I turned 40 a few weeks ago; depending on when you’re reading this, I might have been 40 for a few weeks or for a few months.
I turned 40 in the year 2020.
That statement feels like the beginning of a novel. Based on the year’s events, it would probably be a science fiction “end of the world” kind of novel. So let’s not write a novel. Or a book about what will happen. But there are things I look back on and think: “I would never have dreamed it would have turned out this way.”
Full disclosure: I’ve been saying I’m 40 for about three years now, so when the big day arrived, it wasn’t very shocking or traumatizing to enter into the next decade of life. The only moment I felt tears was when my mom and I went out for dinner for my birthday, and she prayed blessing over the next 40 years, as the Lord has blessed the first 40.
Well then. Am I halfway done living? The first half has felt like a blur. I’m thinking the second half will feel much the same.
But there’s things I wish I could have told my 20-year-old self that would have saved some heartache. I’m not sure the 20-year-old version of me would have listened. She pretty much knew it all at the tender age of 20 and thought the world would unfold exactly according to her plan.
So here’s the things I would tell that naive girl:
- Friendships are fragile. Guard them and be kind, but don’t spend your life chasing them. Friends will come and go. Be thankful for the ones who stay.
- Wake up earlier. An extra hour a day adds time to your life. The early hours are the best hours.
- Stop complaining about your weight. The extra 5, 10, 15 pounds are just numbers. Stop stepping on the scale every day and take a walk instead.
- Be more generous than you think you can be in every area of your life. Give your time, your heart or your finances. You’ll never regret it.
- Dear 20-year-old who says she doesn’t ever want children: You will eventually have five. You’ll love them way more than you ever thought imaginable. And going from zero to five will be the best thing you’ve ever experienced.
- Say the kind things running through your head. When you think a nice thing, say it. Everyone needs some encouragement, and your words have the power to give life to weary hearts. Be a heart mender.
- Quit doubting yourself. You’re enough.
- There will be people who see what you can do for them. And there will be people who see you. Stick with the latter.
- When you do start having those five children that you never said you would have, give yourself permission to not be perfect. They love you. You love them. They’ll turn out ok in spite of the mistakes you make along the way.
- Give lots of grace. You’ve been given more than you deserve. Do the same for those around you.
- Save more money. Spend less.
- Plant more plants. (That goes against spend less money. But spending money on plants is always ok.)
- You’re a terrible dog mom. Just give up on that dream and let it go.
- Focus on your people. They’re the ones you want with you during each decade of your life. Don’t keep getting distracted by the things that don’t really matter.
- It’s your life. Live it. Don’t be afraid to dream. Don’t be afraid to change the world.
- Love the man you marry. You haven’t met him yet, but he’s going to be the kindest man who believes in you more than you believe in yourself.
- Lastly, in 20 years, you’ll wish you had more face masks, hand sanitizer and toilet paper. There’s going to be shortages of all three. Just trust me on this one and keep a little stockpile in a closet somewhere because when you turn 40 in 2020, they’ll be the hottest items on everyone’s shopping list. POV