I recently celebrated my 31st birthday, and late in the festivities, I was asked for five life-lessons I have learned in my 3+ decades of living.
Here's what I came up with:
1. Don't make terrible decisions. Of course, not every terrible decision is obvious in its terribleness at the time it's made. But let's admit it: some of them totally are. If something seems like a terrible idea, DON'T DO IT. Or at least think it over further. A lot of the stupid things that have happened to me over the years were preventable, and at the time I was doing them, I KNEW they were bad ideas. So, you know, stop doing that.
2. In the words of the most fabulous RuPaul, "What other people think of me is none of my business." I'm still working on this one, but it's an important step. Learning to live without constantly worrying about how other people perceive me is not easy, but it's definitely been beneficial. As we all know, haters gonna hate. The trick is to say "M'eh. Fuck them." and go one with your life. It's frankly pretty freeing.
3. Get plenty of sleep. Seems pretty obvious, but you'd be surprised how long it took me to come around to this one. I am no longer 21, and therefore I can no longer stay up until the wee hours, then expect to get up in the morning and be effective. Forcing myself to go to bed at a reasonable hour has been a battle, but the results have been worth it. If I'd figured this out earlier, I might have spent a lot less time during my 16 years of education asleep.
4. Moisturize! I caught some flak for this one, since it apparently was not profound enough. Still, it's important. If you don't want your hands to crack and bleed in the winter and feel like they're made of sandpaper, MOISTURIZE! You know why my hands are so soft? Because I moisturize them constantly (and I avoid manual labor, which helps.)
5. Sometimes you have to let things go. Whether it's hurt feelings, clothes that don't fit anymore and probably never will again, friends who have moved off in a different direction, or ideals that are no longer true, some things just have to go. This is another one that has been really hard for me, since I am by nature something of a hoarder. I have wasted too much time and space in my life trying to hang on to things I no longer need. I've learned that if I haven't used or worn it in more than a year, it needs to go. If I am the only one working to maintain a friendship, it's probably not worth keeping. Keeping track of slights and insults is absolutely no benefit to anyone, especially me.
Mind you, all of these are still a work in progress. I am more successful some days than others; there are times when I take two steps forward and one step back in my attempts to improve myself. But the last lesson (a bonus lesson, if you will!) is that Progress is Progress. Figuring this out (mostly with help from Unfuck Your Habitat) has revolutionized my life. Things don't have to be completed or perfect to be an improvement. The important thing is to continue to make an effort. Even if the progress you're making is small, you've still made some, and that is worth being proud of.
I hope that next year I've learned five more useful lessons I can share with all of you!