone, but something about this one feels off. Usually, I’m excited to begin a new year, but this time I can only say that I am ready. I have resigned myself to it.

I have hardened my heart for what is to come. Sure, there will be happiness and new experiences, but there will also be more challenges, more disappointment, and more suffering too. It’s funny how the good stuff is never enough to sustain you through the bad. It’s funny how existing gets harder and harder. This is what it means to age.

Thirty-three has been the hardest to handle. My 30s have been great so far, but there have been some strange changes to my body and a sombering of the mind I wasn’t prepared for. I am definitely coming to understand the importance of exercise and eating right, but I’ve learned more than that too. I’ve learned to see the boundary between myself and I’m beginning to understand its purpose. I’m growing wiser, I think, and I thought I would share some things I’ve learned off the top of my head.

  1. You hardly know yourself at all.
  2. Toxic ways of thinking are contagious. Protect yourself.
  3. Some of your problems are your own fault.
  4. Minding your own damn business is self-care.
  5. If someone you don’t like, doesn’t like you, let it go.
  6. Listen when it isn’t your turn to speak. Breathe before you respond.
  7. You could be wrong.
  8. Your feelings are all in your head, and they are 100% real.
  9. A quiet life can be a good life too.
  10. Make things that don’t exist on the internet.
  11. Ask all the questions you need. Deal with the answers you are given.
  12. Yeah, it could be worse, but it could be better too. Figure out how.
  13. Your body is going to fail, be ready.
  14. Relax into your relationships.
  15. Get a dog. Get any pet at all.
  16. Have serious conversations. Explore the heavy stuff with people.
  17. Break the rules every once in a while, unless you’ve already been warned.
  18. People don’t belong to you, and you don’t belong to them.
  19. Schedule your mental health days.
  20. Look up at the moon and stars. Notice when the sun rises and sets.
  21. Share playlists.
  22. Think about death.
  23. Let people know they mean something to you.
  24. It’s never as bad as you think.
  25. It’s never too late.
  26. If it’s important to you, it is important.
  27. Even if you know you will fail, try anyway.
  28. Make a list of all the things you are avoiding, figure out why.
  29. Be honest with yourself, and with others, about your fears.
  30. Keep a journal. Write all the bad stuff out, then write 5 good things.
  31. Protect your focus—and all of your other boundaries—at all costs.
  32. Water your plants. Water yourself.
  33. Let yourself be sad, angry, bored, hungry. Let yourself be.

That’s all I have for today, but it’s more than I had a year ago, five years ago, and 10 years ago I had almost nothing. I hope what I have helps you, or at least reminds you of what you already know. I hope to have gained more wisdom next year. I’ll consider it a personal failure if I don’t.

P.S. My birthday was actually last Friday. I wrote this then but didn’t have the courage to post it until now. It’s hard to share my story sometimes, even when it’s being served up in a simple list post.

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Photo by Lora Mipsum on Unsplash

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From Me to Me in Twenty Years

Dear me in Twenty Years,

I do not know you, but I guess you know me quite well.

I will become you in twenty years but one thing I have learned is that trying to picture or predict what the future will hold is futile. I never knew the me I would become now and I cannot fathom what your life must be like.  I have learned instead that I can only hope and I hope that my future is a happy and fulfilling place.

You are 50 now and that means your body is probably creaking and sagging in all kinds of places but I hope you don’t care. I always thought it was silly that older women spent so much time and energy applying creams to fight the breakdown of collagen and various hair dyes to fight the graying. I hope you have a ton of laugh lines and long gray hair. I hope you look in the mirror and see how beautiful age can make us.

I hope you still have your dreadlocks. I love my dreads now and can’t imagine having to cut them off. Please tell me that won’t happen! I also hope you have more tattoos. I have been saving my pennies to get more and I don’t want all that saving to come to nothing in the end.

I hope that you are healthy. I know you have always worried about what you eat and how little you exercise. I hope that somewhere in between the time I was me and the time I became you that we found a way to take care of ourselves better. I know you remember the nights we lay awake facing our mortality. I hope you aren’t still afraid.

I hope you are working for yourself, doing the things that you love. I hope you are writing and creating art which I know has always been your passion. If you aren’t

I hope you are still in love and that your relationship continues to flourish. Our love for a particularly special girl is what got us our of the darker times. I hope you are treating her well. Do not forget the lessons we learned the hard way in the past. If my hopes are misplaced, please, don’t tell me. I’d rather stay ignorant and blissful a little while longer.

I hope our family is well. Your niece and nephew would be all grown up now and our siblings will be getting older right along with you. I hope you see them every Sunday still. I hope they all turned out to be fine men and women with their own happy lives and happy families too.

I do imagine that in the time between me writing this and you reading that you have experienced many hardships and some devastating losses. I know that life is often harsh and at times quite cruel. I hope you have not forgotten that life can be beautiful too. I hope nothing has broken you. You are such a fragile creature at times. I also know you are strong when you need to be, you always have been.

Whatever is happening in your life, wherever I have ended up as you, I know that we did our best and I promise when I am you I will have no regrets.

I can’t wait to meet you one day, we will have much to discuss when I do.

– Love always,

You at 30

This is part two, can read part one here.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “From You to You.”

Original image via Caleb Roenigk