Lessons I Should Have Learned Way Before Age 50

This has been a year of great change and great learning for me. I’m starting completely over at 50, and that creates a unique set of challenges. It also allows for a unique set of insights. Here are a few things that I’m finally starting to figure out this year that I wish I had understood a long time ago.

  • Not everyone is going to like your pets as much as you do. This was a hard lesson for me to accept, because I know for a fact that I have the best two dogs on earth, but hey, what are you going to do?
  • You can’t force people to like you. It would be great to get along with everyone, but some people just aren’t going to like you. They may have made that decision before even meeting you. They may genuinely find you irritating. Or there may be some negative chemistry going on that defies explanation that neither of you can do anything about. Oh well.
  • You can’t convince people to love you. People will either love you or they won’t. Behaving differently or trying to act charming won’t change that. So stop worrying about it. Let whatever happens happen.
  • There’s no point in worrying about what other people think. In fact, it’s quite liberating when you stop caring. I’m not saying you should throw the Golden Rule out the window. I’m just saying you shouldn’t twist yourself into a pretzel to obtain some stamp of approval that you may or may not get.
  • You’re most likely not going to radically change in the most fundamental ways. I’ve always had this fantasy that I’d become this person who dressed in artsy clothes and wore a long thick braid over my shoulder. Yeah, I could do that, but the truth is, I’m too lazy to invest in clothes and I’m a wash and wear hair kind of girl. And that’s okay.
  • People may want you to change, but that’s their problem. I have wasted a lot of time feeling guilty that I haven’t lost the weight other people want me to lose, or been this outgoing social butterfly who likes to join groups. But you know, screw it. Screw them. I’m me.
  • Rules are made to be broken. The older you get, the more you can get away with. Take advantage of that. It’s fun.
  • It’s great to learn from other people’s mistakes. Let someone else do the heavy lifting for a change.
  • Just because you’re craving something doesn’t mean you should eat it. As time goes on, more food disagrees with me. I may want that meatball sub, but I know I’ll regret it. That’s not going to change.
  • Take chances. If there is something that can change, and you want it to, you’re going to have to take risks. If you don’t, you’ll gather dust. What a waste of life!
  • Don’t let others decide what is important to you. Your priorities for my life do not automatically constitute my game plan for my life.
  • People love it when you’re curious about their lives. Pull your head out of your behind and ask questions about others. They’ll enjoy being in the place of expertise, and you might just learn something.
  • Never stop learning. Read. Discuss. Travel. Ask questions. Be okay with the fact that you don’t know everything. Then life will always be an adventure.
  • Look in the opposite direction every once in a while. I’ve discovered that when going about my daily routine, I tend to look at the same things. But there’s stuff behind you, and to the left of you, and even overhead, that you may not have noticed before. And often it’s beautiful.
  • Get over yourself. If you’re holding on to old baggage or regrets or disappointments, what does that achieve?
  • You only have so much energy. Don’t waste it on stupid shit. It’s okay to not participate in the drama or tolerate the crap. In fact, when you draw firm boundaries, not only does it reduce your stress, but others usually wind up appreciating it, too.
  • It’s easier to live without secrets. I was living with a doozie for a while there, and when I finally admitted it to my friends and family, it turns out that they didn’t care! I spent so much energy and time guarding that stupid secret that I could have used on something else that was more productive. Just get it out there.
  • It is so much fun to be able to laugh at yourself. Be silly. Delight yourself. Have fun. Don’t take yourself so freakin’ seriously. Life’s too short.

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