39 lessons I really should have learned by now.
Yesterday I turned 39 years old, which means I only have one year until I turn forty, which means I only have one year to get my life together. Because that’s how that works, right? You’re supposed to have your life together by 40?
At least I feel like that should be the case.
Please god tell me that’s the case.
I’m 39 and still feel like my life is a pretty big mess most days. Right now, my apartment is in a state of turmoil because I have been in the middle of a massive reorganization project that I’ve been slowly puttering through for weeks. The corner of my bedsheet came loose days ago and I haven’t bothered to refit it. I have two weeks of unwashed laundry on my floor. My to do list is bursting with unfinished projects. I’m still crushing on some guy I haven’t talked to in months. My hair hasn’t been cut since July. My pants are covered in cat hair. I have a Disney vacation coming up that I’l have to sell a kidney to afford. And I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.
I did have a really good 39th birthday. My friend Nick was in town from Austin on Friday and Saturday so we went to Sun Wah BBQ for their three-course Beijing Duck Dinner, went for brunch in Wicker Park, got coffee at the World’s Largest Starbucks, and played some ping pong. Then yesterday I went out for dim sum in Chinatown in the morning and to Golden Nugget for some huevos rancheros at night.
It was a good weekend and was one of the few times as of late that I allowed myself to just enjoy myself. To go out, leave my apartment, and not be so hung up on all of those things I should have been doing with my time instead.
But now, I’m sitting here in a Starbucks on a Monday morning, panicking because I lost twenty minutes of my life trying to connect to their wifi, stressed because my Monday-morning to do list is twice as long as normal because I did nothing the last three days, and thinking about the next 365 days to come.
Because I now have less than 365 days left in my thirties.
I’m 39 and still feel like my life is a pretty big mess most days. And, most days, I find myself saying to myself, “I really should have learned this by now,” over something basic, something silly, that if I only put into practice, would make my life so much easier. Would probably make me feel that much more like I have my life together. So, today, in honor of my 39th birthday, here is a list of 39 lessons I really should have learned by now. And maybe 39 lessons that I will learn someday soon…
39 lessons I really should have learned by now:
- It’s OK to spend a day doing nothing.
- When I write something down and my phone auto corrects it and I think, “eh, I’ll remember what that was supposed to be,” I will not remember what that was supposed to be.
- Write things down if you want to remember them.
- If I clean my dishes right away they will be much easier to clean than if I leave them in the sink for a week. Or three.
- If I pick up after myself right away my apartment will stay clean.
- If I put things back where they belong I will know where they are.
- You can still do things even if you’re not the best at them.
- It’s OK to take a sick day when you’re just kind of sick and not on your death bed.
- No matter how good the sweet options sound at brunch, always order savory.
- It’s not so bad to be honest with someone about how you feel about them even if things don’t go your way.
- Don’t talk out loud to yourself in public.
- People don’t hate me.
- People aren’t purposefully sabotaging me.
- 5am flights that save a few bucks aren’t worth it.
- I don’t have to get everywhere half an hour early.
- Putting off something I don’t want to do makes it unnecessarily harder. And stressier.
- Always look for the easy-open tab before just ripping into a package.
- Don’t wing it at the grocery store.
- You can only grow by forcing yourself out of your comfort zone.
- I don’t have to Instagram my whole life.
- Don’t check his Instagram.
- Things don’t happen overnight.
- Budgets are good.
- Back up your files. And press save often.
- Realize that you have more willpower than you give yourself credit for.
- Don’t assume the worst.
- Start preheating the oven before you’re at the point of starving.
- I don’t have to cook for the equivalent of four people when it’s just me.
- I don’t have to order takeout for the equivalent of four people when it’s just me.
- It’s OK to eat what you have and not what you crave.
- I shouldn’t change in front of open windows.
- It’s easier to get something done, it’s easier to accomplish something, if I concentrate only on that one thing.
- Don’t drink regular coffee after noon.
- It’s OK to say what’s on your mind.
- It’s OK to ask for help.
- I’m smart. And capable. And have expertise. And worthy.
- Have fun.
- Have patience.
- Move on.
ConradJanuary 20, 2020at12:10 pm
Can you imagine you get 49 and have room for 10 more points to write down? Imagine the possibilities.
Jodi BFebruary 17, 2020at5:59 am
Hey Val. I’ve been following you on and off for over 7 years now. I came for the travel blog and kept coming back for your real life encounters. I really appreciate how honest you are and I guess I see parts of myself in you. Keep on blogging because you are pretty awesome at it. Cheers!
Stella WilsonJune 22, 2020at10:18 pm
Marvelous blog. I am in love with all the beautiful photographs. Thanks for sharing this article 🙂
Martha OliverosSeptember 18, 2020at6:20 pm
Hi Val, your blog is great. I want my son lives many experiences like yours. I’m sure he will. Take care and stay enjoying life.