I don’t remember my 30th birthday. That may very well be because it feels like it was forever ago. Or maybe I don’t remember because I was intoxicated. Or, maybe, intoxicated or not, I was not living a life of awareness, clarity or happiness, which makes those days hard to recall. On my 30th birthday, my life was fueled by selfishness and my soul was broken and empty.
My 40th birthday is tomorrow, and as I bid adieu to my 30s, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the lessons I learned these past ten years. My 30s brought me sobriety, new friends, and a newfound spirituality. I feel better than I ever have—physically, emotionally and spiritually.
My journey is unique, but like some others, it’s been full of suffering and heartbreak. Still, I would not change one thing. In the words of the great JK Rowling, “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”
In pain, there is learning, and in learning, there really is growth. And so I thank my 30s for the following lessons that I’ve learned through pain, suffering, and my own mistakes. And I thank God for giving me the strength to hang in there long enough to learn them.
1. Gratitude is powerful.
2. It is true: your nose really doesn’t stop growing.
3. If in doubt, throw it out. Do not allow clutter to take over your home, office, car. Simplify wherever possible.
4. Worrying about money (or anything else for that matter) solves absolutely nothing. It simply takes you out of the here and now and steals moments from right under your (growing) nose.
5. People come and go, but as with every goodbye, there is a lesson to be learned. Find it, write it down, embrace it. Please embrace it.
6. Yelling at the kids causes more harm and guilt than good.
7. Compassion goes a long way.
8. Empathy can indeed be learned.
9. What happens between 9 a.m and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday is the least important part of life. Work is not worth an ounce of stress.
10. Throw away the damn scale and eat the chocolate.
11. Life is fucking short.
12. When someone doesn’t hug back, hug them a little tighter.
13. Sorry is an action word. Anyone can utter the words I am sorry. A true apology is supported with changed behavior.
14. The only things I can control are my own actions and reactions. Let go of everything else.
15. When faced with a tough decision, choose the answer that scares you most. Fear is a liar; you must contest it with a smile.
16. Nothing negative ever comes from choosing kindness.
17. Music is my safe place.
18. What other people think of me is none of my business.
19. Self-pity is ugly and dangerous.
20. Someone somewhere has it worse than me.
21. Love is always the answer.
22. Social media is a time-wasting, soul-sucking waste of energy.
23. The best friends are the ones who call you out on your bullshit.
24. Binge-watching has its therapeutic properties.
25. Forgiveness is a choice and it results in freedom from resentment.
26. Practice the pause: wait a day or two before making any major decisions or taking any impulsive actions.
27. Be true to yourself. Stop asking others for advice on how to live your life. Embrace your uniqueness and do it your way. There is no wrong answer when you honor your intuition and just be you.
28. Acceptance is the first step to happiness. Accept every person, place, and situation exactly as it is. You cannot control or change them, so take a deep breath and consciously accept what is.
29. Always pump a full tank. If you pump only $20 at a time, you will be sure to regret it tomorrow.
30. Learn from the past, live in the present, and know the best is yet to come.