For the record, I am genuinely happy to be alive. Three years ago, I was in a car accident that should have killed me. The car looked like a crushed sardine can and was an instant write-off. The airbags didn’t deploy–at all–at the point of impact, yet I don’t have any lasting injuries to show for it.
(I believe in miracles, y’all.)
Coming so close to death gave me a new lease on life. (Ugh, cliche, but this one is legit. Hence, it’s status as a cliche.) Our time on this earth is short, so we may as well enjoy it when we can. That said, I am going to switch gears and tell you 8 things about growing older that truly cramped my style.
1. Maturity means I can’t allow my personal feelings to get in the way.
A couple of months ago, my boss asked me and my supervisor if we knew anyone who could fill a newly available management position. Before I could stop myself, I said, “It’s too bad [blank] already has a job. She was really great.” Here’s the rub: That person and I are not friends. We aren’t enemies, in order to be enemies we would have to say more than two words to one another, but we keep each other at a cold distance. (I call it our “Mutual Distaste Society”) Yet, when a position opened, she was the first one who came to mind because she was excellent at her job. I think that person was on my employer’s radar anyway, but she also received recommendations from everyone who has worked with her because she is a highly efficient worker. When she was hired, none of us was surprised.
Lesson: Putting your personal feelings aside for the benefit of the team displays your integrity and professionalism. Darn.
2. Maturity means accepting responsibility for your actions.
I am a pro at blaming other people for wrongdoing. I notice everything, so if someone makes a mistake, I’m all, “I saw that!” (In my head, of course. Saying that stuff out loud might earn me a punch in the face) I am also quite good at ignoring my own faults, in spite of the fact that I am aware of what they are. I have found that the same life lessons keep recurring until I get the idea. One of them is, the choices I make are my responsibility. My circumstances have an impact, but I am the one with the final say. If I choose wrongly, I can’t blame anyone other than me.
The lesson: You are responsible for your quality of life. Choose wisely.
3. There really is no such thing as a money tree.
I’m fortunate in the sense that I had parents who taught me the value of money. I was spoiled by care and attention, but not with a whole lot of material things, (even though I wanted to be spoiled with a lot of material things). I had a rude awakening when I entered university with a student line of credit and a shiny new credit card. (It’s like credit companies know, or something.)
I carried my card with the intention of buying books, and art supplies, which were expensive enough. And then I made the decision to walk to the mall on my breaks. Plus, a girl’s got to eat, so I bought lunch. Every day. With my credit card. I only went to school for a year, but I ended up with almost $10,000 worth of credit card debt. I couldn’t ask my parents for the money, (due to shame) so I had to pay it off with the money I earned working part-time at $5.75 per hour. It took me 7 years to pay it off, and by then I paid $3000 more than I owed because of interest.
The lesson: Control your impulse to buy stuff you don’t need, and spend your money responsibly. Also, credit cards are the currency of hell.
4. I need more sleep
When I was in high school, I could stay awake until 2 am and still wake up at 5 to get ready for school. Currently, I start to wind down at around 10, and if I don’t fall asleep before 11, it is a good day. I’m a mix of early bird/night owl, and I used to be able to stay up really late. It turns out I can’t do that anymore. If I’m not in bed by at least 12:30, I am a tired mess when I wake up. (I can’t sleep in past 9 am, so, on weekends I get up at 6 or 7 and watch the shows on my DVR) Sleep researchers say that adults need less sleep as they get older. I need more. As a result, I miss a lot of fun activities because I don’t want to be out past my bedtime. Just give me a cup of Ovaltine and call me Nana, already.
Lesson: Sleep is great.
5.I hate all the music
As a kid, I used to get annoyed when my parents said things like, “Oh the music nowadays is terrible! Our generation had all the good stuff.” I thought that it was disrespectful to all of the artists of my age that did remarkably well. Now that, there’s a new generation of kids growing up, I’m the person saying, “Oh the music nowadays is terrible! My generation had all the good stuff.” I like some of the music, but the things I used to listen to: R&B and hip hop had its heyday in the 80s and 90s. Now it all sounds the same because the same four producers are doing the tracks, and the lyrics are mostly vulgar, banal, and offensive. I can’t even listen to a song with a great beat because the lyrics are stupid.
The lesson: When you get older, new music sounds less like music and more like noise.
6. Vindication is no longer important.
I used to love holding grudges. If I felt as though a person betrayed me, I would not rest until I made them suffer in some way. My efforts were largely passive aggressive because I wanted them to know that I did not like what they did…without letting them know I didn’t like what they did. When I look back and think about all the time I wasted being angry while people were moving on with their life, I want to go back to the past and punch myself in the face. Realizing that I had nothing to prove to anyone was a start. I also figured out that the resentment was hurting me more than it hurt them. Being angry at someone who doesn’t give a care is not a good feeling. Now I choose not to get angry. After the 4 years I’ve had, I’m going to be happy whenever I can.
The lesson: Harbouring resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for someone else to die.
7. I don’t know everything
I have acknowledged the fact that I am a (recovering) know-it-all. I am willing to compromise in most situations, that is, unless I believe I’m right. (Which is most of the time) When I know I’m right, I’m twice as stubborn. When in this state, it isn’t enough for me to make you see my point. I’m going to beat you over the head with it. (And possibly make you eat it) However, pride always comes before a fall, so there are times when I am humbled and proven wrong.
I learn more about life as I get older, which leads me to believe that I didn’t know that much to begin with. It is impossible for one person to be right about everything. For example, I’m not skilled at math. I am okay at science. My grammar and punctuation skills are fair to middling. Plus I am forever using the passive voice in my writing. On the other hand, I’m great with geography and can identify the capital cities of at least 40 countries off the top of my head. I am OK with admitting that, as much as I would like to, I don’t know it all. I am not always right, and I do make mistakes. But my mistakes are what makes me human. Without flaws, I’d be a complete bobblehead.
The Lesson: I know what I know, but it is impossible for me to know everything. Fallibility is a part of being human.
8.Change is good
I’m inherently a creature of habit, so no one was more change averse than me. However, how a person handles the ebbs and flows in his or her life determines whether or not that person moves forward or stagnates. With each change, I have adapted. No matter what happens in my life, I am prepared because I don’t see evolving as my enemy.
The Lesson: Sometimes the complacency of staying the same is worse than the uncertainty of change.
As I write this, I am in no way implying that I have it all together. (I don’t.) I learned most of these lessons the old-fashioned way: trial and lots of errors. That doesn’t stop me from making the same errors again, but it does mean that I am less likely to fall into careless habits.
Side note: I also learned that brevity is the soul of wit.