I turned 32 the other day. I’m not going to lie, I’m struggling with this one. I loved 30, was fine with 31. I’ll probably like 33, because it’s frankly just a great number, but 32? Meh. I had a vague sense of dread and anxiety as the big day approached, and since I believe that gratitude is a really powerful antidote to anxiety I’ve been trying really hard to feel grateful and to think about how much more centred and self-actualized I am than I was five years ago. Wise, even, some days. I mean, I use words like ‘self-actualized.’

So I started thinking about some of the most important things I’ve learned in my 32 years, and I figured I would share them with you, after another long blogging hiatus. It’s a mixture of borrowed wisdom, advice to my younger self, things I’ve learned about myself, things I’ve learned about other people and the world. A lot of it is stuff I’m still working on accepting / understanding / integrating into my daily behaviour. Like I said, I’m only wise on my better days.

Anyway, here’s what came to mind one evening in Crab Park…

1. Banish ‘should’ and ‘supposed to’ from your vocabulary. 

2. A friendship ending can be almost as painful as a romantic relationship ending — maybe even harder, sometimes — but it’s part of life. Seriously, though. It sucks.

3. There are some things about yourself that you will never be able to change. You’re 5’10+” in bare feet. You have pale, freckly skin. You will never be petite, or tan. The sooner you accept these things — and even learn to love them — the sooner you can start focusing your energy on more important things.

4. Feminism is awesome and has nothing to do with hating men or wanting women to have more/better than men. All women (nay, all people) should be feminists, but unfortunately they aren’t.

5. People don’t really like it when you correct their grammar, so just stop doing it. Or do it in your head.

6. Sometimes when you’re on the dance floor it’s going to seem like a really, really good idea to kick off your shoes and dance barefoot. This is never a good idea.

7. Orcas are not whales. Koalas are not bears.

8. Every dollar you spend on travel will ultimately turn out to be worth it. Every dollar you spend on stuff will not.

9. There are few problems in this life that a nap won’t help fix.

10. Crying is best done in the shower.

11. Every single time you get bangs, you will regret it. But you will keep doing it. And that’s okay.

12. Fresh air is like magic. Power down and go for a walk.

13. Learn to love the fool in you. 

14. Closure is a real thing, and it can feel really important, but sometimes you aren’t going to get it from the people you really, really need it from. You have to find a way to let it go on your own.

15. Your friendships aren’t going to be like on Friends. Adjust your expectations, and be grateful for the friendships you’ve got.

16. Adult friendships ebb and flow. Your best friendships will turn out to be the ones that tolerate absence well. Your truest friends will be the ones with whom you can fall right back in stride whenever the opportunity arises.

17. Selfish isn’t a swear word. Being selfish sometimes isn’t a character flaw. It’s you looking out for you first, and sometimes (often) you’ve got to do that.

18. Home is — will be — a fluid concept. You’ve got a great family, which means you’ve got a home, always.

19. No online shopping after more than two glasses of wine.

20. Nobody likes hearing about how busy/stressed/tired you are. Everybody is busy/stressed/tired.

21. There is strength in walking away when something isn’t right for you.

22. “If it weren’t difficult, it wouldn’t be brave.” 

23. When you find the perfect pair of jeans/Breton striped top/grey t-shirt, always buy two. Or three.

24. People’s lives are not as awesome as they look on Instagram.

25. You don’t like clubs, and never have. That’s okay. You don’t have to go to them. That’s one of the best things about getting older. You get to stop pretending to like things/people that you don’t like.

26. Everybody is insecure / anxious / afraid, even the people who don’t seem like it. Often the people who seem the happiest are struggling the most.

27. Use your words. It’s remarkable how much time / anxiety / misunderstanding you can save yourself.

28. There is very little human behaviour that can’t be understood if you take the time to reflect on the motivations behind it. Take the time. It almost always helps.

29. Talk less, listen more.

30. Lukewarm is no good. Be an enthusiast. 

31. Be the first to apologize. Even if you don’t think you’re wrong (you probably actually are, at least a little).

32. You are an incredibly fortunate human being. Remember to remember that as often as you possibly can.

That’s it for now. I’ll be back soon, I promise.

Image: photo of me by my friend Kim. 

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