They shared with me nuggets of wisdom that proved priceless by the time I was about to turn 30. Through them I was able to see mistakes a mile ahead of time and on the occasions that I missed the warning signs, their advice was what helped me through. This is my ode to them, to show them I was taking notes all along. So in no particular order, here are the gems of knowledge I picked up from them along the way to 30.
1. To survive, you must laugh at EVERYTHING.
Survival rule number one: laugh. That’s right and that’s all there is to it. Not too long ago, a close friend of mine went through a messy divorce. It was hard to comprehend what she was going through and how she managed to come out of it in one piece without committing a felony, but she did.
Her secret? She laughed. She laughed at everything and I do mean everything. Nothing about her divorce was off limits to a good joke. Nothing was ever below the belt. She even laughed along the few times that she wasn’t the one making the joke. I’m in awe of her ability to laugh at some of the most painful moments in her life, but completely convinced of the amazing healing power that is laughter.
2. Let your kid eats socks. Its OK, really.
Now this may sound strange to some, but it’s really pretty simple. I’ve been surrounded by some expert multitasking women who manage to juggle extremely successful careers, fulfilling marriages, kids, mortgages — the whole nine yards. Here’s what I’ve learned from them about being a successful parent: The same rules that apply to your office life, do not apply to your kids. They have figured out that parenting is the fun part of their day; they allow their kids to be kids without enforcing millions of rules by the age of one. So, when their kid goes for the sock-in-mouth trick, they sit idle, watch and adore this oh-so-perfect tiny human — being oh-so-imperfect in the most brilliant way they know how.
3. Sex And The City was a TV show; you live in the real world.
Let’s face it: most of us will never have Carrie’s shoe closet. Mr. Big will not seem as dreamy after breaking your heart so many times (not to mention leaving you at the alter). Carrie’s amazing rent-controlled apartment will in no way, shape or form resemble the first, second, maybe even third place you live. The point here is: when life kicks in, it begins to look less like an episode of Sex And The City and more like an episode of The Amazing Race: Suburbia Edition. That means no matter what you think your life will be like as a grown woman, chances are you’re less likely to spend your time brunching in NYC with your girlfriends every day and more likely to be balancing all the real important stuff in life like your family, budget, career and maybe even kids. My good friend once put it all into perspective for me; she said her life may not be as glamorous as Carrie’s, but yet she wouldn’t trade the love she feels every day for Carrie’s shoe closet, if even for just a night.
OK, maybe just one night…
4. Work will only make you happy, until it doesn’t anymore.
You may love your career, you may be a valued employee and it sure does help feed your shopping addiction, but it’s not always going to make you happy. Don’t expect it to; it’s only a job. I’ve seen too many friends at one point or another sacrifice way too much for their jobs. And most of those friends ended up miserable. Nearly all of them ended up learning their lesson as soon as kids came into the picture and time became something they wanted to spend with their family. This is what all their blood, sweat and tears as working women taught me. Work hard, value what you do, be passionate, but don’t think that your job will solve all of your problems or keep you warm at night. There is more to life than your title and salary.
5. Every girl needs their person.
If you’re lucky it’s a few, but chances are it’s just one. That one person to slap you if you need it, ask you if you’ve completely lost it, or help you get rid of the evidence. Whatever the case, that one person is someone you can always call. With them, no question is too dumb (even though it really is), no problem too complex you can’t solve it over a quick call or better yet a text message, and no amount of tears is too much for them to deal with. Without that person you would be lost and life would fail to make sense. They are the Christina to your Meredith, and when all else fails, just like on TV, you can both dance it out. And really, what could be better than that?
6. I will always love you — and by you, I mean myself.
Each of my girlfriends learned this at one point or another, most of them through break ups. The day they learned to love themselves was a pivotal moment in all their lives and ended up being the turning point for their happiness. Their experiences taught me that your first and most important love affair should be with yourself. It’s a love affair that should grow deeper and deeper with time. It will be a bumpy ride and you may disappoint yourself somewhere along the way, but regardless you need to focus your attention and energy on you. The happiest women around me love themselves first and foremost. They have failed themselves, they have impressed themselves, they have fallen out of love with themselves, but they always seem to fall back in love with themselves deeper than the last time. Watching them take that journey made me realize that just like any relationship, you need to work on the one you have with yourself. It’s going to be the longest love affair you have in life. Make it count.