Thirty years this year. It gives a gal a lot to think about. The usual thoughts come first, the self-comparisons to friends and heroes. The questions: have I pushed hard enough, should I have a house, a dog? Be further in my career? All of it.
After a drink and a stern reminder that my success is not measured in the amount of random goals achieved (or even socially acceptable ones) I ask myself, have I achieved any of the things I really want. And then even if the answer is no, I ask myself are you still giving it everything you’ve got?
Because I’ve learned over the years, the value of effort.
I'm then ready to do the cliché thing and write a letter, or a list if you will, of all the things this quasi-middle-aged millennial grown up child in a deceptively adult body, has learned about the world and herself. I can't of course give it to my younger self the way I might wish, so instead, I dedicate this letter to the parts of me that will live on in daughters, granddaughters and so on and so forth.
To the girls who will come after,
I hope we know each other well and I've already told you most the things on this list a million times, but that you keep it anyway for safe keeping. For your own daughters and so on. And I hope there is more than a few things here that we can laugh about and cross off, because that means I spent the following years growing and learning. But for now, here is my list. The life wisdoms of a woman thirty years aged. Still a young wine in too many respects, but boy she's got promise.
1. Never downplay your potential. The world is going to do that enough, you don't have to help.
2. It's okay to lose. Whether it's in life or love failure happens to all of us in turns.
4. ‘Try your best and you'll succeed’ is what we're going to teach you when you're young. You'll know you're older and wiser when you appreciate the fact that sometimes you just don’t, even when you do.
5. It’s okay to have more than one dream for yourself. Because sometimes they die, or break or change. So, start making lots of them from the get-go.
6. Know when a horse is dead and stop beating it.
7. Sometimes the best way to love someone really is to let them go their own way, and sometimes the best way to love yourself is to walk away.
8. Grow tough skin and turn the other cheek as often as you can.
9. That said, don’t suffer the abuse of others. Nana doesn’t care who they are. She’s excellent at showing people how to find the door.
10. Have the courage to forgive and welcome back those who have hurt or wronged you.
11. Have enough wisdom to know when the door needs to stay shut.
12. Books will make you smart. Read them.
13. There are stories made for girls like you and if you can't find them you should write them.
14. Love the hair god put on your head.
15. Love the curves god put on your body.
16. Boys come and go. Don’t betray yourself or your friendships for them.
17. Get excited about getting to know yourself. You’re you. You’re here. You’re singularly unique. God could have made anyone but he made you. I’m excited to know who that is, and I hope you are too.
18. Be silly whenever you can.
19. Learn how to laugh even when there’s not much around to laugh about.
20. Learn how to let yourself cry without feeling shame.
21. Form opinions.
22. Read and learn as much as you can, so that your opinions are grounded.
23. Question your history, your authorities, and especially your own conclusions whenever possible.
24. Be kind.
25. Support other women. They share a unique walk through life with you the menfolk just can’t.
26. Think about your community as often as you can.
27. Apologies are more gorgeous than pearls. Wear them often.
28. Back up your word with deeds.
29. Not all friends are forever. Nothing is forever except the soul.
30. Sing a glad song whenever the mood strikes. Don’t mind the funny looks.