Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Day 227: Three Months Post 50: The Last Lessons

Exactly 3 months ago I turned 50 and not surprisingly, the world hasn't really changed all that much since the "big day." Or, I haven't really changed since the "big day," at least not in any perceptible way. It has only been 3 months after all.

But, as I have been reflecting on my aging process and by reviewing this blog, the lessons that I have learned don't seem to be increasing, and in fact, seem to be decreasing. I seem to be going backwards rather than forwards.

Frankly, I am not sure how riveting it is for people to read that I like to color and dance, or how much I love tea and gardening. So, I think that this makes it a good time for me to end this blog rather than keep struggling to come up with things to write about. And, there are some lessons that I am still struggling with in my "real" life, that I think I ought to focus on so that I can finally resolve them. I am 50 and it is time.

I had planned to do this with the last post of the 50th year, which was going to be December 31st, a sort of New Year's gift to everyone. So, think of this as a kind of early holiday present; a list of lessons that I have learned in my life that I would tell my 15 year old self:

First off, as tired and cliched as this sounds, it really is true: you only live once, you do not get another chance to do many of the things you think you can "do later." You won't, or you can't, or life just gets in the way.

That means try to live your life so that you don't have to wonder "what if" at age 50, or with regrets because you didn't do the things you thought you wanted to do. DO THEM! Travel to the places you want to see, explore more, live where you want to live, love who you want to love, try work that you are interested in, to see how all of it feels and how all of it fits.

Know what it is you want out of life, clearly define it, and then go after it, and do not stop until you get it. Do not let anyone or anything interfere with that goal. If you get it and don't like it, then at least you will know that, and can move on to something else.

Listen to yourself; do not ignore the red flags that tell you that something or someone is not right for you. Do not wait for it to get better. It does not. It only gets worse and the longer you wait, the harder it gets.

Before you get serious about someone, know what you want out of a relationship/partner and what you cannot live without. And, know what you do NOT want and what you can't live WITH and do not settle for anything less, or think that he/she will change, she won't.

Tell that boy that you have a crush on that you like him, and get to know him better to see if he really even is "crush-worthy." Yeah, you might be a complete disaster together, but it might be as wonderful as you fantasize about. And, that other boy (okay young man) that you are in love with, tell him before it is too late. In either case, if you do nothing, say nothing, you will never, ever know. At least you will know and you can move on without wondering "what if."

This means tell the people that you love how you feel. Tell them you love them. Do not assume they know this; they might assume that you don't because you never said it.

Never apologize for who you are, for what you believe in, and for the way you live your life. It is your life.

Live your life according to what you believe, what you feel and what's important to you. If you don't, you will always feel conflicted. 

Bad things happen in life; very few we have any control over. People you love will die, they will hurt you, you will lose jobs, friends, etc. But, you are strong and you can face anything if you rely on your inner strength. Ironically, you become stronger by facing them.

Related to this is let those who love you and those you love help you when they do happen. You know how to give; you also need to learn how to take, so ask for help. It does not make you "weak" it just proves that you are human.

But, wonderful things happen in life that make the bad things easier to bear. Never forget this, even when things are horrible. Just look at the things that you feel make life beautiful, surround yourself with them and with the people who feel the same way about life. And do not let the bad things make you hard.

Do not let anyone else's negativity or insistence that the world is bad make you stop believing this or start acting like it is.

Do not hold on to people that hold you down or hold you back. Good relationships of any kind are about bringing out the best in one another, not the worst.

You will make "mistakes," lots of them. But, don't think of them as mistakes, think of them as lessons, as things you don't want to do again, or as things that hurt you. The only way they are "mistakes" is if you keep repeating them, and keep letting yourself get hurt by repeating them.

Perhaps the biggest lesson of them all is this: do not let fear rule your life, it doesn't protect you, it doesn't make you stronger, or keep bad things from happening to you. It just makes you weaker and it makes your life so narrow, and causes you to miss out on so much of life.

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