Tomorrow, I turn 40 years old. By design, my life now is simple, stress free, and fun. I feel loved, and I feel valued. It hasn’t always been this way; I have waded through massive amounts of bullshit to get here. I thought it only appropriate, on the 40th anniversary of my arrival on this planet, to share some key things that I have learned on my way here – alongside some of my favourite things from 1978. Please enjoy.
1. Makeup is not about how you look, it’s about how you feel about how you look. If you feel good about your face, you feel less compelled to spend your time fixing it.
2. There’s no emotional relationship you are not allowed walk away from when it is damaging you.
3. High heeled shoes are genuinely not worth it.
4. You are not responsible for how any other person feels. They may be upset, but that’s their truth, and it’s not down to you to manage that.
5. No one else is responsible for how you feel. Do not expect other people to behave according to what will make you feel good.
6. Tidy does not equal clean.
7. Most situations and stories can be cropped to fit any chosen narrative. Check the true facts before wasting your energy on outrage.
8. We are mostly designed to tolerate a status quo, to achieve stasis and maintain. We’re designed to put up with less than ideal conditions, until the pain of staying still outweighs the discomfort of actual change. Don’t beat yourself up about not immediately Fixing All The Things, but also understand where and when you need a push to achieve what you really want.
9. You do not have to forgive someone to be able to move on and have a happy and fulfilled life. Some actions and choices do not merit forgiveness – and not forgiving someone is not the same as holding a grudge. If you are living with constant anger or grief over someone else’s actions, you need someone to help you… but if a person wants forgiveness for their actions, tell them to go and find Jesus.
10. Some relationships are beyond economical repair, and that’s OK.
11. Every day, aim to be the best You that you can be that day. Might not be as good as yesterday, might be better than tomorrow, but it’s the best you can be today and that is good.
12. Take the time to always be honest with yourself. If you cannot acknowledge your own reality, your own failings, or admit your own wants, then your interaction with the world is not truthful. It’s not fair to yourself primarily, but it’s also not fair to the people in your life.
13. Cheap toilet paper is never, ever worth the cost saving.
14. Judging people is absolutely fine. Just keep your fucking mouth closed about it.
15. Ironing clothes is not worth the effort. Make a life decision not to do it, except in exceptional circumstances, and it will make you free. Well, free-er.
16. We have many evolutionary redundancies – male nipples, the appendix, wrist tendons for tree climbing… Pain is not one of them; physical or emotional, pay attention to it. It’s there for a reason.
17. Spend your time with people that value who you are, not the people that tolerate who you are.
18. If you think everyone around you is being an asshole, take a moment to find the common denominator, and then re-review the circumstances.
19. ‘Smart Casual’ is one of the world’s most subjective terms, and can be merrily abused to whatever extent you have the nuts for.
20. Doing a good thing because it makes you feel good, rather than because you actually care, does not make you bad person. Self care is important, and if everyone wins – happy days.
21. If someone tells you that their experience is different to yours, hear them. They are not lying to you, even if it challenges what you thought to be true.
22. No one can decide for you how you are supposed to feel about something. Your values and experiences may give you an entirely different perspective to even those closest to you. That said, if you are disproportionately apathetic, or massively overreacting, you probably want to have a look at that.
23. You are not entitled to the world giving you easy money. You are not entitled to a fancy house, or a fulfilling career. You are however entitled to the love and care of people who are supposed to love and care for you. If you didn’t get that, then they did a bad fucking job, and it doesn’t just fall under “Life’s not fair, deal with it”.
24. Woodchip wallpaper is the work of the fucking devil.
26. You are wrong about something. Something you think you are right about. You will probably be sensitive or angry when someone points it out. It’s fine to be wrong, it’s fine to be upset about it, and it’s fine to feel like a bit of a dick – what’s not fine is not learning from it.
26. If you are a man, everything you do is – by default – manly. If you are a lady, everything you do is – by default – ladylike. Correct people on their adjectives and don’t let them define your shit.
27. Recycle for fuck’s sake. You made the rubbish, it’s your responsibility, and that doesn’t stop when someone else puts it in the back of a truck and takes it out of sight.
28. If you cannot complete your work within your contracted hours, you have either been given too much to do, or you are in the wrong job. Do not give a corporation extra hours for free. You won’t be thanked.
29. Spend time with children. They will either allow you access to a world of simplicity you had forgotten about – or they will reinforce why you were right not to have them. Maybe both.
30. Say ‘no’ if you want to. You do not need to justify yourself, nor offer an explanation. It is not a debate, or a negotiation.
31. Be clear about your expectations to your family and friends. No one is able to read your mind, and because you are a different human person, what is obvious to you is not likely to be obvious to them. Failing to explain what you want and need is a straight line to disappointment – and it’s your own fault.
32. Fear will cripple you if you let it. Assess, understand risks, mitigate where possible, but walk forward in awareness with your head up.
33. Do not borrow trouble from tomorrow. Future You can handle that shit when time comes – if there is nothing you can do about it now, leave it the fuck alone.
34. If you are unable to stop worrying or being fearful on your own, you need someone else to help you out of whatever physical, emotional or mental situation you are in. Go and ask.
35. No matter how well-reasoned, balanced, inclusive, well-researched, fair and progressive your opinion is, someone will always fundamentally disagree with you. It may make no logical sense, but people give a shit about different things, and those things are often selfish and destructive. And since everyone is allowed an opinion, you just have to suck it up.
36. If you don’t engage with other people’s drama, it won’t engage with you. Walk away, without remark, be at peace.
37. Spend deliberate time immersed the things that bring you joy. 5 minutes of laughing at a squirrel dicking around can counter a surprising amount of bullshit.
38. Anyone who belittles you or your experience is a bully. They are attempting to create a power discrepancy between you, to either repress you by standing on your head, or make themselves look taller by standing on your shoulders. Fuck them. You do not deserve that.
39. Some people want your advice and opinions to help them fix a problem. Some people just want your complicity while they are angry about something. Understand the difference, and be careful who you gift your time and energy to.
40. You are one person, from one place, with one life. There are 7,600,000,000 other lives out in the world – any time you spend understanding some of them better will make your own experience more rounded and rewarding.