I am now closer to my forties than what I am to my twenties. It’s kind of depressing because I still don’t always feel or act like an adult.
In just a few years I’ll be forty and be expected to have gotten my shit together. To a certain degree I am ready for it but mostly it terrifies me. Forty-something has always seemed so old, especially when I was in my twenties. But now that I’m almost there it doesn’t seem that old any more. Funny how life works, isn’t it?
In the last few years of my thirties I’ve come to realise what an idiot I was in my twenties. The things a twenty-year-old worries about are so frivolous, yet at the time they seem so important. There are a couple of things that I know now which I wish I’d known in my twenties. For instance, don’t worry about what people think of you. It’s exhausting and a total waste of time. Conforming to what is expected of you slowly massacres your soul. It’s like trying to fit into a pair of jeans two sizes too small for you. Not only is it uncomfortable, but everyone else will notice that something’s not quite right.
In my thirties I’ve also come to accept that deep down I’m a very neurotic person. Instead of seeing this as a negative thing and hiding it from the world, I decided to embrace it. After all that’s a part of who I am. I’ve realised and accepted that I have flaws and that it’s okay. Nobody is perfect and perfection is fundamentally boring and most certainly unattainable. Whenever I doubt this I just remind myself that even the people who I may have thought were perfect have also, at one time or another, had raging diarrhoea. This has always made me feel better.
I wish I enjoyed being young more; having had a great metabolism and being able to eat whatever I wanted. After I turned thirty everything went to hell. Things started to sag, got flabby and I realised that the saying “a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips” is totally fucking true. My thirties was also the first time in my life that I actually tried diets. They all failed because I am a non-conformist and measuring food just seems like so much work.
Naturally, I also developed body image issues and a strong aversion towards scales. That was until I finally accepted that we cannot all look like Greek Gods and that’s okay as well. The world can do with more chubby people (after all, we stand a much better chance of surviving a famine than skinny people.) That being said, it’s important to accept yourself just the way you are (I once read that in a self-help book. It sounds like bullshit but it is totally true).
In my thirties I learned not to try to predict the future. Shit happens and not always the way you planned it. In my twenties I never wanted children. They scared me and I thought they were annoying. I thought all babies were ugly and I considered people who brought their little brats to restaurants to be just plain inconsiderate. Well, today I’m a parent and one of “those people”. I now also take my child to restaurants and onto planes. It’s not like I’m being discourteous, it’s because I don’t have a bloody choice. I can’t just leave my eleven-month-old at home alone. Duh! (Or that there are nannies sitting next to their phones just waiting for my call and willing to work for free.) Don’t be an asshole. Some of us love our children, love their company and love taking them to places. Get over it.
The one thing I did right in my twenties, that I’ve never regretted, was meeting my husband. We were so young when we first started dating and this year will be our seventeen-year anniversary. However, one thing my twenty-year-old self did not know at the time was that making a relationship work takes a lot of effort. I won’t lie and say that it’s been all sunshine and roses these seventeen years, because it hasn’t. That shit only happens in fairy tales. When you meet “the one” you have to be willing to suck it up through the tough times in order to reap the rewards during the good times.
In my thirties I’ve come to realise that marital spats become less of a “who will win the fight” and more of a negotiation. You learn to pick your battles. Neither of us is a screamer and we tend to resolve our differences in a more mature manner – through passive-aggression, as it should be. We do this until the other one eventually gets the hint and asks “what’s bothering you?” and then we’ll have a discussion. However, sometimes the issues are more complex than just the habitual non-compliance with filling empty ice trays or the inability to close drawers. For instance, when it comes to religion we differ fundamentally and eventually agreed to disagree. Also, my views on religion are the correct ones and hubby’s views are wrong. Just saying.
Lastly, in my thirties I’ve come to realise what’s truly important in life. I no longer have time to indulge in bullshit if it interferes with my happiness and/or that of my husband and my son. I’ve learned that being happy is a choice. If you allow negative people into your life and invite them to stay or dwell in the past you erode away your own joy. At times you have to move on and not look back – focus on your priorities and your future. In my twenties I was incapable of doing this and I wish I had this realisation sooner. I’m now closer to forty than what I am to twenty. And thank god I am.