Today, I am 28. Officially, late twenties. Now, what?
I don’t have an answer to that. I have learned a fair amount—or so it feels. Here’s what I know. Some of it I wished I’d known earlier. Some I’m glad I was able to go on without knowing for so long.
For the last three years, I’ve written a piece on my birthday for this site about what I’ve learned on my brief (though increasingly longer) time on this planet. I’ve written some sort of birthday related post on my own site going back for many years before that.
In any case, here we are. I’m almost thirty. I’m married. I have a house, a career. I suppose I know a little. At least more than I did before.
Anyway, maybe these will help. And I imagine, they’ll be less controversial than some of my other recommendations–another sign that I’m getting older I guess–but you never know.
[*]“Hate will get you everytime.” Everytime.
[*]Fac, si facis (do it if you’re going to do it)
[*]Anne Lamott asked this question in one of her books: “Is life too short to be taking shit or is life too short to be minding it?” I don’t think there is a right answer. But it’s something to think about.
[*]Working too much or too hard can be just as bad as working too little or not very hard—if the reasons are similar: because you’re afraid, because you don’t want to feel, because you think that’s what everyone else is doing.
[*]Let them have their truth, their reality. You can try to understand theirs (this is called empathy as you know), but what matters is that you stick with yours. You don’t have to convince anyone else.
[*]I suddenly like apples and pineapple…after 28 years of disliking them. Point is: you never know.
[*]Early in your career, you think self-promotion and image are important—press, media, interviews and you never turn them down. Only later, do you do see these for what they are: distractions from your work. And you almost begin to dread them.
[*]Basically just never buy dessert. Not for financial reasons, but because it’s almost always a disappointment. You are honestly better off not doing it and treating yourself to an extra meal every now and then.
[*]Human being, not human doing.
[*]But if you do want some productivity advice, find a good spouse or partner. It’s the best thing you can do.
[*]It’s ok to be happy on your birthday. This year, I am (unlike far too many). The difference? Expectations. The less you go around expecting things—or worse, expecting people to guess or know—the more you can enjoy what actually happens.
[*]They weren’t kidding about that meditation shit. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it really works.
[*]I bought this pair of $300 boots (Red Wings) when I was 24. I thought it was reckless or irresponsible. I’m wearing them right now and miles and miles later, they’re just as good as when I bought them. Meanwhile, who knows how much I’ve spent on cheaper stuff that’s lasted 1/10 as long. Buy good stuff and you’ll only have to buy it once (unless you lose it)
[*]For the love of God, get control of your email. It will make you happier person. Stop drowning in it, start deleting. Start setting boundaries.
[*]When someone is rude to you or acts in an unfair way—that airport employee, that bank representative, the guy that is cheating the system—and you want to get even, you have to remember that it’s already happened. The punishment is working at an airport for the next 30 years. The punishment is being a fucking cheat. Would you trade places with them? No? Then there, you have your satisfaction and your justice. Move on.
[*]Ego is the fundamental problem in almost everyone’s life. It’s what deprives them of reality and truth and connection.
[*]There’s basically no reason to pack a toothbrush or razor or that stuff when you travel. Just ask the front desk at the hotel, they’ll give you one.
[*]When someone says: “So what’s next?” As in, “how are you going to top that?” You don’t have to have an answer. The answer can be: “This.” Your life doesn’t have to be about impressing other people or a successive series of achievements.
[*]How little do conditions have to change for you to become an asshole? Couple days of bad weather? Forgetting to eat lunch? Bad night’s sleep? More stress than usual? I’m guessing the answer to this is a lot less than we’d like to tell ourselves. Yet we hold it against other people so easily. Yet we think we’re a fundamentally decent person.
[*]Thinking you already know—whatever it is—is the most dangerous attitude. Because you probably don’t.
[*]The times you’ll regret most are the times you didn’t call for the ball–when you didn’t take the shot. The times when you didn’t say something even though you knew you were right, or you didn’t push back as hard as you could of it.
[*]Stop following the news—or most of it. It doesn’t affect you that the CEO of Twitter stepped down or whatever is in the news right now. It’s so liberating to not have an opinion about these things. Or at least, to not be riled up about them.
[*]It’s really, truly ok to say: No, I don’t want that. No, I’d rather not. Yes, it’s a good opportunity but I’d rather do something else.
[*]One of the hardest things in the world is for human beings to say no to making money. We’ll do it at any cost.
[*]It’s not on you to fix these people or to convince them of anything. Make the facts available, make it clear what the expectations are. But it can’t keep you up at night.
[*]This person I find basically abhorrent reached out to me this year. I remember thinking literally that: “I find them abhorrent.” Then I realized that this was all conjecture and based on garbage I’d read online. We talked. I still think what they’re doing is very bad. But you can talk with and have a discourse with someone you feel that about. You won’t die.
[*]Find the wound. What is your wound? Figure out the ways that you subconsciously try to fill it. It’s not going to work. You have to heal. (Also let this help with your understanding of other people)
[*]Learn to ask why you’re doing something. What your real goals are. Don’t wait until after to find out you didn’t know or had the wrong reasons.
[*]Syrus has that line about “shunning that which makes you angry.” The person who you think is a phony—stop following them on Twitter. That writer who gets a rise out of you—stop reading their stuff. Make sure Instagram is only people you actually like and respect. Stop hanging out with the people who you complain about. Like, actually do it. Watch what happens.
[*]Get a goat. They’re amazing.
[*]Louis C.K. has that complaint about cell phones, that they prevent you from sitting there with your awkwardness or discomfort. He’s so right. Try it, if only for a second. Look at how quickly you feel like an addict going out of their skin.
[*]At one point or another, you’ll probably realize that someone you used to think highly of is (crazy, a charlatan, bad, wrong, whatever). They didn’t change. You were just blind to it. Because you wanted to be.
[*]The classics are usually a classic for a reason. Read them. Even the ones that scare you and especially the ones that humble you.
[*]This is all there is. That’s more than enough.
The last one is the one I’ve been thinking about most often. It’s the one I don’t think I could have wrapped my head around at 26, let alone 20. With time, even just a couple years, comes a calming of the intensity–at least that’s how it’s been for me. With time, comes a little bit more perspective. Enough that it makes you shake your head (or worse) at the things you used to believe and the ways you used to behave.
But I suppose that’s how it goes. All that we can hope for is to be a little wiser and better each year.
Let’s check in in 365 days and see if that’s true.