The 40 Edition

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So I saw this ridiculous article (http://www.vogue.com/article/forty-things-to-know-by-age-forty-molly-guy) about a month before my big milestone. I love first person stories in Vogue because they consist 80% of privileged Western White women telling tales about surviving deceased parents, ennui or professional struggles while summering on the Cape, riding in private jets or languishing in prep school. And the other 20% are personal testimonials of a now-famous person with melanin who overcame hardships in a war-torn country. There is no middle. This list is the former and pure nothingness. I mean it praises Lena Dunham for forcing her nakedness on us and talks about hanging out at Johnny Depp’s pool. I haven’t even been to a real pool party. Should I relate to any of this fluff despite the fact we are both 77 babies? However, can I make my own list? I am 40. I am a writer. I have been through some real stuff (not a war though). I can do it! Here goes:

40 Things I Learned Before Age 40

  1. Sum up your surroundings quickly. I was in first grade when I realized that my mom wasn’t like other moms. It was important to notice this quickly or I could have made myself crazy.
  2. Watch PBS. It made a childhood without cable a grandlearning experience.
  3. Set the goals and create steps to get it. In 9th grade, my English teacher gave my class a scholarship application with all the requirements. I kept it and pretty much fulfilled all of them. As a result, I received three scholarship offers by graduation.
  4. Got to speak to get your blessings. As a communicator, I meet every part of an organization. I cannot tell you how many times I have hooked up people with complementary needs and talents. But you have to tell me what you need first.
  5. Don’t complain. Nothing ever comes from it but pity. Do you want pity?
  6. Packing compactly is critical. My grandfather once told me that it was the important life lesson he would teach me. Team one carry-on!
  7. There are two ways to do things: Cheap and difficult or Easy and expensive. Choose wisely.
  8. Spring for a check once in a while. You won’t be homeless. Raised broke, made me Queen Divide Everything Evenly. It wasn’t always pretty.
  9. Sometimes you have to decide between time and money. I gave up a lot in my 20’s because I chose free time over earning extra money. But no money meant not doing everything I want.
  10. Learn to change a tire, change oil, replace a tail light, and jump a battery.
  11. Mean Girls is a movie not a life style. You really don’t need frenemies, no matter how many tv shows tell you otherwise.
  12. Follow the Five Vogue Rules of Attractiveness – Get a cool hairdo, Keep your eyebrows arched, Dress Well, Take good care of your teeth and skin, Smile often. It convinces people you are attractive.
  13. Stay away from unsolicited commentary. This one is controversial because people think it impends on their right to free speech. However, people already know if their car is dirty and announcing it won’t make it miraculously clean. And telling someone that you hate mushrooms while she is actively consuming mushrooms isn’t a conversation starter.
  14. Kiss the frogs. I could write a book on all my really, really horrible dates but past 30, you have to keep trying no matter what. Unfortunately the perfect mate isn’t going to knock on your door watching you are watching Netflix.
  15. Leave the house. I never fondly remember the time I watched a Lifetime movie on a Saturday night but I do remember the time I missed Stevie’s surprise appearance at Wonder-Full.
  16. Go out alone. One of the best New Year’s Eves I ever had was when my buddies abandoned me on a snowy New Year’s Eve and I went out by myself. I ended up at this amazing private party with free food, drinks and entertainment.
  17. Always choose the concert. Our legends are leaving us and there are so many I never saw live. See your faves at least once.
  18. Cherish those who answer the phone at 3a. I value those who go above and beyond and not everyone does. People tend to favor those with compliments and kind words over those who will drive you to the airport at 3a. That’s bad.
  19. Buy presents to match personalities. I once got family members different styles of purses based on individual likes and everyone talked about it for months.
  20. Have core values and know when they are violated.
  21. Be very careful of Darth Susans.
  22. There’s a moment when someone smiles at you because you compromised yourself too much and they won. Know that smile.
  23. Anticipate behavior. My family always popped by the house unannounced. I learned to be dressed and ready just in case and my mom scrambled EVERY SINGLE TIME.
  24. Move on. I move on quickly. Do I think people are irredeemably toxic? No. Do I think relationships can be? Yes.
  25. Reach out. My best and most uplifting relationship came from reaching out to a family member at the urging of my therapist.
  26. Climb the mountain. I never say I hate something unless I experienced it first. I climbed a mountain overseas and I discovered that I hate mountain climbing. But I know that for sure.
  27. Let others do something for you. My parents are quite self-centered and I constantly reject when person try to do something nice for me. This took years to get over.
  28. Things are better when I do them but okay is good too. Not everything has to be done to my specifications. Except folding towels and sweaters, there is only one way.
  29. Don’t make extra work for yourself. If your boss never reads proposals, why write them? If your chain of command constantly rewrites copy, then don’t agonize over your first draft.
  30. Conduct effective meetings. People don’t have to attend but if you need them to attend, be a good steward of their time.
  31. Wear solid underpinnings. A perfectly fitted bra works wonders. It makes you look great every time.
  32. Teeth are the key to attractiveness.
  33. Be kinder than you have to be.
  34. Always listen to the music before going to a concert. I might have been caught off guard once but never twice.
  35. Read often and always read the book before going to a book club meeting. Even 30 pages can save you from embarrassment like the author being a specially invited guest and asking pointed questions about her book.
  36. Pick a theme song a la Ally McBeal. Mine is Cleva.
  37. Know yourself, stars and warts. It informs your interactions. It’s amazing how critical people are without any self-introspection.
  38. Supervisor doesn’t always mean superior.
  39. I am the universe. I am a super organized J (on Myers Briggs). Often disorganized people say the universe will provide. The universe is me. I have band-aids at my desk. I carry toilet paper in my purse. I register online way in advance.
  40. Dance on the bar. Life can be short or long (per Chris Rock). Being a lifetime member of Ms. Pragmatic’s Sensible Guide to Practical Living may give you tangible items (money, a nice house, feet that don’t ache) but devoting yourself to a little silliness will make life short and fun.
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